BMCR 2022.04.02

Cornucopia: studies in honor of Arthur Segal

, , Cornucopia: studies in honor of Arthur Segal. Archaeologica, 180. Roma: Editore G. Bretschneider, 2019. Pp. xviii, 326. ISBN 9788876893155 €80,00.

[Authors and titles are listed below.]

The volume gathers a series of contributions to honour Arthur Segal, who spent most of his career at Haifa University teaching classical archaeology and working on Roman Judea and the Decapolis, focusing his field activity on the city of Hippos-Sussita. As often happens in this genre of publications, the eighteen contributions offered by friends and colleagues deal with different topics, from those directly continuing Segal’s research to those not related at all with his research interests.

M. Sommer (“‘Sick not only in body…’. Apollo Grannus and the emperor enchanted”) deals with the local Celtic deity Grannus, identified with the Roman Apollo and worshipped by emperor Caracalla in 213 AD. When the emperor was in Germania after the campaign against the Alemanni, he fell sick and suffered from hallucinations. Among the gods he worshipped in the hope of recovering after Asclepius and Serapis, there was a certain Grannus whose temple he visited. The popularity enjoyed by a local deity in the imperial house surprises. Grannus, originally a Celtic deity, adopted the attributes and characteristics of Apollo during the Romanization of the Celtic speaking areas of the empire. The episode is an excellent example of the universalism that characterized the Roman culture at the beginning of the third century. In the years of the Constitutio Antoniniana elements of local provincial culture had already become part of the Roman cultural heritage of the whole empire and its leaders.

A. Lichtenberger (“Jerusalem and beyond: cities, sanctuaries and centrality in the kingdom of Herod”) takes into consideration the cities and towns founded or re-founded by Herod the Great within his dominions. The investigation reveals that most of the largest settlements in Herodian Judea were little more than large villages, the only city being Jerusalem. Except for Samaria-Sebaste, already inhabited by Greeks before its re-foundation, no large settlement planned and organized by Herod had the typical appearance of a Greco-Roman city. In many cases, like at Hebron and Mamre, but surprisingly at Caesarea Maritima as well, the royal building activity focuses on large sanctuaries aimed at becoming the focal centre of the settlement. The role of the sanctuaries within the cities come thus to the fore instead of the cities themselves. F. Sear (“Discrimina ordinum in theatres: the archaeological evidence”) presents some examples of discrimina ordinum, the separation of social classes in Roman theatres, by discussing the cases of Pompei, Orange, and Benevento.

J. Seigne (“Gerasa: un aperçu du développement urbain, de l’époque hellénistique à l’époque omeyyade”), the most important expert of the Decapolis city of Gerasa, offers a summary account of the development of the Jordanian city from pre-Hellenistic times to the Arab takeover, gathering together all the evidence emerged in the last century of fieldwork, to which he contributed significantly. The result is an agile and short urban story covering more than a millennium, featuring a series of excellent and detailed maps of the city that document the changes in the urban aspect almost every thirty years between 90 and 200 AD and then with longer intervals through the seventh century AD. Thanks to his personal experience on the site and the extensive research he carried out on the city and its monuments, Seigne’s overview assumes the characteristics of an essential, but highly erudite, time travel guide through Gerasa’s existence.

A. Ovadiah (“The images of the early Christian church in the mirror of patristic literary sources”) analyses the symbols and the allegorical representations appearing in the architectural decoration of the first churches of Palestina. Particular attention is devoted to the allegory of the ship and the symbol of the cross in the early Christian authors and their rendering in the architecture of the early churches.

M. Eisenberg’s contribution (“The propylaeum of the extra muros sanctuary at Hippos”) deals with another city of the Decapolis: Antiochia-Hippos (Sussita). Since 2014, a team of Israeli archaeologists has excavated the easternmost structures of the so-called Saddle Compound, east of the main city. In this paper, the author describes the unearthed structures of a monumental gate separating the inhabited sector from the necropolises. This double-towered entrance was built in the first half of the second century AD and was destroyed probably in the terrible earthquake of 363 AD. However, adjacent structures—like a pool, a theatre and baths, and the finding of a bronze mask of Pan during the excavation of the monumental gates—suggest that the entrance along with these structures could belong to a rustic sanctuary, perhaps dedicated to Dionysus.

W. Eck and D. Kossmann (“Zu inschriften der römischen führungsmacht aus Israel”) present a series of extremely fragmented epigraphical texts in Latin from Israel. Each of these refers to a member of the leading class of the empire, the emperor (mentioned in connection with the building or restoration of an aqueduct not far from Caesarea), a Roman governor from Caesarea, or a “princeps iuventutis” from Dor, reaffirming the eastern habit of employing Latin only for texts mentioning officers of the central imperial administration. Still in the cities of major Greek tradition like Scythopolis of the Decapolis, the Greek language is used by the city institutions in the dedications to provincial governors, as the last texts prove.

A. Kloner and B. Zissu (“Hellenistic residences at Maresha [Marissa]”) deal with the Hellenistic compounds of Maresha’s lower city (third–second century BC). Most of the production activities took place in underground complexes.

R. Reich and Y. Baruch (“The Herodian temple mount in Jerusalem: a few remarks on its construction and appearance”)investigate the construction of that phase of the temple mound conceived to double in extension the area of the older precinct. It seems clear from archaeological excavations that the building required many decades to complete (construction began in 22 BC). Moreover, there is proof that the western section of the walled structure was still under construction in the first half of the first century AD. To explain this circumstance, aware that the temple had to remain accessible to worshippers and completely functional during this long period, the authors envisage a building method based on completing different sections of the walls before moving to others. Another hypothesis concerns the nature of the so-called Nicanor Gates, the main entrance to the priestly courtyard, donated by a wealthy Jew from Alexandria. The fact they were described in the sources as made of copper, which turned yellow, suggest that in opposition to the traditional habit, they were made of brass, probably in Egypt.

W. Atrash and G. Mazor (“Entertainment facilities at Nysa-Scythopolis”) bring the reader again into the Decapolis. The attention is focused on the theatrical facilities. A small theatre probably already existed in the mid-first century BC when Roman governor Gabinius refunded the city. In the early first century AD, the so-called Southern Theatre was built and further enlarged toward the end of the century. This same structure, which had become unfit for the city’s needs, was completely dismantled, and a much larger theatre was built in its place at the end of the second century. Parallel to it, during the period of maximal prosperity in the region under Antonine rule, a second theatre, the northern one, was erected along with an Odeum and a Hippodrome. The investigation clearly shows how the leading classes of Scythopolis not only were prosperous enough to be able to accomplish such a grandiose building plan but also enthusiastically embraced the idea promoted by the imperial leadership according to which the display of Greek cultural facilities was the best expression of a successful city.

R. Gersht and P. Gendelman (“Tombs and burial customs in Roman and Byzantine Caesarea”) provide an overview of the evidence concerning the burial sites and the necropolises around Caesarea Maritima from the first century AD until Late Antiquity. The data show that funerary customs, burial practice, and grave types do not differ much from what can be found in the other settlements of the coastal region. Furthermore, the sacrifices to chthonic deities or the Manes are scanty in the harbour city. Wealthy pagan citizens chose to be inhumated in sarcophagi decorated with figurative scenes. From the third century AD figural representations become rare, and finally disappear, replaced by floral decorations.

M. Mor discusses a dedication to Emperor Hadrian from Jerusalem. The fragmentary text has been the subject of discussion for decades until recently a second portion of the inscription was found. The now restored text refers to a dedication made to the emperor by the legion X Fretensis, part of the Judean Roman garrison, in 130 AD. The author considers these new elements a fundamental argument for putting into discussion W. Eck’s interpretation of another inscription from Hadrianic times. A monumental epigraphical text was found at Tel Shalem, close to the other Judaean legion base camp, the VI Ferrata. Concerning this latter text, only the identity of the emperor, Hadrian, was so far certain. The new reading of the Jerusalem inscription would suggest that the Tel Shalem was also made by a legion in homage to the emperor during his visit to the province in 130 AD. There would be no need then to suppose with Eck a victory on the field by Roman units during the last phase of the Bar Kokhba revolt as the reason for such dedication.

R. Toueg (“R. G. Collingwood: King Arthur’s Round Table”) investigates the figure of Robin George Collingwood, philosopher and archaeologist of the first half of the twentieth century, who worked on a Neolithic site he named “Arthur’s Round Table,” sparking criticism and initiating discussions lasting until today.

Y-Shivtiel and M. Osband (“A methodological perspective on the chronology and typology of the hiding complexes in Galilee”) present a catalogue of the more than seventy hiding complexes known from Galilea. Only nineteen have been investigated. These complexes used to be dug exclusively in the proximity of settlements with a Jewish population. They were used to temporarily shelter the population from persecutions or retaliation by Roman troops during the two major revolts against the imperial power. The dating of these complexes is problematic. From pottery and coins, it seems that the most ancient of such structures, dating to the first century AD and the Jewish War of 66 AD, were built in a crude way, apparently without preliminary planning. Those more carefully constructed with evident planning were probably built later and used during the Bar Kokhba revolt.

A. Kowalewska (“The southern bathhouse of Antiochia Hippos of the Decapolis”) presents the results of the excavations of the bath complex of the title, a building close to the monumental gates described in Eisenberg’s contribution. The excavators dated the building construction to the second century AD and a second phase involving significant modifications to the middle of the third.

C. Ben David (“The boundaries of Hippos-Sussita during the Roman and Byzantine periods”) discusses the extent of the chora of Hippos-Sussita. Based on the identification of several of the settlements mentioned by the sources, the common opinion wants the borders of the city territory to be the Sea of Galilee to the west, the Yarmuk River to the south and the Wadi Samakh and the Golan Heights to the north. Further investigation cannot, however, exclude the possibility that settlements and watchtowers dependent on Hippos existed north of the wadi or that the territory extended much further east than Hisfin, the easternmost settlement the sources mention.

S. Gilboa-Karni (“Liberty, citizenship, fertility, elysium. Liber Pater/Bacchus in the gardens of the Bay of Naples”) analyses the spreading of the cult of Bacchus in the gardens of Roman Campania on account of the god’s connections to fertility rites, mystery cults and agrarian purification rites.

In the last contribution, E. Dvorjetski (“‘Mens sana in corpore sano. Physical culture, sport, and leisure in the land of Israel from biblical times to the late Roman Empire”) looks for sports activity and dance in the history of Palestine until Roman rule with particular attention to the literary sources.

As mentioned initially, the book is a composition of various high-quality contributions, a “cornucopia” of delicious fruits from many disciplines and fields of research of the ancient world. Naturally, it is up to the reader to pick the ones that most appeal to their taste.

Authors and titles

M. Sommer – “Sick not only in body…”. Apollo Grannus and the emperor enchanted
A. Lichtenberger – Jerusalem and beyond: cities, sanctuaries and centrality in the kingdom of Herod
F. Sear – Discrimina ordinum in theatres: the archaeological evidence
J. Seigne – Gerasa: un aperçu du développement urbain, de l’époque hellénistique à l’époque omeyyade
A. Ovadiah – The images of the early Christian church in the mirror of patristic literary sources
M. Eisenberg – The propylaeum of the extra muros sanctuary at Hippos
W. Eck, D. Kossmann – Zu inschriften der römischen führungsmacht aus Israel
A. Kloner, B. Zissu – Hellenistic residences at Maresha (Marissa)
R. Reich, Y. Baruch – The Herodian temple mount in Jerusalem: a few remarks on its construction and appearance
W. Atrash, G. Mazor – Entertainment facilities at Nysa-Scythopolis
R. Gersht, P. Gendelman – Tombs and burial customs in Roman and Byzantine Caesarea
M. Mor – From Shalem (Jerusalem) to Tel Shalem: Hadrian’s visit in provincia Judaea
R. Toueg – R. G. Collingwood: King Arthur’s round table
Y. Shivtiel, M. Osband – A methodological perspective on the chronology and typology of the hiding complexes in the Galilee
A. Kowalewska – The southern bathhouse of Antiochia Hippos of the Decapolis
C. Ben David – The boundaries of Hippos-Sussita during the Roman and Byzantine periods
S. Gilboa-Karni – Liberty, citizenship, fertility, elysium. Liber Pater/Bacchus in the gardens of the Bay of Naples
E. Dvorjetski – “Mens sana in corpore sano”: physical culture, sport, and leisure in the land of Israel from biblical times to the late Roman Empire