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Tribes And Territories In Transition: The Central East Jordan Valley In The Late Bronze Age And Early Iron Ages: A Study Of The Sources (Orientalia Lovaniensia ... (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta  130) [Hardcover]

Tribes And Territories In Transition: The Central East Jordan Valley In The Late Bronze Age And Early Iron Ages: A Study Of The Sources (Orientalia Lovaniensia ... (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 130) [Hardcover]

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Item description for Tribes And Territories In Transition: The Central East Jordan Valley In The Late Bronze Age And Early Iron Ages: A Study Of The Sources (Orientalia Lovaniensia ... (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 130) by E. J. Van Der Steen...

This volume deals with the transition from the Late Bronze to the Early Iron Age in the central East Jordan Valley, the period of the fall of the Egyptian New Kingdom, and of the birth of a new era, in which small kingdoms such as Ammon, Moab and Israel were born. A broad spectrum of sources is being reviewed: written evidence, excavations and surveys, and ethnographic sources from the 19th century and later. New archaeological evidence is being presented, including a report on the excavations of Tell el-Hammeh on the Zerqa. This evidence, written, material and ethnographical, is incorporated in a new model for the LB-IA transition in the region: a model that explains the events of this turbulent period as the precipitation of a tribal society, where the interactions of tribes and territories determined the political lay-out and shaped the kingdoms of the Iron Age.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Peeters Publishers
Pages   332
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 6.5" Height: 9.5"
Weight:   1.7 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 2004
Publisher   David Brown
ISBN  9042913851  
ISBN13  9789042913851  

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Major Mongraph On Jordan Valley Archaeology  Jan 25, 2005
Tribes and Territories in Transition by Eveline J. Van Der Steen (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta, 130: Peeters) There is little doubt that Van Der Steen has created a monograph critiquing the way classical archaeologists make sense of their data. It is likely to rpvoke much debate in the field as well as revise certain ways Jordan Valley sites are interpreted.
Excerpt: "In an effort to make archaeology an exact science, the New Archae¬ology tried to find general, "covering laws" . Such laws were hard to find, or are defined in such broad terms that they become meaningless. The heavy use of jargon was disturbing. Models often became an end rather than the tool for creating a more meaningful analysis. The new archaeology focused primarily on prehistoric phases and on cultural changes, and neglects historical cases. At least in its more dogmatic forms, it failed to discuss political borders in a satisfactory way, since it created a sharp dichotomy between pots and people - as if pots were independent beings."
This rather harsh judgment, by Raz Kletter (Kletter 1999, 21-22), of the tools and the philosophy of New Archaeology, precisely outlines the difficulties that Near Eastern archaeologists tend to have with the con¬cepts of New Archaeology. The quote contains some useful warnings, puts the concept of model-building into perspective, and underlines the purposes of this study.
.. the new archaeology tried to find general, "covering laws" ..."
Covering laws, or models that can predict human behaviour within a set of specified conditions (such as climate, surroundings, population density) are indeed hard to find, basically because humans do not behave like numbers, or chemical substances that turn from solid to fluid to gas under specified pressure and temperature. We want human behaviour to be predictable. And it is, or can be, to a certain extent. But only to a cer¬tain extent. Human reactions follow the laws of sociobiology, and therefore `universal' laws can be described in order to explain, analyse and `predict' historical events and situations. Of course, human behaviour, like that of other living creatures, can never be completely predicted. On the other hand, occasional deviations from the general laws do not invalidate them.
Any model that describes or explains human behaviour, should be based on reality, on actual observations. This may seem self evident, but as Kletter states: "Such laws were hard to find, or are defined in such broad terms that they become meaningless." We must be aware that sometimes models may be valid, or represent reality for one situation, period or group, but not for others. We must be prepared to limit ourselves, in order to remain meaningful. The reality that I propose here, and that limits my model in a spatial sense, although hardly in a temporal one, is that the Southern Levant has always, at least since the Early Bronze Age, been a tribal society.
The word `tribal' has many connotations. In western society, and in New Archaeology, it is associated with a relatively low level of social organisation. In Near Eastern contexts it is often associated with economic behaviour, notably the herding of sheep and goats, and the breeding of camels. That, how-ever, is not the essence of `tribalism'. Sometimes the word `tribal' is replaced by `kin-based' (Joffe 1993), or `ethnic' (Kamp and Yoffee 1980), or `family' (Stager 1985). The meaning of these terms, however, also covers only part of what Levantine social organisation was about.
Much information has come down to us about tribal or Bedouin soci¬ety in the southern Levant in the past centuries, both from western trav¬ellers and researchers and from the Bedouin themselves. These sources define Levantine tribalism within a framework of characteristics that, together, can describe what I would call a `model' for social organisation in the Southern Levant, not only in the period under study, but which can be detected already in the Early Bronze Age (van der Steen 2002a), and the structural basis of which never ceased to exist. This structural basis became especially clear in periods of change and insta¬bility. Whatever caused these periods, external political pressure, or climate changes, the result was always that society had to regroup itself, re-divide its territories, find new modes of existence and of cooperation. In those periods the tribal structure of society was decisive in determining the course of events and the eventual new situation that evolved.
In periods of stability the tribal structural basis may have been less clear, `sleeping' as it were, but it never died, because the next crisis always saw it reawaken and become the major force in restructuring society. This is what happened in the transition from the Late Bronze to the Early Iron Age, the period under study here.
Information about tribes, and about the tribal organisation of society has come down to us from very early periods, starting perhaps with the Middle Bronze Age execration texts. Other sources are the Bible, Assyrian and Babylonian sources, numerous Roman and Byzantine sources, and many more. The main dif¬ference between these sources and the 19th century travel accounts is, that the last, perhaps for the first time, do not describe bedouin and nomadic tribes from a hostile point of view. Travellers such as Burck¬hardt and Bell had a profound knowledge of the tribes they travelled with, and although many travellers may have felt closer to the children of the sown than to those of the desert, they felt no particular animosity against the bedouin, and their interest in bedouin society, even if they rejected it, was real. The position of the Old Testament - which is, after all, the story of the events of a tribal confederation - is internally biased, and will be dealt with separately (see Ch. 1).
Information from all these sources, but especially those from the nine¬teenth century AD can be used to describe the characteristics that deter-mine this tribal social structure. These characteristics are:
loyalty. A tribesman's loyalty was always first to his family, to his clan, and to the tribe to which he belonged. At the same time the tribe as a whole was responsible for the individual member: for his subsis¬tence in case of emergencies (such as a raid by a rival tribe, which sometimes left families without anything to eat), for his protection, or, if that failed, for avenging him. This two-way loyalty was formalised by creating `family ties' between the members of the tribes: patriarchs (or sometimes matriarchs) from which all members were assumed to descend. These ties were created and could be changed easily in order to create new loyalties, should circumstances demand that. The term khawa, being a tribute paid by one tribe to another, or by an individual or group of individuals in order to be able to travel through a tribe's territory, literally means `brotherhood', and so denotes the fact that by paying it, the person became a temporary `brother' of the tribe, a mem¬ber of the family, and shared in the ties of loyalty and responsibility.
Tribal loyalties, although they may have been meaningless to all prac¬tical purposes, did not cease to exist in periods of stability, or strong external power. They were always maintained, albeit on a low level.
Second is flexibility in economic pursuits. Tribes and their members had access to different, customised economic pursuits (Salzman 1980, 4). They could be herders of goats or sheep, professional camel breeders, agriculturalists or horticulturalists. The Howeitat, for exam¬ple, were famous camel breeders for the Hajj and the regular trade and they had vast date palm groves around Aqaba. Besides, they con-trolled a number of agricultural villages in Edom, where members of smaller tribes grew tobacco and other goods for the benefit of the Hajj. According to Bocco (cited in Layne 1994, 46) "even archetyp¬ical camel-herding Bedouin were probably never exclusively pas¬toralists but relied on a multi-resource economy that included raiding, the collection of tribute (khawa) and trading for their subsistence". Depending on circumstances, agriculture, or herding, or trading could be the main source of income at a certain time. It was because of this ability to adapt, that the Bedouin could control the economy of the region, and create a virtually independent society in the late eigh¬teenth and early nineteenth centuries AD, even adapting to external influences such as the demands of the European trade with India.
The third characteristic is mobility, which directly involves the rela¬tionship of a tribe to the land. Many (but not all) tribes were mobile to a certain extent. Sometimes they were part-time farmers, and had summer and winter quarters; sometimes segments of tribes had become sedentary, while other segments remained pastoral nomads. Many con¬tinued to live in tents as a symbol of mobility, even after they had become full-time farmers or otherwise sedentary. The tent was the sym¬bol of their inheritance, and therefore maintained a symbolic status that was denied to a house. Honoured guests were, and sometimes still are, received in a tent, rituals and parties are still often performed in tents.
A tribe had a territory or territories, but could only assert rights to this land, when they were actually present. They did not `own' the land. Lancaster (1981, 121) describes the relation of the Rwala Bedouin to their land as based on "a prior claim of usufruct (a claim not a right)". A person "only rules (the land) when he is there and he only owns it under the same circumstances". They own it by right of dominance and not exclusively. Other tribes came into the territory when the Rwala had gone, or even when they were present, by right of tradition or strength. The continuing high symbolic status of the tent mentioned above suggests that this flexible relationship to the land did not change, even in periods of stability and settlement.
The fourth characteristic is the interrelationship between tribes. Tribes interacted, both in a positive and in a negative sense. In a positive sense they crossed and used each other's territories and wells, often following a formalised system of khawa, they intermarried, they made alliances and formed confederations. Judges from allied or associated tribes could be called in to solve legal disputes.
Negative interaction consisted of ghazu, intertribal raiding, and some-times even actual wars between tribes, usually over territory. These wars could lead to a profound change in the balance of power, and changes in the traditional territories of tribes, creating a `domino-effect' that could eventually have repercussions over long distances, as uprooted tribes had to go and look elsewhere for new territories. The sources show that these changes in power balance usually coincided with international political crises: in the Islamic period (622-1918 AD) the changes from one government to another always resulted in a com¬plete change in power balance and territorial division among the Near Eastern tribes.
This is the framework within which society in the Southern Levant has functioned ever since the Early Bronze Age. There may have been times when a strong external government managed to subdue the power of the independent tribes, but they were never capable of extinguishing the tribal structure of the local population.
"The new archaeology focused primarily on prehistoric phases and on cultural changes, and neglects historical cases...".
The problem with `historical periods', i.e. periods for which written sources are available, is that these written sources cannot very well be ignored. In the past, before the time of the New Archaeology, archaeol¬ogy was usually made subject to these written sources, and used to illustrate them. The Bible is a case in point, specifically for the region under study. The nineteenth century spirit of discovery was reflected in the realms of Christianity as well. The need was felt not only to `illustrate' the Bible, but to prove it by identifying (and excavating) holy places. In 1865 the Palestine Exploration Fund had been established as "A society for the accurate and systematic investigation of the Archaeology, the Topography, the Geology and Physical Geography, the Manners and Customs of the Holy Land for Biblical Illustration;" the American School for Oriental Research, established in 1900 had as its main goal "to defend the Bible". Numerous explorers travelled the `Land of the Bible' and identified (sometimes with little evidence) place-names mentioned in the Bible (Ben-Arieh 1979, with numerous references). The fact that they travelled through tribal territo¬ries, and therefore had to deal with the existing tribal system, and the meticulous accounts they left us of these travels, now give us a rare insight in the tribal society of the nineteenth century AD.
With the rise of New Archaeology this situation was changed. Archaeological evidence came into its right as an independent source of information. The result was that written sources became a disturbing factor, since the evidence presented by them often disagreed with the archaeological remains. Hence the tendency of New Archaeology to turn to `prehistoric' periods and situations.
However, both the written sources and the archaeological remains have a tale to tell, about the same period and the same people, and if the two diverge it is our task to explain why they do so and to find a histor¬ical explanation in which both have their role (cf. Weippert 1967, 133-139). We cannot ignore one or the other because they do not fit in our hypothesis. If that is the case the hypothesis is wrong.
This study starts with an overview of the various available sources of evidence. Chapter 1 reviews written sources dating from and/or relating to the period of the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages. These sources play an important role in the hypothesis. Many of them come from an Egyptian, Late Bronze Age context. They are the accounts of Canaanite society as seen by the conquerors and therefore very one-sided, although none the less valuable for that. They create a picture of the period from one point of view, that of the foreign ruler. The Amarna let¬ters, an important source of information, add the dimension of the view-point of the local rulers. Their split loyalty, on the one hand to the for¬eign ruler that put them - and kept them - in their position, and on the other hand to their own people, provides a valuable insight in the social structure of the times. Finally the editors of the books of the Old Testament, writing much later, in the exilic or post-exilic period, give us an account of the Early Iron Age in Israel the way they saw it. Their view was coloured as well, by time and ideology, and reflected to a large extent society as it was in the Late Iron Age. If anything, this shows us that even in the Late Iron Age, Israel and its neighbours were largely seen as a tribal society. The world was ordered along lines of kinship and loyalties or enmities based on traditional tribal feuds. Like in earlier periods contact with the great empires and their organisation could not wipe out this kin-based structure. It was always there, dormant perhaps, but never dead.
The second chapter describes the physical world in which this society originated and flourished: the soil and its fertility, the climate and the topography.
Chapters 3 and 4 give an overview of the available archaeological evi¬dence, excavations and settlement patterns. The importance of settlement patterns lies for a large part in that they are often the only physical evi¬dence of the presence of a non-settled population. Nomads are notorious in that they leave no archaeological remains such as pottery, architecture and the like (see the discussion in Finkelstein 1995, 23 ff, with references). The only indications of their presence in a certain society can be the way they influence settlement patterns. In the first half of the nineteenth cen¬tury AD in the East Jordan Valley there were no settlements, and in the Belqa the only settlement was Salt. The bedouin tribes of the Adwan and Beni Sakhr both claimed these territories and struggled over it. They regu¬larly robbed villages and eventually scared away the settled population. When the Ottoman government finally managed to subdue the Beni Sakhr in the second half of the nineteenth century a power vacuum ensued in the region, which was quickly filled up with small villages and farmsteads.
"... it failed to discuss political borders in a satisfactory way..."
Chapter 5 deals with the political borders of the nineteenth and early twentieth century AD and the ways in which the different groups defined their territories, both in a social and geographical sense, by loyalty, by positive or negative interaction and by moving around. It is a period in which the tribal organisation dominated the southern Levant, and that has been described extensively by both western and eastern writers and researchers. The results of this analysis are returned to in Chapter 11, analysing the mechanisms that were at work in the transition from the Late Bronze to the Early Iron Age. I have stated above that the structural basis in the area of study remained the same from the Early Bronze Age to the most recent past. This structural basis dictated the reactions of the population to the changing society, both in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries AD and in the Late Bronze - Early Iron Age transi¬tional period. The ethnographers and travellers in the region tell us how
the population of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries reacted and adapted to these changes, and therefore may give us an insight into how the population of the Late Bronze - Early Iron Age transitional period reacted.
" ...since it created a sharp dichotomy between pots and people - as if pots were independent beings."
Pots, obviously, are not independent beings, nor is any other artefact. They are the precipitation of a culture, of a person, a group or a sequence of people who performed an activity that created, made use of, and discarded the artefact that we now hold in our hands. It is the people behind the pots that we have to find. Henk Franken used to say that archaeolo¬gists tended to view potsherds as if they had fallen from trees, mainly for dating purposes (cf. Steiner 1994, thesis 8). We have to close the gap between pots and people again, but in a meaningful way. We have to ask ourselves who the people were that made the pots, who the people were that used and discarded them. We have to ask what the meaning is of changes in the pottery, what it tells us about those people. That is the essence of Chapters 6 and 7. In Chapter 6 an overview is given of the pot¬tery that has been published from excavations in the region under study and the surrounding area. In Chapter 7, using Deir `Alla as a case study, I try to analyse what the actual meaning and significance is of changes in pottery shapes and functional repertoire, for the understanding of the history of a certain site.
Chapters 8 and 9 are devoted to the results of new research, some of which is published here for the first time. The first two seasons at Tell el-Hammeh in the Zerqa valley (Chapter 8) produced unexpected results. The remains of the oldest iron smelting site in the world found so far were excavated (Veldhuizen and van der Steen 1999). The excavations also revealed the existence of a number of Late Bronze Age layers, no traces of which had ever been found by any of the surveys on the site. These results went a long way to confirm the hypothesis of a trade route through the Zerqa valley, conducted by independent traders.
The region that this study focuses on in particular, the area between the watershed of the Wadi Kufrinjeh in the north and that of the Wadi Zerqa in the south, has been chosen because of its high concentration of Late Bronze Age sites (Leonard 1989) compared to the rest of the East Jordan Valley. This concentration is revealed by a number of surveys, since very few sites in the area had been excavated and even fewer
published. In 1994 some of the sites that had been discovered by earlier surveys, such as those of Nelson Glueck, and of the Jordan Valley Sur¬vey, were revisited and pottery collected from them. In addition to this, the pottery from the Jordan Valley Survey was studied in Amman, and that of Nelson Glueck in Jerusalem. The results of the revisited sites, as well as the relevant pottery from the older surveys are presented in Chapter 9, together with the conclusions drawn from both the Nelson Glueck and Jordan Valley surveys, and from the revisited sites, about the occupation history of the area.
Models often became an end rather than the tool for creating a more meaningful analysis...."
In the exact sciences, the purpose of research is to find universal laws and to test whether these are really universally valid. The final purpose in historical sciences, such as history or archaeology, is arguable. In New Archaeology, as stated by Kletter, models became an end in them-selves, and history and archaeology were used to test and refine the `universal' models that were developed to predict human behaviour. That is, of course, a perfectly valid approach, provided that the models as such were adapted to fit the historical facts. This proved to be com¬plicated, especially in historical periods; hence the tendency of New Archaeology to concentrate on less complicated, prehistoric periods. Of course, these periods were, or seemed, less complicated, only because we knew so much less about them. The other approach is to use the models as tools to explain and understand historical events and situations. Then they form the basis for a hypothesis, an analysis of a specific period, group or event.
Several efforts have been made to devise models for the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages in the Levant. Some of these were broad models, encompassing the period in question in a long lasting development, usu¬ally starting in the Chalcolithic or the Early Bronze Age. Most of these models had a cyclical character. Other models, or hypotheses were developed to find an explanation for the Late Bronze - Early Iron Age transition, more specifically (most of them) to find an explanation for the beginnings of early Israel. These hypotheses do not usually claim universal validity, unlike some of the cyclical models.
Chapter 10 discusses models and hypotheses that have been devel¬oped and used for the Late Bronze - Early Iron Age transition in the Southern Levant.
Chapters 11 and 12 finally give my own hypothesis for this period. This hypothesis is based on the model that I have outlined above, of a society that has always remained essentially tribal. I have explained why I think this model is universally valid in the Southern Levant, at least from the Early Bronze Age, until the twentieth century AD. There may have been periods in which it was more visible than in others, but the simple fact that it is applicable for every period of crisis or change in the history of the Southern Levant shows clearly enough that it was always present. I am tempted to state that it still exists to a certain extent. I will not expand on the validity of the model in periods other than that under study; that has been done elsewhere. These two chapters are an integration of the historical facts and figures that have been outlined in the previous chapters, and the concept of a basi¬cally tribal society. The result aims at a more meaningful analysis and explanation of the archaeological remains that time has left us.

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