The pilgrimage economy of Early Roman Jerusalem (1st century BCE–70 CE) reconstructed from the δ15N and δ13C values of goat and sheep remains

Ronny Reich, Gideon Hartman, Guy Bar-Oz, Ram Bouchnick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Religious and historical sources suggest that pilgrimage formed a major source of Jerusalem's economy during the Early Roman period due to the Temple's role as a religious and judicial center for the Jewish diaspora. Until now, this assertion has been supported by little material evidence. In this study, the carbon and nitrogen isotope values of local arcahaeological and, modern wild herbivores from known environments were used to determine the environmental origins of domesticated sheep and goat that were traded and consumed in Early Roman Jerusalem. Pinpointing the environmental origins of these herd animals can determine if they were raised in specialized farms in the vicinity of Jerusalem, brought to the city by local pilgrims, or were part of organized importation of sacrifice animals from desert regions that lie beyond the boundaries of the province of Judea. The results indicate that at minimum 37% of the goat and sheep consumed in Jerusalem during the Early Roman period were brought from desert regions. The inter-provincial importation of animals to Jerusalem to meet high demands for sacrifice by pilgrims is the first material evidence for large scale economic specialization in the city. Furthermore, the results imply that desert animals were further marketed for domestic use in contemporaneous farm sites out of Jerusalem.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)4369-4376
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Volume40
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2013

Keywords

  • Archaeology
  • Paleoenvironment
  • Second Temple
  • Southern Levant

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology

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