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Take this free online course on Rome’s Arch of Titus, which commemorated Rome’s occupation of the Holy Land


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J-P Mauro - published on 04/10/19

The menorah carved into the marble actually served as the model for the emblem of the State of Israel.

A new online class from Coursera is exploring one of the most significant Roman monuments to survive from antiquity: The Arch of Titus. Erected in A.D. 82 by Emperor Domitian, the Arch commemorates the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in the year 70, along with his many other victories.

The Arch of Titus is one of only a few examples of contemporary depictions of Temple period artifacts, and it became a symbol of the Jewish diaspora — the dispersion of the people from their original homeland. The menorah carved into the marble actually served as the model for the emblem of the State of Israel.

The course, The Arch of Titus: Rome and the Menorah, is brought to Coursera by Yeshiva University, the oldest and most comprehensive educational institution under Jewish auspices in America. The course synopsis states:

Together with your guide, Professor Steven Fine, you will examine ancient texts and artifacts, gaining skills as a historian as you explore the continuing significance of the Arch of Titus from antiquity to the very present. Course members will accompany Professor Fine on virtual “fieldtrips” to museums and historical sites in Los Angeles and New York where you will “meet” curators, scholars and artists.

Students will be expected to “participate” in office hours, as well as explore the latest advancement in the study of the Arch — the restoration of its original colors. They will learn how color was utilized in Roman antiquity and will even complete their own “color restoration” of the Arch of Titus menorah relief.

The syllabus states that classes will teach students the artistic influence of the Arch, its storied history, and to view the Arch from the perspective of both the Romans and Jews. Later classes will cover the history of the Arch from Antiquity to the Modern Era and in the final class students will learn about the Roman coloring and the efforts to restore the monument.

The course, led by Steven Fine, Professor of Jewish History and Director of the Yeshiva University Center for Israel Studies, is free; although if students wish to receive a certificate there is a $49 charge. The class is expected to take about 16 hours to complete and it is suggested that these hours are spread over the course of 6 weeks, as the course load is spread over 6 sessions.

One of the best parts of Cousera is that the classes can be completed around your schedule. If you wanted to complete all six lessons in a week or two they will accommodate you, and, similarly, if your schedule is too hectic and you miss a week, Professor Fine will work with you. Register now to take the class free of charge!

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