This work stems from the author, Charles Carter’s dissertation, ‘A Social and Demographic Study of Post-Exilic Judah’, completed at Duke University (Durham, NC) in December 1991. He wrote its own history; The book began intending to attempt a socioeconomic reconstruction of a particular biblical institution, the tithe, and in one particular period, the Persian (or early Second Temple) period. One approach to biblical and archaeological problems that would fit generally under the term ‘new archaeology’ is that of ethnoarchaeology, in which ethnographic data are applied to archaeological problems. While this approach has traditionally been used by anthropologists and archaeologists concerned with reconstructing pre-historic hunting and gathering societies, it has recently been used by biblical scholars and archaeologists for reconstructing patterns of life in Iron Age Israel. But this book included a discussion of the sources from the Ottoman period and the British Mandate of Palestine that scholars have begun to use to supplement the biblical and archaeological sources.
It also presented a series of unwritten assumptions upon which these comparisons were based, and six testable hypotheses that could show the validity or question the use of such data. This work makes no attempt to be the final word on the social and demographic setting of Yehud. It speaks primarily to the emergence of Yehud, to the population and site distribution of the province as it is currently understood. It is by nature provisional and will, therefore, require periodic revisiting and changes in its projections.
The author, write this study such as self -consciously inter-disciplinary in nature. He writes two separate but related, dissertations. One was in the province of Yehud, the other on the usefulness of ethnoarchaeological data. He has decided to break the two into separate studies, the current on Yehud, and a future study on ethnoarchaeology and biblical studies. In follows, this book is a work devoted to establishing a more complete understanding of the material culture of the province of Yehud in the Persian period. It presents a portrait of the site distribution, population and social setting of Yehud from 538-332 BCE. He begins by studies of biblical scholars and archaeologists and an adequate understanding of one another’s work. In chapter 2, he turns to a discussion of the boundaries of the province and the ways in which environment, geography, climate, and geology combine to influence site distribution and broader socio-economic patterns. Chapter 3 discusses the remains from the 22 excavated sites dating to the Neo-Babylonian and Persian periods. Chapter 4 begins with a brief history of such surveys, the various methods used in collecting archaeological information in surveys, their inherent strengths and weaknesses, and the legitimate uses to which these data may be put. Chapter 5, examine some issues as relative site size, changes in site distribution, site size, and population during the Persian period, and settlement history. In chapter 6, an analysis of the data represented and examined in Chapters 3 through 5 to see how they might inform some of the major questions that scholars have recently raised about the Persian period Yehud.
Charles Carter is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies. He specializes in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament and examines its historical, literary, cultural and religious contexts and his studies particular focus on the Persian period (540-332 BCE) –an era that profoundly impacted the content and formation of Hebrew Scripture.