The New International Encyclopædia/Jewish Art
JEWISH ART. A term properly applied to art as practiced by the Jews in Palestine, before the capture of Jerusalem by Titus, as the conditions of the dispersion afterwards did not allow of any independent art. The earliest archæological material known is their pottery, which has been found in considerable quantities, especially at Tell-el-Hesy, where Professor Petrie's systematic excavations have enabled him to distinguish several periods marked by superimposed strata of ruins. His periods are: (1) An Amorite; (2) a Phœnician; and (3) a Jewish period. Jewish designs seem mainly to be copies of Phœnician models, which were themselves copies of other Oriental arts. In the same way the Jewish glyptics were remotely derived, through the Canaanites and Phœnicians, from the glyptics of Babylonia and Assyria; the Hebrew seals, few of which are earlier than the Maccabean age, varying only by the predominance of floral and geometric design, owing to the aversion of the Jews to reproducing the human figure. Nothing remains of Jewish metalwork; carving in wood and ivory and overlaying with metal were practiced, but no works are extant; nor do we know anything of the artistic character of Jewish pictorial decoration, weaving, or erobroidery. The tombs near Jerusalem (Tombs of the Kings, etc.) and scattered throughout Palestine are similar to the late Hellenistic and Roman works of their class throughout Syria (see Tomb), and Herod, when reviving the prosperity of Palestine, rebuilding the temple and founding Cæsarea, with its magnificent structures, frankly adopted the style of Roman art. To this time and to the succeeding century belong the few remaining ancient synagogues in Galilee. Consult: Bliss, Tell-el-Hesy (London, 1894); De Sauley, L'art Judaïque (Paris, 1858); Perrot and Chipiez, Histoire de l'art dans l'antiquité, vol. iv. (Paris. 1882-98). See Synagogue.