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Rabbis, Archaeologist and Linguists

In the Daf Yomi, we see many interesting discussions about ancient vessels and other types of furnishings and tools.  An excellent resource is the Israel Antiquities Authority website which can be searched by time period and object name.

Here is the link. http://www.antiquities.org.il/t/PeriodsList_en.aspx

So, for example, if you search for lamp or  נר in the Roman/Byzantine period, you will find pictures such as these:

A picture containing indoor, cup, sitting, table Description automatically generated

A picture containing sitting, cake, cup, chocolate Description automatically generated

A close up of a bowl on a table Description automatically generated

A picture containing wind, cup, doughnut, birdhouse Description automatically generated

But a lantern (עשישית) looks like this:

A picture containing animal, sitting, white, holding Description automatically generated

Here’s something useful I found on the website: https://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/talmud-history/

The text of the Mishna is quoting rabbis who lived from about 100 BCE to 200 CE.  The Gemara is quoting the rabbis who lived from about 200 CE to about 500 CE.  The surrounding text of today’s Talmud also quotes Rishonim, literally “the first ones,” rabbinic authorities (from c. 1,000 C.E. until 1,500 C.E.).

This means that we will frequently encounter words for vessels and garments and foods and all types of products from a very large period in history, and words in Hebrew, Greek, Persian, Latin, Aramaic and even Akkadian (the ancient language of Mesopotamia—written in cuneiform inscriptions on clay!)  See below.

A picture containing building, stone Description automatically generated

So, the Rabbis, in addition to studying Jewish law, had to be archaeologists and linguists!  Sometimes they were referring to vessels in use during their own lives, but often, they had to know what a jug, a bowl, an oven, or a cloth looked like in the times of Abraham, Moses or David. I will do my best to find relevant research on some of these topics!

P.S. Here is a picture of a metal ring with a stone signet, as mentioned on Daf 52.  (All  images in this post are copyrighted by the  Israel Antiquities Authority)

Object’s Name: Signet Ring Human/Semi-Divine/Divine Images
Period: Late Roman
Material: Silver,Carnelian
Site: American Colony Tombs-1940
Diameter: 2.5 cm
Description: Man and woman holding hands

 

Julie Mendelsohn

Julie Mendelsohn

Julie Bloch Mendelsohn made aliyah with her family in 2009. Julie has a law degree, a Master of Public Health, has studied several foreign languages, and is currently pursuing a master's degree in archaeology. Julie dyes, spins, and weaves her own yarn and textiles. She loves to learn Daf Yomi and is interested in topics relating to Jewish law and ancient materials and crafts, ancient languages, and history.

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