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The Growth and Influence of Interregional Exchange in the Southern Levant's Iron Age I-II Transition, Examined through Biblical, Epigraphic, and Archaeological Sources

  • Author(s): Malena, Sarah Lynn
  • et al.

One of the most significant problems in historical and archaeological investigations of ancient Israel's early Iron Age is a great disparity between text and artifact. Our most extensive written source, the Hebrew Bible, is frequently at odds with our other primary source of information, archaeological remains. The discrepancy between these resources is most pronounced in images of an early kingdom and its relations with other groups in the ancient Near East (during roughly the late eleventh through the end of the tenth centuries). In order to explore these problems, this dissertation examines potential evidence of interactions between the southern Levant (i.e., the biblical lands) and its neighbors and evaluates that evidence with the aid of historical and anthropological approaches regarding intercultural interaction and social change. My survey of evidence begins with two significant discussions of interaction in the biblical history: Israel's relations with the Philistines and Solomon's relations with his royal contemporaries and within his domain. I follow the biblical history with a brief review of interaction involving the Davidic capital Jerusalem, which has been the focus of the most recent debates and is critical to the biblical depiction of Israel's relations. My investigation then shifts to extrabiblical materials. Epigraphic remains, though not numerous in the tenth century, are an important source of information regarding leaders and elites, those most likely to be involved in long-distance interactions. My survey concludes with the most concrete evidence of exchange, which is ceramics imported from northern Arabia and the Mediterranean. In each of these discrete examinations, there is reliable evidence in favor of interregional interaction (including diplomacy, commerce, competitive emulation, and aggression) within the southern Levant and between this region and more distant neighbors, such as Egypt, Arabia, Phoenicia, Cyprus, and even the Aegean. My final chapter synthesizes my findings, and I conclude that exchange and interaction in this period had a significant impact on changes in the region especially involving networks of elites and local rulers. Relations among these groups led to competition and eventual shifts in territories, group identities, and political power

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