Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Ancient garbage collection?

ARCHAEOLOGY: Ancient Romans, Jews Invented Trash Collection, Archaeology of Jerusalem Hints. Archaeologists digging up 2000-year-old landfill think combination of Roman efficiency and Jewish obsession with cleanliness created a unique system to take out the trash (Ariel David, Haaretz).
Israeli archaeologists have stumbled upon the mother of all garbage dumps: a massive landfill from early Roman times that may have been the result of the most sophisticated trash collection system in antiquity.

Layer upon layer of waste that was efficiently collected, piled up and buried some 2,000 years ago has been dug up on the slopes of the Kidron valley, just outside the Roman-era walls of Jerusalem.

Coins and fragments of pottery show the landfill was in use for about seven decades, from the beginning of the first century CE until the period of the Great Jewish Revolt against the Romans, which ended with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, says Yuval Gadot, a Tel Aviv University archaeologist who led the dig.

The landfill, which was excavated in 2013-2014 in conjunction with the Israel Antiquities Authority, rose to a towering 70 meters in height, from the bottom of the valley to the walls of the city. It was quite unusual in its size, Gadot says.


It isn't that the people of ancient Jerusalem organized to collectively and obediently throw their dross over the city walls. “It looks like there was a mechanism in place that cleared the streets, cleared the houses, using donkeys to collect and throw away the garbage,” Gadot speculates.

The system may have developed out of a combination of Roman administrative knowhow and a growing observance among Jews of religious purity norms, researchers theorize.

This is a very interesting interpretation of the site, but it is not accepted by all specialists. Read the whole article before it goes behind the subscription wall.