Commemorating the Dead
The distinctions and similarities among Roman, Jewish, and Christian burials can provide evidence of social networks, family life, and, perhaps, religious sensibilities. Is the Roman development from columbaria to catacombs the result of evolving religious identities or simply a matter of a change in burial fashions? Do the material remains from Jewish burials evidence an adherence to ancient customs, or the adaptation of rituals from surrounding cultures? What Greco-Roman funerary images were taken over and "baptized" as Christian ones? The answers to these and other questions require that the material culture be viewed, whenever possible, in situ, through multiple disciplinary lenses and in light of ancient texts. Roman historians (John Bodel, Richard Saller, Andrew Wallace-Hadrill), archaeologists (Susan Stevens, Amy Hirschfeld), scholars of rabbinic period Judaism (Deborah Green), Christian history (Robin M. Jensen), and the New Testament (David Balch, Laurie Brink, O.P., Margaret M. Mitchell, Carolyn Osiek, R.S.C.J.) engaged in a research trip to Rome and Tunisia to investigate imperial period burials first hand. Commemorting the Dead is the result of a three year scholarly conversation on their findings.