Roman Catacombs Online: From the International Catacomb Society to Google Earth

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The International Catacomb Society is a non-profit organization “dedicated to the preservation and documentation of the Roman catacombs & those rare vestiges of history that illustrate the common influences on Jewish, Christian, and Pagan iconography and funerary practices during the time of the Roman Empire.”  It features an expanding website with already substantial resources, mostly for Rome.

While the substantial archive of images and bibliography is available only to members (dues support the goals of the organization), a substantial (and growing) number of resources are open-access.  The “Vaults of Memory” online exhibit, by the Society’s founder, Estelle Shohet Brettman, contains well over one hundred slides with a rich selection of catacomb art and inscriptions accompanied by explanations; in short, excellent material for an introductory class.  There is also a helpful glossary of terms; and interactive maps, which clearly situate the catacombs, along with select other monuments, including the tituli churches.  An ongoing series of PDF publications on the catacombs, most by Jessica Dello Russo in the series Roma Subterranean Judaica, are also important resources.  The site also includes contact information for arranging visits in Rome itself; one site, the catacombs of Priscilla, were recently renovated, and are now included in Google Earth!

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Ancient Iran: Courses and Grammars by Prods Oktor Skjærvø

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Prods Oktor Skjærvø, the Agha Khan Professor of Iranian Studies at Harvard University, has published online an impressive series of courses and grammars on ancient Iran (and Central Asia), from the Avestan period to the Middle Ages. Continue reading

Graeco-Coptica

A large percentage of Coptic literature consists of translations from the Greek, beginning with the Septuagint and the New Testament, and continuing through “gnostic,” apocryphal, and patristic texts.  Walter Ewing Crum’s A Coptic Dictionary (Oxford, 1939), a major accomplishment in the field, reflects this connection by listing Greek equivalents for Coptic words in biblical and patristic texts (though not exhaustively; see “Preface,” viii).  However, Crum did not include Greek loan words in the dictionary, which are numerous. Continue reading

Evagrius Ponticus: Text and Translation

Dr. Luke Dysinger, O.S.B., of Saint Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo California, has made available online the text and translation of a number of important works by the fourth-century monastic theorist Evagrius Ponticus.  His site is noteworthy for providing translations of texts that are not available in English anywhere in print, most notably the Kephalaia Gnostica, a highly influential text for monastic spirituality, extant in Syriac, but not the original Greek. Continue reading

Medieval Nubia

A central resource for the developing field of Old Nubian studies, administered by Giovanni Ruffini of Fairfield University.  A highlight of the site is the series of important overview articles by William Adams, who has over forty years of experience as an excavator of medieval Nubian sites. Continue reading

Sasanika

An important and steadily expanding centralized information portal for all aspects of the history and culture of the Sasanian Empire, hosted at the University of California-Irvine, under the direction of Touraj Daryaee.  Some highlights of the site are the open-access series “e-sasanika,” including bibliographical studies, topical surveys, and catalogues of material culture; various primary sources in English translation; a working bibliography of Sasanian studies in the form of a searchable pdf; Continue reading