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Title: A study of the intermediate Early Bronze-Middle Bronze Age in Transjordan, Syria and Lebanon
Author: Prag, Kay
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1972
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The general homogeneity of artifacts of the Intermediate Early Bronze - Middle Bronze Age in Palestine has been acknowledged for some years, but the evidence for a relative chronology and typology of objects within the period is based largely on the contents of tombs. Since the surveys of Nelson Glueck in Transjordan it has been apparent that in this region there exist a very large number of EB.MB settlement sites with artifacts directly comparable to those of Contemporary Palestine. It was hoped therefore that some evidence for development within the period might be more readily discernible in Transjordan than in Palestine, where regional differences between cemeteries were sufficiently marked to make any chronological succession very difficult to establish. If the order of succession could be achieved in Transjordan, it would therefore elucidate some of the most difficult problems of chronology in Palestine, as well as shedding light on an area that was in itself insufficiently well known. Subsequently the scope of this research was widened to include all areas within which this homogeneous culture was discernible. This study is based therefore on the field work of several seasons in Syria, Lebanon and particularly Transjordan. It is primarily a collation of most aspects of archaeological evidence in the areas where objects typical of the EB.MB period have been found, and a discussion of the inferences which may be drawn from this evidence. The period is defined chronoigically c. 2350 - 1900 B.C., and at the outset the general basis of terminology and chronology accepted in this study are defined, as there are a multiplicity of terms currently in use. The first section attempts a very short summary of the literary and historical evidence from Mesopotamia, Egypt and Syria-Palestine which bears on the questions of the ethnic identity of the occupants of Palestine - Syria in the late third - early second millennia and what evidence there is for population movements. Although there is no direct historical solution to these problems, such historical evidence as there is must provide a framework within which the archaeological evidence can be more accurately assessed. The second section is concerned with the geographical evidence. The first topic is the limits of settlement of EB.MB peoples based on the evidence of archaeological survey, only in terms of people using artifacts directly comparable to those in Palestine. Sources and methods are described. The discussion which follows suggests topographical and climatic factors which appear to have influenced settlement at this time, and finally some tentative suggestions are made concerning political and social organization, and direction of settlement. Distribution of sites and the surface evidence suggest that new influences are most likely to have come from the north-east, penetrating Palestine and TransJordan by way of the major river valleys. Section three, dealing with the pottery, contains the weight of the evidence for the conclusions. It deals first with a description of the excavations and pottery from Tell Iktanu, which provided the basis for the pottery typology and relative chronology of the EB.MB in Transjordan. There follows a discussion of the comparative material from surface survey and excavation in Transjordan which suggests where this material should be placed in relation to regional and chronological variations. The main inferences which can be drawn from this pottery evidence are that much of the pottery is directly derived from that of the local EBA, and secondly that there are definable "innovating features" as opposed to mere typological developments from EBA to EB.MB; and that therefore if the origins of these innovations can be traced, a clear case for the origins of the new population element which intermingled with that of the EBA should also be indicated. A brief survey of the contemporary archaeology of areas to the north indicates that apart from the south Lebanon cemeteries no direct contacts for either EB.MB pottery or the "innovating features" are found in Lebanon. The central Syrian pottery shows greater complexity, but the conclusion is that a sequence Kama K - Kama J - Qatna Tomb IV -r Hama H excludes the "innovating features" observed in TransJordan, and that contemporary Hama J develops from three major urban traditions a) late Early Dynastic III of north Syria indicated mainly in Hama J8-7, b) Sargonid of north Syria from Hama J7 onwards, and c) Levantine EBA throughout. The direct links for the "innovating features", dated c.2350 B.C. in Transjordan, are found in the ED III traditions of the central Euphrates region, from Mari, Til Barsip, Harran, Amarna and Hammam, and it is concluded that people who were associated, but not perhaps directly part of that urban tradition, migrated south from their homelands following the campaigns of Lugalzagesi, the Akkadian expansion in north Mesopotamia and campaigns of Sargon. A secondary influence is traced c.2100-2000 B.C. affecting Palestine more considerably than TransJordan, of which the origins are not clearly discernible, but which are probably due to new influences rather than influxes of new people. The degree of continuity in population and pottery typology is however stressed for the whole period. Sections four and five deal with the stone and metal work. The flints in particular indicate continuity of "Canaanean" traditions from EBA through EB.MB to MBA. There are not many metal objects on which to base a relative typology, but it is also suggested that throughout the period the pin types in particular indicate greater continuity of early inland Syrian traditions than has previously been recognised. Section six shows that there is considerable diversity of grave types, but again tentatively suggests there is a clear, and probably early, north Syrian influence on a basically EBA tradition, and concludes by suggesting that traditions of burial are one of the very few factors by which the assimilation of the EB.MB population in MBA society post-1900 B.C. can be detected archaeologically. Section seven is concerned with the evidence of habitation. It is generally agreed that the EB.MB period is one of nomadic or semi-nomadic occupation, but in some respects the evidence for sedentary occupation has been denigrated. The evidence for both ways of life is reviewed and it is concluded that there are two major processes involved, i) the decline of EBA urban civilization which nonetheless has a lingering influence in the EB.MB period and ii) the introduction of a semi-nomadic element in the population which gradually shows a tendency to settle permanently in fertile areas. In the concluding chapter a few other aspects of the EB.MB period are discussed, including the suggestion that cattle played an important part in pastoralism, and that there was sufficient agriculture to indicate not more than partial nomadism. A brief summary of other views of typology and the origins of the people of the EB.MB period is then followed by conclusions based on the evidence of the previous chapters. These conclusions are that c. 2350 B.C. semi-nomadic people arrived in Transjordan from north Syria and intermingled with the probably West Semitic EB III population. These newcomers may also have been West Semites, but there is no definite evidence that they were Amorites though the evidence does not exclude the possibility. This population remained largely unchanged, and in considerable isolation, until c. 1900 B.C. There are new influences apparent c. 2100 B.C. but the basic continuity of artifacts and social order is clear, and the changes probably do not indicate a large influx of new people.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Bronze age ; Jordan ; Lebanon ; Syria