EVENT: Making Space: The Huqoq Synagogue Mosaics and the Viewing Experience

Sara Ben-Isaac's picture

Online lecture by Ra‘anan Boustan 


The ongoing excavations in the village at Huqoq in Lower Eastern Galilee have uncovered a monumental, Late Roman synagogue paved with floor mosaics depicting a series of remarkable biblical and non-biblical scenes. This lecture considers the sophisticated visual strategies that were employed across the various zones within the synagogue’s mosaic program to structure and mediate the viewing experience. The composition, placement, orientation, and framing of the various mosaic panels or groups of panels in the synagogue conditioned how viewers would have moved through—and thus experienced—the carefully differentiated spaces within the building. This analysis demonstrates the value of an approach to synagogue mosaics that foregrounds their physical placement within the broader architectural environment.

Ra‘anan Boustan is a Research Scholar in the Program in Judaic Studies at Princeton University. Before coming to Princeton, he was an Associate Professor in the Department of History at UCLA. Boustan’s work explores the dynamic intersections between Judaism and other Mediterranean religious traditions in late antiquity, with a special focus on the impact of Christianization on Jewish culture and society. In addition to publishing numerous articles and edited volumes, he is the author of From Martyr to Mystic (2005) and co-author of The Elephant Mosaic Panel in the Synagogue at Huqoq (2017). He currently serves as the Editor-in-Chief of two international journals, Jewish Studies Quarterly and Studies in Late Antiquity.