A highlight from Bonus: Israel Story's 'Pigging Out'



AJ crew it's Stephanie but Nick, we are off this week for Thanksgiving, but our friends at Israel's story are putting out some amazing episodes and we wanted to share one of them with you. This one appropriately is called pegging out. Hope you enjoy. A few years ago, LIDAR sapir, Azul archeologist from Tel Aviv university. Got a call from two of her colleagues. Jose, in hotel halaf. They were in the middle of a dig in Jerusalem city of David, an had just made an unusual find. I think the send me a picture and I said, okay, this small animal is a pig. So excavated carefully and we want to see exactly how it was positioned when it died and what happened to it and don't just take out the bones. Following her instructions, they carefully unearthed a complete skeleton of a young piglet. Who 2700 years ago was in the wrong place. At the wrong time. The Finn fell on it, and it was cut between the vessels on the floor. Do you happen to have that pig here? Yeah, I have it too. Can I see? Yes, sure. Um. But if this car. Yeah, that's the skull. So this is the pig. Yeah, that's the it's divided here to box. It box has different part of the body. This is the box with the skull. You can see it's very, very it's a very small. This summer, when the discovery was published, the piglet became something of a media sensation, a piglet that was found, the discovery of the skeleton of a piglet in a first temple period home in Jerusalem. So what's the big deal you ask? Why all the headlines? Well, this 8th century BC pig was proof of what LIDAR has been saying all along that pork was consumed in Iron Age Jerusalem. Now we all know that the Torah explicitly says Jews shouldn't eat pork. You shall not eat any detestable thing. In fact, it says it twice. And this one. Once in leviticus, though he divide the hoof and the other time in deuteronomy, so the swine is unclean for you. For centuries that biblical prohibition baffled scholars. After all, wild wars are abundant in the land of Israel. In pigs were domesticated here about 10,000 years ago. So why would the Torah ask us not to eat them? Because it has cloven hooves yet does not chew the cud. I mean, in the past, unlike today, you didn't just go to the supermarket and decide whether you were in the mood for beef or chicken. You basically ate what you could hunt or raise. And for millennia upon millennia, that included pigs. Yes, while Bo was always hunted to, it was always eaten while ball was just about of the diet. It was available everywhere. And after it was domesticated, they raised its near the house and ate it. So why on earth did a group of people, people we'd ultimately come to call Jews decide that they were going to take a perfectly good source of nutrition and stop eating it? Researchers from many different disciplines. Anthropology, sociology, history, folklore and mythology, even medicine, have weighed in and offered up all kinds of theories as to why pigs became taboo. But despite all those theories, it remained a mystery. And then, in the 90s, it seemed as if archeology solve the puzzle. The data basically showed that size that we identified early Israelites did not eat any pork. There were no pig bones in the archeological assemblages in them. And sites that we identified as a Philistines did have a larger amount of pigs. So the idea was that early as well, it did not eat big Philistines egg peg. So probably added decision not to it. Pigs anymore was based on self identity decision saying we are not like them. They eat pigs. But we do not. It's an ethnical marker. The Philistines were outsiders who started arriving in the 12th century BC, probably from the Aegean islands or the Turkish coast. And when they came, they brought over their culinary traditions in which pork was apparently. The main ingredient. So for the early Israelites to abstain from pork, it was the local people way of saying, this is what defines us apart from the new population. And that made a lot of sense. I mean, it's not for nothing that we say that you are what you eat. We sat in many cultures, even defining yourself as a vegetarian and over again. It's not only defining what you eat, but it also defined your ideology. Your perception of the world, your symbolic world, who you are, how do you defer from other people? I mean, it's all set of values that comes with this. So it appeared as if the question had been resolved. The reason many Jews today in the 21st century don't order a side of bacon is because more than 3000 years ago, our ancestors wanted to differentiate themselves from the philistine newcomers. That was the origin of the pig prohibition. Case closed. Except it wasn't really. Well, looking back, there were there were some faults in the data. In 2013, lidao, then a young postdoctoral fellow decided to review all the data once again and assign clearer dates to the various different bone assemblages. And what did you do start to discover? I started to discover that the patterns of pork consumption avoidance are very complex. The model you have, you see that people behavior is a complex behavior don't work according to what you expect them to work. In other words, it wasn't the clear picture of Philistines munching away on pork chops and disgusted early Israelites, deciding to eschew the animal altogether. Rather thou found. There were periods when no one ate much pork or when everyone ate some pork, or periods in which pork was eaten mainly in rural areas or mainly in urban centers, or in the northern kingdom, but not in Judea, and so on and so forth. So it wasn't an identity issue if you eat or not. There was some reason for people not to eat it. It was economic opportunities. Pigs, according to LIDAR, might have become less appealing at various different periods for all kinds of reasons. They can't be herded, they don't plow fields, they don't produce milk or wool. They can go on the field and eat all of the potatoes and everything that you had there. But still, it seems that even if pigs weren't a main staple, it wasn't completely avoided. LIDAR's research showed that even in Jerusalem, right next to the holy temple, and at the time of Isaiah and Amos. People kept an 8 pigs in every house in the U.S. alone from that period. They had wanted 2% pigments in every house. There was no place that there was completely pocket audience. But when you find a completely in the house, it was bigger and they

Coming up next