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Nazareth: Hellenistic evidence + various

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  • Rene
    Bagatti himself admits: we have met with only few traces of the Hellenistic period (Exc. 319). A close study of his writings reveals only a few specific
    Message 1 of 43 , Mar 27, 2007
      Bagatti himself admits: "we have met with only few traces of the
      Hellenistic period" (Exc. 319). A close study of his writings reveals
      only a few specific Hellenistic claims. Those artefacts, however,
      prove on examination to belong to the later Roman Period or to the
      Iron Age, as determined by specialists who have reviewed some of
      Bagatti's results. In any case, Bagatti's admission of the paucity of
      Hellenistic evidence contradicts Meyers and Strange's remarkable
      position, stated in 1981: "It is the second century B.C.E. that
      extensive remains are to be found" at Nazareth (Arch., the Rabbis, and
      Early Christianity, p. 57). In 1992, Strange continues this general
      line in the ABD article "Nazareth" with the statements that the
      village "came into being in the course of the 3d century B.C." and,
      "It is the late Hellenistic period that gives life to Nazareth." This
      view is much more appropriate to nearby Sepphoris, where both Meyers
      and Strange excavated extensively, than to Nazareth, where neither of
      them excavated. Incidentally, Strange's view also conflicts with the
      Catholic position that Nazareth has been continuously inhabited since
      the time of Abraham (the Bronze Age, Exc. 319)-- remarkable in its own
      right, placing Nazareth on a par with only a handful of cities as
      regards antiquity.

      D. Hamidovic reviewed Bagatti's results and writes in 2004 (Anc. Near
      Eastern Texts 41): "[B]etween the end of Iron I and the Roman Period,
      it is not certain that the site [i.e. Nazareth] was occupied, or
      perhaps [ou bien], the site was very sparsely populated according to
      the recovered archaeological material" (p. 102). Thus, I am certainly
      not the only person to question pre-Roman habitation of the basin. My
      position is more radical than that of Hamidovic only in that I
      consider settlement at Nazareth also absent in the Early Roman Period
      (to 70 CE).

      Message #4491 mentions "Herodian lamp fragments." I remind the list
      that "Herodian lamps" is a technical term for bow-spouted lamps, which
      date 1-150 CE (post-Herod the Great). They are not evidence for a
      pre-Jesus village. These lamps in all probability date between the two
      Jewish revolts. There is no "Hellenistic-Roman series of lamps," as
      Mr. Hall states. This phrase probably derives from the caption at Exc.
      300 (fig. 233). The only alleged Hellenistic artefact in that figure
      is no. 26, which in my study I have dubbed the "infamous Hellenistic
      nozzle."  It is, in fact, the nozzle of a local lamp tradition not
      appreciated by Bagatti, one represented by three lamps in Tomb 70
      (Exc. fig. 192:15) and by some lamps found in tombs excavated near
      Nazareth by N. Feig. That "Hellenistic" nozzle in all likelihood dates
      50 CE-150 CE.

      Mr. Goranson mentions again a brief prose report which included the
      word "Hellenistic" in connection with Nazareth. My position, now
      restated, is that I don't admit mere "claims" as evidence but require
      an accompanying illustration, description, and itemization. It's
      nonsense to characterize the maintaining of high standards of evidence
      as "special pleading." It's a wonder that one should need to defend
      the application of strict standards in a scholarly group. I suggest
      that whoever is against such high evidentiary standards in the case of
      Nazareth should question their motives. What on earth can be wrong
      with insisting upon verifiable evidence? Such strict accounting
      permits independent verification-- not simply by myself, but also by
      those who will use my work in the future.

      If one accepted all the contradictory claims made regarding Nazareth
      over the years, then every position under the sun would be
      represented. We would simply pick and choose whichever writer pleases
      us. One writes that there was a Hellenistic renaissance (Strange),
      another that Nazareth existed continually since the Bronze Age
      (Bagatti). One writes that Nazareth was always on the side of the hill
      (Bagatti), another that it moved three times before the turn of the
      era (Kopp). One writes that there are "extensive remains" from
      Hellenistic times (Strange), another that there are only "traces"
      (Bagatti) and a third is not sure of any at all (Hamidovic). In other
      words, we need verification to sort out what is true from what is not.
      We must go behind these conflicting claims to see *on what* they are
      based. For that, we need itemizations, illustrations, and descriptions
      of the evidence.

      Incidentally, it is eminently possible to prove a negative. This is
      done all the time. When one digs in the ground one sees not only what
      is there, but also what is not there. One writes: "x is there," and "y
      is not there." When Bagatti dug the stratigraphic trench in 1955 in
      hopes of finding evidence of habitations, he was disappointed: "at
      least where excavated," he writes, "there were no habitations" (Exc.
      236). This is a negative, evidenced by digging.

      The proposition of Hamidovic that a Bronze Age tablet found at Hazor
      *may* carry the name of Nazareth strikes me as farfetched, even if the
      town name is correctly reconstructed as "Nassura." There is, of
      course, no *necessary* link between such a "Nassura" and the alleged
      Bronze Age Nazara (Nazareth). The Bronze-Iron Age remains in the
      Nazareth basin are, according to my analysis, likely those of
      biblical Japhia.

      The connection between Nazara and Cochaba, mentioned by Julius
      Africanus (cited by Euseb., Eccl. Hst 1.7) I find intriguing, and
      would be interested in anyone's views on this matter. The most
      extensive treatment I have found is Joan Taylor's "Christians and the
      Holy Places," pp. 36-38. There, she identifies several possible
      Cochabas-- three are east of the Jordan, one in Galilee (map ref
      173/248). Eusebius elsewhere associates Choba with Damascus. Was not
      the "land of Damascus" an epithet in the DSS for Qumran? Do we
      possibly have here a remote association between Nazareth and the
      Qumran area (as the provenance of Jesus)?

      Rene Salm
    • JEFFREY A BLAKELY
      Beatrice, There are a number of ethnographical studies of pottery that were published in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, primarily in AA. I think some of these
      Message 43 of 43 , Apr 10, 2007
        Beatrice,

        There are a number of ethnographical studies of pottery that were published in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, primarily in AA. I think some of these appear in Kramer's "Ceramic Ethnoarchaeology" in Annual Review of Anthropology 1985. Mostly this was American, but the idea is that because of frequent use and because of frequent thermal shock that cooking vessels have a life-span in the range of months not years. Amphorae are at the other end of the scale in years if not decades. Oh yes, see Longacre's article in Decoding Prehistoric Ceramics and references there.

        I hope this helps.
        Jeff
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