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Title: Did the Rabbis Reject the Roman Public Latrine?
Author(s): WILFAND, Yael
Journal: BABESCH
Volume: 84    Date: 2009   
Pages: 183-196
DOI: 10.2143/BAB.84.0.2041644

Abstract :
This study examines archaeological evidence and rabbinic texts in order to challenge recent scholarly claims that the rabbis in Palestine rejected the Roman public latrine because of the lack of privacy during ‘bodily exertion’. By reevaluating both the written and material evidence within the appropriate geographical context (differentiating between Babylonian and Palestinian), I argue that there is no evidence that suggests rabbis living in Palestine rejected Roman public latrines. However, the evidence does suggest that in Babylonia, where Roman public latrines were not used, such a rejection did exist. In order to explain the different attitudes towards public latrines, I suggest that the Zoroastrian cultural environment may have influenced the Babylonian rabbis to develop their rejection.

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