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Title: The Jewish catacombs of Roman Melite
Authors: Buhagiar, Mario
Keywords: Jews -- Malta -- Antiquities
Catacombs -- Malta -- History -- Classical period, 218 B.C.-535 A.D.
Issue Date: 2011
Citation: Buhagiar, Mario (2011). The Jewish catacombs of Roman Melite. The The Antiquaries Journal, Vol. 91(August), p.73-100
Abstract: The Roman city of Melite, on the central Mediterranean archipelago of Malta, had, in common with other provincial outposts of the Empire, a diaspora Jewish colony for which there is testimony in six hypogea that prominently display the seven-branched Menorah. There is apparent evidence for a religious, and perhaps administrative, set-up in a Greek inscription that marks the burial place of a gerousiarch and lover of the 'commandments' who could have been the head of a Council of Elders in the synagogue of the city, and of his wife, Eulogia 'the Elder'. The title presbytera used in the text has a special significance and suggests that husband and wife held prestigious posts in the running of the colony. A second inscription incorporates the seven branched Menorah and commemorates another woman, named Dionisia, who was known by the ritualistic name 'Irene'. Two other texts appear to be simple farewell messages but are of interest because they are accompanied by a stylized painted Menorah and a boldly incised sailing vessel that has the appearance of a Roman ship. The paper takes a close look at these and other archaeological material related to Jewish presence and influence in Malta. The hypogea are discussed in the context of the Maltese culture of rock-cut burials, starting in the prehistoric period and finding special significance as the prototype influence on the Romano-Punic tomb.
Appears in Collections:Melitensia Works - ERCASHArc
Scholarly Works - FacArtHa

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