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The Palestinian Dwelling
in the Roman-Byzantine Period


Collectio minor 34
Pages: 318; Figures: 201

This book is the result of several years of field work carried out by the author in the Hebron Hills of Southern Judea. Here he became acquainted not only with archaeological remains, but with a traditional way of living and the traditional architecture and masonry of the local farmers and villagers. This reality can still be observed in the more remote settlements, but it is now rapidly disappearing under the impact of modernization and an increase in economic affluence and in the standard of life

The author provides data from three sources: archaeological remains of dwelling houses, traditional rural architecture and masonry, and rabbinical sources of the Roman-Byzantine period that deal with domestic activities. These data, methodically arranged and richly illustrated, are left to trasmit their own message to the reader's mind, while the author proceeds to fill the structural units with details gleaned from the sources, pertaining to the daily life in the house and courtyard.

This analysis results in a clear contrast between ancient and traditional house-building in Palestine. On the one hand, traditional construction preserved elements of ancient building techniques to a considerable degree, as well as the all-important integration of house and courtyard, including courtyard installations. On the other hand, a significant change occurred in the inner division of the house: the traditional house has one large living area used to house the family and the livestock, to store food supplies and household articles, whereas the ancient house was characterized by a sophisticated functional partition, completely separating living, sleeping and working areas, not to speak of stabling and services. The conclusions touch the threshold of anthropological and sociological research, but do not cross it: the research is thus offered as a document of uncompromising objectivity, ready for future analysis.

CONTENTS: I: Types of Houses - The Simple House - The Complex House - The Courtyard House - Houses With Shops - Summary and Conclusions. II. The Traditional Palestinian House: Results of a Survey in the Hebron Hills - Methods and Practices of House Construction - Houses Surveyed in the Hebron Hills. III. The Components of the Dwelling in Rabbinic Sources in Light of Archaeological Finds and the Survey of the Traditional Palestinian House - The House Walls - The Entrance and Windows - Various Parts of the House - Daily Life in the House and the Courtyard.

TARGET READERS: Archaeologists, architects, ethnologists, sociologists, students of biblical studies (Old and New Testament), ancient Judaism, early Christianity, Roman and Byzantine history and Near East studies.

EDITOR : Yizhar Hirschfeld is lecturer in classical archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, director of the Tiberias Excavations for the Israel Antiquities Authority and contributor to SBF Publications. He is author of numerous books and articles, including The Judean Desert Monasteries in the Byzantine Period, Yale University Press 1992; A Guide to Antiquity Sites in Tiberias, Jerusalem 1992.

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