Archaeologists Carol Meyers and Eric Meyers to present Qualley Lecture Oct. 15

Oct. 6, 2009

Carol L. Meyers and Eric M. Meyers, internationally known scholars in the field of biblical archaeology, will present the 2009 Luther College Qualley Lecture on Thursday, Oct. 15, 7 p.m. in the Center for Faith and Life Recital Hall.

The presentation, titled “Romans, Jews, and Christians: Discoveries at Ancient Sepphoris,” is open to the public with no charge for admission. A reception with the lecturers will immediately follow the lecture in the Qualley Lounge.

Qualley Lecturers Carol and Eric Meyers will discuss their work at the site of the ancient city of Sepphoris in Galilee.

One of the most important archaeological sites for biblical scholars, Sepphoris was a major city in Galilee during the Roman and Byzantine periods. The site of ancient Sepphoris is near Nazareth in the northern part of Israel, about 18 miles from the Mediterranean Sea.

Carol Meyers holds the Mary Grace Wilson Professorship in Religion at Duke University. A specialist in biblical studies and archaeology, she is a prominent scholar in the study of women in the biblical world and has been a staff member or co-director of many archaeological field projects.

She has been a consultant for many media productions focusing on the Bible, including DreamWorks’s “Prince of Egypt,” Nova’s “The Bible’s Buried Secrets,” and many segments of the A&E Mysteries of the Bible and Biography series. She holds the doctoral degree from Brandeis University.

Eric Meyers is the Bernice and Morton Lerner Professor of Judaic Studies and Director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Duke University. He has directed or co-directed archaeological digs in Israel and Italy for more than 30 years.

He holds the doctoral degree from Harvard University, specializing in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, archaeology of the ancient Near East, and Jewish History of the Greco-Roman period. He has published widely in the fields of Hebrew Bible, biblical archaeology, and Second Temple Judaism. He has served as president of the American Schools of Oriental Research.

Sepphoris, built on a hill astride two major trade routes, was a major metropolis with thriving trade and commerce, surrounded by a prosperous agricultural area with fertile soil and abundant rainfall.

Archaeological excavations since 1931 indicate that Sepphoris was a sophisticated urban center with a population of up to 30,000 people, two marketplaces, a city wall, an extensive aqueduct system, a reservoir, colonnaded streets, a 4,500-seat theatre, numerous synagogues, a council chamber, an archive, and a basilica with mosaics.

The ancient city’s citadel is the most conspicuous surviving building.

Sepphoris may have been settled as early as the 7th or 6th centuries BC, but the earliest mention of the city in historical records is in the 1st century AD. Roman Palestine was divided into five districts, and Sepphoris was the capital of the Galilee district through the reign of Herod the Great.

The city and the region were transformed by the many political cultural, religious and economic conflicts of the next 300 years, including the Jewish wars against Rome in 66-73 and 132-135. In 324 Christianity was declared the official religion of the Roman empire, marking the start of the Byzantine period. The city began its decline in the 7th century.

Orlando W. “Pip” Qualley (1897-1988) served Luther College in a variety of faculty and administrative capacities during his long association with the college. From his graduation in 1918 until his retirement in 1969, he held positions of vice president, dean, professor of classical languages, registrar, basketball coach and football coach. Known for his firmness, directness and drive, Qualley encouraged high academic standards, and recruited a faculty devoted to education.