Thursday, 19 November 2015
The second non-distinction on Cohen's list is clothing:
Clothing is an extesion of identity. Roman clothing was distinctive, and the Roman magistrate who wore Greek clothing in publis was subject to ridicule, at least in Republican times ... Jews did not wear distinctive Jewish clothing ... Archaeological finds from the Bar Kokhba period reveal that the Jews of Palestine in the first and second century CE wore clothing that was indistinguishable from non-Jews.
Even veils, worn by some Jewish women, were apparently worn by many women in the eastern Roman empire, so Cohen says:
I know of no evidence for the easy recognisability of Jews, either male or female, in antiquity.
Indeed, he goes on, there is much evidence that Jews were not easily distinguished from Gentile. Even religious items - such as tzitzit and teffilin - were not worn in public. He concludes:
Jews were not distinctive either by their looks or by their clothing. Jews of Antioch looked Antiochene; Jews of Alexandria looked Alexandrian; Jews of Ephesus looked Ephesian and the Jews of Rome looked just like another exotic group from the East.