IPGRH Brown Bag: The Memorable Metropolis and the Forgettable Field: Between Rabbinic and Roman Spatial Mnemonics
Presenter: Gil Klein, Loyola Marymount University
By comparing rabbinic rulings from late antique Palestine with Roman texts on land survey, this paper examines the link between memory and space in these two deeply intertwined cultures. It explores the ways in which Greco-Roman devices of memorization may have shaped rabbinic spatial practices, which were concerned with regulating cityscapes and landscapes according to the laws of the Torah. Urban practices are examined through the rabbinic notion of the Sabbath Boundary (tehum shabbat) and agricultural practices are explored through the notion of Forgotten Produce (shikhehah). These notions appear already in early rabbinic sources from third century CE Palestine, which are coterminous with some of the Roman works included in the Corpus Agrimensorum Romanorum. Beyond the historical implications of the Roman-rabbinic parallels in the context of space and memory, this investigation raises questions regarding spatial perception, which have been central in recent studies of Ars Memoria. In discussing memorization, the paper considers, furthermore, the notion of cultural memory and the way in which city and land were made to embody a shared past.