Andrea M. Berlin
In his discussion of Judea, the Greek geographer Strabo, writing in the time of the emperor Augustus, records the interesting demographic aside that the country's northern regions are “inhabited in general … by mixed stocks of people from Egyptian and Arabian and Phoenician tribes”; they live, he says further on, “mixed up thus” (16.2.34 § C760). Such a remark, made to and repeated by an outsider, likely reflects what at least some observers saw as significant about the region. Like any off-hand characterization of an entire area, it was surely as generally misleading as it was true, though those who lived in and knew northern Judea first-hand would have easily fleshed out the social picture behind the words. We stand at a disadvantage, trying to discern from words and disparate remains what such a remark might actually mean in terms of Galilean culture and society. Many historians and archaeologists have combed and compared the period's literary sources for answers to this fundamental question. In what follows, I hope to add a material thread to the picture they have developed. I will present new evidence that documents and clarifies the lifestyles and choices of the inhabitants of Galilee.
There is an astonishing amount of archaeological information from the Galilee (Meyers 1997:57). The evidence includes all manner of material remains, from houses and reservoirs to paintings and cooking pots. The abundance and variety is surely one reason for the somewhat discrepant scholarly views of the region (contra Meyers 1995; Horsley and Hanson 1988:51, 60-1, 72-3, 232-3; Freyne 1988:165; and most recently Groh 1997:30). This is, of course, the nature of the archaeological beast: practitioners increasingly overwhelmed by data are hard-put to devise coherent road maps, and non-specialists can easily lose their way. When the archaeological remains from Galilee have been considered on their own, it is often with an eye to evaluating whether they differ in toto from those of other regions (so Meyers 1976, 1985, 1995; Strange 1997:43-7). An analysis that compares the region's abundant material remains within and among themselves is equally valuable, however; for the individual choices and decisions that the