Kelsey On-Line

Sepphoris in Galilee:
Crosscurrents of Culture

 

September 7 - December 14, 1997

The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
and the University of Michigan Museum of Art

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The exhibition focuses on the archaeological site of Sepphoris (known as Zippori in Hebrew) which was once an important city in Roman Palestine. Described by the Jewish historian Josephus Flavius as "the ornament of all Galilee," Sepphoris was a thriving provincial capital where Jews, pagans, and later Christians coexisted in relative harmony. In the Roman and Byzantine periods, Sepphoris was a leading center of Jewish scholarship and culture, richly attested in literature. Excavations have now uncovered physical evidence of the flowering of Jewish life at Sepphoris. Because of the city's proximity to Nazareth, Sepphoris also offers valuable insight into the cultural milieu in which Jesus of Nazareth lived and Christianity took root. The gradual emergence of a strong Christian presence at Sepphoris is evident from the discovery of Christian buildings and mosaics at the site. The Arab and Crusader periods also left their traces at Sepphoris. Working in cooperation with the site archaeologists and the Israel Antiquities Authority, the exhibition curators have selected objects from Sepphoris and related sites including sculptures, architectural fragments, mosaics, jewelry, coins, ritual objects, ceramic and glass vessels. One of the most impressive pieces is a well-preserved mosaic from Sepphoris showing a life-size figure of a hunter. Maps, photomurals, scale models of buildings, and facsimiles of other mosaics help viewers envision these objects in their original context. In addition, a video program on the excavations at Sepphoris and interactive computer stations on various aspects of the city and its archaeological treasures will accompany the exhibit.

"Sepphoris in Galilee: Crosscurrents of Culture" was organized by the North Carolina Museum of Art as part of its participation in the Israel/North Carolina Cultural Exchange. The organizing curators are Rebecca Martin Nagy, Associate Director of Education, North Carolina Museum of Art, and Eric Meyers, Professor of Religion, Duke University. The exhibition is made possible through the generosity of the State of North Carolina, Department of Cultural Resources and the State of Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The exhibition comes to the University of Michigan as part of the cultural programming of the Jewish Federation of Greater Metropolitan Detroit's Partnership 2000, which fosters cultural, business, economic, and human service exchanges between the State of Michigan and the Central Galilee in Israel.

Because the University of Michigan conducted one of the earliest excavations at Sepphoris in 1931, the Kelsey Museum will mount a related exhibit of archival photographs, excavation notebooks, and archaeological objects to highlight this early exploration of the site. The catalogue Leroy Waterman and the University of Michigan Excavations at Sepphoris, 1931: "The Scientific Test of the Spade" accompanies this portion of the exhibit and is available for purchase. The curators of both exhibitions at the University of Michigan are Elaine Gazda, Curator, Kelsey Museum, and Elise Friedland, Visiting Assistant Curator, Kelsey Museum.

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Copyright © 1997 The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.