Complexity and diversity in the late Iron Age southern Levant : the investigation of 'Edomite' archaeology and scholarly discourse
This thesis aims to reassess the principal concepts used by archaeologists in their attempts to interpret the late Iron Age archaeology of southern Israel and Jordan. This study focuses in particular on the archaeological remains that have traditionally been associated with the 'Edomites' mentioned in the Old Testament. This reassessment involves examining two inter-related themes. The first is largely historiographical, the aim being to highlight the socio-political and intellectual contexts in which the study of the 'Edomites' became an important discourse. This is achieved by contextualising both the beginnings of south Levantine Iron Age archaeology as a whole and the archaeological investigation of the 'Edomites', as well as the study of the historical sources that mention Edom' and the 'Edomites'. The second theme concerns the material culture used by archaeologists to address questions regarding the 'Edomites', such as the areas they spread to, whether they spread by migration, invasion, or trade, and the nature of their kingdom and religion. Firstly, the theoretical underpinnings of these archaeological approaches is reassessed. Building on that, an analysis of what is traditionally interpreted as 'Edomite' pottery - material that has been commonly used to address the questions posed above - is presented. This analysis focuses on the ways in which this type of pottery was used, and where possible, the contexts in which it was deposited/found, thus highlighting how people in the past used it as part of specific social practices. The results demonstrate that the pattern of material culture usually thought to underpin traditional understandings of 'Edomite' archaeology is actually quite varied and that 'Edomite' ethnicity may not be the best explanation for such diversity. Following the critique of the discourse of 'Edomite' archaeology, a number of alternative ways in which the late Iron Age material culture of the southern Levant might be understood are suggested. These alternatives focus on theories of practice, appropriation, and foodways.