Friday, July 22, 2016

Roman Architectural Innovations

An associate professor in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan, Dr. Yaron Eliav teaches a number of courses in Jewish studies. Dr. Yaron Eliav also teaches coursework on the archaeology of the Roman Mediterranean.

Over the years, archaeologic finds have revealed a rich architectural tradition in the Mediterranean regions of the Roman Empire. Roman engineers were responsible for a number of architectural innovations, including the use of volcanic Italian sand in concrete. First introduced in the 2nd century BCE, Roman concrete was incredibly strong and demonstrate the ability to set underwater. In addition to opening up new structural possibilities, Roman concrete allowed designers to push the limits of their creativity.

Another major Roman architectural innovation is the true arch, which consists of wedge-shaped blocks with a keystone holding them in place. Compared with its predecessor, the corbeled arch, the true arch provided a great deal of structural support for large buildings. True arches were able to adopt wide or narrow configurations, allowing for flexibility in design.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Introduction to the Ancient Material Culture of Rome

An expert in the field of Jewish studies, Yaron Eliav serves as an associate professor at the University of Michigan's Department of Near Eastern Studies, where he teaches on rabbinic literature and Jewish history of late antiquity. Aside from his passion for Judaic studies, Yaron Eliav also maintains an interest in the material culture of ancient civilizations such as Rome.

The study of ancient material culture involves discovering and identifying artifacts from a culture and evaluating them on the basis of their social and economic context. Looking at these artifacts as more than mere objects helps researchers delve more deeply into the individual nature of an ancient society like Rome.

As Rome developed, it drew much from Greece and Egypt. Despite building upon the culture it inherited from these more ancient societies, Rome also developed numerous technological innovations that substantially affected the structure of Roman society. Researchers can look at the artifacts left from the material culture as a sign of a thriving technologically and culturally advanced civilization.

Some of the Roman artifacts still visible today include the ruins of enormous arches and aqueducts. Rome relied heavily on the use of concrete for its structures, and the ruins testify to the endurance of the empire's methods. Other smaller artifacts range from newspapers written on stone or metal to coins used for welfare programs.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Supporting Current and Future Scholars - Association of Jewish Studies

An associate professor at the University of Michigan, Yaron Eliav teaches Judaic studies of late antiquity and rabbinic literature, and advises students who are majoring in Biblical studies, Ancient Judaism, and Ancient Near Eastern studies, among other subjects. A dedicated member of his field, Yaron Eliav is a member of several organizations, including the Association of Jewish Studies (AJS).

Committed to the promotion of Jewish studies research and teaching at institutions of higher learning and to improving understanding of Jewish studies in the public at large, the AJS was established in 1969. With membership categories for professionals, graduate students, and people who are also members of the European Association for Jewish Studies, the association sponsors conferences, publications, and grants to connect, inform, and support its members. 

Chief among its grants is the AJS dissertation completion fellowship competition, which awards $20,000 finishing-year fellowships every year for five years. Designed to help graduate students complete their doctorates on time, the competition requires award winners to give a sophisticated and engaging public presentation. In addition to the monetary award, the AJS supports its students with a mid-year workshop, continuing development opportunities, and courses in public speaking.