Greek Pottery from Tel Rehov and Iron Age Chronology *[Israel Exploration Journal 53 (2003), 29-48]
[Nicolas Coldstream, University College, London
Imports into the Levant of Greek Protogeometric (PG), Sub-Protogeometric (SPG), Early Geometric (EG) and Middle Geometric (MG) pottery, although limited in number, are nevertheless of the utmost importance for establishing the Greek chronology of these periods and for the study of the nature of the relationship between the two regions (Clairmont 1955; Coldstream 1968: 302-305; Saltz 1978; Waldbaum 1994: 55-59). The earliest example of such imports is perhaps the Tel Hadar bowl. It was identified by Coldstream as a variant of a Euboean Middle Protogeometric (MPG) or early Late Protogeometric (LPG) lebes (Coldstream 1998: 357-359), yet its form and the composition of the decoration have no exact parallels in Greece (1). A large number of Euboean PG sherds were found at Tyre (Bikai 1978: pIs. 22a1, 30.3; Coldstream and Bikai 1988; Coldstream 1998: 353-357) and a few more at Ras el-Basit (Courbin 1993). A PG sherd (probably MPG or LPG) is reported from Dor (Stern 2000: pl. IX:4). The two much discussed vessels from Tell Abu Hawam Stratum III (a skyphos with pendent semi-circles and a cup) are probably of Euboean SPG manufacture. From the Geometric period, a few MG sherds were found at Megiddo, Samaria and Tell Abu Hawam, all from insecure contexts. An additional well-stratified small sherd comes from Tel Beth-Shean (2). A small number of MG sherds has been found in the northern Levant: at several coastal sites of the Phoenician littoral, in the ʿAmuq Plain and at Hama (Clairmont 1955: 98-100; Coldstream 1968: 302-304; 310-316; Waldbaum 1994: 57-59).
To this rather limited sample we can now add eight LPG, SPG and Geometric sherds, representing six different vessels, found at Tel Rehov in the Beth-Shean Valley (fig. 1). This is the largest concentration of Greek pottery from the Iron Age IIA (tenth-ninth centuries BCE) found in Israel thus far (3). Most of the sherds come from good stratigraphic contexts, together with rich and well-defined local assemblages and Phoenician and Cypriote imported pottery. The archaeological and historical evidence, as well as 14C dates, provide important data for dating these contexts. The Greek sherds, albeit a small assemblage, thus represent a significant contribution to the subject of the relationships between Greece and the Levant during the tenth-ninth centuries. The Iron IIA levels at Tel Rehov also yielded a good number of Cypro-Geometric sherds, which allow for a re-examination of the correlation between Levantine, Cypriote and Greek chronologies (4).
II. The Stratigraphic Context
Tel Rehov is one of the largest Iron Age sites in Israel, encompassing an area of 10 hectares, divided equally between the lower and upper cities (5). Three Iron Age IIA levels, defined as Strata VI-IV, were excavated in five different areas: B, C, E, F and G. The lower city (Areas C, E, F and G) was abandoned after the destruction of Stratum IV, probably as a result of events following the end of the Omride Dynasty, at some point between 840 and 830. In the upper city (Areas A and B), an eighth-century BCE fortified city (Stratum III) was built above the ruins of the last Iron Age IIA city. Stratum III was most probably destroyed by the Assyrians in 732 BCE.
As in every stratigraphic excavation of a multi-layered mound, the excavation at Tel Rehov has its problems. Complicated stratigraphy resulting from continuous construction, partial destruction, and rebuilding of mudbrick structures creates difficulties not only in the correlation between the various local phases in each excavation area, but sometimes even between the different parts of a large excavation area itself. Thus, local phase numbers were assigned in each excavation area, while the terms Strata VI-IV, often used in this paper, represent an attempt to correlate these local phases. These terms reflect our conclusions that there were three main building phases throughout the city during the Iron Age IIA. The relative stratigraphy in each of the excavation areas is quite clear, and the pottery assemblages, mainly from Strata V and IV, are rich and homogeneous.
Table 1 presents the correlations between the phases in the areas that produced Greek pottery. The numbers in bold within square brackets refer to the catalogue numbers listed below, while the right column notes the Greek periods represented by these sherds.
III. Catalogue of Greek Sherds (6)
LPG and SPG
1. Registration no. 56111/37 (fig. 2); Area E, Locus 5629, height: 72.27m.; local phase E1b (general Stratum V)
Body sherd of large krater
Exterior: background: 5YR 6/6 'light reddish-yellow' (lighter than shown on Munsell chart); paint: 5YR 5/4-5YR 4/4 'dark brown', partly transparent, slightly lustrous
Interior: 5YR 4/1 'dark brownish-grey'
LPG or SPG, Euboean
2. Registration no. 50305/1 (fig. 3); Area G, Locus 5021, height: 85.80m.; mudbrick debris layer above floor surface 5026, sealed by floor surfaces Locus 5004. This layer is attributed to local phase G3, tentatively correlated with general Stratum VI or an early phase of Stratum V
Body sherd of large krater, similar to no. 1
Exterior: background: 5YR 6/3 'light reddish-brown'; paint: 5YR 3/1 'dark brown', slightly transparent, lustrous
Interior: 5YR 4/1 'dark brownish-grey', slightly streaky
LPG or SPG, Euboean
3. Registration no. 14006/10 (fig. 4); Area C, Locus 1405, height: 87.82m.; topsoil Rim and body sherd of skyphos
Exterior: background: 5YR 7/6 'light reddish-yellow' (lighter than shown on Munsell chart); paint: 5YR 3/2 'dark reddish-brown'
Interior: 5YR 311 'dark brown', partly streaky
LPG to SPG I, Euboean
4. Registration no. 24160/4 (fig. 5); Area C, Locus 2405, height: 87.68m.; local phase C1a (general Stratum IV)
The locus is a layer of burnt destruction debris that contained many restorable vessels Body sherd with intersecting pendent semi-circles
Exterior: background: 7.5YR 7/4 'pink/very light brown'; paint: 5YR 6/8 'reddish-yellow'
Interior: 5YR 4/1 'dark brownish-grey'
SPG I-IIIa, Euboean
5.-6. Two parts of the body of a large pyxis (fig. 6) No.5 is made up of three sherds. Registration nos. 42496/1, 42496/2 (both from Locus 4242 at height 91.30m.) and 42065/7 (from Locus 3243), Area B No.6. Registration no. 42320, Locus 4223, height 91m.
Exterior: background: 5YR 7/6 'light reddish-yellow'; paint: 10R 5/6, slightly streaky
Interior: 5YR 7/6
SPG II-IIIa, Euboean
The precise stratigraphic context of these pyxis sherds is important in terms of the chronological discussion (see pp. 44-45). Although they come from the same vessel, the sherds were found in three different loci, scattered across a distance of 15m. Locus 4242 is located 8m. south of Locus 3243, and the latter is located some 7m. to the south of Locus 4223. All three loci were defined as belonging to the uppermost layers of local phase B5 (general Stratum V). Locus 4242 is a layer of deteriorated mudbrick debris beside the top of a mudbrick wall; both this layer and the wall were sealed by a floor surface of Phase B4 (Locus 4208). Thus, the layer appears to represent the uppermost accumulation of Phase B5 debris or a levelling fill for the Phase B4 floor surface. Locus 3243 was attributed to Phase B5 because it is lower than a Phase B4 wall to its south; Locus 4223 is an earth layer associated with Phase B5, since it was cut by the foundations of a Phase B4 tower. These two loci, however, were close to the line of erosion on the slope of the mound, and thus were not sealed by later stratigraphic elements. The scattering of the sherds over a wide area indicates that the vessel was already broken when these layers accumulated (7).
7.-8. Two sherds of a skyphos (fig. 7)
No.7. Registration no. 54318; Area C, Locus 5445, height: 86.73m.; Phase C1a (=Stratum IV)
No.8. Registration no. 54317; Area C, Locus 5444, height: 86.61m.; Phase C1a (Stratum IV)
Two sherds belonging to the same skyphos, found in adjacent small chambers in Building F, a large building destroyed in a heavy fire
No.7 is a rim, body and handle fragment; no. 8 is a small body sherd
Exterior: background: 5YR 6/6 'light reddish-yellow' (lighter than shown on Munsell chart); paint: 5YR 3/1 'dark brown' and 10R 5/6 'red'; slightly transparent
Interior: 5YR 3/1 'dark brown', very streaky, on top of 2.5YR 5/8 'reddish' Early MG I, Attic
IV. Comments on the Greek Imports
With the exception of two sherds from an Attic skyphos, the imports are all from Euboean vessels: two kraters, two skyphoi and two fragments from the same globular pyxis. The Euboean items invite comparison with well-stratified parallels from the cemeteries and settlement of Lefkandi.
The body sherds nos. 1 and 2 (figs. 2-3) conform to a widespread Aegean type of PG krater with a high foot, decorated with large sets of concentric circles: these are separated by groups of vertical lines that may often enclose rectilinear motifs (Desborough in Lefkandi I: 327-329). To judge from the profiles, no. 1 is from the widest diameter and no. 2 from the lower part of the body. Unfortunately, the development of the PG krater is poorly documented at Lefkandi: we have no whole examples, since the form is absent from the grave goods; our only comparanda are a few fragments from the settlement. There are some parallels in the SPG deposit from Area SL (Lefkandi I: pls. 28:70/Pl, 29:B), but an LPG date for both pieces cannot be excluded. For a view of a complete vessel with similar decoration we must turn to krater no. 143 from Marmariani in Thessaly (Desborough 1952: pl. 23), stylistically one of the earliest of a local LPG-SPG series influenced by Euboea. For dating these pieces in Euboean terms, then, the limitations of the available evidence allows us only a very wide margin between LPG and SPG IlIa, the terminal date of the deposit from Area SL.
Rather more helpful are the comparanda for the other Euboean pieces. The skyphos rim no. 3 (fig. 4), with its sharply offset and slightly concave lip, is characteristic of the favourite Euboean type with a low ring foot, decorated with pendent concentric circles. A position near a horizontal handle is indicated by the oblique daub of paint at the left-hand break, which would occur near the handle root. The relatively high lip suggests an early stage in the development of these widely exported skyphoi (Kearsley 1989: 87-93, Type 2). The profile has a close counterpart in Toumba Grave 42.6 (Lefkandi III: pl. 46), dated to SPG I (on the dating see Popham, Touloupa and Sackett 1982: 245). That skyphos already shows the sets of semi-circles intersecting one another, in contrast to their sep~ration on the earlier specimens of this class in LPG (e.g., Lefkandi I: pl. 128, Palia Perivolia Grave 3.14). Thus, for chronology, the intersection of the circles on the body fragment no. 4 (fig. 5) is less diagnostic than the relatively deep profile, seen in the skyphoi found in the Lefkandi graves of SPG I-IIIa (Kearsley 1989: Types 2 and 3), in contrast to the shallower versions gaining currency after the abandonment of the known Lefkandi cemeteries (Kearsley 1989: Types 4 and 5).
The most closely datable form in the Euboean sequence is represented by nos. 5 and 6 (fig. 6), from a large globular pyxis decorated with a latticed battlement in a wide reserved zone within a dark background. This form, with a sharply everted lip and a low foot, was derived from an Attic LPG prototype, and continues into SPGa, when it is decorated with a local repertoire of rectilinear motifs (Desborough in Lefkandi I: 327-329), the battlement being one among many. The cemeteries of Lefkandi offer three similar pyxides (Lefkandi I: pl. 109, Skoubris Grave 59a5; pl. 136, Palia Perivolia Grave 21.1, here fig. 8; Lefkandi III: pl. 81, Toumba Grave 80.46), all datable within a fairly narrow chronological span of SPG II-IlIa. Of these, the closest parallel to our pieces in size as well as in decoration is from Toumba Grave 80.46 (Lefkandi III: pl. 81), in a large group of predominantly SPG II vessels, also containing an Athenian EG II lipless pyxis with inset rim (no. 40), which provides a useful correlation with the contemporary Attic sequence. SPG II, then, is the most likely date for our fragments nos. 5 and 6.
Finally, we consider the Attic skyphos fragments nos. 7 and 8 (fig. 7), from a type that is no stranger to the Levant. From an almost identical vessel come the two rim sherds of the skyphos found at Megiddo (Clairmont 1955: pl. 20:1-2), from a context that has been the subject of much debate; the only apparent difference lies in the treatment of the lip, lined on the Megiddo sherds, but coated on our no. 7. The fragments from both sites come from a broad and shallow type of skyphos with a low offset lip and a ring foot; the main decoration consists of a multiple zigzag in a reserved panel, and groups of bars are placed in a narrow reserved band inside the rim. The best parallels for both skyphoi are from the Geometric Grave 13 in the Athenian Kerameikos cemetery, belonging to an early stage of Attic MGI (Kubler 1954: pl. 93; Coldstream 1968: 303-304), contemporary with the latest graves at Lefkandi in Euboean SPG IlIa. The coating of the lip on no. 7 may perhaps indicate a slightly earlier stage than that of the Megiddo pieces, recalling the total enclosure of the decoration within a reserved 'window panel' common in Attic EG II (Coldstream 1968: 15, pl. 2b).
Here we should note that similar exports of early Attic MG I skyphoi also appear in the latest graves of Lefkandi (Lefkandi I: pl. 185, Toumba Grave 31.5; Lefkandi III: pl. 83, Toumba Grave 80.27), where fine Attic pottery was becoming a popular alternative to the local ware (Coldstream 1996: 137-145). It seems quite likely, then, that all these Greek imports to Tel Rehov were conveyed in Euboean ships, without any need for us to suppose a parallel Athenian initiative.
What was the status of these Greek vessels at Tel Rehov? As drinking crockery, the skyphoi and kraters could have been considered exotic and luxurious in the context; but these two forms recur among early Greek exports to other Levantine sites, notably Tyre (Coldstream and Bikai 1988). Altogether exceptional, however, is the Euboean globular pyxis (nos. 5 and 6), a form that at Lefkandi is virtually confined to offerings in graves. In the Levant, its only other occurrence is as a cremation urn in a chamber tomb at the Phoenician coastal site of Tambourit, tentatively identified as Argive (Courbin 1977). But the pyxis was traditionally a storage vessel for small objects, sometimes of a precious nature; one recalls especially the Cretan PG globular pyxis buried under the threshold of the re-used Minoan tholos tomb at Tekke near Knossos, and containing a treasure of gold ornaments of Near Eastern character (Boardman 1967: 68-69). One wonders, then, whether our pyxis may have constituted an ad hominem gift, as has been suggested for the even more unusual Euboean PG vessel found at Tel Hadar, a miniature clay version of the prestigious bronze cauldrons offered at the pan-Hellenic sanctuaries of Olympia and Delphi (Coldstream 2000: 17-18). It should be remarked that both Tel Hadar and Tel Rehov lie on busy trade routes inland, where the goodwill of local chiefs might well have been courted by traders from overseas.
Thus far, only relative dates have been cited for the Greek sherds, in the form of abbreviations for successive phases in the Euboean and Attic sequences. For their absolute chronology, the stratification at Tel Rehov now offers a most important watershed separating Strata IV and III, when the destruction and abandonment of the lower town is thought to have been caused by disturbances in the 830s arising from the fall of the Omride Dynasty of Israel and the wars with King Hazael of Syria. This destruction would supply a terminus ante quem for the sherds of the Attic early MG I skyphos (nos. 7 and 8) in Stratum IV, found in a building destroyed by fire. A more solid confirmation would thus be obtained for a previous supposition that the Attic MG I phase began around 850, based on less secure and frequently questioned evidence from Megiddo (Coldstream 1968: 303-304, 310; Fantalkin 2001: 119).
As for the Euboean pieces, it may seem a happy coincidence that the skyphos (no. 4) and pyxis fragments (nos. 5 and 6) find good parallels among the whole vessels from the single grave 80 at Lefkandi, from which a sensitive local sequence has been built up. Or is it a coincidence? The first two-thirds of the ninth century BCE, for Lefkandi and Tel Rehov alike, mark a period of prosperity and lively commercial connections; but a recession may be seen, both in the destruction of Stratum IV at Tel Rehov and in the abandonment of the known cemeteries at Lefkandi, where a sudden reverse has been suspected with signs of a burnt destruction in Area SL (Lefkandi I: 364). These two events cannot be distant in time. It remains to be seen whether the absence of Greek imports in Stratum III is typical of other horizons in the southern Levant as a possible consequence of these reverses. It is clear, however, that the commercial energies of the Euboeans had recovered at least by the second half of the eighth century BCE, when their exports of LG pottery abound at Tyre and Al Mina.
Less clear is the absolute date dividing Stratum IV from V, to which the kraters (nos. 2 and 3) and pyxis fragments (nos. 5 and 6) belong. In Euboean terms, as we have seen, the krater sherds are datable only within a very wide margin, LPG-SPG IlIa; but the globular pyxis with a battlement design seems to have been a shortlived type current only in SPG II-IIIa - within the bracket 875-825, according to current estimates for Aegean absolute dates. In the single graves of Lefkandi one would not expect the pottery to vary widely in date. It so happens that in two graves these battlement pyxides keep company with the two forms represented in Statum IV: in Skoubris Grave 59 (Lefkandi I: pl. 109), with skyphoi like our no. 4 with intersecting pendent semi-circles, and in Toumba Grave 80 (Lefkandi III: pls. 81:46, 83:27), with an Attic early MG I skyphos like our nos. 7 and 8, with multiple zigzags. Thus, of the two alternative dates proposed for the end of Stratum V a destruction by Pharaoh Shoshenq I (biblical Shishak) c. 925 (8) or early ninth century BCE the latter is the more easily reconciled with the internal Aegean chronology, based on association within several hundred single graves, associations of whole pots with painted decoration.
V. The Chronological Debate Concerning the Tenth-Ninth Centuries
In his discussion of the absolute chronology of Greek geometric pottery Coldstream (1968: 303-310) addressed the problem posed by the then two known alternative chronological systems for the tenth-ninth centuries in Palestine: the 'High Chronology' (which he termed 'Hazorite') and the 'Low Chronology' (which he termed 'Samaritan'). Coldstream opted for the low chronology. In her treatment of Greek Geometric pottery in the East, Saltz (1978) attempted to utilise the high chronology. In 1996, Finkelstein re-initiated this debate and it continues to this day, although the argumentation is somewhat different: new sites as well as 14C dates have to be taken into consideration. The debate has far-reaching implications for the correlation of archaeological data with the biblical United Monarchy, as well as for the correlations between the Levant Cyprus and the Aegean in the Iron Age (for an evaluation of the latter subject, see Fantalkin 2001, with earlier bibliography). The following is a brief explanation of the debate and of the contribution of the Tel Rehov excavations towards its resolution.
The core of the debate is the question of which archaeological assemblages should be dated to the tenth century BCE. The most common view over the past 30 years has been that in the northern part of Israel, Megiddo Strata VB and IVB- VA and Hazor Xb and Xa are typical tenth-century contexts, while Megiddo VIA is considered typical of the late eleventh century BCE (e.g., Mazar 1990: 301, 372-373, among others). At the two ends of the debated period stand incontrovertible well-dated assemblages. At the upper end, we have the early twelfth-century BCE strata containing Egyptian 20th-Dynasty finds. The best example is perhaps Beth-Shean, where Canaanite, Egyptian and Mycenaean IIIC pottery (the last probably of Cypriote production; see Sherratt and Mazar, forthcoming) was found in well-stratified and well-dated contexts. For the lower end, there is a general consensus as to the identification of eighth-century BCE pottery assemblages, which continued in use until the Assyrian conquests (in 732 and 722 in northern Israel), such as those from Megiddo Stratum IV A, Hazor Strata VI-V, Beth-Shean local Stratum P7 and Tel Rehov Stratum III (9) There is also considerable agreement as to the nature of ninth-century BCE assemblages from the north: pottery assemblages from the destruction of Jezreel provide a secure point of departure since, based on acceptable biblical data, Jezreel was most probably destroyed after the end of the Omride Dynasty, between 840 and 830 (Zimhoni 1997: 13-28). Assemblages similar to those from Jezreel come from other Iron Age IIA northern sites like Megiddo Stratum VB and IVB-VA (the so-called 'Solomonic' city), Yoqneʿam Strata XV-XlV, Taanach Periods IIA-IIB, Tel Rehov Strata VI-IV, and Tel ʿAmal 3-4, Rosh Zayit Strata III-lIb-a, Tell Abu Hawam Stratum III, Samaria Periods II-IV, Tell el-Farʿah VIIb-VIIa and Hazor Strata X-VIII, although the last differ somewhat due to regional factors. The debate in fact centers on the duration of the pottery assemblage from the above-mentioned strata. Finkelstein (1996; 1998a; 1998b), based on the finds at Jezreel, suggested a ninth-century BCE dating for all the above-mentioned strata, thus lowering traditional tenth-century dates into the ninth century. He also suggested that the gap thus created in the tenth century BCE should be filled by the assemblages traditionally dated to the eleventh century BCE. Consequently, he attributed the violent destruction of Megiddo VIA (a rich city with Canaanite material culture continuing in Late Bronze Age traditions) and YoqneCam XVII to Sheshonq I (Finkelstein 1998b: 208) (10). His dissenters claim that that such a wholesale lowering of the dating is impossible. On the one hand, it would create inexplicable gaps in the eleventh century BCE, and on the other, it would require condensing several strata at certain sites into a too narrow time-frame in the ninth century BCE. As a result, five stratigraphic phases at Hazor (Xb-VIII) and three at Tel Rehov (Strata VI-IV) would have to be dated to the ninth century BCE (prior to 830), an improbable supposition (11).
The longevity of the pottery assemblage from the Iron IIA sites mentioned above is demonstrated at Jezreel, where pottery found in the construction fills below the floors of the royal citadel proved to be similar to that found in the destruction layer (Zimhoni 1997: 29-56). At Tel Rehov, rich restorable assemblages containing identical types were found in both Strata V and IV. The assemblage of the yet earlier Stratum VI is also similar, although it differs somewhat. All three Strata VI-IV produced red-slipped and hand-burnished vessels. In my view, all the above-mentioned Iron IIA strata are characteristic of the Iron Age IIA in northern Israel.
The dating of Tel Rehov Strata VI-IV is still an open question, but advances have recently been made in this regard by combining 14C dates and chrono-historical evidence (Mazar 1999: 37-42; Mazar and Carmi 2001: 1339-1340; Bruins, Van der Plicht and Mazar 2003). The end of this period, represented by the destruction of Tel Rehov IV and Jezreel, probably occurred between 840 and 830, during the events following the fall of the Omride Dynasty: Jehu's revolt, Shalmanesser III's invasion, or the wars against the Aramaeans. This destruction was followed by the abandonment of the lower city at Tel Rehov, thus reducing the size of the city by half. But what are the durations and dating of Strata VI and V? Generally, there is a great degree of continuity in terms of both architecture and pottery from Stratum V to Stratum IV, even though certain parts of Stratum V were violently destroyed by fire and replaced by new buildings in Stratum IV. It is tempting to associate this partial destruction of Stratum V with the conquest of Rehov by Sheshonq I (biblical Shishak), who mentions this city (as well as Beth-Shean) in his topographical list at Karnak. This hypothesis would imply a time-span of some 80-90 years between the destructions of Strata V and IV, with the local pottery from both strata almost identical. If this dating is correct, it would indicate that the pottery assemblages of the second half of the tenth century BCE continued until c. 840-830 BCE. Stratum VI, in which red-slipped and hand-burnished pottery begin to appear, would then be even earlier, dating from the first part of the tenth century BCE. A duration of more than a century for a pottery assemblage in the Levant should not be surprising; it is normal in every period in this region.
14C dates from Tel Rehov appear to confirm this dating. Eighteen dates of grain from one storage room at Tel Rehov (Locus 2425) were rather ambiguous: of the 1 sigma calibrated dates, three were only in the tenth century BCE, 11 were only in the ninth century BCE, and six covered parts of both centuries. None provided a date later than 800 (Mazar and Carmi 2001: 1337-1339) (12). Wood from the foundations of a Stratum V building appears to be dated to the tenth century BCE (Mazar and Carmi 2001: 1337). 14C dates recently prepared at the University of Groningen using the gas-counting method on short-life samples from Strata VI-V provide a date for the destruction of these strata during the tenth century BCE; these dates in fact support our supposition that Stratum V was destroyed by Shishak (Bruins, Van der Plicht and Mazar 2003). A date from Stratum IV confirms that this city was destroyed during the ninth century, no later than 830 BCE, (13), and corroborates the long duration of the Iron Age IIA pottery assemblage from c. 980 until c. 840/830 (14). An alternative possibility is that Stratum VI should be dated to the tenth century BCE and Stratum V to the early part of the ninth century BCE. In that case, however, it would be difficult to explain the violent destruction of parts of Stratum V, and this interpretation would contradict the 14C dates suggested by the Groningen laboratory.
VI. The Tel Rehov Greek Sherds and Greek Chronology
The above-mentioned chronological debate also has clear implications for the chronology of the Greek PG and Geometric periods. The chronology of these periods, as established by Desborough in 1952 and Coldstream in 1968, was based on the rather flimsy evidence available at the time: Desborough relied on an estimation of the time duration of each phase and on the single pendent semicircles skyphos from Tell Abu Hawam Stratum III (1952: 293-295), while Coldstream depended on only a few SPG and Geometric sherds found in the Levant in the early years of archaeological research, most of them from dubious contexts (Coldstream 1968: 302-310). It should also be borne in mind that Coldstream's dates for the Geometric period suggested in 1968 were based on J. W Crowfoot and K.M. Kenyon's low chronology for the Iron Age in Israel. Based on our conclusions in the last section concerning the longevity of the Iron Age IIA in Israel, the date of Tel Rehov Stratum IV in the mid-ninth century BCE in any event fits the low chronology, while the dates of Strata V and VI in the tenth century are in accordance with the traditional high chronology. The results concerning the dates of the LPG, SPG and MG sherds from Tel Rehov are as follows (compare Section IV above).
Sherds nos. 1-2 from Stratum V can be dated as early as the tenth century BCE, perhaps prior to 925 (if the Stratum V destruction is attributed to Sheshonq I). No.2 may even be assigned to Stratum VI, some time in the mid-tenth century BCE. These dates fit Desborough's dates for LPG to '960 to after 900 B.C.' (1952: 294). The fragment of a Euboean pendent semi-circles skyphos from Stratum IV (no. 4 above) is consistent with our proposed date for that stratum, since Euboean SPG skyphoi continued to be in use, according to Coldstream, throughout the MG period in Euboea (850-750).
The SPG II-IlIa Euboean pyxis (nos. 5-6) poses a problem. If indeed it belongs to Stratum V and if Stratum V was indeed destroyed by Sheshonq I, it would predate the date suggested by Coldstream (see above, p. 37) by some 50 years. Yet we must be cautious: further excavations are needed to provide a solid basis for the correlation between the local stratigraphic phases in Area B and those in the other areas. It is possible that there were more occupation phases in Area B, in which case the pyxis may have belonged to a later phase than the main destruction of Stratum V.
The Attic MG skyphos from Stratum IV (nos. 7-8) represents the last days of the lower city at Rehov, shortly before it was violently destroyed c. 840-830. It should be borne in mind that Coldstream's date for the beginning of MG at 850 was based on a similar skyphos from Megiddo, from an unclear context. The Tel Rehov context of the MG skyphos is well dated, and thus provides a solid foundation for this date.
To the data from Tel Rehov we should add the handle sherd of an MG II vessel from Beth-Shean. It came from local Stratum P8 (15), which was sealed by a large Stratum P7 building that was violently destroyed, most probably by the Assyrians in 732. Thus, Stratum P8 can be dated to the late ninth or the beginning of the eighth century BCE, which would fit Coldstream's dates for the MG II of 800-760 (16).
VII. The Significance of the Greek Sherds at Tel Rehov
Tel Rehov is an inland site located near an important route connecting Cisjordan with Transjordan. Tel Hadar is similarly located inland, on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The discovery at Tel Rehov of Euboean PG and SPG sherds, as well as Attic MG sherds, in Strata V-IV in four different excavation areas, albeit in small numbers, is an exceptional phenomenon, indicating the strong commercial connections of this inland site. It should be noted that even at coastal sites of the southern Levant such pottery is very rare: it is absent at sites of the southern Coastal Plain (Philistia), and only a few sherds are known from sites in northern Israel and the northern Levant (see above). An exception is the relatively large number of PG sherds from Tyre. Coldstream (1998: 356-357; 2000: 16-21) has interpreted the Tyre assemblage in the framework of the prestigious oriental objects found in the royal burial at Lefkandi in a PG context as suggesting connections via marital relations between Tyre and the king of Lefkandi during the mid or late tenth century BCE. Whether or not this hypothesis is correct, the evidence from Tyre and Lefkandi indicates a strong relationship during the tenth and ninth centuries. Similarly, all the PG and SPG sherds at Tel Rehov are of Euboean origin (while the Attic MG I skyphos could have arrived via Euboea; see above, pp. 37-38). Tel Rehov maintained strong connections with the Phoenician coast, as shown by a number of Phoenician vessels and Cypriote White Painted and Black-on-Red pottery found in Strata V-IV. An important trading station was probably the fort at Rosh Zayit (Stratum IIb-a) , located on the border between the Phoenician and Israelite territories in the western Galilee. This site produced abundant Phoenician and Cypriote pottery, in addition to a rich local pottery assemblage that is surprisingly similar to that of Strata V-IV at Tel Rehov (Gal and Alexandre 2000). It is likely that the Greek pottery reached Tel Rehov from Tyre or from another major coastal city like Dor, either via Cyprus or through direct relations between Phoenicia and Euboea. The distribution of imported Greek, Cypriote and Phoenician pottery throughout Tel Rehov indicates the city's prosperity and dynamic economic activity during the Iron Age IIA. It is clear that trade between the Coastal Plain and the Jordan Valley and Transjordan must have been lively and that Tel Rehov played an important role in this activity, although its exact nature is yet to be determined.
* Section IV was written by N. Coldstream, who also identified the sherds in the catalogue (Section III). The remaining sections were written by A. Mazar. (back)
1. The Tel Hadar bowl has created some controversy. Kopcke (2002) dated it to the end of PG or the beginning of EG. If it belongs to MPG, as suggested by Coldstream (1998: 357-358), it should be dated to the middle of the tenth century BCE. P. B'eck and M. Kochavi, the excavators of Tel Hadar, dated the context to the eleventh century BCE, and now agree to lower this date down to c. 980 BCE (personal communication). In my view [A.M.], this assemblage could equally be dated to the tenth century BCE, at least to the middle of that century. I thank Prof. M. Kochavi and E. Yadin for showing me the Tel Hadar pottery plates that have been prepared for publication [A.M.]. (back)
2. In the excavations of Beth-Shean directed by A. Mazar, a handle sherd of a Greek krater was found; it was identified by Prof. Nota Kourou (University of Athens) as most probably belonging to a MG II vase. The design has good parallels in Attica, but the handle has a bichrome decoration, which, according to Kourou, may imply an eastern workshop. This sherd will be published in the forthcoming first final report on the Beth-Shean excavations. (back)
3. In light of the finds at Tel Rel.lOv and other sites, I [A.M.] have suggested that the term Iron Age IIA be lIsed for the period covering most of the tenth and ninth centuries BCE, i.e., c. 980-830, rather than for only the tenth century BCE (Mazar and Carmi 2001: 1340, n. 9, and further below; compare to NEAEHL 4: 1529). (back)
4. The Cypriote pottery from Tel Rel)ov is being studied by Dr. Joanna Smith (Columbia University). (back)
5. The excavations at Tel Rehov have been conducted since 1997 under the direction of A. Mazar on behalf of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University and thanks to the generous support of Mr. John Camp. Five seasons have been conducted from 1997 to 2002 in seven excavation areas (for the preliminary report on the first two seasons, see Mazar 1999). (back)
6. The colour definitions (both the number and terms) are according to the Munsell Color Chart. The authors would like to thank N. Panitz-Cohen for preparing these definitions. The drawings were prepared by J. Rudman and the photographs are by G. Laron. Sherds nos. 5-6 were first identified and discussed by Dr. Joanna Smith. (back)
7. The excavation of the area in which these sherds were found ceased at the upper level of Phase B5; further excavation of this area, planned for 2003, may provide more information. (back)
8. Various dates for Shishak's invasion are suggested in the scholarly literature: 925,924, or 918. We refrain from discussion of this question here. (back)
9. The southern sites in Judah and Philistia have been excluded from the present discussion; for a recent treatment of these, see Mazar and Panitz-Cohen 2001: 273-285. (back)
10. Finkelstein's view is more extreme than that of K. Kenyon, a proponent of 'Low Chronology' during the 1960s. She accepted Yadin's interpretation concerning the Solomonic dating of the construction of Hazor X and Megiddo IVB- VA, but attributed the destruction of these cities to the ninth century BCE (Kenyon 1964). (back)
11. Mazar 1997; 1999; 2002: 272-279; Mazar and Carmi 2001: 1339-1341; Ben-Tor and BenAmi 1998; Ben-Tor 2000. (back)
12. Locus 2425 is a small chamber in a massive burnt building that was uncovered just below the topsoil. The building was most probably founded in Stratum V. partly destroyed at the end of this stratum, and partly re-used in Stratum IV. It is still an open question whether the heap of grain found in Locus 2425 should be attributed to the destruction of Stratum V or to the re-use of this chamber in Stratum IV. The 14C results published by Mazar and Carmi in 2001 appear to indicate the latter possibility. Yet an additional sample (measured twice) from the same locus published by Bruins, Van del' Plicht and Mazar in 2003 indicate a date in the second half of the tenth century, thus supporting the former possibility. (back)
13. The Groningen dates include one sample (measured four times) from Stratum VI, three samples (measured three or four times each) from Stratum V. the sample from Locus 2425 mentioned above, as well as a sample from Stratum IV Building F, where the Early MG I Attic skyphos (nos. 7-8 above) were found. The latter provided a date in the ninth century BCE, no later than 830 BCE. (back)
14. The dates 1000-800 suggested by Aharoni and Amiran (1958) for their 'Iron Age II' definition appear to be too extended at both ends; the date 1000 is a round number based on the tentative date of David's accession to the throne; the date of 800 is schematic. The date of 980 that I [A.M.] have suggested for the beginning of the Iron Age IIA is also tentative, referring to some point in the first half of the tenth century BCE. The date of 840/830 refers to the events following the fall of the Omride Dynasty, as mentioned above.
It should be pointed out, however, that HC dates from this period may provide different results. Thus, Finkelstein (in lectures presented in the course of 2000) and Gilboa and Sharon (2001) claim that radiocarbon dates from Megiddo and Dol' support the low chronology. The Megiddo dates are mostly unpublished. Those from Dol' indeed suggest the low chronology, but all were produced in one laboratory (at the Weizmann Institute of Science), using samples from complicated, as yet unpublished, stratigraphic situations. More research in this field is necessary, as indeed is currently being conducted by 1. Sharon and A. Gilboa, who have initiated a wide-range 14C dating project for samples dating from the tenth-ninth centuries from sites throughout Israel. (back)
16. Critics of this chronology (e.g., James, Kokkinos and Thorpe 1998) will need to reevaluate their positions. The views of James, Kokkinos and Thorpe concerning Egyptian chronology are also refuted by the 14C dates from Beth-Shean. The dating of short-life samples from late 19th- and 20th-Dynasty levels (Mazar and Carmi 2001: 1334-1335) accord with the most current Egyptian chronology (Kitchen 2000). (back)
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