The Talmud isn't a history book. If you know how to read history from whatever you've got, however, there is much to be learned from the Talmud about Jewish life in the 500 years of its creation. Sometimes it's little snippets, that come and go even before you have time to notice them.
Yesterday's daf dealt with the question how many components of a meal-offering, if any, can be dropped and still the offering will be acceptable (and what does "acceptable" mean). Then, at the very bottom of the page, there was a sudden question: "How do we know that if heathens have surrounded the Temple Mount, the priests are allowed to eat the offering even inside the Temple itself [take shelter there]?" The Gemara then finds a verse, which clearly didn't have that scenario in mind, and the discussion wanders off to other matters.
Heartbreaking, if you think about it.
Menachot 8b. This thread began and is explained here.