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Late Antique Jews and Christians in the Balearic Islands (4th to 7th centuries CE): The Material World of Samuel Bar-Haggai

February 18, 2019 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Drawing of a colorful mosaic floor with large sections of the drawing missing (where mosaic floor was missing) labeled "Manuel de Assas (1877): "Mosaico descubierto en Mallorca en 1833."
Image: Manuel de Assas (1877): “Mosaico descubierto en Mallorca en 1833” Museo Español de Antigüedades, VIII. Plate without number, based on a drawing by A. Sureda, 1833.

Monday Seminar:

Alexander Bar-Magen Numhauser

Kingdon Fellow (2018-2019)

Prehistoria y Arqueología, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid


Archaeological evidence of early Christianity in the wealthy Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain reveals a unique feature of its mosaic floors, placed in their small yet monumental churches. These floors were decorated with rich iconography rarely seen in the Western Mediterranean Christianity. These are not unique however for the Late Antique period (3rd to 8th centuries), finding close parallels to contemporary Jewish art of the Eastern Roman world. With innovating archaeological approaches, minorities become a material rather than a theoretical presence. When it comes to Baleares, at the heart of the Western Mediterranean, material and written sources reveal a society of coexistence and cooperation, but also of tension and conflict. But what was the nature of such interaction? How were they influenced by the powerful new Mediterranean center of Constantinople? And what can these unique Balearic findings tell us about Late Antique Judeo-Christian relations, and the minority realities of the modern world?


Alexander Bar-Magen Numhauser earned his Ph.D. in Archaeology, Prehistory, and Heritage from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain) in 2017. His main field of expertise is the archaeological study of Judaism in the Western Mediterranean, focusing on Late Antique and Medieval periods in the Iberian Peninsula. In this research he applies an interdisciplinary approach to the world of western Late Antique Judaism, before the rise of the later Sephardi civilization. He also worked and researched in the archaeology of minorities, archaeological methodology, archaeology of human rights, and forensic archaeology. His postgraduate and doctoral studies were generously supported by the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid’s Postgraduate Scholarship, the Paideia European Institute for Jewish Studies’ One-Year Program (2012-2013), and the Rotschild (Yad-Hanadiv) Foundation Europe’s Doctoral Fellowship (2014-2017). As a Kingdon Fellow for the IRH at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he is engaged in the research of the material interactions between the Jews and Christians of the Byzantine Balearic Islands.


February 18, 2019
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
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University Club, Room 212
432 East Campus Mall
Madison, Wisconsin 53703 United States