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5 Coloring the Temple: Polychromy and the Jerusalem Temple in Late Antiquity

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses a literary tradition preserved in the Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah and Baba Batra, that is relevant to the understanding of polychromy in late antiquity. Unusually, this tradition reflects both the Roman context and the far less known Sasanian environment, imagining the Jerusalem temple in color. The chapter attempts a thick description of this tradition in terms of the architecture of late antiquity on both sides of the imperial divide. Technology well known from Roman and Byzantine contexts was used to decorate the Sasanian palace and its legendary throne room, and rabbis could well have been aware of this. Krauss and Grossmark were completely justified in writing that the tradition of a multicolored Temple in Sukkah and Baba Batra does not reflect the actual Herodian Temple facade.

Keywords: Baba Batra; Babylonian Talmud; Herodian Temple; Jerusalem temple; late antiquity; polychromy; Sasanian environment; Sukkah



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