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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Bumberazi by Stephen Rapp: Explorations in Medieval Georgia and Caucasia

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This site presents the research of Stephen Rapp, who has done much over the past several decades to present Late Antique and Medieval Georgia to an Anglophone audience.  It contains an important list of links to the Georgian text and/or English translations of key sources, including the Life of Nino and the Conversion of Kartli; links to relevant sites; as well as a gallery of photos taken by the author.  An important resource for an understudied area of Late Antiquity.

http://bumberazi.com/

Kartvelologists (or aspiring ones) may also consult other Old Georgian resources strewn across the web: hmmlorientalia has a great survey of basic grammatical resources, as well as a series of posts on Old Georgian; and a number of Old Georgian writings are available as e-texts on Titus.org.

The Talmud Blog

The Talmud blog, edited by Shai Secunda and Yitz Landes, with regular contributors Amit Gvaryahu, Ophir Münz-Manor, and Ron Naiweld, has a wide variety of posts on Talmudic culture.  The topics range from musings on the Israeli movie “The Footnote” (a fascinating drama involving Rabbinics scholarship) to the inscriptions of the Sasanian mage Kerdīr; indeed, a significant number concern Judaism in Late Antiquity, in both the Roman and Sasanian Empires.  Conference updates, book reviews, and even surveys of recent dissertations are also included.  The toolbox collects a number of useful resources, such as a blogroll and web resources for rabbinic studies; links to digitized books, including e-texts; and a wonderful collection of links to images and transcriptions of Talmudic manuscripts.

http://thetalmudblog.wordpress.com/

The Life of Martin on Dickinson College Commentaries

Dickinson College Commentaries, created by Professor Chris Francese with a grant from the Roberts Fund for Classical Studies, currently consists of electronic editions of Julius Caesar’s Gallic War, Sulpicius Severus’s Life of Martin, and Ovid’s Amores Book 1. The texts are a combination of previous editions and do not reflect additional manuscript work; rather, the focus is pedagogical, as I can attest from my own use of the site in a Late-Antique Latin seminar I offered this spring.  Audio files of the entire text are available for download, and words not in the site’s core vocabulary lists of Greek or Latin (themselves invaluable resources) are glossed; a substantial number of grammatical notes are also provided by Francese.  Dickinson College Commentaries is now accepting submissions for electronic editions of additional Latin texts, to be reviewed by the editorial committee, and thus represents a unique, valuable opportunity for publishing digital editions of Greek and Latin texts to be used especially in the classroom.

 

 

Online Resources for the Mandaeans

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The Mandaeans are a contemporary religion with communities in Iraq and Iran, as well as an expanding Diaspora in Europe, North America, and Australia; their heritage reaches back to Late-Antique Mesopotamia.  Most scholars of religion in Late Antiquity have ignored them, especially after earlier attempts to interpret key Gospel passages through Mandaean literature fell sharply, and deservedly, out of favor.  In more recent scholarship, their importance for understanding pre-Islamic religion in Sasanian Iran is slowly being recognized.  Yet major texts, such as the Mandaic Book of John, are not available in English translation. Professors Charles Häberl of Rutgers University and James McGrath of Butler University are producing a translation of this Book of John; their work-in-progress is helpfully posted on the project blog. Continue reading

The Campbell Bonner Magical Gems Database

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This database of magical gems, named after Campbell-Bonner’s famous collection of 1954, is in fact far more extensive, containing over 1,000 items.  These are drawn from over 30 collections, including the British Museum, and the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts, which is curating the website with the University of Fribourg, under the direction of an international editorial board.  According to the site, the database, which is currently expanding, contains “a fourth of the known corpus of magical gems.”  Its search functions allow the user to browse the gems by collection, material, place of discovery (only a few of which are known), iconographical schemes and elements, vocabulary (gem inscriptions in Greek and Latin), names, voces magicae, Logoi, and Characteres.  The entries themselves contain this information, when available, along with digital images of the gems; these can even be sent as electronic postcards!  There is a small glossary and bibliography, which has the helpful feature of noting the gems referred to in each entry.  Clearly this is a major resource, which will become even more important as the site grows.

http://www2.szepmuveszeti.hu/talismans/

 

Manichaean Texts at the Digitales Turfan-Archiv and TITUS

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The Iranian texts discovered at the beginning of the 20th-century during the German excavations of the Turfan oasis constitute a major source for modern scholarship on Manichaeism; like the Nag Hammadi Library, they provide an important corrective to the exclusively polemical accounts that had survived the manuscript transmission.  The numerous textual fragments have been patiently published over the past century by a number of scholars, and this critical project is still ongoing.

The Turfanforschung group at the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften has published to the web the Digitales Turfan-Archiv, which includes a variety of literature from the Turfan oasis, including “Texte in Manichäischer Schrift,” in the Parthian and Middle Persian languages, as well as some in Old Turkic.  This section contains high-resolution images of basically the entire run of texts in Manichaean script, more than 9,200 fragments, catalogued according to the more recent “M” categorization cited in contemporary scholarship (from Mary Boyce’s A Catalogue of the Iranian Manuscripts in Manichaean Script in the German Turfan Collection [Berlin, Akademie Verlag, 1960]); the glass plates show the former “T” categorization:

http://www.bbaw.de/forschung/turfanforschung/dta/

The Middle Persian and Parthian eTexts for many of these documents is available from TITUS at the University of Frankfurt:

http://titus.uni-frankfurt.de/indexe.htm?/texte/texte2.htm