Babylonian Talmud / Scholarship

“…the most important source for mapping Jewish settlement and…urban reality as a whole in Sasanian Babylonia is the Babylonian Talmud”

By far, the most important source for mapping Jewish settlement and, in a sense, urban reality as a whole in Sasanian Babylonia is the Babylonian Talmud. The dearth of any substantial late antique Jewish archaeology in Iraq, and the lack of prospects of this changing, guarantee that. What has changed is the way the sources are read and the better integration of other contemporary sources that concern the region. Both hold the promise of advancing our knowledge of the geography of the region in the Sasanian and post-Sasanian eras. The internal boundaries established by the Jews of Babylonia are fraught with politics and ancient prejudice. The study of Talmudic toponyms reminds us that geography has always been political.

Geoffrey Herman, “‘There we sat down’: Mapping Settlement Patterns in Sasanian Babylonia”, Studying the Near and Middle East at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton 1935-2018, ed. Sabine Schmidtke (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2018), 9-10.