Purity, Pottery, and Judaean Ethnicity in the Hasmonean Period

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Three distinct cultural phenomena emerged in the Hasmonean period (152-37 BCE): The concept of Gentile impurity, full body immersion in a ritual bath, and (relative) abstinence from the use of imported foreign pottery. This article examines the historical and archaeological evidence for these three traits: Their chronology, geographical distribution, and interrelationship. All three relate to the contact between Judaeans and non-Judaeans. They symbolize social boundaries that were created to foster the ethnic identity of the Judaeans vis-à-vis local Gentiles. The creation of these ethnic boundaries was encouraged by the Hasmonean state both because they corresponded to the Hasmonean ideology and political aims, and because state formation usually contributes to the development of ethnic identity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-42
Number of pages42
JournalJournal of Ancient Judaism
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by Brill Schöningh.


  • Hasmoneans
  • Jewishness
  • ethnicity
  • impurity
  • pottery
  • ritual baths


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