Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Arch of Titus – from Jerusalem to Rome, and Back

A replica of one of ancient Rome’s most iconic sculptures brings ancient history and Jewish culture to life at Yeshiva University Museum this fall. 


 Spoils from the Temple of Solomon. Relief in the passageway of the Arch of Titus.


 Attic inscription, Arch of Titus


The Arch of Titus – from Jerusalem to Rome, and Back allows visitors to experience the richness and ongoing influence of one of ancient Rome’s most significant monuments, as well as the ways its meaning has dramatically transformed over 2,000 years.  The exhibition will be on view in the Museum’s Popper Gallery, located at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, through January 14, 2018.

The exhibition explores the historical and cultural significance of the Arch from its creation as a monument celebrating the Roman triumph over the Jews in 70 CE through the medieval papacy and early modern rabbis, the Counter-Reformation, European Classicism and finally the Jewish and Israeli national re-appropriation of the Arch.
“This history, where a symbol of defeat transforms into a symbol of victory, is especially relevant in light of the recent events in Charlottesville, where symbols of a dark history have galvanized people to assert the primacy of values that are more inclusive and compassionate,” said Dr. Steven Fine, Churgin Professor of Jewish History at Yeshiva University and director of the Yeshiva University Center for Israel Studies.
The Arch of Titus – from Jerusalem to Rome, and Back was conceived and is presented by Yeshiva University Museum in partnership with the Yeshiva University Center for Israel Studies. The Museum and the Center will also co-present a special international conference on the Arch on October 29, 2017.
Built by Emperor Domitian around 82 CE to commemorate the Roman defeat of Judaea in the Jewish War of 66-74 CE, the Arch of Titus has today become an iconic representation of antiquity. The Arch preserves sculptural reliefs that depict the sacred vessels of the Jerusalem Temple being carried into Rome by celebrating Roman soldiers, including a seven-branched Menorah, which, since 1949, has been the emblem of the State of Israel.

The exhibition features a digitally carved life-size replica of the Spoils of Jerusalem relief from the interior passageway of the Arch. The replica is projected with images that reconstruct the missing sculptures and colors of the original relief, based on the original polychromy discovered in 2012 by YU’s Arch of Titus Project, working collaboratively with a team of historians, scientists, and archaeologists.
In complement to the cutting-edge visual technologies, the exhibition also features rare artifacts from collections in Italy, Israel and the United States that illuminate the monument’s vibrant history – including:
Rare prints, paintings, photographs and depictions of the Arch of Titus across the centuries;
17th- and 18th-century placards carried by the Jews of Rome at the Arch during papal processions;
A postcard written by Sigmund Freud from the Arch, in 1913, inscribed: “The Jew Survives it”;
A selection of original proposals for the Emblem of the State of Israel.
The exhibition stretches from the Roman era to the present, exploring the image and symbolism of the Arch from various vantage points as the monument transformed and was re-interpreted across history.

As a complement to the exhibition, Yeshiva University Museum is teaming with the Jewish Museum of Rome and Centro Primo Levi on The Rome Lab, an ambitious multimedia program that explores Rome's Jewish community through the centuries and today. Spearheaded by Alessandra Di Castro, director of the Jewish Museum of Rome, and Natalia Indrimi, director of Centro Primo Levi, The Rome Lab is a dreamlike space that collapses spatial and temporal coordinates around three symbolic physical places: the Jewish quarter, the Jewish Museum and the Synagogue. This historic partnership with the Jewish Museum of Rome is especially meaningful in that it comes directly after the conclusion of the exhibition on the Menorah held jointly at the Jewish Museum of Rome and the Vatican Museum.

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