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Life in the Ancient World

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Want to know what life was really like in the Biblical world?

This free eBook guides you through craft centers in ancient Jerusalem, family structure across Israel and ancient practices—from dining to makeup—throughout the Mediterranean world.

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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7 Responses

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  • ntsau says

    Leon please do your research. Actually, God is a pagan name, Yahweh is the correct name for the Almighty.

    • Sikeli says

      There’s no right or wrong name. It’s how you interpret, practice, and experience. The Almighty says ” I am who I am “

      • Sheila says

        No! He said “I Am”…..

  • esai kumar says

    I am looking forward to know more about book of genesis. Thanks for giving beautiful ideas and education.

  • roger says

    In the name of Jesus Christ I write these things. Jesus said a 1000 years is like a day and a day is like a 1000 years, thus signifing GOD did not consider the time, whatever the time, he was willing to spend it. As tedious the works may be, he was willing to do whatever it took. From the smallest creature, to the largest, GOD sheperded our creation. Be of good comfort, Jesus is yesterday, today and tomorrow as our shepherd. The Darwin theory is more correct than you think. With much works, patience and anguish more than we know, GOD has brought us to this now. With much anguish our Father and has allowed much harm to fall upon himself and us.
    Freewill is a most high with GOD and persecutions a cross for us to bare. With the many snares, you will find many you thought would not come back and more pleasures than you where taught. Thou shalt not force nor threaten, a prime rule of governing the grace and good character. Remember Lot’s wife? Her family and neighbors destroyed. She watched, regardless God’s command and was turned into a pillar of salt. Unconditional love, fulfilling Jesus’ statement about loving thy neighbor and praying for thy enemy. Jesus actually gave her honor when he said we are the salt of the earth. Remember the same sex issue? Jesus said to give your life for your brother is no higher love, especially after hell was attached to it. Be like Thomas one of Jesus’ disciples, wait to see. Like I said, freewill is high on our Father’s list, courage is also on that list. I know there is more, but use your common since and care about other’s feelings. If you think about the whys, you’ll find the answers and an adequate means of getting your message across. The goal is to save all and the world. Remember? God said, I give my son to save the “world”. To me, the glory is Jesus coming back with my family. Yes, I want to save the world and we will, as we progress. In the name of JESUS CHRIST, I have written these things.

    • John says

      Roger says: “Jesus said a ‘1000 years is like a day and a day is like a 1000 years,’ thus signifing GOD did not consider the time………”
      That is incorrect Roger Jesus never said that at all.
      The first time that it was said, Moses said it at Psalm 90:4 (Moses composed that Psalm)
      The second time this phrase was mentioned was by the apostle Peter at 2 Peter 3:8

    • linda says

      Well said Roger

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