In Mark 5:13 the number of pigs grazing on the hillside in the "region of the Gerasenes" is cited as 2000:
3He gave them permission, and the unclean spirits came out and went into the pigs, and the herd of about two thousand rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the water.
While Porphyry makes several objections to the account, one stands out as a historical and cultural detail rather than a theological one: the number.
But Mark did not shrink from making up an enormous number of swine, for he puts it thus: "He said unto him, Go forth, thou unclean spirit, from the man. And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, Many. And he besought him that he would not cast him out of the country. And there was there a herd of swine feeding. And the demons besought him that he would suffer them to depart into the swine. And when they had departed into the swine, they rushed down the steep into the sea, about two thousand, and were choked; and they that fed them fled !" (Mark v. 8, etc.). What a myth ! What humbug ! What flat mockery ! A herd of two thousand swine ran into the sea, and were choked and perished! (Macarius, Apocriticus III: 4).
Porphyry seems to be taking issue with the number drowned and later on the meaning of the act, but here I seek to focus on the presence of the swine themselves. Two-thousand pigs, even today, is a large herd. Is there archaeological or literary evidence that would corroborate such numbers in this region? Are they raised for consumption for the Decapolis cities, Hellenistic locals, or even the Roman Army?