Wednesday, 18 November 2015
Commencing his list of ways on knowing whether someone in antiquity was a Jew, Shaye Cohen starts with social mechanisms that did not make Jews distinctive. The first on the list is looks:
The Romans, and the Greeks before them, noted that foreign peoples often looked different from themselves: they were peculiarly tall or short, hairy or smooth, dark or fair. The Romans also noted peculiar styles of hair or beard. But not a single ancient author comments on the distinctive size, looks or coiffure of the Jews.
Now, from the Middle Ages onwards, Jews in Euroe were recognisable by their beards, but not in ancient times. So there you have it: in antiquity, apparently, Jews looked "normal."