Ex Anatolia Lux: Menorahs from the Synagogue at Sardis

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism
Marcus Rautman Department of Ancient Mediterranean Studies, University of Missouri Columbia, MO United States

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The Sardis Synagogue is a key monument of diaspora Judaism, whose rich visual language runs through its decoration and furnishings. Votive texts, inscribed reliefs, and freestanding lampstands found in the building make clear the central importance of the menorah as a resonant religious image but also a functional object. Differences in material, size, form, and decoration reflect multiple sources for the Sardis menorahs, with imported examples apparently guiding the production of distinctive local versions over two centuries. As a group, they document the diffusion of visual ideas as well as contacts with other Jewish communities in late antiquity.

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