Family and Community: Commemorative Choices among the Jewish Epitaphs from Rome
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Epitaphs have long served as a medium for exploring identity and social relationships in the Roman world. Several important studies have quantified relationships between the deceased and dedicator, age at death, and the use of epithets on Roman epitaphs. This article applies the same quantitative approach to Jewish inscriptions from Rome and compares the resulting data to previously published samples from early imperial and Christian contexts. One of the most striking characteristics of the Jewish inscriptions is the sharp increase in epitaphs without a named commemorator, which obscures details about the deceased's family. Ultimately, this article argues that the increase in anonymous dedicators is best understood as a shift in commemorative choices, in which many dedicators chose to prioritize the deceased's place within the Jewish community, sometimes at the expense of family details.