Scientists examined ancient fish bones from archaeological sites in Israel and found that the diet of the ancient Jews was different from the Old Testament dietary laws.
The work was published in Tel Aviv magazine. The goal of scientists from Ariel and Haifa Universities (Israel) was to find out the origin of the Old Testament laws regarding food, which are still observed by many Jews. One of these canons is the prohibition on the consumption of any species of fish that do not have scales and fins.
To do this, experts analyzed 56 archaeological complexes throughout the southern Levant – from the Late Bronze Age to the end of the Byzantine period (from about 1550 BC to 640 AD). As a result, they put forward the assumption that Jewish preferences in food originate not at all in ancient traditions, which then migrated to the Pentateuch, but in their later modification.
After examining thousands of fish remains found in archaeological sites, scientists have shown that before the Old Testament, the Jews ate fish without scales and fins. In many Jewish settlements dating back to the Iron Age (1130-586 BC), including the capital of Judea, Jerusalem, bone accumulations included a significant portion of the remains of non-kosher fish. Another key finding by archaeologists was evidence of the consumption of non-kosher fish in Jerusalem during the Persian era (539-332 BC).
But in the Roman period, fish bones of non-kosher species are practically absent. And those that are, indicate some non-observance of the rules among the Jews. In the future, the authors intend to study more fish remains of the Roman era in order to understand at what point the local population switched to kosher food.