Dr. Orit Peleg-Barkat

Orit Peleg-Barkat
Room 505. Office Hours: Wednesday 12:00-13:00

Research interests: Hellenitic and Roman Art and Architecture, Classical Archaeology, Second Temple Period, Flavius Josephus, Pagan Cults in Ancient Palestine, Roman Sculpture, Roman Intaglio Gemstones, Architectural Decoration, King Herod's Construction Projects.

Current Research Projects:

  1. The Architecture of Judaea and the Origins of Jewish Art (300 BCE – 70 CE): I am currently working on the completion of a monograph that presents an overview of the architectural decoration in Judaea dating from the Persian Period to the destruction of the Second Temple. This book addresses two important aspects of the wider context that were not dealt with in my dissertation. The first is a comparative survey of architectural decoration in neighboring regions that aims at defining the distinctive characteristics of Herodian architectural decoration. The second addresses the question of the meaning of Herodian art; Judaism of the late Second Temple period upheld a negative approach toward figurative art and the archaeological remains from the period exhibit an avoidance of human and animal representation in art. Scholars have interpreted Herodian floral and geometric designs as local adaptations of foreign models that served as mere decorations and manifestations of wealth. In my book, I challenge these attitudes and re-examine the concept that art created under the prescription of the second commandment is necessarily meaningless. Examination of the changes that occurred during the first century CE in the repertoire of motifs suggests that what made these decorations "Jewish" was not only what they were lacking,but rather also their choice of motifs. The first century CE is a time when a common Jewish identity emerged and I propose that art was used already in this early period as a deliberate means to express this common Jewish identity.
  2. Hellenistic Architecture - A Textbook: A few months prior to Prof. Ehud Netzer’s untimely death in 2010, he and I began working on a joint project to prepare and publish a textbook on Hellenistic architecture. Unlike Classical Greek architecture and Roman architecture, which have served as the subject of many studies, there is no updated overview of architecture in the Hellenistic period that includes both detailed analyses of specific sites and monuments and the larger perspective of regional contexts. There is no current book that illustrates an inner coherence of the fragmented Hellenistic world, or that is well-illustrated for the easy use by students. I decided, with the encouragement of Netzer’s family, to undertake the completion of this much needed book.
  3. Herodium Mausoleum and Other Sites: I am currently studying, for publication, the architecture and architectural decoration of the recentlydiscovered Mausoleum in Herodium. This monumental building is one of the most impressive funerary monuments ever to be built in Judaea. Its study presents very interesting insights into Herod’s construction ideology and the impact of his architecture on local elites. Future projects include the study of the architectural decoration from various excavations, dated not only to the Hellenistic and early Roman periods, but also to the late Roman and Byzantine periods. This will enable me to broaden the range of the chronological typology I established to allow addressing critical issues, such as the dating of the ‘Galilean Synagogues’.
  4. Ramat Hanadiv Excavation Report (Funded by Ramat Hanadiv): I am presently working on the preparation of the report of the recent excavations I directed at Kh. 'Eleq in Ramat Hanadiv. The results of the excavations raise questions about earlier conclusions regarding the dating of the various phases of occupation at the site, and its fortifications, as well as its function and the ethnic identity of its residents. The analyses of the finds present an opportunity to examine questions of ethnic identity as reflected by material culture.