Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Urban Homesteading, Biblical style

So, it is just a bit anachronistic to use "urban homesteading," a term coined by Jules Dervaes in the 21st century (AD/CE!) to describe self-sufficient living, to categorize what women did during biblical and early post-biblical times, but this article, "Digging Up Women," nicely summarizes what was required of women in order to run a household without modern conveniences. Following are excerpts from the article, based on artifacts found at Bethsaida, near the Sea of Galilee.
  • To clothe a family of six would have required about three hours a day of labor (and taking the Sabbath off). If she produced more than her family required, there were local markets and fairs at which the surplus could be sold.

  • Feeding was a woman’s prime obligation. Bread was the staple, and this was the most time-consuming of household activities.

  • Lamps were among the most essential household items. [...] Lamps should not go out. The small oil lamps contained enough oil to burn for twelve hours. Oil had to be kept on hand. Who produced the oil? Women, of course, crushing the olives to extract the fuel by trampling on it.

  • Sheep and goats were kept in a courtyard adjacent to the house. They had to be milked on a regular basis. Cheese was made from the goat’s milk. [...] She bought her fish directly off the fishing boats.

  • Women brought water from the well. Numerous water containers have been located. These were carried on the top of the head.
Seasonal tasks included making wine and beer. Plus they looked after their appearance. I need to look into this statement further: "The Talmud required women to teach their children and to be learned in the law." When and how did they become "learned in the law"? (Via Blog)

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