The Vatican’s Jewish Treasures

Could the Vatican's Secret Vautls house the Vatican's Jewish Treasures?

When the Romans breached Jerusalem’s walls in 70 AD, they set upon a spree of slaughter and pillaging, the barbarity of which truly chills the blood.  Josephus records the death toll at 1.1 million – a number compounded by the many visitors who had come to celebrate Passover. Jerusalem’s houses were burned, its walls were […]

Ancient Rome and Judea: Nero and the Jews

Nero at the height of his power

Like his uncle Caligula, the emperor Nero has earned an unsavoury reputation in the annals of history, yet an interesting and overlooked aspect of his reign is the relationship between Nero and the Jews. Today’s post looks at this relationship in detail, considering where his favourable treatment of the Jews might have come from and […]

Ancient Rome and Judea: Caligula and the Temple of Jerusalem

Painting by Alex Levin. Web:

Cover image “The Second Holy Temple in Jerusalem” by Alex Levin. Web: In the previous post, we looked at Caligula’s reception of Philo’s Jewish Embassy in Rome. The meeting, documented by a Jewish grammarian, is invaluable as it provides one of the few non-Roman perspectives on the emperor Caligula, elsewhere portrayed as mad, bad, […]

Ancient Rome and Judea: Caligula’s Jewish Embassy

Bust of the emperor Caligula

Of all Rome’s emperors, Caligula stands among the most infamous. His reputation for being mad, bad, and dangerous-to-know has endured for nearly 2,000 since his brutal assassination, orchestrated by his disaffected Praetorian Prefect who had had enough of the emperor’s insults. The charges of cruelty and debauchery laid at Caligula’s feet are many. apparently held […]

The Ghettarello: Rome’s Other Jewish Ghetto

The Ghettarello: Rome's other Jewish Ghetto

Walk along the eastern side of the River Tiber, where Fabricius Bridge connects Tiber Island to the historic centre, and you’ll stumble upon a true treasure of Hidden Rome: the Ghettarello. Nestled between the Church of Saint Nicola in Chains and an eyesore of a modern bus stop on the road running along the Tiber […]

Ancient Rome and Judea: Julius Caesar to Tiberius

Ancient Rome and Judea: Julius Caesar to Tiberius

Last time in our series about ancient Rome and Judea, we looked at when the Jews first made contact with the Roman Republic, forming a close alliance against a common enemy, the Seleucids, in the mid-2nd-century BC. This alliance lasted around 100 years, until 64 BC, when Pompey Magnus invaded Judea, captured Jerusalem, and established […]

Coins of the Jewish-Roman Wars: Judaea Capta

Judaea Capta: the Siege of Jerusalem by David Roberts

Judaea Capta Part 1: Judaea Capta The summer of 70 AD scorched as the sun beat down over Judaea, baking its desert sands. For the Roman legions surrounding Jerusalem’s city walls, the bright light reflecting off their armour was blinding. But for the people of Jerusalem, these were the darkest of days. On August 30th, […]

History of the Jews in Rome: the turbulent 15th century


The history of Jews in Rome is fraught with turbulence.  Living alongside their Christian neighbors, they were subject to alternations of acceptance and suspicion, tolerance and persecution.  The view of the Church and State throughout much of the Middle Ages had its roots in a position taken by Pope Alexander II. In 1063, he decreed […]

Shavuot is coming


Shavuot is coming The word Shavuot means “weeks.” It celebrates the completion of the seven-week Omer counting period between Passover and Shavuot. The Torah was given by G‑d to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai on Shavuot more than 3,300 years ago. Every year on the holiday of Shavuot we renew our acceptance of G‑d’s […]