Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Town Council stands firm on disapproval of builders' plans to erect housing over site of Southwell Roman Villa

A reader sent me a link to this blog post about the battle over developers' plans to build housing on top of the site containing the remains of the Southwell Roman Villa.   Some people will never grasp the importance of preservation of our cultural heritage.  I'm glad there are still those willing to take a stand against others more interested in profit.


I wonder if, after all the dust settles in Tunis, Libya, Morocca, etc. new governments will take a pro-preservation stance over Roman remains in those countries?  The remains of ancient Carthage were already being overtaken by Tunisian developers building retreats for the wealthy despite verbal obeisance to cultural preservation.
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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Exquisite animal mosaics found in Judean Byzantine remains

Mosaic floor of a 1500-year-old Byzantine Church in Hirbet Madras, Israel.
Image courtesy of the Associated Press.
Just in from the AP:

"Israeli archaeologists presented a newly uncovered 1,500-year-old church in the Judean hills on Wednesday, including an unusually well-preserved mosaic floor with images of lions, foxes, fish and peacocks.

The Byzantine church located southwest of Jerusalem, excavated over the last two months, will be visible only for another week before archaeologists cover it again with soil for its own protection.

The small basilica with an exquisitely decorated floor was active between the fifth and seventh centuries A.D., said the dig's leader, Amir Ganor of the Israel Antiquities Authority." - Associated Press

The article includes more images including some closeups that are well worth examining.

I also found an interesting web page about Judea under Byzantine rule.  An excerpt:

"It was official Christian policy to convert Jews to Christianity, and the Christian leadership used the official power of Rome in their attempts. In 351 CE the Jews revolted against the added pressures of a bad ruler named Gallus. Gallus put down the revolt and destroyed all of the major cities in the Galilee where the revolt had started. Tzippori and Lydda (site of two of the major legal academies) never recovered..."

"...The Jews of Judea received a brief respite in 363 CE when Julian the Apostate became Emperor of the Eastern Kingdom. He tried to return the kingdom to Hellenism and encouraged the Jews to rebuild Jerusalem. The Jews were ecstatic, but their joy was short-lived; Julian was assassinated, and Christian emperors took over, never to lose control again."
Numismatic image of Theodosius IImage via Wikipedia
Coin with portrait of Theodosius I
In the beginning of the fifth century, Emperor Theodosius ruled that because the Jews were the perfidious group that had rejected Jesus, they were to be persecuted. Jews couldn't own slaves (making agriculture difficult). They couldn't build new synagogues. They couldn't hold public office. The Jewish courts couldn't try cases between a Jew and a non-Jew. Intermarriage between Jew and non-Jew was a capital offense as was a Christian converting to Judaism. In addition, Theodosius did away with the Sanhedrin and abolished the post of "Nasi." The Jews received extra tax burdens as well.
Royal bust eastern Roman EmpireImage by mharrsch via Flickr
Ruler of the Eastern Roman Empire

"...Justinian added some details to the list in two Edicts. Regulation 37 prohibited Jews from occupying North Africa. The most outrageous edict, however, was Regulation 146, created in 553 CE. Jews were forbidden to read the torah or any other book in Hebrew. Only the Greek version (the Septuagint) could be used. The "Shma" was forbidden. Studying of the Mishnah was forbidden. Justinian encouraged Christians to destroy synagogues, stores, and Jewish houses." - Judea Under Byzantine Rule, The Jewish Virtual Library

The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire   Byzantium: The Lost Empire   Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization  Byzantine Art (Oxford History of Art)
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