Friday, 20 April 2012

Notes about Villages during the  Byzantine period of Palestine 4th to 7th century AD.

Site of Bir an Sobah had fifteen to twenty dwellings, a cult site, water cisterns, industrial installations, burial caves, paths and farmland. Village on slope facing southeast, avoiding cold winds blowing from north & northwest. Houses scattered average distance 10 m between dwellings. Dwellings simple one room structures, rectangular & square average 40m2 in size. Walls built of large stone courses, containing no binding materials (Hirschfeld 1997 : 40).

Industrial installations were oil press and furnace for production of metal. Cult site had small shrine (naiskos) at highest point. Villages main sources livelihood were farming (including olive culture), goat herding and mining metal (lead) and kohl production (for cosmetic and medicinal purposes) (Hirschfeld 1997 : 40)

In rural villages the houses are built relatively close together with narrow alleys (2-3m) seperating them, without a proper street, larger villages such as Chorazin & Khirbert Susiya in Judea had a main unpaved thoroughfare. Lack of a street network indicates a lack of planning, thus an absence of public market squares and thus no rows of shops. Commercial activity appears to have taken place in private dwellings. Commerical connections were maintained between villages and cities by travelling salesmen or peddlers, in rabbinic literature “vendors who circulate in the villages = ”ayyarot” (Hirschfeld 1997 : 64).

Villagers would defend their villages against local bandits or attacks of nomads (razzias), Rabbinic sources describe villages whose house roofs would form a wall, an “introverted” village where the outermost houses are attached to each other creating a section of continuous defense wall. Excavations at Khirbet Susiya yeilded a 200m long continuous section of outermost dwellings (Hirschfeld 1997 : 62).

Hirschfeld, Yizhar. (1997). Farms and Villages in Byzantine Palestine.

From Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Volume 51 (1997). Pages 33 to 71.

No comments:

Post a Comment