The influence of economic factors on settlement continuity across the LBA/Iron Age transition on the northern Levantine littoral
Few attempts have been made to synthesise Late Bronze Age (LBA) and Iron Age trade patterns in the northern Levant on a regional scale, despite the availability of fine grained excavation data for individual sites. Even less attention has been given to the degree of continuity or change between the economic systems that obtained across the transition between these two periods, which was marked by a widespread destruction of sites across the Eastern Mediterranean. Long-distance trade was conducted at unprecedented levels in the Eastern Mediterranean at the close of the LBA. Ugarit was a strategic node between land and sea routes and its entrepreneurial merchants engaged in transactions for economic gain. Why Ugarit was never meaningfully resettled again after its destruction in the early 12th century BC is a question of regional importance with respect to gaining a better understanding of how and why the mechanisms of trade evolved at this critical time. That Phoenicia came to dominate maritime trade in the Mediterranean in the succeeding period is widely accepted, but the reasons behind this ascendancy are poorly understood. This thesis quantitatively examines contextualised imported ceramic data (Aegean and Cypriot wares) and the archaeological, textual and scientific evidence of the bronze industry and its supply chains. The evidence from the northern Levant is considered within its regional setting, with coastal Syro-Palestine divided into four zones of interaction in order to improve resolution on variations in long-distance trading relationships. The evidence from Cyprus is also assessed, given its importance as a leading supplier of both ceramics and copper to the Levant. A world-systems approach is then applied to this first stage of analysis to assess the intensity and directness of LBA trading contacts between producer and consumer and how these may have developed over time. Trading relationships between the Aegean and Cyprus with different parts of the Levant littoral were not uniform during the LBA, either in intensity or directness. Evidence for continuity in LBA trading relationships across the LBA/Iron Age transition is strongest between Phoenicia and Cyprus, particularly the west coast of the island. Interestingly, the former is not only the sole part of the Levantine littoral to escape destruction at the close of the LBA but also may well have had the most direct and intense LBA trading relationships with the Aegean.