Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Babatha's Scroll | Ancient Refuge in the Holy Land | PBS/Nova
Two things are certain--death and taxes--and Babatha, a reasonably well-off Jew of the second century, faced both. Babatha really lived, and seems to have had a pretty good life, owning property in a lovely oasis. Things didn't end so well for Babtha, though, and she died in a rather nasty salt-crusted cave.

We, lucky inhabitants of the 21st century, have the odd fortune to nose through Babatha's purse. Do you think of Jews from c.160AD carrying around title deeds to property? Babatha did. You can see if for yourself, and read with a magic translator. Lawyers, it seems, didn't just yesterday learn to write overblown prose. Babatha's deed effects an impenetrable tone many a modern lawyer would be proud of.

True to the times, Babatha needed a male guardian, having lost two husbands and her father. She didn't seem to think much of them, and you can explore that too.

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