The Arch of Titus – from Jerusalem to Rome, and Back

YU Museum and Center for Israel Studies Present Exhibition and Conference on World-Famous Structure

The Yeshiva University Museum and YU’s Center for Israel Studies will present “The Arch of Titus – from Jerusalem to Rome, and Back” from September 14, 2017, to January 14, 2018, at the YU Museum located at 15 West 16th Street, New York City.

The exhibition explores the historical and cultural significance of the Arch from its creation as a monument to the Roman triumph over the Jews in 70 C.E. through the medieval papacy and early modern rabbis, the Counter-Reformation, European Classicism and finally the Jewish and Israeli national re-appropriation of the Arch.

The YU Museum and Center for Israeli Studies will also host a special international conference on the Arch of Titus on October 29, 2017.

Built circa 82 C.E., the Arch of Titus preserves sculptural reliefs that depict the sacred vessels of the Jerusalem Temple being carried into Rome by conquering Roman soldiers, including a seven-branched Menorah, which has been the emblem of the State of Israel since 1949.

“This history, where a symbol of defeat transforms into a symbol of victory is especially relevant in light of the recent events in Charlottesville, where symbols of a dark history have galvanized people to assert the primacy of values that are more inclusive and compassionate” ,” said Dr. Steven Fine, Churgin Professor of Jewish History and director of the Center for Israel Studies.

The exhibition will feature a digitally carved life-size replica of the Spoils of Jerusalem relief from the Arch, which will be projected with reconstructions of the missing sculptures and color of the original reliefs, based on the original polychromy discovered in 2012 by YU’s Arch of Titus Project. It will also bring together rare artifacts from collections in Italy, Israel and the United States to illuminate this long history, including a postcard of the Arch written in 1913 by Sigmund Freud, inscribed: “The Jew Survives it.”

Installation of the Arch of Titus facsimile
Installation of the Arch of Titus facsimile

“Though we tend to see the Arch of Titus and other such ancient monuments in immutable terms, this exhibition reveals and reflects on the dynamic ways the Arch has been physically and symbolically transformed over the ages,” said Dr. Jacob Wisse, director of Yeshiva University Museum. “The exhibition isn’t just about history but about making connections to Jewish culture and tradition today.”

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