Ariel M. Bagg
Growing at the fringes of the empire: Edom in Neo-Assyrian and other contemporary sources
Located at the southwestern border of the Assyrian empire in an arid region, agriculturally marginal and apparently without economic advantages, Edom experienced from the late 8th to the 7th century BCE a period of relative prosperity and increased settlement. The Edomite society developed, reached a certain political centralization, profited from the Arabian trade routes through her country and the Negev to the Mediterranean Sea and from the intensified copper mining in the Araba. In the same period Assyria expanded to the West and gained control over the whole Levant. In less than two hundred years most political entities in the region lost their independence and more than twenty provinces were established. Imperial Assyria applied different strategies of rule and it is in the frame of the Assyrian expansion that the developments in Edom as well as the low level of Assyrian impact on the local material culture can be better understood. The Assyrian empire created an economic and political context in the Southern Levant that allowed – and maybe even stimulated – a development in the social and political organization of Edom. The aim of this paper is to study the role of the Assyrian empire in this process and the integration of Edom in the imperial system on the basis of the Neo-Assyrian texts – principally royal inscriptions –, other contemporary written sources, and the Edomite material culture.
Iron IIA Faynan and ‘Early Edom’: A Critique and an Alternative Scenario
According to the Early Edom hypothesis, the late Iron II kingdom of Edom in southern Jordan emerged from the complex copper-producing society of early Iron II Faynan. A review of the archaeological evidence from the final publication of the Faynan excavations demonstrates that the hypothesis is untenable. There was a chronological gap of 50 to 100+ years between the end of settlement at Faynan, at the end of the 9th century B.C.E., and the earliest settlement in the Edom highlands; evidence of decreasing social and political complexity at Faynan; no continuity in the scale or technology of copper production at Faynan between early and late Iron II; and completely different settlement patterns at early Iron II Faynan and late Iron II highlands, indicating a different economic and social basis. The evidence suggests that early Iron II Faynan was short-lived and linked to the contemporary society in the Negev Highlands, through administration, economy and workforce. The kingdom of Edom and late Iron II settlement developed in the late 8th century B.C.E. under Assyrian stimulus, which had a direct impact on the expansion of settlement and agriculture, the creation of an elite, the production of pottery and other goods, and the Arabian trade across the Negev.
Bradley L. Crowell
Between Empire and Community in Iron Age Edom
When empires expand into new territories, they often have destructive but stimulative impacts of the polities they encounter. Iron Age Edom experienced dramatic changes in the eighth and seventh centuries BCE as Assyria demanded tribute while bringing protection for the trafficking of luxury items through Edom along the Arabian trade routes. This study uses comparative empire studies to explore the impacts of empire on Edom, including political changes, settlement patterns, economy, and religious changes.
Rocío Da Riva
The hilltop settlements of Edom: the case of Sela
A specific characteristic of Iron Age southern Transjordan is the presence of a series of settlements known as “Edomite Mountain Strongholds”. The site of Sela is one of them. All these places were occupied for the first time in the Late Iron Age (8-6 centuries BCE) when Assyrians and Babylonians controlled most of the region, and almost all of them are located in the Edom highlands at altitudes of 1200–1600 m above sea level, on steep promontories of difficult access. The main characteristic of these sites is the degree of protection they provided by virtue of their location, but they share other features as well, such as the presence of elements related to water management, storage buildings known as “longhouses” and a specific kind of pottery. In addition, most of them seem to be associated to other Iron Age permanent settlements located nearby, which are much easier to access. The history and function of the “Mountain Strongholds” have not yet been conclusively determined; it is not clear who occupied them, for what reason and for how long. The aim of my talk is to propose a possible function for Edomite Sela, putting emphasis on place and space to decode the different practices present at the site with the aim of elucidating the interplay between the Mesopotamian empires and Edom.
Andrew J. Danielson
Late Iron Age Edom: Political Power and Social Dynamics in Southern Transjordan
Archaeological research in southern Transjordan has identified two major phases of activity that have been associated with Edom. First, in the lowlands of southern Transjordan in the early half the Iron Age, and the second, in the highlands dating to the later Iron Age. This geographic shift in the late Iron Age was accompanied by qualitative changes in settlement patterns and shifts in political and economic activity. Coinciding with the period of Assyrian intervention in the west, questions yet remain concerning the organization and extension of power throughout the landscape of Edom and the ways in which this may be associated with a cohesive social identity. This presentation assembles recent research, and through new analyses of settlement organization and material culture, identifies particular modes by which authority was organized and distributed throughout Edom. In particular, this presentation highlights a nodal network approach to understanding Edom in which the city of Busayra holds a central position. It likewise argues for the significance of trade activity in relation to political economy and Edom’s influence transregionally, and the role of shared behavior and ideology as a centralizing form of social cohesion.
Alexander Johannes Edmonds
Assyria and Edom in light of northern Arabian Trade
References to Edom within Neo-Assyrian royal inscriptions are unfortunately scarce and uninformative, presenting a challenge to the Assyrian historian. This paper seeks to shed additional light on these interactions by contextualising Edom within a wider northern Arabian historical context. Taking recent findings of an early and substantial Sabean presence in Ethiopia from the 9th century BC at the latest onwards (perhaps related to the incense trade) as its starting point, early Neo-Assyrian encounters with northern Arabia and its periphery are reconsidered, particularly the (re-)conquest of the Middle Euphrates by Adad-nārārī II and Tukultī-Ninurta II; during the reign of the latter, incense is first textually attested on the Euphrates and the region appears to have been experiencing an economic boom. To this might be added a possible attestation of Sabeans on the Euphrates during Assurnasirpal II’s reign which has previously been overlooked.
It is argued from this and other tangential evidence such as Biblical references that Edom sat astride a crucial trade route which rendered it important for Assyrian trade interests in the 9th century BC long before it was ‘directly’ encountered by Assyria (or perhaps rather first attested within Neo-Assyrian royal inscriptions) during the reign of Adad-nārārī III, and that Assyria’s generally non-interventionist policy in Edom prior to Assurbanipal’s reign reflected a reluctance to disturb long-established trade routes, as is well attested elsewhere on the empire’s fringes, perhaps as Assyria lacked the knowledge and technology necessary to assume direct control over the region’s trade infrastructure.
Omar al Ghul
A Review of the Epigraphical Evidence from Edom
Wadi Bayir area in SE Jordan and its importance for the cultural history of Pre-Islamic North Arabia as gleaned from its epigraphical heritage
Wādi Bāyir is about 100km long and runs south-east to north-east. Its surrounding area lead to Wādī es-Sirḥān, which is located near the current border with Saudi Arabia, and lies on an ancient route that connects Wādī es-Sirḥān with the western parts of the present Hashemite Kingdome of Jordan.
It is intended to give an overview on the inscriptions discovered during the archaeological works conducted by the Faculty of Archaeology and Anthropology during the early nighties of the last century in the area. Ancient North Arabian, Northwest Semitic, Nabataean, Greek/Latin, and early Islamic inscriptions were discovered and documented. Preliminary studies of this rich epigraphical heritage shed light on hitherto unknown important aspects on the tribal relationship between Iron Age polities and the Arabian tribes in the desert fringes. Texts provide hints on the role of the Arabian tribes within the Nabataean / Roman cultural realm(s), and furnish further information on the linguistic situation of the tribes, who used to frequent the Bayir area, including new lexical materials and references to some religious aspects.
Edom in Recent Biblical Scholarship: State of the Field and Perspectives for Future Research
Until recently, Edom was not of particular interest of biblical scholarship. The impact of the seemingly short-lived and small Transjordanian Iron Age kingdom was not regarded as impactful for both the cis-Jordanian history and the biblical traditions.
In the meantime, however, the previous historical “certainties” have changed. The historical study of Edom has experienced an immense upswing in recent years, with particularly high interest in its historical and archaeological aspects as well as its place within larger Near Eastern studies. Meanwhile, its importance for the fate of the Southern Levant in antiquity is becoming increasingly clear. Seemingly, Edom was a key asset for the Assyrians to assert authority over nearby kinship-based groups and to control international and transregional trade.
The Hebrew Bible mentions Edom as a neighbor, occasional coalition partner, and frequent enemy of Judah and Israel on several occasions. The depiction in the historical books of the Hebrew Bible of Edom’s contacts with the early Israelite state may be inaccurate in its details and is a matter of heavily debate, especially given the great unlikelihood of an empire established under David that stretched into not only Edom, but also other neighboring polities. However, even if the texts stem from a later period, they nevertheless attest to the importance that the biblical authors and redactors attributed to Edom by retrojecting initial contacts into the early monarchic and even pre-monarchic periods (e.g., Gen 25–35, 36; Deut 2, 23).
The paper will give an overview of recent trends in biblical scholarship and will focus in particular on Edom in the Jacob Cycle (Gen 25-35) of the 8th century, where Edom is placed in a remarkably positive position towards Israel (Jacob).
Regine Hunziker-Rodewald & Andrei Aioanei
Body Extensions for Survival: Female Terracotta Figurines South of Wadi Hasa
When compared to the female figurines from Northern and Central Transjordan, the Edomite figurines’ morphology is strikingly different. In more than a third of all preserved fragments the protruding bellies on display and the gesture of cupping perky breasts refer to the women’s reality in the risk zone between pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. In ancient texts the pains and dangers of this reality, reused in curses and threats, are most often limited to phrases such as “and she conceived and bore”. Yet the figurines from Edom “speak” a different language. Their style should not only be seen as symbolic but as enacting a direct formative influence on their user’s maternal agency. Drawing on Material Engagement Theory and on the distinction between body image and body schema made by Shaun Gallagher (2005), we argue that the figurines’ visual imagery acts through habits of style and behavior and, within specific social settings, operates to change emotions, movements, and actions. In this way, pregnant figurines have a constitutive role in establishing and maintaining emotional dispositions and nurture affective states.
Oystein S. LaBianca
Tribal Kingdoms and the Tribal Element in Southern Levantine Iron Age Polities with a special focus on Edom
To what extent did tribal sentiments of belonging, loyalty and duty impact and shape the social life and political order of the Edomites and their neighbors during the Iron Age? This is an old question that recent research by numerous ANE scholars has again brought to the fore (ref). A major reason for this renewed interest is the growing infusion into biblical studies of social science perspectives and research findings that are opening new windows on efforts to comprehend and describe the social world in which the various writings that make up the Hebrew Bible came into being. Was this social world one in which top-down systems of administration by imperial and monarchical bureaucrats prevailed–as was more often than not the case in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia–or was it a bottom-up social world in which agency and autonomy at the local level was sustained by the sorts of fluid notions of belonging and duty that are the norm for kin-based or tribally organized societies? Or was it perhaps a social world in which these opposite systems of social organization were blended in some way—with some periods trending toward a top-down order and other periods trending downward? With this presentation my goal is to open for discussion and further research on these questions, drawing on pertinent ethnographic, textual and archaeological lines of inquiry focused on the role of tribalism and the tribal element in the Southern Levantine societal landscape, with particular emphasis on Edom and the Edomites.
Thomas E. Levy
ELRAP – Implications for an Integrated Regional Copper Industry and Local Complex Societies in the Wadi Arabah, Southern Levant
Using Iron Age archaeometallurgical technologies from the Wadi Arabah (Southern Levant) as a case study, the Edom Lowlands Regional Archaeology Project (ELRAP) and the Central Timna Valley Project (CTV) demonstrate a gradual technological development (13th-10th c. BCE) followed by a human agency-triggered punctuated “leap” (late-10th c. BCE) synchronously across the Arabah region (an area encompassing ~2000 km2). In this presentation, ELRAP’s multiple surveys and excavations are summarized, along with the unprecedented, diachronic archaeometallurgical dataset focusing on elemental analysis of dozens of well-dated slag samples and compared with CTV results. These data suggest punctuated equilibrium provides an innovative theoretical explanation for examining ancient technological changes in relation to larger sociopolitical conditions— in the southern Levant and the emergence of biblical Edom.
An Industrial Landscape: Regional Perspectives of Iron Age Faynan from Khirbat al-Jariya
Iron Age Faynan has long been characterized as an “industrial landscape” based on its prominent copper smelting centers and extensive mining networks. Since 2002, the Edom Lowlands Regional Archaeology Project (ELRAP – dir. Thomas E. Levy and Mohammad Najjar) focused excavations and surveys on the archaeological record of this metallurgical industry and its connections to Edom. Excavations at three copper smelting sites, Khirbat en-Nahas, Khirbat al-Jariya, and Khirbat al-Ghuwayba, highlighted the intense dedication to metal production during the Iron Age as attested by the substantial slag mounds. While the overlap in material culture and chronology indicates these sites likely functioned together, recent excavations by the ELRAP at Khirbat al-Jariya in 2014 shed new light on the development and regional connections of this “industrial landscape”. Specifically, the excavation results suggest that Khirbat al-Jariya was a strategic expansion of an existing industry centered at Khirbat en-Nahas, and that its inhabitants also benefitted from the local perennial spring near Khirbat al-Ghuwayba. This paper reviews these excavations and presents the new interpretations they afford concerning both Khirbat al-Jariya specifically and the regional industry of Iron Age Faynan more broadly.
Social, Political, and Economic Changes in Lowland Edom During the Iron Age. Using Archaeological and Archeometallurgical evidence to model the change. Khirbet an Nahas as a case study
After eleven years of the completion of the excavations and seven years of its final publication, Faynan in general and Khirbet an-Nahas in specific still at the epi center of hot debate. As it is the case in many sites in our contested geography and contested history, the debate goes beyond sites into the sphere of perceived historical rights on the land on one hand and into the historicity of textual data on the other. The results of our work were criticized on stratigraphic, typological, interpretational, and on methodological bases (we have been criticized for the “overuse” of the c14 dating method). We think that paradigmatic issues lay at the core of the debate. What keeps the issue “hot” is that the results of our research could not been squeezed in any of paradigms dominating the archaeological research of southern Levantine archaeology. Our dates challenged the long-held chronological synchronisms and the absolute chronology for Edom. The focus of this paper will be the question of how we can track changes in society, economy, and statehood embedded the settlement pattern and in the material culture of Faynan, which indicates social integrative level beyond tribal organization, and to identify patterns of changes and their possible reasons. Of course, answering some questions about the stratigraphy of the Khirbet al-Nahas is unavoidable.
Edom in the Nabonidus Chronicle: A Land Conquered or a Vassal Defended? A Reappraisal of the Annexation of North Arabia by the Late Babylonian Empire
This paper deals with the Arabian campaigns of the Late Babylonian king Nabonidus (reigned 556–539 BCE) who had been residing at the North Arabian oasis of Taymāʾ from his 3rd to his 13th regnal year, i.e. from 553 to 543 BCE. Nabonidus set out onto the campaign into Syria and North Arabia early in his third regnal year in 553 BCE. During the winter of 553 and the spring of 552 BCE, Nabonidus secured Edom as Babylonia’s vassal and stepping stone into Arabia. This point will be a major topic of the paper, presenting a new reading and interpretation of an important passage of the Nabonidus Chronicle. Over the following decade (ca. 552– 543 BCE) Nabonidus occupied the North Arabian oases, controlling the caravan tracks of the “incense road”. After ten years, Nabonidus’ stay in Arabia ended rather abruptly. In his own inscriptions, Nabonidus dates the end of his sojourn to the 17th of Tašrīt of his 13th regnal year (October 543 BCE), when the moongod Sîn allowed him to return to Babylon.
The paper will address the motives of Nabonidus and the significance of the North Arabian cities he occupied, which held key positions on the trading routes leading from South Arabia into the Levant and into Babylonia.
Katharina Schmidt & Piotr Bienkowski
The Roads to Mansur: Reflections on a future Project on Drones, Surveys, and Routes in Southern Jordan
There are gaps in our archaeological knowledge of the rough and rocky mountain areas between the Arabah lowlands and the highland plateau, and of the network of roads and tracks that connected sites to each other and to the main trade routes. This is largely because the rugged landscape makes it difficult terrain to investigate. Yet such areas comprise a significant proportion of the area of Edom. More recently, the Edom Lowlands Regional Archaeology Project identified a network of roads, tracks, and paths that ascended the cliffs in northern Edom between Faynan, Busayra, and the Wadi Arabah. The surveys identified subtle signs of any surviving Iron Age road architecture which are stone clearing, boulder alignment, and occasional retaining walls. These roads were constructed to facilitate camel traffic, with switchbacks in steep locations.
Building on this recent research, and with an eye to filling some of the gaps in the archaeological data, the Roads to Mansur Project (RMP) aims to survey the routes in the mountainous landscape connecting to Qurayyat al-Mansur. Qurayyat al-Mansur is on the summit of a low ridge, surrounded by steep escarpments, in the western part of the Wadi al-Feidh, c. 16 km north of Petra, overlooking the Wadi Arabah. Given the difficulty of exploring this rocky terrain and finding evidence of ancient roads, the RMP will trial low altitude aerial photography using drones to fly systematically over the survey area.
The overall objective is to understand routes to a major Iron II site about which little is known; map networks of routes through a mountainous environment about which little is known; and understand better the nature of communications in this remote and rugged area of Edom situated midway between the Petra area and Faynan/Busayra, and whether it was connected to the international trade route that ran through Edom and across the Negev to the Mediterranean.
Neil G. Smith
Ceramics and the Chronological Relationship between the Lowlands and Highlands of Ancient Edom
Excavations carried out by the UCSD ELRAP and L2HE projects in the lowlands (Khirbat en-Nahas and Rujm Hamra Ifdan) and highlands (Khirbat al-Malayqtah, Khirbat al-Kur, Khirbat al-Iraq Shmaliyeh, and Tawilan) of Edom in southern Jordan from 2002 to 2012 have uncovered an extensive assemblage of Iron Age II ceramics spanning from the 12th-7th C. BCE. In this presentation, the typological comparison of the ceramic assemblages and their chronological relationship between the highlands and lowlands is reviewed in light of more recent excavations and discoveries made in the region. The analysis offers a new historical understanding for the social processes of State Formation and Peer Polity Interaction in Edom during the Iron Age II.
Margreet L. Steiner
A view from the north
To put the political and economic situation of Edom into perspective, it might be useful to look at Edom’s northern neighbour, Moab. In Moab an uninterrupted sequence of occupation can be perceived, ranging from the beginning of the Iron Age till the campaigns of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II in 582 BC, with walled agricultural settlements in Iron I to a system of fortified towns and fortresses in Iron II. The economy is a mix of agriculture, husbandry and the production of specialized wares, some meant as tribute for the Assyrian empire. Otherwise the influence of Assyria is difficult to detect in the archaeological record, although Assyrian and Assyrian-style pottery has recently been excavated in small numbers. Contacts with the Levantine coast and the Aramean kingdoms are detectable in imports and in art and pottery styles. Temples, palaces, strong fortification systems, inscriptions, seals, and a number of richly filled tombs all give evidence of the existence of a thriving political entity, be it called (tribal) kingdom or (early) state. This paper will address the question of how and why the situations in Moab and Edom were so different.
Juan Manuel Tebes
Which Edom? Synchronizing Written Sources and Archaeological Evidence for a Chronology of Ancient Edom
The history of Iron Age Edom and, to a lesser degree, the contemporary Judaean sites in the Negev, is noticeable for its lack of secure dating via synchronisms with Mesopotamia and Egypt. Recent excavations in the lowlands of Faynan in southern Jordan have reignited the debates over the chronology of Edom. Much of the discussion between the “high” and “low” chronologies of Edom revolve around the validity of the radiocarbon dates taken from the fort of Khirbet en-Nahas – particularly the stratigraphic background from which they were taken and the use of Bayesian modelling, and the dating of its pottery. However, few if any studies have discussed other potential issues in the local chronology, such as the flat radiocarbon calibration curve of the mid-1st millennium BCE, the downdating of Egyptianising archaeological assemblages in the Negev, and the anomalous finds of Qurayyah ware in late contexts. The aim of this paper is to highlight these and other problems and possible avenues for dealing with them.
Saad Tweissi in collaboration with Qais Tweissi
Discovery and investigation of an Edomite stronghold in Petra region
The aim of this presentation is to introduce the result of the 2019 season of survey in the western Rajif area. One of the main result of this season, which is the focus of this presentation, is the exploration and documentation of Al-Qulai’ah (القليعة) .The specific area of this site is known as el-Khurm (الخرمة، الخرم) (literally means hole. It is called so due to a big hole (about 10 m in diameter) at the bottom of the rock massif on top of which the site of Al-Qulai’ah is located. The site itself is very ideal for defensive purposes for a couple of reasons. First it is naturally fortified that there is only one access to it from the bottom of el-Khurma mountain. The second reason is that the site is in a good position to control most of the eastern Edomite plateau and the Negev highland in the west. The site itself dominated the flat top of el-Khurma rock massif and its eastern lower terrace. Unfortunately, It was totally destructed to the ground. The site have also been interrupted by treasure hunters, that several illegal pits were noticed in the site. The team, however, were able to identify several walls in the ground and documented it by total station. The plan generated indicating a well plan mega structure had once been there. Beside the documentation, the stratigraphy of the site was investigated by 2 X2m. The stratigraphy is very simple and shallow. It consists of thin topsoil followed by a destruction layer on top of bed rock. The datable material from both the surface collection and the stratified deposits is exclusively pottery. The surface is very rich with pottery sherds with high density. Thousands of pottery sherds can be noticed in the surface. During our field work a total of 147 sherds were collected most of which are diagnostic rims of storage jars, cooking pots, bowls/plates. Within the destructive layer a huge amount of pottery sherds was collected and from which we were able to restore a semi complete storage jar. The pottery of both surface collection and stratified deposits are exclusively of the same period and dated to Iron II/ Edomite 7th century BC.