MIDEAST 353 - Jews and Leisure Institutions in the Roman World
Fall 2023, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Middle East Studies (MIDEAST)
Department: LSA Middle East Studies
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Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:
Start/End Date:
Full Term 8/28/23 - 12/6/23 (see other Sections below)
NOTE: Drop/Add deadlines are dependent on the class meeting dates and will differ for full term versus partial term offerings.
For information on drop/add deadlines, see the Office of the Registrar and search Registration Deadlines.


This semester we will focus on the institute of the public bathhouse as our primary object of study.

Bathhouses embody the essence of the Roman way of life – from engineering to food to fashion, from sculpture to sports, from nudity and sex to medicine and magic. They featured both hot and cold water installations as well as a wide range of other services — a sauna and massage parlors, swimming pools, open courts for recreation and sports, gardens, meeting rooms, food and oil stands, and at times even libraries and brothels. This course follows the Jews, the largest minority in the Roman Empire, as they frequented this institution, the most popular establishment in ancient cities and villages, attended on a daily basis by people from all walks of life. The course will study their pleasures and recognizes their anxieties and concerns, and will reconstructs their thoughts, feelings and beliefs about the bathhouse and the activities that took place there. the course utilizes a large plethora of sources — archaeological remains of architecture and sculpture, inscriptions, Greek and Latin literary sources as well as numerous Jewish sources in Hebrew and Aramaic, in order to trace the cultural dynamics in the bathhouse (all materials are provided in English translation). It combines studies in Talmud, archaeology, and classical literature written in Greek and Latin, as well as anthropology and Folklore. The Roman bathhouse functions in this course as a laboratory to tease out, reexamine, and test the dynamics by which Jews interacted with Graeco-Roman culture. In doing so, the course takes on some of the most intriguing, widely discussed, yet unsolved questions of the ancient world. On a broader level, it studies the cultural exchange that took shape in the Roman East, in particular the relationship between Judaism and Graeco-Roman culture, a combination that in the long run shaped what came to be known as western civilization. On the more specific level it will discuss topics such Architecture and engineering, hygiene, self-care, health, body, nudity, body shaming, and magic.


MIDEAST 353 - Jews and Leisure Institutions in the Roman World
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
W 4:00PM - 7:00PM
8/28/23 - 12/6/23

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