St. Katherine

Next Lecture

New Technologies for Studies of Ancient Texts

Sunday – September 24, 2017
New Technologies for Studies of Ancient Texts

Michael Toth

Advanced imaging systems can now empower scholars, scientists and researchers to glean important, new information from ancient texts. 

This illustrated presentation will demonstrate how these imaging systems offer new insights into ancient manuscripts on parchment and papyrus. Advanced technologies developed during Mr. Toth’s projects – applied to papyri-mâché funeral masks and to ancient manuscripts guarded by monks at St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai, for example – have already revealed a trove of obscured text and drawings.?

Multispectral imaging offers new insights into layers of text in historic palimpsests: older writings that have been “washed away” and overwritten with newer text (as featured in the Washington Post:

A carbonized, third century copy of Leviticus recovered at En-Gedi was recently subjected to multispectral imaging, and represents the first severely damaged, ink-based scroll to be unrolled and identified non-invasively. Thanks to these advancing technologies, scholars may now utilize an array of new imaging tools for non-destructive analysis and interdisciplinary research.

Mr. Toth is President of R.B. Toth Associates and Honorary Research Associate at University College London

Upcoming Lectures

In Search of David and Solomon

Sunday – October 29, 2017
In Search of David and Solomon

Dr. Gary Rendsburg

The two great kings of ancient Israel are well known to readers of the Bible, but are they to be found in the archaeological record? Neither name appears in any contemporary document from the 10th century B.C.E., so how can one determine whether or not the descriptions of their reigns in the Bible have any historical value?

Fortunately we have ample archaeological evidence from Jerusalem and elsewhere which addresses these questions.  The evidence stems from the ongoing excavations in the City of David area of ancient Jerusalem, from recently discovered inscriptions from Jerusalem and other sites in the Judean hills, and from temples excavated in northern Syria and southern Turkey with a striking resemblance to Solomon’s temple as described in the book of Kings.

Gary Rendsburg serves as the Blanche and Irving Laurie Professor of Jewish History at Rutgers University. 


Sunday – January 21, 2018
Curator-led Tour of the Museum of the Bible

The 430,000 square foot Museum of the Bible hosts one of the largest assemblages of biblical artifacts and texts in the world, including thirteen Dead Sea Scroll fragments, a Gilgamesh tablet, an extensive collection of papyri, early printed Bibles, and a 3rd century CE edition of the Gospel of John. Its 40 foot tall, 2.5 ton bronze front doors with stained glass art contain a relief depicting the creation account in Genesis. The Israel Antiquities Authority is contributing rotating artifacts from its own collection, which is being housed in separate exhibition space at the MOB.

This tour will focus on the Museum’s more ancient artifacts, although the collection has extensive Medieval materials, early printed Bibles, and even relatively recent Torah scrolls. The Museum also features a model of a first century CE Jerusalem kitchen. Tour attendees will have the opportunity to sample marketplace cuisine.

The Museum of the Bible is located at 409 3rd St SW, Washington, DC: two blocks from the National Mall and three blocks south of the US Capitol


Sunday – March 4, 2018
The Necropolis at Anubis-Mountain: a Photographic Tour of Recent Excavations in the Tombs of Pharaohs Senwosret III, Sobekhotep IV and Senebkay

Dr. Josef Wegner  

In southern Egypt, beneath the sacred peak of the Anubis-Mountain at Abydos, ongoing excavations have discovered the necropolis of Pharaohs who ruled centuries before the founding of the Valley of the Kings. Established in 1850 BC by King Senwosret III, the Anubis-Mountain site includes tombs of at least 11 Pharaohs and includes the remains of an entire lost Egyptian dynasty dating from 1650 to 1550 BCE.

Included in this visual exposition of this royal necropolis is the tomb of Senebkay, discovered in January 2014 by Josef Wegner. Studies on Senebkay’s skeleton reveal he was most likely killed in battle. The discovery of his tomb supports the existence of an independent Abydos Dynasty, contemporary with the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Dynasties during the Second Intermediate Period.

Josef Wegner is associate professor of Egyptian Archaeology in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania, and Associate Curator of the Egyptian Section of the Penn Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology


Sunday – March 25, 2018 at B’nai Israel
The Ancient Synagogue at Huqoq in Israel's Galilee

Dr. Jodi Magness

In Israel’s Galilee lies the ancient village of Huqoq, mentioned in Joshua and 1 Chronicles as land allotted to the tribe of Asher and notable as the location of the Tomb of the Prophet Habakkuk.

Since 2011, Huqoq has gained fame for the excavations directed by Professor Jodi Magness. These excavations have brought to light the remains of a monumental Late Roman period (400s CE) synagogue building that is replete with stunning and unique mosaics, including depictions of the biblical hero Samson, Noah's Ark, the parting of the Red Sea, and the first non-biblical story ever discovered decorating an ancient synagogue.

In this richly illustrated lecture, Professor Magness will describe these exciting finds, plus the discoveries made during the summer of 2017. For more information visit:

Jodi Magness is Professor of Early Judaism in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Jealousy Ordeal

Sunday – April 29, 2018

Ancient Magic and Medicine - Determining Guilt or Innocence in the Bible

Dr. Erin Guinn-Villareal

Many ancient Near Eastern cultures invoked magical powers and medical arts to conjure the guilt or innocence of accused parties. Surviving texts and illustrations bear witness that the Hittites, Mari, Mesopotamians and Babylonians all relied on these occult practices to find the truth.

Israelites may also have practiced these magical rites, as revealed in the Jealousy Ordeal in Numbers 5:11-31. 

In these passages, a husband who suspects his wife of adultery is instructed to bring her to a priest who will preside over a series of ritual acts in order to determine her guilt or innocence.

The significance of the Jealousy Ordeal is still being debated, despite decades of scholarship. This talk will use this ritual to explore the influence of broader ancient Near Eastern magical and medical topics on biblical interpretation, and then propose an alternative analysis of the ritual that emphasizes its social and justice components.

Erin Guinn-Villareal is a professor in the Department of Ancient Studies at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.