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We were talking about this last weekend and I've been curious about it.

Mark 2:4 (NIV)
Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on.

What was the standard roofing material in the days of Jesus? Was this a thatch roof (so that "digging" was easy)? Or was this more like a wood/clay roof (so that digging was very difficult)?

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According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia entry on house construction, a roof was typically made of a straw and mud mixture. This would have consisted of timbers, covered with brush or similar thatching, and topped with mud and straw. This is apparently a wide-spread construction technique, and they also cite the use of a small roller that was used periodically after rain to smooth and compress the mud layer, making it progressively stronger.

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