ANCIENT PALESTINE

PALEOLITHIC TO CHALCOLITHIC PERIODS IN PALESTINE

Gerald A. Larue wrote in “Old Testament Life and Literature”: “Long before the Hebrews entered the historical scene there were people living in the Fertile Crescent and Egypt. To grasp the magnificent human heritage that fell to the Hebrews and those who lived during the biblical period, we will provide an overview of ancient Near Eastern history as reconstructed out of the researches of historians and archaeologists, first, from the Paleolithic to the Chalcolithic periods; and next, from the Early Bronze to the Late Bronze periods. [Source: Gerald A. Larue, “Old Testament Life and Literature,” 1968, infidels.org <=>]


Map of Israel with ancient sites on it

300,000 to 70,000 years ago
Lower Paleolithic
Nomadic Life
Pebble tools
Man discovers fire (200,000)
Bifacial tools Tabunian Cave on Mount Carmel;
Yarbrud in Syria

70,000 to 35,000 years ago
Middle Paleolithic
Nomadic Life
Mousterian flaked flints
Neanderthal Man, Galilee, Palestine; Mount Carmel, Palestine

35,000 years ago to 12,000 B.C.
Upper Paleolithic
Nomadic Life
Blade industries
"tepee" type dwellings, figurines, bone and ivory jewelry Wadi en-Natuf, Palestine; Shanidar, Iraq; Zawi Chemi, Iraq; Karim Shahir, Iraq

12,000 to 10,000 B.C.
Mesolithic
Hamlet Life
Natufian micro-flints, new weapons and tools, primitive agriculture, rock drawings and wall paintings, beginnings of sea travel Wadi en-Natuf, Palestine; Deir Tasi, Egypt; Jarmo, Iraq; Tell Hassuna, Iraq

10,000 to 4,500 B.C.
Neolithic
Village Life
Extensive agriculture, domestication of animals, extensive trade, early shrines Jericho, Palestine; Deir Tasi, Egypt; Jarmo, Iraq; Tell Hassuna, Iraq

4,500 to 3,300 B.C.
Chalcolithic
Citys /States and Kingdoms
Copper and stone tools, pottery of varied styles, beginning of ziggurats, development of writing and mathematics, cylinder seals used, time of the "Flood", Egyptian nomes unite to form upper and lower Egypt
al Badari, Egypt; el Amrah, Egypt; Tepe Gawra, Iraq; Tell Halaf, Iraq; Eridu, Iraq; Beer-sheba, Palestine; Dead Sea Region

Websites and Resources: Bible and Biblical History: Bible Gateway and the New International Version (NIV) of The Bible biblegateway.com ; King James Version of the Bible gutenberg.org/ebooks ; Bible History Online bible-history.com ; Biblical Archaeology Society biblicalarchaeology.org ; Internet Jewish History Sourcebook sourcebooks.fordham.edu ; Complete Works of Josephus at Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL) ccel.org ; Judaism Judaism101 jewfaq.org ; Aish.com aish.com ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; torah.org torah.org ; Chabad,org chabad.org/library/bible ; Religious Tolerance religioustolerance.org/judaism ; BBC - Religion: Judaism bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/judaism ; Encyclopædia Britannica, britannica.com/topic/Judaism; Jewish History: Jewish History Timeline jewishhistory.org.il/history ; Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Jewish History Resource Center dinur.org ; Center for Jewish History cjh.org ; Jewish History.org jewishhistory.org ; Christianity and Christians Wikipedia article Wikipedia ; Christianity.com christianity.com ; BBC - Religion: Christianity bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/ ; Christianity Today christianitytoday.com; Biblical Images: Bible in Pictures creationism.org/books ebibleteacher ebibleteacher.com ; Bible-History.com bible-history.com ; Pictures from the Bible lavistachurchofchrist.org ; Bible Blue Letter Images blueletterbible.org/images ; Biblical Images preceptaustin.org

Early Paleolithic Palestine (300,000 to 70,000 years ago)


180.000-year-old jawbone from Misliya Cave

Gerald A. Larue wrote in “Old Testament Life and Literature”: “As elsewhere in the Near East, evidence of human habitation can be found in Palestine dating to the Paleolithic period, or Old Stone Age, which lasted hundreds of thousands of years. Paleolithic man was a nomad, depending upon natural resources for sustenance, following migrations of wild animals and harvesting wild grain wherever it chanced to grow. Possibly his itineraries followed some generally established pattern, terminating in a periodic return to a family cave. On the basis of stone artifacts (implements made from wood, fibre or leather are seldom preserved), the earliest Paleolithic period, which extends from more than 300,000 years ago to approximately 70,000 years ago, can be divided into three parts. [Source: Gerald A. Larue, “Old Testament Life and Literature,” 1968, infidels.org <=>]

“During the so-called "Pebble" or "Chopper" period, water-smoothed pebbles or chunks of rock were roughly shaped by chipping one end into a cutting edge. Such tools have been found in the Jordan River valley just south of the Sea of Galilee and at a hillside site midway between Tiberias and Nazareth. In the later Bifacial period, hand-axes were formed by working both sides of a flint block to make a point or cutting edge, and such tools have been found in Galilee, near Jerusalem, and in the desert regions in southern Palestine. Hearths and burned bones reveal that man had mastered the use of fire (approximately 200,000 years ago), and circles of stones, which may have served as seats, spaced around the fire suggest that the glowing embers provided a center for family gatherings.” <=>

“The third period, named Tabunian after the Tabun cave on Mount Carmel, and Yabrudian after a site in Syria, is characterized by superior skill in shaping tools and by new and more varied implements. Variances in tool patterns at different sites (as at Carmel and Yabrud) indicate that each group created and maintained local traditions and techniques. Comparable materials are found in Europe.<=>

Middle Paleolithic Palestine (70,000 to 35,000 years ago)

Larue wrote in “Old Testament Life and Literature”: “In the Middle Paleolithic period, extending from about 70,000 to 35,000 years ago, man's tools improved. Having learned to take thinner flakes from flints, he could make more precise shapes and a greater variety of implements were developed. The people of this culture, first discovered at Le Moustier in France and named Mousterian, are related to Neanderthal man and are similar to (but still different from) modern man. In 1923, Mr. F. Turville-Petre, an Oxford student, excavating a cave near the Sea of Galilee on behalf of the British School of Archaeology, discovered four pieces of the skull of a young man amid mineralized animal bones and flint tools of the Mousterian type. This find, labeled "Galilee man," was the first of such discoveries in Palestine. [Source: Gerald A. Larue, “Old Testament Life and Literature,” 1968, infidels.org <=>]


cast of a funeral of a child from Qafzeh, Israel

"Carmel man," whose remains were found shortly afterward in caves in the Carmel mountains, proved to be another offshoot of Neanderthal man. Taller than Neanderthal, walking upright, probably possessing speech, Carmel man left flint tools, bone ware, an amazingly preserved four-sided spear point of wood, and numerous burials which, by their very nature, reflected deep concern for the dead and perhaps the expression of some form of religious feeling. The dead were entombed in the floor of the cave, sharing in death the same habitation as the living. Bodies were placed on the side in the "sleep" position and there is some evidence that food was interred with the body, suggesting belief in afterlife.<=>

“Carmel Man differed from the typical Neanderthal type found in Europe and had physical characteristics closer to Homo sapiens. The thick ridge of the brows or occipital protuberances, the heavy nasal structure and the lack of any true chin development are typical Neanderthal features. Carmel man shows the slightest hint of a developing chin and above the protruding brows is a higher forehead, more akin to Homo sapiens. This sketch is after E. Anati in Palestine Before the Hebrews (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1963) p. 103.<=>

Late Paleolithic Palestine (35,000 years ago to 12,000 B.C.)

Larue wrote: “The final stage of the Paleolithic period, the Late or Upper Paleolithic which extended from about 35,000 to between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago, has provided the earliest evidence of man-built structures. Small mounds of earth and rock or excavations into the earth provided the outline of the dwelling above which walls and a roof were constructed, possibly out of branches or perhaps out of animal skins, after the fashion of the American Indian tepee. It is possible that these structures were occupied for part of the year, and in inclement weather Upper Paleolithic man returned to his cave. [Source: Gerald A. Larue, “Old Testament Life and Literature,” 1968, infidels.org <=>]

“Well-made flint tools, carved ivory, pendants, necklaces and bracelets of shells, bone, ivory and stone testify to the creative skill of these people. Carved figurines of pregnant females may represent amulets used to facilitate childbirth, or, in view of the later development of the worship of the mother goddess, they may be early evidence of the beginnings of this cult. Comparable Paleolithic evidence has been found in Egypt where Bifacial and Mousterian artifacts were recovered on terraces overlooking the Nile, at oases, and on the shores of ancient lakes.<=>

Mesolithic Palestine (12,000 to 10,000 B.C.)


Ain Sakhri lovers from a Natufian site

Larue wrote: “Sometime between 14,000 and 12,000 years ago, the Mesolithic period or Middle Stone Age began in the Near East, and with it came a veritable social and technological revolution probably due, in part, to changes in climate at the close of the last Ice Age. The most dramatic evidence in Palestine has come from a site ten miles northwest of Jerusalem in the Wadi en-Natuf, which has given the name "Natufian" to the culture. In 1928, in a huge cave some 70 feet above the wadi, Miss Dorothy Garrod found evidence of a center of flint industry characterized by tiny crescents and triangles of flint known as micro-flints. [Source: Gerald A. Larue, “Old Testament Life and Literature,” 1968, infidels.org <=>]

“Natufian sites, since found in other locations, suggest long periods of uninterrupted occupation and reveal a uniformity in art, industry, burial customs and artifacts that indicates close communication among groups, although it must be admitted that each site has its own distinctive features. Massive implements, such as huge basalt mortars weighing hundreds of pounds for grinding grain, were produced, as well as such delicate objects of bone as fish hooks, barbed harpoons and pins. A wide variety of tools, including adzes, sickles and picks, suggest the beginning of agriculture. Rock carvings portray men using lassoes and nets, and the imprint of matting on clay floors indicates the weaving of fibers.<=>

“During this period the bow and arrow were used and, with better tools and weapons and having learned how to store food, it is possible that life became somewhat easier, providing time for artistic expression. Rock drawings and wall paintings depict men and animals with the precise pictorial representation so often characteristic of primitive art, but Natufian man moved beyond this phase into schematic and symbolic representation and geometric patterns. Skeletons were often decorated with necklaces, pendants, breast ornaments and headdresses of shell and bone. The curious custom of separating the skull from the rest of the skeleton has been variously interpreted as a cannibalistic rite, evidence of ancestor worship, a skull cult, or simply as an interesting hobby of collecting tokens of victory over enemies. Sea travel had begun, probably on rafts of bamboo or papyrus at first and later on more sophisticated ships, and the Near Eastern world was drawn more closely together.<=>

Neolithic Palestine (10,000 to 4,500 B.C.)

Larue wrote: “The Neolithic or New Stone Age began between 12,000 and 10,000 years ago (10,000-8,000 B.C.) and is characterized by settled communities in which man, having developed agricultural skills, was no longer dependent upon natural resources for food. Excavations at Jericho, directed by Miss Kathleen Kenyon, produced impressive evidence of the development of village culture prior to the invention of pottery. Floors surrounded by stone and earth humps were found in the earliest levels, but solid structures soon began to appear. Circular houses, with pounded earth floors cut below the level of the surrounding terrain, had upper walls of upright poles and elongated, cigar shaped bricks sloping inward to form domed roofs. Woven reed mats covered the floors. Around this community, a wall of free-standing stone had been built, over six feet wide in some places and still standing to a height of twelve feet. A huge tower more than thirty feet high with an interior staircase was built against the inner wall. Such structures indicate the existence of fully developed, cooperative community life as early as the sixth and seventh millennium B.C. [Source: Gerald A. Larue, “Old Testament Life and Literature,” 1968, infidels.org <=>]


Neolithic period plaster skull from Jericho

“Subsequent layers of occupation reveal new living patterns. Houses become rectilinear with plastered floors and walls. Bones of goats, pigs, sheep and cattle point to domestication of these animals. Obsidian, turquoise and cowrie shells were imported from Syria, the Sinai peninsula and the Mediterranean for manufacture of tools and ornaments. In a shrine, a piece of volcanic stone from the Dead Sea area was placed in a niche, perhaps foreshadowing the sacred standing pillars mentioned in the Bible.3 Clay figurines and human skulls with features skillfully modeled in fine clay reveal artistic tendencies and, perhaps, if these items are cult objects, association with worship. Later, in the Neolithic period (fifth millennium), pottery-making begins. From this period have come three almost life-sized plaster statues built on reed frames, representing a man, woman, and child. The male head, which alone was recovered intact, is a flat disc of clay about one inch thick, with shells for eyes and brown paint for hair. It is possible that a divine triad is represented.<=>

“In Egypt during the Tasian period (named for Deir Tasi in Middle Egypt) which began between 10,000 and 7,000 B.C., man began to cultivate grains, including wheat, barley and flax. In a large Neolithic village near the southwest edge of the delta at Meremdeh Beni-Salamah, oval huts of unbaked mud bricks and a large central granary were found, indicating the development of co-operative enterprise. Woven plant fibers and ornaments of shell, bone and ivory reflect manufacturing and artistic skill. Similar settlements have been found in the Fayum, an ancient oasis west of the Nile.<=>

“Near the Caspian Sea and in the upper reaches of the Tigris River, Paleolithic, Mesolithic and pre-pottery Neolithic materials have been recovered, largely from caves. At Mesolithic sites below Lake Urmia (Karim Shahir, Zawi Chemi, Shanidar), circular dwelling foundations of stone with hearths, storage bins, grinding stones and other implements, together with bones of sheep, cattle and dogs, indicate the beginnings of settled culture. These sites may have been occupied only seasonally. At Jarmo in eastern Iraq, a Neolithic site marked the transition to year-round living at one location. No pottery vessels were found. Crude representations of animals and female figures in unbaked clay point to artistic interests perhaps associated with the worship of the mother goddess or the use of fetishes to aid in childbirth and, possibly, to domestication of animals.<=>

“Similar patterns of developing society have been observed elsewhere. At Tell Hassuna, south of Mosul, adobe dwellings built around open central courts with fine painted pottery replace earlier levels with crude pottery. Hand axes, sickles, grinding stones, bins, baking ovens and numerous bones of domesticated animals reflect settled agricultural life. Female figurines have been related to worship, and jar burials within which food was placed, to belief in afterlife. The relationship of Hassuna pottery to that of Jericho suggests that village culture was becoming widespread.<=>

Chalcolithic Age Palestine (4,500 to 3,300 B.C.)


Copper Age churn

Larue wrote: “The Chalcolithic Age (chalcos, copper; lithos, stone) extended from the middle of the fifth to near the end of the fourth millennium B.C. During this period the art of smelting and molding copper was developed, and stone and bone tools were now augmented by a limited supply of implements made of this new substance. The skill developed by smiths in the handling of copper is amply illustrated in the several hundred beautifully fashioned cultic items from the end of the Chalcolithic period that were discovered in a cave near the Dead Sea in the spring of 1961. [Source: Gerald A. Larue, “Old Testament Life and Literature,” 1968, infidels.org <=>]

“Villages and towns of varying size were now spread throughout Palestine and permanent houses were built of stone, mud-brick and wood, although cave living was still common, and near Beer-sheba there was a whole village with underground living and storage quarters. A rich variety of stone, pottery and copper artifacts, fine flint work, paintings and carvings mark cultural growth in this period. New burial patterns were developed. Often the dead were interred in large storage jars, and at other times bodies were cremated and the remains placed in specially made pottery urns and interred in caves. <=>

Rock Art Discovered in 4000-Year-Old "Dark Ages" Tomb in Israel

In March 2017, researchers announced the discovery of rock art in a 65-foot-wide dolmen tomb made by moving 400 tons’ worth of boulders during the “Dark Ages” of Palestinian-Israeli history more than 4,000 years ago. Megan Gannon wrote in Livescience.com: The size and meticulous construction techniques used to make the megalithic tomb suggest that the people who made lived in some type of organized society, the researchers argue. “The gigantic dolmen at Kibbutz Shamir is without doubt an indication of public construction that required a significant amount of manpower over a considerable period of time,” study leader Gonen Sharon, an archaeologist at Israel’s Tel-Hai College. [Source:Megan Gannon, Livescience.com, March 8, 2017 <+>]

Megan Gannon wrote in Livescience.com: “Thousands of megalithic burial structures have been found all over the Levant -- in Syria, Jordan and Israel. Archaeologists recently conducted a survey of the hundreds of dolmens near Israel’s Kibbutz Shamir, which is located on the lower western slopes of the Golan Heights. One particular dolmen stood out. It was 65 feet in diameter and was made of a heap of about 400 tons’ worth of boulders. The biggest boulder was a 50-ton capstone that covered the central rectangular chamber of the tomb. In the dirt below, the archaeologists found the bones of an adult male, an adult female and a young child. There were also several secondary chambers built in the outer corners of the tumulus, or burial mound. <+>


Copper Age "Treasure of Nahal Mishmar"

“When the archaeologists went into the central chamber and looked up at the underside of the massive capstone, they saw abstract carvings. The engravings on the dolmen’s ceiling depict straight lines attached to the center of an arc. “This is the first art ever documented in a dolmen in the Middle East,” Uri Berger, an archaeologist with the Israel Antiquities Authority, said. <+>

“Though most of the forms are visible to the naked eye, the researchers used a 3D scanner to get a better look at the rock art. They counted 14 engraved shapes, each consisting of a straight line connected to the center of an arc. (The shapes almost resemble anchors or arrows.) The meaning of the artwork is unknown. <+>

“Researchers have believed that after Early Bronze Age cities collapsed, people in the southern Levant descended into a dark age. Archaeologists have not found any monumental buildings or many settlements from this era (called the Intermediate Bronze Age), so they’ve assumed that most people reverted to seminomadic, pastoral lifestyles. Sharon and colleagues think the dolmen near Shamir challenges this view. They suggest that a more complex socioeconomic system was in place during that period. “A complex governmental system was needed to recruit laborers for building such a monumental structure and for supplying their needs during the operation,” the researchers wrote online in the journal PLOS ONE. “It also needed to possess the architectural knowledge and dexterity for the complex stonemasonry involved.”“ <+>

Chalcolithic Age Mesopotamia

“In Mesopotamia, at Tell Halaf on the Khabour River, a tributary of the Euphrates, hard, thin pottery with a beautiful finish produced by high firing at controlled heats was found. This pottery from the middle of the fifth millennium is decorated with geometric designs in red and black on- a buff slip, but animal and human figures also appear. One figure appears to represent a chariot, thus indicating the use of the wheel. Houses were constructed out of mud brick, but reed structures plastered with mud were also built. Cones of clay, painted red or black or left plain, were often inserted in the mud walls to form mosaics and to protect the wall from weathering. [Source: Gerald A. Larue, “Old Testament Life and Literature,” 1968, infidels.org <=>]

“A small shrine of mud brick from Eridu belongs to the same period. Only foundations and a plastered floor remain, but it is surmised that the upper structure was plastered and painted. Later in the period the shrine was covered over with earth, and a second temple was built above it, placing the new building considerably above the surrounding plateau.<=>

“A more pretentious structure from the beginning of the fourth millennium was found at Tepe Gawra, near modern Mosul. Three large buildings of sun-baked brick were located on an acropolis and designed to frame three sides of an open court. Inner rooms were painted in red-purple, and exterior walls were red on one building, white on another and brown on the third. A fourth millennium temple was built at Uruk upon a staged, elevated mound, 140 by 150 feet at the base and 30 feet high. This man-made, mountain-top home for the gods was of pounded clay and layers of sun-dried brick and asphalt. Surmounted by a white-washed temple (65 x 150 x 14 feet) and approached by a steep stairway and a ramp, this structure is known as a ziggurat (from the Assyrian-Babylonian ziqquratu, meaning "to be raised up," hence "a high place") and is the prototype of loftier and more magnificent ziggurats of later periods.<=>

“For the first time the cylinder seal is found. Each of these small stone cylinders had distinctive patterns inscribed on its surface, and when rolled over soft, moist clay left a raised design, which could be used as a sign of ownership. About the middle of the fourth millennium, pictographic writing was developed and incised upon clay tablets. As the use of writing increased pictographs became more and more stylized, finally being reduced to wedge-shaped symbols or what is called cuneiform writing. Cuneiform characters were impressed upon a tablet of moist clay with a stylus, and if the document required a signature, a cylinder seal was used. The tablet was baked or allowed to dry, forming a permanent record.<=>


Ubaid period (6500-3800 BC) frieze of Anzu grasping deer from tell Al-Ubaid


“A hearth or incense burner found in one of the caves near Beer-sheba was set in the center of the mud floor and consisted of an arrangement of large pebbles in the form of what has been called "a magic square." Each stone bears a mark in indelible red color, and it is possible that the hearth was used in divination by a priest-magician in the Chalcolithic age. The excavators lifted out the entire section of the floor that contained the hearth and mounted it in a special frame for study and display.<=>

“The precise identity of these Mesopotamian people is not known for sure, but on the basis of the sexegesimal arithmetical system utilized on some of the clay tablets, a system also used by the Sumerians, and from references to gods worshiped by the Sumerians, it is presumed that they were Sumerians. Where they came from and when is unknown,5 but they are neither Semites nor Indo-Europeans, and they refer to themselves as "the black-headed-people."<=>

Chalcolithic Age Egypt

“In Egypt the Chalcolithic period is represented by Badarian culture, first found at al Badari. Unusual, ripple patterned pottery was produced in a variety of finishes. Green malachite ore, so important for the beautification of the eyes, was ground on slate palettes that were often ornamented. Skeletal remains indicate that the Badarians were a stocky people and that they believed in some form of afterlife, for the dead were buried in a flexed or sleeping posture with food and equipment. [Source: Gerald A. Larue, “Old Testament Life and Literature,” 1968, infidels.org <=>]

In burial urns from the plain of Sharon the deceased person was cremated and the ashes and bones were placed in these clay house-shaped ossuaries. Each urn is individualistic in design and structure, which may indicate stylistic variations in the architecture of the dwellings of the period. The significance of the "nose-like" projection is not known.<=>


Badari period string of beads

“The succeeding culture, beginning with the fourth millennium, was called Amratian, after el-Amreh near Abydos, and was centered in Upper Egypt. A new people, tall and slender, appear. Some features of their artifacts demonstrate borrowing from the Badarians, but the extensive use of copper, magnificent flint work, and artistic expressions in slate, ivory and clay mark unique developments. Amratian dead were buried in oval pits in tightly flexed positions. In addition to the usual grave furnishings, ivory and clay figurines of women and slaves were included, leading to the hypothesis that these were miniature substitutions for an older practice of sacrificing living individuals to serve an important individual in the afterlife.<=>

“The Gerzean period began in the middle of the fourth millennium, and for the first time written documents appear in Egypt. Local towns or districts (later called "nomes" by the Greeks) were formed, each with a local symbol that was often mounted on ships to designate district of origin. By conquest, units were joined into larger districts. Gerzian tombs were elaborate: the poor were buried in oblong graves with a ]edge at one side to hold funerary offerings, the rich in tombs lined with mud brick. Gold is found for the first time along with silver and meteoritic iron. Figures on a clay vessel about 113/4 inches high from the late Gerzian period are in deep red against a cream colored background. The wavy handles on each side are known as "ledge handles" and are characteristic of vessels of the same period found in Palestine.<=>

“Within the next half millennium significant administrative changes occurred. Gerzean districts of Upper Egypt united under a single ruler who wore a tall white helmet as a crown. Delta nomes united tinder a king who wore a crown of red wicker-work. By 2900 B.C. the two areas had become one, and the single ruler wore both red and white crowns and was known as "King of Upper and Lower Egypt."<=>

Early Bronze Age Palestine (3300- 2200 B.C.)

Biblical and Jewish history begins during the Bronze Age (3300 - 1200 B.C.) in the Middle East. The birth of the Jewish people and the start of Judaism is told in the first five books of the Bible. Around 2000 B.C. God chose Abraham to be the father of a people who would be special to God, and who would be an example of good behaviour and holiness to the rest of the world. God guided the Jewish people through many troubles, and at the time of Moses, around 1300 B.C., he gave them a set of rules by which they should live, including the Ten Commandments. [Source: BBC]


Bronze Age Canaanite house

According to Ancient Near East net: “The Early Bronze Age in the Levant [Cyprus, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey] is most frequently characterised as the first great period of urbanism in the Near East, the material culture of the region reflecting a general trend towards living in urban settlements and social organisation along city lines. Scholars have therefore entitled this period variously as “the Emergence of Cities” [Mazar 1990:91] Social and cultural developments in the Levant at this time cannot be understood without appreciating their wider context in the regions as a whole; developments in both Egypt and Mesopotamia serve to frame those in the Levant. Thus, the second half of the fourth millennium BCE witnessed the rise of truly complex civilisations in both river valleys, characterised by hierarchical government and administration, by the appearance of writing and literate societies, by irrigation and by large-scale public works. [Source: ancientneareast.net ***]

“Positioned centrally between them and serving as a land bridge, the Levant benefitted from the influence of both cradles of civilisation. Thus, the southern Levant (Palestine, Lebanon and southern Syria) developed clear connections with the Nile Delta region, later also with the Nile Valley; some limited Mesopotamian and Anatolian influence also filtered through via northern Syria. Northern Syria itself, of course, was positioned in close juxtaposition with the Upper Euphrates and Tigris river valleys, these serving to channel direct Mesopotamian influence into that region. Although lacking the riverine basis for urban civilisation present in both Egypt and Mesopotamia, being forced to rely on seasonal precipitation for agricultural water supply, the Levant was nonetheless able to follow their general trajectory by developing localised forms of urban culture in entirely different landscapes. ***

The EBA in the Levant corresponds in Egypt to the late Predynastic and Early Dynastic periods (EBI-II) and the Old Kingdom, extending across Dynasties 3-6 (EBIII). The latest urban phase of the EBA is therefore a contemporary of the so-called “Age of the Pyramids”.

Periodisation and Terminology of Early Bronze Age Palestine (3300- 2200 B.C.)

According to Ancient Near East net: “The use of the term “Early Bronze” to describe the period is favoured by most scholars; several exceptions exist(ed) amongst the Israeli archaeological community, some of whom prefer(red) an designation of “Early Canaanite” [cf. M. Dothan 1985:136-141]. This alternative has provoked much debate, on the grounds that utilising ethnically-oriented terminology must necessarily be doubtful, given that we do not know the ethnic composition of the Levant at the time in the absence of epigraphic remains or other clear indicators. [Source: ancientneareast.net ***]


Bronze Age images in the Israel Museum

Southern Levant, West Syria, Amuq Sequence, North Syria and SE Anatolia [cf. Rothman 2001], Approximate Dates (Cal BCE)
Chalcolithic (Ghassulian), Local Ubaid / Chaff-Faced Horizon, E/F, Terminal
Ubaid / Late Chalcolithic (LC) 1-2, mid 5th – mid 4th millennia
EBI (early), Chaff-Faced Horizon, F, LC3, 3600 – 3400/3350
EBI (late), Chaff-Faced Horizon, F-G, LC4, 3400/3350 – 3100/3000
EBII, EBI/II, G-H, LC5 / post-Uruk, 3100-3000 – 2800/2700
EBIII, EBIII, H-I, Multiple competing terminologies, 2800/2700 – 2400/2300
EBIV, EBIV, I-J, Multiple competing terminologies, 2400/2300 – 2000 ***

“Transition to Early Bronze from the Chalcolithic: Several sites in the southern Levant were abandoned permanently at the end of the Chalcolithic period, and were not subject to resettlement with the advent of the EBI period. Amongst these are such significant Chalcolithic settlements as Teleilat Ghassul and Abu Hamid, both in the Jordan Valley. A large number of sites possess EBIa settlement remains above earlier Late Chalcolithic layers however, revealing a tendency amongst EBIa settlers towards the resettlement of sites previously occupied in the Chalcolithic period or even earlier. Amongst these are such sites as Tel Teo, Meser, Palmahim and Tel Halif, all eminently suitable for ongoing settlement with abundant water resources and land already prepared for crop cultivation. Even so, a number of significant sites in the southern Levant were founded at the start of the EB period with no connection whatsoever to the preceding Chalcolithic settlement process. Examples include Bab edh-Dhra, Yiftahel and Site H. ***

Middle Bronze Age Palestine (2200 - 1570 B.C.)

John R. Abercrombie of the University of Pennsylvania wrote: “The Middle Bronze Age is contemporary with the First Intermediate Period, Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period in Egypt. United Egypt of the Old Kingdom disintegrated into individual kingdoms (nomarchs) after the Sixth Dynasty. This period of disunity, possibly described in the Admonitions of Ipuwer, lasted some three hundred years and is generally contemporary with Middle Bronze I. [Sources: Historical Overview of the Middle Bronze Age (Anep, 382-386), John R. Abercrombie, University of Pennsylvania, James B. Pritchard, Princeton, Boston University, bu.edu/anep/MB.html |*|]


Middle Bronze Age jewelrey from Israel

“Under kings of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Dynasty, Middle Kingdom Egypt reached a cultural pinnacle. Politically Middle Kingdom monarchs extended their influence southward into Nubia as far as the fortress of Semnah. Egypt's hegemony in Asia, however, is more problematic, although there is evidence of early contact with Asiatic peoples. The Tale of Sinuhe describes the adventures of an Egyptian royal tutor who fled to Syria and lived among the Asiatic tribes. Other evidence of contact include Egyptian execration text, lists of Asiatics living in Egyptian households, extensive gifts and statuary from Byblos and other sites (e.g. Megiddo), and Egyptian tomb inscriptions and depictions (e.g. Beni Hasan painting of 37 Asiatics ANEP, No. 3 - Tomb of Khnum-hotep III). |*|

“Asiatics gained control of the delta region of Egypt in the Second Intermediate Period. Known as the Hyksos, Rulers of Foreign Lands, these Asiatic princes may have extended control beyond the delta and as far south as Abydos. Certainly many of the major Hyksos cities are located in the eastern Delta: Tell el-Yahudiyeh, Heliopolis, Tell el-Maskhuta and Tell ed-Dab'a. Manfred Bietak's excavation at Tell ed-Dab'a clearly demonstrates the presence of an Asiatic culture at this site that some consider the ancient capital of Avaris. Large migdol temples, family cemeteries on the tell, unusual donkey burials, weapons, types of grave goods, common Middle Bronze IIA-C pottery and other small finds are comparable and almost identical to the kind of cultural remains from contemporary sites in Palestine and Syria. |*|

“A number of key battles were fought by Egyptian kings of the Seventeenth Dynasty against the Hyksos, but it wasn't until the reign of Amosis, the first king of the Eighteenth Dynasty (circa 1570 B.C.), that the Hyksos were expelled. The important text describing the expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt comes from the tomb walls of one Ahmose of El Kab. His autobiographical inscriptions describes the conquest of Avaris, the Hyksos capital, the city of Sharuhen (Tell el Farah S) in Palestine and the conquest of all Retenu during the reign of Thothmosis I.” |*|

Late Bronze Age Palestine (1570 - 1200 B.C.)

John R. Abercrombie of the University of Pennsylvania wrote: “Egypt dominated the political life of Palestine during the Late Bronze Age, a period contemporary with the Egyptian New Kingdom. The first king of the Eighteenth Dynasty defeated the Hyksos at Avaris and continued the battle to Sharuhen in southern Palestine. Thothmosis I and Thothmosis III extended Egyptian influence over the entire region from the borders of Egypt to the Euphrates, the great river that flows backwards. Under the descendants of Thothmosis III, Egypt exercised full hegemony over Palestine by establishing systems of control over vital trade routes and local principalities. Towards the end of the Eighteenth Dynasty, Egyptian control may have declined somewhat due to the general lack of attention to political and military matters during the Amarna period. [Sources: John R. Abercrombie, University of Pennsylvania, Department of Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania; James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (ANET), Princeton, Boston University, bu.edu/anep/MB.html |*|]


Late Bronze Age coffins

“The Nineteenth Dynasty kings quickly reestablished Egyptian control under Seti I. By the middle of the thirteenth century, Egypt lost control of much of northern Syria to the Hittite kings. The two major kings of this dynasty, Seti I and his son Ramesis II, carried out campaigns near Beth Shan. Later in the thirteenth century, Merneptah may have campaigned in Palestine if there is any historical credulity to his hymn of victory, sometimes called the Israelite stela. |*|

“The great Temple of Amon-Ra at Karnak is an excellent spot to understand Egypt's power and influence over the Asiatics. Asia was Amon-Ra's domain and the spoils of conquest/tribute supported the building of the world's largest religious structure. Tombs of noblemen, high official in the court and in the Temple at Karnak, also provide a wealth of information about Egyptian control and influence. In sites in Palestine, excavations show a slow but steady egyptianization of the culture as more egyptian or egyptianized artifacts appear in the latter half of the Late Bronze Age, and as egyptian practices (e.g. burial practices) become more the fashion. Remains from sites such as Beth Shan,Tell el-Farah (S), Hesi, Jemmeh, Masos, esh-Sharia and Aphek attest to their extensive control of this region. The copper mines at Timna seem to have been operated under Egyptian direction throughout the Nineteenth and part of the Twentieth Dynasties. All this evidence collectively indicates how thoroughly Egypt controlled this region. |*|

On Egyptian temple walls and tombs, the inhabitants of Syria and Palestine are depicted as vassals of their Egyptian overlords. Asiatics, usually dressed in long robes and wearing decorative headbands, bring tribute and produce into Egypt; are bound captive slaves or fierce mercenary soldiers; and work as corvee laborers assisting Egyptians in obtaining raw materials (timber and copper) and exotic produce (wine, oils and perhaps even opium). Of particular interest to archaeologists are the types of goods offered to the officials, for many of these items are known from excavations. The Egyptians did not hold Asiatics in high esteem and often depicted them as a pack of yelping dogs doing the bidding of their Egyptian masters.”|*|

Iron Age Palestine (1200 - 550 B.C.)

Abercrombie wrote: “The Iron Age is divided into two subsections, the early Iron Age and The Late Iron Age. the early Iron Age (1200-1000) illustrates both continuity and discontinuity with the previous Late Bronze Age. There is no definitive cultural break between the thirteenth and twelfth century throughout the entire region, although certain new features in the hill country, Transjordan and coastal region may suggest the appearance of the Aramaean and Sea People groups. There is evidence, however, that shows strong continuity with Bronze Age culture, although as one moves later into the early Iron Age the culture begins to diverge more significantly from that of the late second millennium. [Sources: John R. Abercrombie, University of Pennsylvania, James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (ANET), Princeton, Boston University, bu.edu/anep/MB.html |*|]


Iron Age ceramics with seals

“The Late Iron Age (1000-550) witnessed the rise of the states of Judah and Israel in the tenth-ninth century. These small principalities exercise considerable control over their particular regions due in part to the decline of the great powers, Assyria and Egypt, from about 1200 to 900. Beginning in the eighth century and certainly in the seventh century, Assyria reestablishes its authority over the eastern Mediterranean area and exercises almost complete control. The northern state of Israel is obliterated in 722/721 by King Sargon and its inhabitants taken into exile. Judah, left alone, gradually accommodates to Assyrian control, but towards the end of the seventh century it does revolt as the Assyrian empire disintegrated. Judah's freedom was short-lived, however, and eventually snuffed out by the Chaldean kings who conquered Jerusalem and took some of the ruling class into exile to Babylon. During the period of exile in Babylon, the area, particularly from Jerusalem south, shows a mark decline. Other areas just north of Jerusalem are almost unaffected by the catastrophe that befell Judah. |*|

“The University of Pennsylvania Museum possesses a rich collection in Iron Age material from almost all its excavated sites. The Beth Shan strata are particularly helpful in illustrating the continuity with the Bronze Age in Iron I. The same probably can be said for the Sa'idiyeh cemetery. Beth Shemesh, however, shows the discontinuity with the Late Bronze Age given its somewhat intrusive Aegean evidence usually associated with the Philistines. In The Late Iron Age, the following sites adequately cover the culture: Gibeon, Beth Shemesh, Tell es-Sa'idiyeh, Sarepta and to a lesser extent Beth Shan. Many of the small finds photographed below come from Gibeon, Sa'idiyeh and Beth Shemesh. Models and simulations are taken from publications of Sa'idiyeh and Sarepta. |*|

Ethnic Groups in Iron Age Palestine

John R. Abercrombie of the University of Pennsylvania wrote: “The Bronze Age culture does not suddenly disappear in the twelfth century. In fact, culture changes very little in the first half of the early Iron Age at sites like Megiddo or Beth Shan. This may suggest that there is no significant cultural break throughout the entire region at the beginning of the Iron Age. As one examines later levels at these and other sites, however, the Bronze Age culture begins to alter. Primary burial practices slowly disappears in favor of secondary burial (Tell el-Farah S or Zeror) by the tenth century. Courtyard houses, a common Bronze Age form, is replaced by pillared houses at a number of sites in The Late Iron Age. Egyptianized artifacts are less common in the late Iron Age except for sites along the immediate coast. Bronze weapons and forms are replaced by iron weapons. New the late Iron Age artifacts begin to appear throughout the entire region. Thus, gradually, it seems, many of the characteristic forms and contexts of Bronze Age culture become less evident in later levels of The Late Iron Age, although it would be incorrect to conclude that the Bronze Age culture, we call Canaanite, disappeared entirely due to points of continuity that continue unabated from Bronze Age to Iron Age (e.g. compare the artifacts in Shrine 1 Sarepta with the temple of stratum VII-VI Beth Shan). [Sources: John R. Abercrombie, University of Pennsylvania, James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (ANET), Princeton, Boston University, bu.edu/anep/MB.html |*|]


Canaanites and Shasu leader from Egyptian pharaoh Ramses III's tile collection

“By the middle of the ninth century, Assyria is exercising some hegemony over the region of Palestine. The Battle of Qarqar (853) may have been a temporary set back for Assyria, but by 840/841 the Assyria King Shalmeneser III is accepting tribute from the Israel King Jehu. In the eighth century, Assyria campaigns throughout the region controlling the political life of the small principalities. Israel continues to try an exercise some independence which leads eventually to its demise in 722/21 when Sargon conquers Israel's capital. A number of Israel's key cities (Hazor and Megiddo) had been captured a decade before by Tiglath-pileser. |*|

“Judah remains alone and politically suppressed by Assyria in the seventh century. In 701, Sennacherib attacked most of Judah and even laid siege to Jerusalem. From that point on Judah remains a loyal vassal of Assyria until the reign of Josiah. By then, Assyria was beginning to decay from within, and King Josiah of Judah attempts to play political broker in this region eventually leads to his death at the hands of Egyptian King Necco at the battle of Megiddo (609). By then, Assyria no longer exists for all practice purposes as the Chaldean kings conquered the domains that once were part of Assyria's empire.” |*|

Egypt and the Sea Peoples

Ramses III (1195 – 1164 B.C.), the last great pharaoh of Egypt, is best known for defeating the Sea Peoples — a combination of several different peoples that some historian gave birth to the Phoenicians. The "Sea People," ravaged the Near East and advanced south towards Egypt and were halted by Ramses III in the fifth year of his reign. Among his other accomplishments were revived trade with the Land of Punt, reestablishing law and order throughout the country and launching a tree planting campaign. His monuments include the temple at Medinet Habu. [Source: Mark Millmore, discoveringegypt.com ^^^]

Pierre Grandet wrote: “Athough the king prevented the invasion of Egypt by the Sea Peoples, their migration forever changed the geopolitical landscape of the ancient Near East and seems to have been a key factor in this mutation by gradually depriving Egypt of any control of its former Asiatic territories. [Source: Pierre Grandet, 2014, UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, 2013 escholarship.org <>] Invasion of the Sea Peoples

The Sea Peoples annihilated the Hittite Empire and looked they might do the same to the Egyptians. The Great Harris Papyrus, the longest know papyrus, describes how many people throughout the region were made homeless. ‘The foreign countries plotted on their Islands and the people were scattered by battle all at one time and no land could stand before their arms.’


Egyptian image of Sea People captives

Pierre Grandet wrote: “In year eight, Egypt was faced with another threat of invasion—this time on its Mediterranean shore and its northeastern frontier—by a group of peoples of probable heterogeneous ethnicity, but whom the Egyptians clearly perceived as a kind of confederation of related tribes. This perception was mainly due to two features common to all these tribes: their being equipped with Mycenaean weaponry and their geographical origin being “their isles” or “the sea,” an Egyptian designation for the Aegean world, the confederation comprised two main peoples: the Pulasti and the Sikala, helped by the lesser Shakalusha , Danuna , and Washasha , Peleset, Shekelesh, Denen , and Weshesh ). [Source: Pierre Grandet, 2014, UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, 2013 escholarship.org <>]

“Less than one generation earlier, a group of peoples of the same origin (including the Shakalusha ), had been party to an attempted Libyan invasion of Egypt in year five of Merenptah, and had been dubbed “Peoples of the Sea” in the commemorative inscription of this king’s victory. Some of them had been known to the Egyptians as sea-raiders and mercenaries since the reign of Akhenaten, in the 18 th Dynasty, and took to plundering the Nile Delta and other parts of the Mediterranean in the following centuries. When captured, they were often included in the Egyptian elite troops, as the Shardana of Ramesses II’s guard at the battle of Qadesh— a position that they still retained under Ramesses III.” <>

“Around 1200 BCE, these peoples began a large and destructive migration to the south and east of the Aegean. While the bulk of them proceeded by land, their advance was preceded by nautical raids against the coast and the islands of the Eastern Mediterranean. C ilicia, Cyprus, Ugarit, and even the Hatti fell to their attacks, which reached inland as far as Karkemish on the Euphrates. In year eight of Ramesses III, they invaded Amurru, whose territory adjoined Egypt’s, where they took the time to regroup their forces before moving south, allowing the pharaoh to mobilize his forces. <>

Ramses III Defeats the Sea Peoples

The Sea Peoples This great movement of people was well armed and desperate. Mark Millmore wrote in iscoveringegypt.com: “The Sea Peoples were on the move. They had, by now, desolated much of the Late Bronze Age civilizations and were ready to make a move on Egypt. A vast horde was marching south with a huge fleet at sea supporting the progress on land. To counter this threat Ramses acted quickly. He established a defensive line in Southern Palestine and requisitioned every available ship to secure the mouth of the Nile. Dispatches were sent to frontier posts with orders to stand firm until the main army could be brought into action. [Source: Mark Millmore, discoveringegypt.com ^^^]

“The clash, when it came was a complete success for the Egyptians. The Sea Peoples, on land, were defeated and scattered but their navy continued towards the eastern Nile delta. Their aim now, was to defeat the Egyptian navy and force an entry up the river. Although the Egyptians had a reputation as poor seamen they fought with the tenacity of those defending their homes. Ramses had lined the shores with ranks of archers who kept up continuous volleys of arrows into the enemy ships when they attempted to land. Then the Egyptian navy attacked using grappling hooks to haul in the enemy ships. In the brutal hand to hand fighting which ensued the Sea People are utterly defeated. ^^^

The advance of the Sea Peoples was finally stopped in the Nile delta and their power was broken. Some of the them, including the biblical Philistines and the Phoenicians — both of whom are regarded as descendants of the Sea Peoples — settled in Palestine and The Levant respectively. With the exception of the defense against the attack from the Libyans, the rest of Ramses III’s long reign was peaceful.

Pierre Grandet wrote: “Medinet Habu sources, both textual and iconographic, reduce this campaign to two main battles, addressing the twofold threat the Sea Peoples represented: first, the repelling of an attempted landing by a group of enemy ships, crushed between Egyptian warships coming from the high sea and Ramesses III’s infantry waiting for them on the shore; and second, an inland battle, fought against a migrating group of the same invaders, who possessed chariotry and were accompanied by carriages laden with their women, their children, and all their belongings . Although a precise localization of both these battles is impossible, our sources locate them on the shore of the Delta and in “Djahy,” an Egyptian name for Canaan. [Source: Pierre Grandet, 2014, UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, 2013 escholarship.org <>]

Egyptians in Iron Age Palestine

Abercrombie wrote: “Although it may be interpreted from Egyptian written sources that Egypt exercised little control over this region after the Nineteenth Dynasty, the archaeological evidence from Palestine suggests otherwise at least for the first kings of the Twentieth Dynasty. Beth Shan remained an Egyptian colony with houses built according to Egyptian style, complete with door lintel inscriptions in hieroglyphics. [Sources: John R. Abercrombie, University of Pennsylvania, James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (ANET), Princeton, Boston University, bu.edu/anep/MB.html |*|]

“Egyptian architectural structures, square-shaped houses made of mud-brick, occur at Aphek, Ashdod, Beth Shan (1550 and 1700 houses), Gaza, Hesi, Jemmeh, Joppa, Tell el-Farah S (Sharuhen) and Tell Masos and Tell esh- Sharia (Ziklag). The Timna copper mines continue to be controlled until perhaps Ramesis VI. Egyptian pottery can be cited from many early the early Iron Age sites as well. In summary, it seems at least plausible to suggest that Egypt continued to dominate this region at least until the mid-part of the century and perhaps to the end of the century at least at Beth Shan. |*|

“Egyptian contact in the late Iron Age is limited to minor incursions. I Kings 9:16 records that the Egyptian Pharaoh destroyed Gezer. Shishak, the first Pharaoh of the 22nd Dynasty, led a military campaign during the fifth year of Rehoboam, Solomon's son (1 Kings 14:25-26, 2 Chronicles 12:2- 9). A boundary stela of the Egyptian monarch was set up at Megiddo, and the king recorded his victory on the first pylon at the Temple of Karnak. At the end of the seventh century, Egyptian forces attempted to defeat the army of Sennacherib. Necco, Pharaoh of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty, campaigned in Palestine and northward to the Euphrates in 609. Necco's forces defeated Josiah at the Battle of Megiddo where the Judah king was slain in battle (2 Kings 23:29-30, 2 Chronicles 35:20-25).” |*|


Sea People battle the Egyptians


Philistines, Phoenicians and Sea Peoples

Some archeologist and historians believe a mysterious group known as the Sea People — perhaps ancestors of the Minoans — migrated to Lebanon around 1200 B.C. and mixed with local Canaanites to create the Phoenicians. Other archeologist believe the Philistines were originally a Sea People group.

On the link between the Sea People and Phoenicians, Maria Eugenia Aubet, a leading Phoenician expert at Pempeu Fabra University in Barcelona, told National Geographic: “I think they became friends, Phoenician material culture shows so many elements from the Sea Peoples. The Phoenicians learned from them how to build harbors, moorings, docks, and piers. The Sea Peoples, like the Phoenicians, were excellent navigators---and how they knew the routes west to the rich sources of metals." DNA evidence seems to indicate the impact of the Sea People, if they existed, were a cultural and technological group, not a blood group. The geneticist Wells told National Geographic, “The Sea People apparently had bo significant genetic impact on populations in the Levant."

John R. Abercrombie of the University of Pennsylvania wrote: “Although the earliest depictions of Sea People occur in the reign of Seti I, the major incursion of these Aegean people happened about a century later during the reign of Ramesis III of the Twentieth Dynasty. Around 1180 B.C., Ramesis III defeated the Sea People in a land and sea battle at the borders of Egypt. The Philistines, one of the Sea People groups, are easily identified on the depiction of the battles by their distinctive headdresses. Since the 1920's, most scholars have linked those headdresses with some of the anthropoid coffin burials from Beth Shan and elsewhere in Eretz Israel. [Sources: John R. Abercrombie, University of Pennsylvania, James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (ANET), Princeton, Boston University, bu.edu/anep/MB.html |*|]

Be aware that a few scholars do not link all coffin burials with the Philistines, but with other groups including Canaanites and Egyptians. Besides the headdresses and biblical references, archaeological data suggest the appearance of a new group along the coast. The distinctive Philistine ware (Mycenean IIIc1b) appears in the twelfth century and continues into the eleventh century. This pottery tradition has close parallels to Cyprus as well as other islands in the eastern Mediterranean, and suggests that the Sea People may have originated from the eastern Mediterranean rather than Crete (Amos 9:7 and Jeremiah 47:4). Cremation burial, which can be cited from Anatolia and the Aegean, occurred in the coastal region beginning in the twelfth century and continued well into the seventh century. |*|

“The Philistine pentapolis came under control of David and remained generally part of Judah or Israel for most of the 10th and probably part of the ninth century. Later some of the Philistine city states exercised independence from the descendants of Jacob. Also, the general region became known as the land of the Palestu (=Palestine), or Philistines. |Recent excavations at Ashdod, Ashkelon, Tell Miqne (Ekron), Tell esh- Sharia (Ziklag) and Tell Qasile are amplifying our understanding of this intrusive Aegean culture. Sites, such as Ain Shems and even Sarepta, provide additional information on related cultures (e.g. Phoenicians). |*|


Askelon


“The coastal region north of Carmel had been known since the time of Thothmosis IV as the land of the Fenkeu, or Phoenicians. In the Iron Age the Phoenician merchants plied their martime trade on the Mediterranean and were the first mariners to circumnavigate Africa. They established a number of Punic colonies in North Africa, Spain, France, Italy and the Aegean islands. Much of their culture in the Lebanese coast, however, remains undocumented in part due to disturbance of Iron Age sites by later Persian, Hellenistic and Roman cultures. Sarepta, excavated by James Pritchard, is one of the few sites from which we can document in Phoenicia proper the culture of these mariners of old in their homeland. |*|

“In many ways, one can summarize the material culture from Phoenicia and its colonies as reflecting developments on Canaanite culture from the Bronze Age. (Compare, for example, the small shrine at Sarepta to the Bronze Age temples from Beth Shan.) Of course, this culture is greatly influenced by the Aegean world and continues to reflect that eclectic world we characterize as Canaanite in the Bronze Age.” |*|

Israelites

Abercrombie wrote: “When exactly the Israelite tribes settled or conquered the hill country of Palestine is somewhat debated due in part to a lack of conclusive evidence. Certainly in the twelfth century we begin to find evidence of a variant type of village culture in the hill country composed of small unfortified settlements, pillared houses, numerous silos, limited pottery repertoire and presence of collared-rim storage jar. There appear to be numerous such sites particularly but not exclusively north of Jerusalem in the tribal inheritance of Ephraim and Manasseh; in fact, there is a definite growth in settled population all along the hill country spur in Iron I. This culture pattern may extend into the lowlands at some sites later in the early Iron Age (Megiddo). [Sources: John R. Abercrombie, University of Pennsylvania, James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts (ANET), Princeton, Boston University, bu.edu/anep/MB.html |*|]

“Early in The Late Iron Age, major sites (Megiddo, Hazor, and Gezer) show extensive construction on what appears to be similar plans. Other facilities are added in the next century expanding the types of "monumental" structures. Perhaps the most interesting of the new sites, the royal capital at Samaria, further amplifies our information about the Israelite culture in the ninth-eighth centuries. As for sites further to the south along the hill country spur, they also show a planned society with fortified cities, well-laid out streets, pillared houses, large warehouses, and complex water-systems. We have good evidence of industrial and agricultural activities, much more so than in the Bronze Age. Towards the end of The Late Iron Age, the material culture declines percipitously as sites are destroyed and are either abandoned or rebuilt on a more modest scale. Intrusive material particularly Mesopotamia also becomes more common place at a number of tells (Megiddo and Hazor). Finally, almost all the known Iron Age cities from Jerusalem southward are either destroyed or abandoned by the beginning of the sixth century. |*|


Isrealites under Moses leaving Egypt


“The "historical" books of the bible remain the primary witness to the culture of Israel and Judah. The text, almost a polemic of the southern tribes against the religiosity of the northern tribes and other neighboring peoples, was composed mostly during this period and is written in part to chronological deity's actions in history. Care must be taken in using the text for historical reconstruction, however. First, it is hardly a complete history of the region and focuses mostly on Judaean society particularly in and around Jerusalem. Some of these works are obviously secondary sources or summaries (e.g. Kings and Chronicles), whereas others may be closer to first-hand accounts ( e.g. Prophetic material). Second, the work as a whole is polemical and fails to present a modern, objective historical description of what happened in the past. Modern historians using current ideas in historiography, nevertheless, can work with these and other materials, including archaeological remains and other extra-biblical witnesses, to develop a sparse outline of the history of the descendants of Jacob.” |*|

Image Sources: Wikimedia, Commons, Schnorr von Carolsfeld Bible in Bildern, 1860

Text Sources: Internet Jewish History Sourcebook sourcebooks.fordham.edu “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “ Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); “Old Testament Life and Literature” by Gerald A. Larue, King James Version of the Bible, gutenberg.org, New International Version (NIV) of The Bible, biblegateway.com Complete Works of Josephus at Christian Classics Ethereal Library (CCEL), translated by William Whiston, ccel.org , Metropolitan Museum of Art metmuseum.org “Encyclopedia of the World Cultures” edited by David Levinson (G.K. Hall & Company, New York, 1994); National Geographic, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, Times of London, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated September 2018

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