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C O U R S E 
The Bible's Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future
Dr. Jacob L. Wright, Emory University
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
Judah After the Babylonian Conquest
Notes taken on September 29, 2015 by Edward Tanguay
Judea after the Babylonian conquest
Biblical text suggests that the area of Judah remained in an empty state of ruins during the exile
almost every urban and military installation from the 7th century in Judah was destroyed or abandoned
with few exceptions these remained unoccupied until well into the Persian period
scholars seem to agree on the point that there was an urban discontinuity in the 7th century
the sites more on the perimeter, however, the urban rural sites are more in question
have not been subjected to intensive excavations as have the urban sites
the rural sector in Judah probably experienced minimal destruction
a large part of Judah's population before the Babylonian onslaught lived in the rural sector
Judah's society could be said to be characterized during this time with more continuity than discontinuity
problems with this view
small sites in the rural sector in most cases did not continue into the Persian period
the rural sector depended on the urban sector in many ways
and so it could not have persisted in the same way when the major sites were destroyed
there are many items of material culture from the Judah (late Iron Age) which did not continue into the Persian period
e.g. a new type of burial which emerged in Judah: tombs that were hewn into rock with benches, called bench tombs
probably used by families or clans for generations
became important spaces for their clan identity
this type of burial disappears in the Persian period
the same is true of the four-roomed house
common throughout the Iron Age within Israel and Judah
these exist up until the Babylonian destruction, but are not attested in the Persian period
similarly with the Judahite pillar figurines
very widespread throughout Judah up to the Babylonian conquest
so widespread throughout the Judahite territories that they are understood to represent a Judahite identity
all of this shows that something in the material culture had drastically changed
the epigraphical and linguistic evidence also changes significantly with the Babylonian destruction
the measuring weights, widely attested like the Judahite pillar figurines
they disappear with the Babylonian conquest
suggesting a collapse in the economic structure
we don't see Greek pottery in Judah after the Babylonian conquest
international wares that are brought from the East Aegean throughout the Mediterranean
suggesting a collapse in economy and trade
life had radically changed, no more a market or a demand for international prestige objects
the demographic change from the late Iron Age to the Hellenistic Age is highly debated
but it is safe to say that the level of prosperity that Judah achieved in the 7th century sank precipitously with the end of the Iron Age.
recovery was extremely slow and gradual
it was not until the Hellenistic period, which comes after the Persian period that conditions returned to an economic level of how they were
the population after the destruction was probably only one tenth of what it was during the monarchy period