The article I read described how archeologists in Israel have begun to excavate a neighborhood in the middle of ancient Jerusalem. They have been finding houses from 2,000 years ago that most probably belonged to the elite wealthy ruling class. This excavation is extremely significant because artifacts that the archeologists have found have lead them to believe that this neighborhood might have housed people from the priestly upper class.
One of the most important concepts we have learned throughout the course is how archeologists use artifacts to make judgments about the people that used them. The archeologists in this dig have made the judgment that members of the wealthy, priestly ruling class lived in these houses because they were able to uncover bathtubs in the houses. These bathtubs have only been found at king’s palaces, and were a luxury that commoners could not afford. The archeologists have also found a ritual stone cup, that also supports the theory that priests might have lived in these houses.
This week we also learned about how contextual anthropologists attempt to understand the era the artifacts are from by looking at the perspective of the ancient people involved. The archeologists, in finding priestly objects, researched priests and found that at this time the high priests were extremely corrupt and greedy. This further supports the idea that they would have been extremely wealthy and been able to afford bathtubs in nice houses.
“Archaeologists Uncover Second Temple-era Priestly Quarter of Jerusalem” July 12, 2016