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Conferences & lectures

The brothel or, rather, baptistery of Ashkelon in late antiquity

Date & time
Thursday, October 29, 2020
2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Registration is closed


Simeon Ehrlich


This event is free


Csaba Nikolenyi



Headshot of man wearing suit and glasses. Simeon Ehrlich

The Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies is proud to present a seminar with Simeon Ehrlich.

Ehrlich competed his PhD at Stanford in 2018 and since then has been assistant professor of archaeology and ancient history in the Department of Classics, Modern Languages and Linguistics at Concordia.

Four bronze-coloured excavation findings with drawings or carvings of humans.

About the presentation

Archaeological excavation at Ashkelon in the '80s and '90s yielded a series of scandalous discoveries: a late Roman bathhouse filled with suggestive inscriptions and erotic lamps; the bones of 100 infants in the sewer beneath.

The story of the "brothel" and its unwanted children took hold in academic discourse and in the popular imagination, painting Ashkelon as a seedy port city of the Roman empire. But does the material evidence support this interpretation?

Ehrlich will argue it does not. The true nature of the excavated remains was overlooked in pursuit of a sensationalized narrative. This has had a detrimental effect on our understanding of the ancient city and its people. In his talk he proposes new interpretations of the bathhouse and its contents and, in so doing, give a more accurate account of late antique Ashkleon.

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