Material Culture

It is of prime importance to document and understand the development of material culture independently in order to consider changes and their relationship to political developments. The difference between the Middle and Late Bronze Age in terms of material culture is problematic. There is no clear break; instead, the transition is gradual both west and east of the Jordan. Since no significant breaks are apparent, researchers have relied on the occurrence of foreign pottery wares as markers of Late Bronze Age archaeological contexts (such as Late Cypriot White Slip I and Base Ring I Wares), and on what are often very subtle changes in local material culture. Conversely, the beginning of the Late Bronze Age has been connected to the expulsions of the Hyksos and the beginning of the Egyptian New Kingdom. This amalgamation of historical and archaeological assumptions preconceives much of the historical interpretation of the period.

This project draws on the results of the continued excavation of Area S at Lachish, but has a much wider scope. ‘Tracing Transformations’ generates a synthesis of material culture during the late Middle and early Late Bronze Age, looking in detail at the development, consumption, and social context of pottery, imported materials, prestige goods, and architecture.  This study will assess the material evidence independently from the pre-conceived Late Bronze Age sub-phases and will outline the development of local material culture in each region of the southern Levant. Thus, the Material culture sub-project will help to understand how different regions of the southern Levant reacted to the political transformations during this period, and will generate a new picture that can be compared to the historical assessment based on textual data.

This project is led by Katharina Streit.