The 7th century BCE in Philistia and Judah is characterized by economic prosperity, which is usually regarded as resulting from the “Assyrian Peace”, and from a policy of the Assyrian empire that aimed at maximizing production. The large center for the production of olive oil that was unearthed at Ekron in southern Israel is regarded as the best example of this policy. The present paper questions this scholarly consensus regarding the role of Assyria in the economy of the southern Levant, through a closer look at the olive oil industry in the region.
The Priestly source (P) is a common designation in scholarship for significant parts of the Pentateuch, which are assumed to have been written in priestly circles. While the social circles and theological background of P are more agreed upon, its dating is hotly debated, and various textual, intertextual, linguistic and historical evidence were employed in an attempt to date its composition. The present paper aims to examine the material world that is assumed by a number of Priestly texts, and the landscape in which the writings are embedded, in order to shed new light on their dating. The paper concludes that much of the priestly writings (inclusive of some of the texts commonly attributed to the Holiness school) are quite intelligible on the background the late Iron Age, mainly the 8th-7th centuries BCE.
It is commonly held in recent scholarship that biblical law, like the society in which it was generated, did not regard premarital sex as a severe offence. The law of the slandered bride (Deut 22:13-22), which determines that a bride that was found non-virgin on her wedding night shall be killed, has therefore become during the last decades a riddle for biblical law researchers, who try to explain the girl’s sin in various ways. We claim that this view ignores the wealth of ethnographic data that shows that harsh treatment of premarital sex is common, especially in patrilineal and patrilocal societies (as was ancient Israelite society). Moreover, a reexamination of other biblical laws regarding sexual conduct in light of the same ethnographic data shows that they reflect the very same attitudes. The different laws are not contradictory but rather complementary—all reflecting a typical patriarchal, androcentric, traditional society.
Over the last century, crosstalk between archaeologists and botanists had focused on the identification of plants remnants, such as charcoal or seeds found in archaeological inventory. Here we demonstrate how botany can play a fundamental role in identifying ancient landscape by using current vegetation. Identifying the loci of ancient human activity is the initial step of any archaeological study, enabling analyses such as settlement patterns, economic structures and land use, as well as devising excavations strategy. While mounds (tells) are standing out of their surroundings and are easily detected, other sites are hidden underground, and require various methods for detection. The cost and intensity of these methods vary, but most are time-consuming, require a team of specialists, and show somewhat limited success, leading archaeologists to seek new methods of site detection. Here, we describe a study of vegetational parameters at Tel ‘Eton (Israel), located in a semi-arid climatic region, where vegetation is mostly herbaceous, mainly comprised of annual plants. We compared above ground biomass, species richness and species composition among four plots in Tel ‘Eton and its surrounding. Two plots were located where ancient settlement found in a previous study, one on top of the mound and one below, where a “lower city” was previously identified. The other two plots were located in similar topographies, namely one on a hill and the other below, but in never-settled areas. While above ground biomass was similar between settled and not-settled plots, species richness was significantly higher in settled plots (40 and 32 species in settled plots, versus 28 and 9 species in non-settled) and species composition was significantly different between them. Our results demonstrate that loci of buried remains of human activity significantly differ from non-settled ones, hence providing the basis for an above ground indirect method of identification of human remains. We propose that floristic sampling of ground-level vegetation may allow archaeologists to identify buried sites, and hence increase the validity of various types of archaeological analyses, such as creating maps of settlements, which rely on the identification of sites without excavating them.