We look back on the Biblical world as a time of fateful battles, inspiring prophets, great empires and profound learning. Unfortunately, this picture is often skewed to highlight regal, rather than common, history. More of our modern philosophy and theology grew out of the ancient agora than the palace. Many profound thinkers and religious visionaries in the ancient world never interacted with kings or fought in great battles. How does archaeology tell their story?
By examining ancient societal structure, crafts and daily practices, we can reconstruct the lives of common people to better understand the world of the Bible and breathe new reality into the ancient world we are trying to understand. This eBook features articles from Biblical Archaeology Review describing industry in Second Temple period Jerusalem and household structure in ancient Israel along with a collection of brief and lively accounts from Archaeology Odyssey describing standard practices across the ancient Mediterranean, from table manners to construction cranes, and from fashion and makeup to the Roman postal service.
If Jerusalem is famous for one thing, it is for being a religious center. But our interest in the Holy City lies also in its everyday life, of which so little is known. Recent investigations revealed that in ancient times, especially in the late Second Temple period (50 B.C.–70 A.D.), various arts and crafts, such as stonework, painted pottery and glass industry, flourished in Jerusalem. In 1983, the Israeli authorities opened to the public a building that had been closed for 1,913 years to the day. The building, in ancient Jerusalem’s Upper City, was a workshop that was stormed by Roman soldiers in 70 A.D., the year the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and burned the Jewish Temple. In “Jerusalem Flourishing—A Craft Center for Stone, Pottery, and Glass,” eminent Israeli archaeologist Nahman Avigad describes what his excavations in the Upper City teach us about Jerusalem as an ancient craft center.
Ancient Israelite society was structured in a way that few of us in modern times experience. Its focus was on family and kin groups organized around agrarian activities. Family and kin groups, in turn, generated the symbols by which the higher levels of the social structure—the political and the divine—were understood and represented. Ancient Israelite society consisted of a series of “nested households”—one social grouping within another within another. In “Of Fathers, Kings and the Deity,” Philip J. King and Lawrence E. Stager guide us through this arrangement, which included family groups within a tribal kingdom—all under the rule of Yahweh.
Examining societal structure provides an important overview, but how did individuals work, dress, eat and party? A collection of colorful articles from Archaeology Odyssey guides readers through common practices in the ancient world. Learn how ancient people used papyrus and date palms, put on makeup, delivered mail and celebrated over dinner parties and with temple dancers.
Enjoy this colorful, exciting and informative journey and discover what life was really like in ancient times.
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