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Saint Katherine

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Guided Tour of Saint Katherine’s Greek Orthodox Church & Brief History of the Greek Orthodox Church & Its Martyrs

Guided by Father Costa Pavlakos

BASONOVA members and guests will visit Saint Katherine’s Greek Orthodox Church on Sunday, October 4 during its Fall Festival. We are invited to attend the Festival bazaar and purchase samples of the delicious food served by parishioners. At 3 pm, Father Costa Pavlakos will begin a tour of Saint Katherine’s, beginning in the sanctuary. As part of the tour, he will discuss the procession of the Church service and speak about the history of the Church and its unique martyrology.

Saint Katherine, who lived in Alexandria, Egypt during the fourth century C.E., was the daughter of the ruler Constantus and she was said to have been very beautiful and unequaled in kindness. She refused all proposals of marriage. One night, Jesus appeared to her and placed a golden ring on her finger, saying, “Today I make you my bride, and for ages to all ages. Hold this joining sacred and never take unto yourself another bridegroom.”

When Saint Katherine later refused the edict of Emperor Maxentius to reject Christianity, she was sentenced to a deadly torture known as “the wheel”. Yet when Katherine was placed in the device with sharp blades, the wheels broke loose and killed many pagans. Since then, the torturer’s wheel has served as a symbol for Saint Katherine and is often depicted in icons of her.

The emperor had Katherine beheaded November 25th around the year 305, making her a martyr. Her body was lifted by heavenly angels and taken to Mount Sinai. A band of monks later discovered her body and built a monastery near the spot of discovery. St. Katherine's was one of the voices heard by St. Joan of Arc. Her relics are enshrined in the monastery of Saint Katherine on Mount Sinai.

Fr. Costa Pavlakos is Protopresbyter of St. Katherine’s Greek Orthodox Church

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Upcoming 2015-2016 Lectures

Coins of the Ancient Levant

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Coins of the Ancient Levant

Dr. Liane Houghtalin

Coins offer an excellent resource for studying the history, economy, art, and architecture of the ancient world.  Highly dateable, they help archaeologists assign dates to layers and phases at a site. Highly portable, they also demonstrate trade contact and foreign invasion. Images on coins depict city symbols, patron deities, and rulers, as well as long-gone works of art and architecture. Ancient coins leave a message saying what was important to a ruler or a people.

When did people begin using coins in the Levant (Israel, Jordan, Syria, Cyprus, and Lebanon)? When did they begin striking their own coins?  What did the coins depict, and what messages did they send? This illustrated talk will look at coins found in the Levant, though minted elsewhere; coins struck in the Levant itself, and; coins marking historical events in the Levant from the Persian occupation of the region to the collapse of the Roman world.

Liane Houghtalin is Professor of Classics at the University of Mary Washington

The Temple and the Economic Life of Ancient Israel

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Temple and the Economic Life of Ancient Israel

Rev. Dr. Marty Stevens

The worship of God in ancient Israel was directly connected to politics, economics and sociology. In these respects, the Jerusalem temples during the monarchy and Persian periods likely followed the temples of other nations in the ancient Near East, especially Mesopotamian temples from the seventh to fifth centuries BCE.  In her illustrated lecture, Rev. Dr. Stevens claims the Temples sometimes functioned as a community welfare agency where orphans worked in the temple precincts in return for food, clothing and shelter. The Temple officials also made loans of its surplus commodities, especially silver and wheat, and collected taxes from the people for the royal household. Those who manned the Temple gates and the Temple scribes may also have been accountants. This lecture will shine a light on how the Temples participated in, and contributed to, the economic life of ancient Israel.

Marty Stevens is Associate Professor at Gettysburg Seminary


Revolt in Rome

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Revolt! Why the Jews Took on Rome

Dr. Andrea Berlin

What is the real story behind the Jewish Revolt against Rome? Why would a small population without military capabilities or political allies dare to challenge a ruling power of such might?

New archaeological evidence illuminates this epochal event. The seeds of the Revolt go back two generations earlier, to the lifetime of Herod the Great and his lavish lifestyle. Some Jews adopted this newly fashionable culture of wealth; others reacted strongly against it. In her illustrated lecture, Dr. Berlin will present material evidence of the king’s architectural bravado – and discuss its role in the eventual catastrophe.

This lecture is co-sponsored by BAF (Biblical Archaeology Forum), and B’nai Israel Congregation of Rockville, MD where the lecture will be held.

Andrea Berlin is a Professor of Archaeology at Boston University

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Ancient Libraries in Rome: Reconstruction of the Bibliotheca of the Templum Pacis

Dr. Pier Luigi Tucci

The Templum Pacis (Temple of Peace) was built by the Flavian emperor Vespasian in 75 CE near the Roman Forum.  It commemorated both the end of the Jewish war and the civil strife that had followed the death of Nero in 68 CE. The complex was remodeled under emperor Domitian and eventually restored by emperor Septimius Severus after the fire of 192 CE. Within this architectural complex stood the Temple Library, which had sections on medicine, philosophy and history, and served as a center of culture in ancient Rome.

Josephus described the Temple of Peace as “adorned with paintings and statues by the greatest of the old masters…There too Vespasian laid up the golden vessels from the Temple of the Jews…" Pliny remarked, “Should we not mention among our truly noble buildings...the Temple of Peace - the most beautiful the world has ever seen?" Later, the historian Herodian described the Temple of Peace as "the largest and most beautiful of all the buildings in the city since it was adorned with offerings of gold and silver..."

Fresh archaeological evidence and literary sources shed new light on this monument and, in particular, on the “Library of Peace.”

Pier Luigi Tucci is Assistant Professor of Roman Art and Architecture at Johns Hopkins University

april lecture;The Rebirth of a Roman Luxury Resort: Recent Archaeological Discoveries at the Seaside Villas at Stabiae

Sunday April 3, 2016

The Rebirth of a Roman Luxury Resort: Recent Archaeological Discoveries at the Seaside Villas at Stabiae

Matthew Bell and Thomas Howe

During the period between the first destruction of Stabiae at the hand of Roman dictator and general Lucius Cornelius Sulla (89 BCE) and the eruption of Vesuvius (79 CE), the city became a Roman resort, welcoming the construction of stunning villas in panoramic positions, with public buildings, ornate formal gardens, thermal spas, porticoes and delightfully decorated nymphaea.

The eruption of Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum also buried nearby Stabiae under a four meter deep blanket of lapillus and ash. While no more excavations are underway at these other sites, relatively very little of Stabiae has been uncovered. Since 2002, the Restoring Ancient Stabiae (RAS) Foundation has been directing an ambitious excavation of the spectacular seaside villas built by wealthy Roman patricians, water channels and gardens, and transforming the 150-acre site into one of the world’s largest archaeological parks.

Thomas Howe is Chair of art history at Southwestern University and the chief coordinator of archaeology and architectural planning of RAS. Matthew Bell is Professor of Architecture at the University of Maryland, Principal at Perkins Eastman Architects, and Vice President of RAS.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Six Degrees of Pericles: Social Networks in Classical Athens

Dr. Diane Cline

Around 450 BCE, a small town on a remote peninsula jutting out into the Mediterranean Sea was the loci of innovation, higher education, discovery, and invention. We don’t usually think of Athens in such terms, but with only perhaps 20,000 male citizens, it produced lasting works of literature, philosophy, architecture, and fine arts that have had more impact on the evolution of Western Civilization than any other culture before or since.

What factors in ancient Greek society, and in Athens specifically, made it so open to creative people and their new ideas? How did their version of democracy provide a nurturing platform for innovations to develop and spread? In this illustrated lecture, we view the social fabric of classical Athens by using a research method called Social Network Analysis, which makes visible that which is usually invisible. By studying social relationships between Athenians as nodes and links in a network, we can see how the structure of Athenian society in the mid-5th century BCE enabled high creativity, productivity, innovation, and an unparalleled legacy.

Diane Cline is an Associate Professor in George Washington University’s History Department

Past 2014-2015 Lectures 

May 18, 2013
Roots of Israelite Monotheism: Evidence from Archaeology & Texts
Drs. Mark Smith and Elizabeth Bloch-Smith 
Mark Smith, a renowned biblical scholar, joins Elizabeth Bloch-Smith, a field archaeologist & author, to explore the origins of monotheism as practiced in ancient Israel. They will examine material evidence and analyze critical texts to support their explosive theory that Israelite monotheism actually came from - sorry, but you will have to attend the lecture to find out
This lecture is co-sponsored by BASONOVA, BAF, Foundation for Jewish Studies (FJS) and B'nai Israel Congregation. It will be held at 7 pm at B'nai Israel (6301 Montrose Rd., Rockville, MD), down the street from the JCCGW.
Mark Smith is a Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies and the Skirball Professor of Bible at New York University. Elizabeth Bloch Smith is an area dig director at Tel Dor and teaches at New York University and the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Additional Information: 
Place this as the last lecture in the series. Match the typeface and color scheme with prior lecture entries. Justify right margin. Please reduce the font size for ALL lectuire descriptions from 14 pt to 13.5 pt. Photo attached.

Jewelry Is Never Just Jewelry

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Jewelry Is Never Just Jewelry

Dr. Faya Causey

Join us for an illustrated review of the role of jewelry and amulets in the ancient world. In antiquity, jewelry was valued as more than an object of adornment. It signaled allegiance to another person, warded away danger, or linked the wearer to a system of ritual observances. Some jewelry served as religious symbols, as official insignia, or as part of the dressing of a corpse, intended as permanent accompaniments in the passage to the afterworld.

Birthstones and zodiacal images connected wearers to their planets and astrological signs. Jewelry carried social meaning within groups, regions, and often carried messages too dangerous or controversial to put into words.

Dr. Causey is Head of Academic Programs at the National Gallery of Art

Search for the Battle of Actium

 Sunday, October 19, 2014

Search for the Battle of Actium

Dr. William Murray

Ancient Greek and Roman navies and the battles they fought are notoriously difficult to understand. Already by the 3rd century AD, the ancients had forgotten most of the details of ancient warship construction, and ramming warfare ceased to be employed. Over the past three decades, archaeological evidence has slowly accumulated that places us in an excellent position to appreciate the many variables involved in ancient naval warfare. This is particularly so for the famous Battle of Actium, fought between Mark Antony, Cleopatra and Octavian (the future Augustus) on 2 September 31 BC. 

Drawing upon artifacts recovered in underwater excavations, the results of sonar surveys conducted in the battle zone, and new archaeological discoveries at a large victory monument built by Octavian near the battle site, this illustrated lecture will attempt to recreate the important features of the last major naval battle of antiquity.

Dr. Murray is Associate Professor of Greek History and the Executive Director of Interdisciplinary Center for Hellenic Studies at the University of South Florida, and a visiting professor at the US. Naval Academy

Queen for Eternity: Digital Archaeology and the (After) Life of Meresank III

Sunday, November 16, 2014  

Queen for Eternity: Digital Archaeology and the (After) Life of Meresank III

Rachel Aronin

The large, magnificently decorated tomb of Queen Meresankh III provides an exceptional look at the life, status, and burial of a royal Egyptian woman of Egypt’s Fourth Dynasty.  Constructed at Giza near the Great Pyramid, the tomb emphasizes not only Meresankh’s important familial roles as daughter and mother, but also aspects of her priestly, royal, and religious status.  An unparalleled number of statues of women and images of female offering bearers and attendants provide a unique window into the world of ancient Egyptian women at the highest levels of pharaonic society. 

The Giza Project at Harvard University has created an archaeologically accurate computer reconstruction of the tomb, one of the most beautiful and well-preserved at Giza. This talk will explore how 3D graphical modeling allows scholars to better visualize Meresankh’s world and shine new light on the shadowy lives of ancient Egyptian women 4,500 years ago.

Ms. Aronin is a Research Associate at Harvard University’s Deptartment of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations

Sunday, January 11, 2015 • 7:30 pm • B’nai Israel Congregation

The Collapse of Civilizations in 1177 BC and the Emergence of Israel

The Collapse of Civilizations in 1177 BC and the Emergence of Israel

Dr. Eric Cline, George Washington University

During the Late Bronze Age the Mediterranean region hosted a complex international world in which Egyptians, Mycenaeans, Minoans, Hittites, Assyrians, Ugarits, Babylonians, Cypriots, and Canaanites all interacted, creating a cosmopolitan and globalized world-system. This internationalism, along with environmental disasters, may have contributed to the apocalypses that ended the Bronze Age. After centuries of cultural and technological evolution, the international world of large empires and small kingdoms came to a dramatic halt. With their end came the world’s first recorded Dark Ages.

With their end also came opportunities for new peoples to establish themselves, including the Israelites. This lecture will show how the Israelites benefited by the devastated Egyptians receding from Canaan, and how both the Egyptian retrenchment and subsequent power vacuum provided the Israelite peoples the space they needed to become a nation.

Dr. Cline is Professor of Classics, Anthropology, and History, & Chair of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at George Washington University

The Arch of Titus Digital Restoration Project

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Arch of Titus Digital Restoration Project

Dr. Peter Schertz

The Arch of Titus was originally dedicated after the Emperor Titus’ death in 81 CE and celebrates his victory in the Jewish War of 66-74 CE, which climaxed with the destruction of Jerusalem and her Temple in the summer of 70 CE. An international team of scholars led by the Yeshiva University Center for Israel Studies has scanned the reliefs adorning the Arch. Traces of color were found on the arms and base of the Temple Menorah relief.  This discovery is consistent with biblical, early Christian, and Talmudic writings and particularly eye-witness descriptions of the golden menorah by the first century historian Josephus. Dr. Schertz will discuss the importance of the arch in Flavian Rome and describe the process of studying the arch's original colors and of creating a three-dimensional digital model of how the Arch originally appeared.

Dr. Schertz is curator at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts


Sunday, March 15, 2015  

The Problem of Evil in Ancient Mesopotamia

Dr. Paul Delnero

The question of how evil is possible in an ordered and perfect universe created and maintained by an omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent deity has continued to occupy philosophers and theologians for centuries. The source text for nearly all of these inquiries is the biblical Book of Job, in which the question of suffering in a divinely-ordered cosmos is raised with poignant clarity. In this talk the Ancient Near Eastern context for the Book of Job will be elucidated by examining the ways in which catastrophe and human suffering were addressed in Mesopotamia and Egypt, to shed light on aspects of the biblical narrative that are frequently overlooked when its ancient context is not considered.

Dr. Delnero is Assistant Professor of Assyriology in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Johns Hopkins University

Theatrical Scenes in Roman Houses

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Theatrical Scenes in Roman Houses

Dr. Marden Nichols

Home decor played an essential role in the self-presentation of the ancient Roman elite. This lecture explores brightly colored mosaics and wall paintings from Roman houses (1st. c. BCE -1st c. CE) that evoke the theater, including images of masks and scenes of actors. Was the house a stage set for its occupants? 

Dr. Nichols is Assistant Professor of Classics at Georgetown University

Architectural Discourses on Empire: Roman Baths Here, There, and Everywhere

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Roman Baths Here, There, and Everywhere 

Dr. Maryl Gensheimer

Throughout the Roman Empire, bathing was a highlight of the day and a major social event, highly popular across a diverse audience: elite and subaltern, male and female, free and enslaved.  Ubiquitous literary and epigraphical evidence conveys the significance of bathing facilities to people’s daily routines and relationships.  

Imperial patrons used the endowment of public baths as a means of simultaneously consolidating and upsetting the social hierarchies that were rigidly maintained elsewhere in the Roman public sphere. Roman baths were as much a means of entertaining the populace as an unprecedented tool with which to highlight imperial power and privilege.

There are thousands of examples of public baths in cities across the Empire.  These buildings are all the more important for being among the most ambitious and sophisticated examples of large-scale architectural patronage in Classical antiquity. 

Dr. Gensheimer is Assistant Professor of Roman Art and Architecture at the University of Maryland