The earliest depiction of the famous biblical scene “The Judgement of Solomon” (I Kings, 3, 16-28) was found in a first century dwelling in the ancient city of Pompeii. This large fresco was on loan to the Bible Lands Museum from the National Museum of Archaeology in Naples, Italy for the exhibition Images of Inspiration. Its importance and its accessibility made it a prime project for the Ancient Jewish Art Section in 2001-2002 headed by Orit Sehayek-Avital. The scene depicts the climax of the story wherein two women claim to be the real mother of the same infant, adjudicated by King Solomon and two other judges. The presence of three judges is dictated by the halakhah (Mishnah Sanhedrin IV: A). The team determined that several artists painted the scene.
Jason’s Tomb, located in the heart of Jerusalem’s Rehavia residential neighbourhood, is a tomb complex of one of the wealthy families in Jerusalem from the end of the Second Temple period (1st century B.C.E. –1st century C.E.). This complex includes two burial caves that contained the bones of about 35 people. Above the burial caves is a pyramidal structure that was reconstructed shortly after the excavations in 1956. The walls were decorated with engravings of seven-branched menorot which have been removed from the site (now exhibited at the Sir Isaac and Lady Edith Wolfson Museum of Jewish Art, Heichal Shlomo, Jerusalem) and by chalk inscriptions and drawings on the tomb’s walls, among them battleships which are almost obliterated. Thanks are due to the Israel Antiquities Authority for their cooperation.
The Ancient Jewish Art team also documented small items from the Israel Museum collection dating from the late Roman -Byzantine period. These included bronze bread stamps, clay oil lamps, glass oil flasks for pilgrims to Jerusalem and environs, and two gold glass bases from Roman catacombs bearing depictions of Sanctuary Implements.
Orit Sehayek-Avital, head of the Ancient Jewish Art
section is the recipient of the Madeleine and Albert Erlanger Scholarship.
This year, Ronit Moshel, student-researcher in the section received the Cecile and Michael Greenberg Family Scholarship established by Lorna Scherzer and siblings in memory of their parents.
Galit Bennett was awarded a scholarship given by the Wolfensohn Family Foundation.