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In studying the biblical text this means not only the results of archaeological excavations but equally and perhaps even more the constantly growing body of non-biblical texts which provide our best access to the various aspects of the culture(s) in which biblical texts were written, such as social conventions and structures, ideologies, intellectual trends, and history.Geography too is of special relevance to itineraries, though it needs to be understood to include mental maps which endow physical space with meaning and value.The first Islamic gardens emerged in this relationship between architecture, water resources, and the landscape.Individual members of the Umayyad family generally built their residences in isolated locations that today seem like harsh, arid environments.But they were places of cultural refinement, graced by small gardens that in almost all cases provided the spatial connection between baths and audience halls, an architectural model in which the pleasure provided by both elements was an integral aspect of the expression of power and dignity.
Qusayr ‘Amra (711–715) was probably the earliest of these residences, known today for its relatively well preserved bathhouse adorned with murals on its interior.
The construction (as Roskop sees it) of Num 33:149 is examined along similar lines, showing how (in its present form at least) the chapter matches the Priestly narrative earlier in Exodus and Numbers and summarizes what is meant to be the authoritative, divinely validated (cf. 23132): it belongs to a fairly common type of Priestly concluding formula and the use of (surely departure, not deployment) takes up the use of the word earlier in the chapter (vv. The final main chapter ( Places in the Wilderness: Geography as Artistry) takes further Roskop's concern with writers' purposes or goals and again breaks valuable new ground in her discussion of particular issues.