Noted archaeologist to speak on new discoveries in Israel in Cornell lecture

This past summer Israeli archaeologist Mordechai Aviam and his colleagues made headlines by finding possible evidence, near the Sea of Galilee, of the house of St. Peter. But that is hardly Aviam’s first discovery in Galilee. Perhaps his most exciting work took place at Yodefat, an ancient city that, in the year 67, was a center of resistance in the Great Jewish Revolt against Rome. 

Aviam will speak on Yodefat and his findings about St. Peter at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, November 10, in Room 198 of Statler Hall on the Cornell University campus. His talk, “The First Jewish Revolt Against the Roman Empire in Galilee — Archaeology and History,” is free and open to the public. The event will also be streamed; to participate.

“Yodefat is one of the great sites in the history of freedom struggles. Prof. Aviam, who directed the excavations there, tells a gripping story,” said Prof. Barry Strauss, Bryce and Edith M. Bowmar Professor in Humanistic Studies in the Departments of History and Classics, and Director of the Program on Freedom and Free Societies in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Romans besieged Yodefat for seven weeks, under a blazing summer sun, before they finally managed to sack and destroy it. The city’s defense was led by Josephus, who survived to become the historian of the Great Revolt. But he defected to Rome, so his account raises skeptical questions. A new chapter in the story began in the 1990s, when a dramatic series of archaeological excavations at Yodefat brought the fate of the doomed city to light.

Aviam is professor of archaeology in the Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee, as well as founder and director of the Kinneret Institute for Galilean Archaeology. 

This event, is sponsored by the Program on Freedom and Free Societies, thanks to the generous support of Michael J. Millette ’87 and the Millette family as well as that of the Triad Foundation and other donors.

The talk is co-sponsored by the Departments of Classics and History, the Jewish Studies Program, and the Cornell Institute of Archaeology & Material Studies.

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White-haired Aviam wearing a leather cowboy hat, wearing sunglasses and a white t-shirt.
Mordechai Aviam