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Approaches to Production and Distribution in Anthropological Archaeology: Views from the Early Bronze Age of Jordan and Israel

  • Author(s): Gidding, Aaron David
  • Advisor(s): Levy, Thomas E
  • et al.
Abstract

The Early Bronze Age (3500 BCE – 2000 BCE) signals the start of complex societies across the Middle East. Compared to Egypt and Mesopotamia, sites in the southern Levant developed on a smaller scale. The difference in scale has led to debate about whether it is appropriate to call the settlements of the Early Bronze Age “urban” or “complex” by focusing on ranking, social differentiation, and unequal access to resources to indicate the development of elite structures. This study examines the site of Khirbat Hamra Ifdan (KHI) in the Faynan district of southern Jordan to assess the role of the production of copper on both local and regional social structures. As a significant prestige good, copper could act as a tool of ancient elites to finance and maintain their position of power. Any site involved in the production of that good becomes an excellent candidate to examine the role of elites in production and unequal access to material wealth. However, the Faynan district is an arid region where dry farming is impossible, making the support of an urban elite difficult. In order to place production at KHI within the dialogue of urbanism in the Levantine EBA, it is necessary to highlight characteristics locally and regionally that indicate aspects of a production and exchange system that suggest ranking, social differentiation, and unequal access to resources. A hybrid approach is used to examine the social structure of KHI and the neighboring region. The ceramic assemblage, comprising over 6.5 tons of sherds is examined in detail according to types and functional equivalents to highlight whether there is evidence of division of activity within the site and tested. To do this a new web application and data infrastructure called ArchaeoSTOR was created. Next, a map of the diachronic changes in the constellation of copper producing and trading sites is developed using paleomagnetic and radiometric dating techniques to indicate contemporaneity along with ceramic correlates. Finally, local and regional data is used to describe a new model for the development and dissolution of specialized copper production during the EBA.

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