|Archaeology of Isreal
Paper compliled by Au Si Mi
Archaeological time periods
The Neolithic period appears to have begun when the peoples of the Natufian culture, which spread across present-day Syria, Israel and Lebanon, began to practice agriculture. This agriculture in the Levant is the earliest known to have been practiced. The Neolithic period in this region is dated 8500-4300 BCE and the Chalcolithic 4300-3300 BCE.
Middle Bronze Age terracotta figurine, Israel National Maritime Museum
The Bronze Age is the period 3300-1200 BCE when objects made of bronze were in use. Many writers have linked the history of the Levant from the Bronze Age onwards to events described in the Bible. The Bronze Age and Iron Age together are sometimes called the "Biblical period".The periods of the Bronze Age include the following:
• Early Bronze Age I (EB I) 3330-3050 BCE
• Early Bronze Age II-III (EB II-III) 3050-2300 BCE
• Early Bronze Age IV/Middle Bronze Age I (EB IV/MB I) 2300-2000 BCE
• Middle Bronze Age IIA (MB IIA) 2000-1750 BCE
• Middle Bronze Age IIB (MB IIB) 1800-1550 BCE
• Late Bronze Age I-II (LB I-II) 1550-1200 BCE
The Late Bronze Age is characterized by individual city-states, which from time to time were dominated by Egypt until the last invasion by Merenptah in 1207 BCE.
Iron Age/Israelite period
The Iron Age in the Levant begins in about 1200 BCE when iron tools came into use. It is also known as the Israelite period. This period marks the weakening of regional empires and the strengthening of local powers such as the Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Kingdom of Judah and the Philistine city-states. Much of the spiritual (although not necessarily chronological/historical) content of this period is described in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Later in the period, the Assyrian and Babylonian empires put an end to the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, culminating in the destruction of the First Temple by the Babylonians in 586 BCE.
The Israelite period is characterized by large numbers of urban dwellings and a new local culture. The rich and diverse archaeological findings attest to strong international links and trade relations. The abundance of writings found indicate a broad distribution of knowledge among common people of ancient Israel and not just scribes, a unique phenomenon in the ancient world.
In this period both the archaeological evidence and the narrative evidence from the Bible become richer and much writing has attempted to make links between them. A chronology includes:
• Iron Age I (IA I) 1200-1000 BCE
• Iron Age IIA (IA IIA) 1000-925 BCE
• Iron Age IIB-C (IA IIB-C) 925-586 BCE
• Iron Age III 586-539 BCE (Neo-Babylonian period)
Yehud coins bearing the inscription 'YHD' (יהד), from the Persian period
Cyrus II of Persia conquered the Babylonian Empire by 539 BCE and incorporated the entire area into the Persian Empire. Cyrus organized the empire into provincial administrations called satrapies. The administrators of these provinces, called satraps, had considerable independence from the emperor. The Jews were allowed to return to the regions that the Babylonians had exiled them from, in which they established a small autonomy, Yehud Medinata, under Persian protection. The Persian period is dated from 539 to 333 BCE.
The exiled Jews who returned to their traditional homeland encountered the Jews that had remained, surrounded by a much larger non-Jewish majority. One group of note (that exists up until this day) were the Samaritans, who adhered to most features of the Jewish rite and claimed to be descendants of the Assyrian Jews. For various reasons (at least some of which seem to be political) the returning exiles did not recognize the Samaritans as Jews. The return of the exiles from Babylon reinforced the Jewish population, which gradually became more dominant.
A stone with Hebrew inscription "To the Trumpeting Place" excavated at the southern foot of the Temple Mount.
Already feeling the effect of Greek influence, in the early 330s BCE Alexander the Great conquered the region, beginning an important period of Hellenistic rule. After Alexander's death in 323 BCE, his empire was partitioned during the Wars of the Diadochi, following which the competing Ptolemaic and Seleucid Empires occupied various portions of the eastern Mediterranean. The Jewish population was divided into Hellenists, who supported the adoption of Greek culture, and those who believed in keeping to the traditions of the past, which eventually led to the Maccabean revolt of the 2nd century BCE and subsequent Hasmonean rule. The Hellenistic period is thus dated 333-165 BCE and the Hasmonean period dated 165-63 BCE.
The Roman period covers the dates 63 BCE to 330 CE, from Pompey the Great's incorporation of the region into the Roman Republic until Rome's adoption of Christianity as the imperial religion. The Roman period itself features several stages:
• Early Roman period (including the Herodian period) 63 BCE to 70 CE
• Middle Roman period: 70-135CE (Jewish-Roman wars period); 135-200CE (Mishnaic period)
• Late Roman period 200-330CE (Talmudic period)
The end of the middle Roman period marks the end of the predominantly Jewish culture of Judea, but also the beginning of Rabbinic Judaism in the city of Yavne. Therefore, the late Roman period is also called the Yavne Period.
Coins from period of Bar Kokhba revolt, (Roman period)
Prominent archaeological sites from the Roman period include:
• Caesarea Maritima
The Byzantine period is dated 330-638 CE, from Rome's adoption of Christianity to the Muslim conquest of Palestine.
Findings from the Byzantine period include:
• Byzantine-period church in Jerusalem hills
• Byzantine-period street in Jerusalem
• 1,400 year-old wine press
Few of the sites
(1) Old Acre
Knights Hall, Acre
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, Acre's Old City has been the site of extensive archaeological excavation since the 1990s. The major find has been an underground passageway leading to a 13th century fortress of the Knights Templar. The excavated remains of the Crusader town, dating from 1104 to 1291 CE, are well preserved, and are on display above and below the current street level.
(2 ) Masada
Thermal baths, Masada
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001, Masada is the site of ancient palaces and fortifications in the South District of Israel on top of an isolated rock plateau, or large mesa, on the eastern edge of the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. According to a Jewish-Roman historian, Herod the Great fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE as a refuge for himself in the event of a revolt. In 66 CE, at the beginning of the First Jewish-Roman War against the Roman Empire, a group of Judaic extremist rebels called the Sicarii took Masada from the Roman garrison stationed there.
The site of Masada was identified in 1842 and extensively excavated between 1963 and 1965 by an expedition led by Israeli archaeologist Yigael Yadin. Due to the remoteness from human habitation and the arid environment, the site has remained largely untouched by humans or nature during the past two millennia. Many of the ancient buildings have been restored, as have the wall-paintings of Herod's two main palaces, and the Roman-style bathhouses that he built. A synagogue thought to have been used by the Jewish rebels has also been identified and restored.
Inside the synagogue, an ostracon bearing the inscription me'aser kohen ("tithe for the priest") was found, as were fragments of two scrolls. Also found were eleven small ostraca, each bearing a single name. One reads "ben Yair" and could be short for Eleazar ben Yair, the commander of the fortress.
Excavations also uncovered the remains of 28 skeletons. Carbon dating of textiles found in the cave indicate they are contemporaneous with the period of the Revolt. The remnants of a Byzantine church dating from the 5th and 6th centuries CE, have also been excavated on the top of Masada.
Mosaic known as "Mona Lisa of the Galilee"
Excavations in Tzippori, in the central Galilee region, six kilometers north-northwest of Nazareth, have uncovered a rich and diverse historical and architectural legacy that includes Assyrian, Hellenistic, Judean, Babylonian, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, Crusader, Arabic and Ottoman influences. The site is especially rich in mosaics belonging to different periods.
Major findings include the remains of a 6th century synagogue, evidence of an interesting fusion of Jewish and pagan beliefs. A Roman villa, considered the centerpiece of the discoveries, which dates to the year 200 CE, was destroyed in the Galilee earthquake of 363 CE. The mosaic floor was discovered in August 1987 during an expedition led by Eric and Carol Meyers, of Duke University. It depicts Dionysus, the god of wine, socializing with Pan and Hercules in several of the 15 panels. In its center is a lifelike image of a young lady, possibly Venus, which has been named "The Mona Lisa of the Galilee."
Additional finds include a Roman theater on the northern slope of the hill, and the remains of a 5th century public building, with a large and intricate mosaic floor.