St. Katherine

Byzantine Collection at Dumbarton Oaks

Sunday - May 21 at 1 pm and 3 pm

Sunday - May 28 at 1 pm and 3 pm

Curator-Guided Private Tour of Late Antiquity and Byzantine Collections at Dumbarton Oaks

The Dumbarton Oaks Byzantine Collection is one of the world’s finest accumulations of artifacts from Late Antiquity through the Byzantine Empire. Spanning the imperial, ecclesiastical, and secular realms, the collection comprises more than twelve hundred objects. Among the most important are treasures of gold, silver, and bronze vessels used for the celebration of the Eucharist. Other outstanding objects are late Roman and Byzantine jewelry, cloisonné enamels, glass and glyptics, ivory icons, and illuminated manuscripts. The collection's emphasis on objects of precious materials underscores the conception of Byzantine art as luxury art.
The collection includes large-scale works of art such as mosaics from Antioch, relief sculpture, more than two hundred textiles, and comprehensive holdings of coins and seals. Although the collection focuses on Byzantine art, it includes objects of Greek and Roman art, and works from Pharaonic & Ptolemaic Egypt, and Islamic cultures.

We will have two curator-led museum tours each on successive Sundays at 1 pm and 3 pm. The tours are each limited to twelve BASONOVA members (not currently open to non-members). Registration & pre-payment with BASONOVA is required, and will go live at the end of the first week in May on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Dumbarton Oaks is located at 1703 32nd Street, NW / Washington, DC / 20007

Our Past Lectures

Sunday - September 11, 2016
The Golden Age of King Midas: Excavations at Gordion, Turkey

Dr. C. Brian Rose

King Midas was an actual historical figure. During the mid-eighth century BCE he ruled from Gordion (Turkey), the royal capital of the powerful Iron Age kingdom of Phrygia. One of the large royal buildings uncovered at Gordion is likely his palace. Many artifacts, sumptuous architecture, massively built fortification walls, and the contents of thirty-six tumulus burials from Gordion have now been excavated.

Gordion is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in the Near East, and was once violently destroyed by a massive fire. It is where Alexander The Great supposedly cut the Gordion Knot during his 333 BCE campaign against the Persian Empire.

In addition to relating the history of Gordion, Dr. Rose will present an illustrated overview of the most recent fieldwork there, including: new discoveries at the monumental burial mound built by Midas for his father; a new circuit of fortifications revealed by remote sensing, and; the latest architectural conservation at the site.

C. Brian Rose is Professor of Archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania

Sunday - October 30, 2016
The Maccabees at Kedesh? A Clash between Text and Archaeology

Dr. Andrea Berlin

Excavations at Tel Kedesh in the Upper Galilee have revealed an enormous imperial administrative compound built by the royal house of Tyre c. 500 BCE, used by the imperial successors to Alexander, and abandoned in haste c. 140 BCE. The abandonment date conforms perfectly with a battle described in 1 Maccabees as taking place at Kedesh – but details revealed by archaeology suggest quite a different scenario

In this illustrated lecture we’ll explore the possibility that the author of 1 Maccabees, writing one to two generations after the event, “borrowed” an episode that properly belonged to Tyrian history in order to create a heroic persona for Jonathan the Maccabee and thereby support Hasmonean imperial interests in the Upper Galilee. In overwriting an episode of Tyrian resistance as a heroic Judean victory, the author transformed felt geographic destiny into history.

Andrea Berlin is Professor of Archaeology at Boston University

Egypt in Canaan

Sunday - November 20, 2016
Egypt and Canaan – A Political and Cultural Encounter

Daphna Ben Tor

The story of Egypt and Canaan recalls for most people the Biblical accounts of Joseph and Moses in the books of Genesis and Exodus. Yet, the captivating story of the reciprocal relationship between these ancient civilizations is missing from these stories and remains largely unknown.

This history begins ca. 3100 BCE with the founding of Egyptian commercial colonies in south western Canaan, and ends ca. 1130 BCE - just after the sunset of the Bronze Age - with the collapse of the Egyptian empire in Canaan. Accompanying this presentation are rich illustrations of material evidence drawn from the massive “Egypt in Canaan” exhibit curated by Daphna Ben Tor, which is currently on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Daphna Ben Tor is Curator Emerita of Egyptian Archaeology at the Israel Museum

Doctors, Diseases and Deities: Epidemic Crises and Medicine in Ancient Rome

Sunday - January 29, 2017
Doctors, Diseases and Deities: Epidemic Crises and Medicine in Ancient Rome

Sarah Yeomans

Life in the ancient Roman world could be perilous. War, disease, famine and childbirth are a just a few examples of circumstances that contributed to a much lower average lifespan than that which we enjoy today.

People in antiquity were no less concerned about the prevention and cure of maladies than they are now, and entire cults, sanctuaries and professions dedicated to health dotted the spiritual, physical and professional landscapes of the ancient world.

In her presentation, Yeomans examines a recently excavated, as-yet unpublished archaeological site that has substantially contributed to our understanding of what ancient Romans did to combat disease and injury, as well as evidence for how they responded to one of the most horrifying epidemics the ancient world had ever seen: The Antonine Plague of the 2nd Century CE.

Sarah Yeomans is Director of Educational Programs at the Biblical Archaeology Society, and teaches in the Department of Religious Studies at West Virginia University.

St. Katherine

Greek Temple

Sunday - February 26, 2017
How to Build a Greek Temple

Dr. Lindley Vann

All Greek temples might look the same - a rectangular building surrounded by colonnades - but the decoration would vary according to their location in the Greek world. Doric columns and decorative details were employed on the mainland, while Ionic designs were found in the cities of Asia Minor and among the islands of the Aegean. The Greek architect worked within a one of these predetermined decorative vocabularies. The word architekton in ancient Greek meant a temple builder. While architects knew in advance the approximate form of the final product, each temple was to be designed with more pleasing proportions and increasingly sophisticated details.

Dr. Vann’s lecture will be copiously illustrated with details of famous buildings from around the Greek world. He will narrate a step-by-step process by which one built a temple: site determination, the system of decoration, and the search for an architect. The Greeks have left written accounts detailing the process of writing contracts, ensuring quality of materials and workmanship, enforcing schedules and awarding fines or final payments.  Archaeological evidence comes from these buildings themselves, especially those that were never completed.

Lindley Vann is Professor Emeritus of Architecture at the University of Maryland

The Satan

Sunday - March 26, 2017
The Devil in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament:
The Rest of the Story

Dr. Christopher Rollston

'The Satan' plays a relatively minor role in the Hebrew Bible: a very late figure of Second Temple times. Within the New Testament, however, Satan plays a major role, fully personified as evil, and in full rebellion against God. Striking is the fact that this figure also makes some cameo appearances among the Qumran (Dead Sea) Scrolls. So, if you're ever wondered about the biblical history of Satan, this lecture will be for you.

Dr. Christopher Rollston is a Professor in the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages at George Washington University

St. Katherine

Deadsea Scrolls

Sunday - April 30, 2017 at B’nai Israel
What the Dead Sea Scrolls Teach Us About The Bible

Dr. Sidnie White Crawford

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls has dramatically increased our knowledge of the history of the text of the Hebrew Bible and the formation of the Jewish canon.  This lecture will explore what the Dead Sea Scrolls reveal about the text of the Bible.  How did the books of the Bible reach the form they now have?  How did scribes copy and pass down their inherited traditions in the Second Temple period?

The lecture will also consider the process of “canon formation” in the Second Temple period.  What biblical books were considered authoritative for all Jews?  Why did different Jewish groups have conflicting lists of authoritative books?  How did we get the present canon of Jewish Scripture? 

Lavishly illustrated, this lecture will bring alive a little-known period of Jewish history through the lens of these transformative historical documents.

Sidnie White Crawford is Professor of Classics & Religious Studies at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln

Lecture at 7:30 PM
B'nai Israel Congregation
6301 Montrose RD
Rockville, MD 20852