Daily life in First Century Magdala
By Marcela Zapata
To imagine Mary of Magdala in her daily life in the Galilee of the first century, we need to take a trip to the past with eyes of imagination but with the help of archaeology. Many questions come to mind, what did her daily life look like? Or those of other women? What activities could they have carried out in a Jewish settlement of that time?
Let’s start by saying that the population of Magdala was very observant of Jewish laws. How do we know this?
One sign of this is the two synagogues discovered so far, the Magdala stone, the four miqwa’ot or ritual purification baths, the pottery made with local raw material, the limestone vessels, oil lamps, coins, glass objects, and more. Mary Magdalene must have used these objects in her daily life, to cook, to light her way in the streets or inside houses, she must have visited the synagogue, and why not think that she periodically dived in the miqwa’ot following the precepts of purity and demonstrating her ethnos Ioudaios.
Recently, archaeometry studies have been carried out in the laboratories of the University of Valencia to know what the miniature objects made of glass and discovered in the Magdala market area were used for. Today we know that these objects were made with blown and modeled glass techniques; we can also say that they were used to store medicinal and cosmetic ointments. Can you imagine Mary Magdalene walking through the market comparing these miniature glass jars? Very probably, like the other women who lived in Magdala, she used ointments and cosmetics in her daily life, nothing extraordinary for a Jewish woman of that time.