Israeli professor to spend one-year studying Caesarea (Kansas City Jewish Chronicle)
By Scott Factor, Staff Writer June 20, 2003
An Israeli professor at the University of Kansas has been awarded a Fulbright-Hays research grant for her project "Conflicts and Concord: A History of Palestine in Late Antiquity."
With the grant, Hagith Sivan, associate professor of history, will spend one year in Israel studying the late antiquity period (early 4th to early 7th century) in Caesarea Maritima, the ancient Roman capital of Palestine, to study how the current situation in the region has its roots in history, especially this period.
Sivan is planning to write a book, which will be completed following her year in Israel and bear the same name as her project.
"In the beginning of the period, the territory was largely Pagan, with some Jewish presence. Than Christianity comes in a big way, with the Emperor Constantine and major Christian building projects," Sivan said. "The Muslim conquest of the early 7th century brought about the Islamicization of the region. In this time period of 300 years, you had a complete change in the area."
Discovering how people of all faiths lived together then is crucial, not only for her project, but for bridging some of the gaps that exist in the region today.
"I would like, when I look at what happened there, to bring to life an understanding of how it worked then ... what made people live in harmony, but also what distracted them," Sivan said. "It is useful to pinpoint certain periods where you are able to see ... trends and types of personalities that shaped the agendas. Late antiquity is a very important time for this."
Sivan said her book will have an entire chapter that will be devoted to Jerusalem, which has its "own history."
"All you have to do is look at the skyline of Jerusalem. When Constantine becomes interested in Christianizing the Holy Land, churches were put everywhere you looked," Sivan said. "The Dome of the Rock now highlights it because it really is an expression of the victory of Islam. The expression is that we are now higher than the highest church. A small indication of the city now is that in the Jewish corridor in the Old City, some of the yeshivas are either at the same height as the dome or a bit higher. It is as if they are saying "We are here now."
Congratulations Professor Sivan!