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Phase I Variables (polity-based)

General variables

♠ RA ♣ ♥ This polity was coded through pers. comm. with Oren Litwin

♠ Original name ♣ Yisrael ♥

♠ Alternative names ♣Israel; Northern Kingdom; Northern Kingdom of Israel; Bit Humri; House of Omri; Shomron; Samaria; Ephraim ♥ "Bit Humri" was the name that some Assyrian texts used for the Northern Kingdom.[1]

♠ Peak Date ♣ 855 BCE ♥ This is at the apex of the reign of King Ahab, shortly before he participated in a regional coalition against the Assyrian Empire at the Battle of Qarqar c. 853 BCE. While the hard historical evidence of the battle's outcome is slight, it is known that the Assyrian campaign did not proceed further south afterwards, and only retook the territory four years later. Nevertheless, Ahab died shortly after the battle and many subject kingdoms rebelled upon his death, including Moab and Edom.[2]


Temporal bounds

♠ Duration ♣ 1030-722 BCE ♥ The early date is speculative, being approximately when the first consolidated monarchy was established by the Israelite people (traditionally assumed to be that of King David; non-Biblical evidence for his rule is thin but nonzero, for example the stela at Tel Dan.)[3] The later date is approximately when the Assyrian Empire conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel and exiled many of its inhabitants.

♠ Degree of centralization ♣ confederated state ♥ This is uncertain. While the region featured frequent civil war, there are no independent records or biblical traditions of powerful noblemen or the like with any territorial bases or autonomy. However, much of local administration seems to have been performed by tribal elders; and it is possible that taxes were collected within each region.[4] Pfoh (2008) argues that Israel was actually a "patronage kingdom" in which the monarchy did not control a truly unitary state.

♠ Supra-polity relations ♣ personal union: 1050-930 BCE; none: 929-875 BCE; alliance: 874-842 BCE; vassalage: 841-728 BCE; alliance: 727-722 BCE ♥

The timeline here largely follows Kelle (2007:21-23). During the initial period, Israel is presumed to have been joined to the Davidic monarchy (or a regime with the same practical effect), which is taken to be a personal union between Israel and Judah.[5] Circa 930 BCE, the Northern Kingdom splits off and develops into a separate regime; during the time of Omri and Ahab, Israel dominates its immediate neighbors and participates in an anti-Assyria regional coalition. Circa 841 BCE, Jehu seizes the throne and pays tribute to Assyria. For the next century, Israel is in a constant state of vassalage to either Assyria or Aram, as their respective political fortunes wax and wane. Finally, in 727 BCE, Israel joins in a regional rebellion against Assyria that ends with its dissolution as a polity.

Supra-cultural relations

♠ preceding (quasi)polity ♣ Ancient Phoenicia ♥
♠ relationship to preceding (quasi)polity ♣ population migration ♥ The Israelite settlements first are found in hilly, desolate regions of the highlands that had little previous settlement during the Canaanite heyday, perhaps as refuges from the domination of surrounding powers such as the Philistines. In time, these became a political power in their own right.[6]
♠ succeeding (quasi)polity ♣ Neo-Assyrian Empire ♥
♠ Supracultural entity ♣ Israelite ♥ Here in the broader sense of the peoples descended from the early tribal confederation, in both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms.
♠ scale of supra-cultural interaction ♣ [10,000-20,000] ♥ km squared. This represents the roughly-estimated area of both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. The precise extent of both is uncertain, as is the distinction between territory they controlled directly versus territory that was subject to them indirectly.[7]

♠ Capital ♣ Jerusalem; Shechem; Tirzah; Samaria ♥ Jerusalem: 1030-951 BCE; Shechem: ??? Tirzah: 950-900 BCE; Samaria: 899-722 BCE Dates are approximate; the century-points are correct. "The book of 1 Kings (12:25) says that Jeroboam I built Shechem, but it also hints (14:17) that he later moved to Tirzah; 1 Kings specifically mentions Tirzah as the capital of the northern kingdom in the days of Baasha (15:21, 33; 16:6), Elah (16:8-9), Zimri (16:15), and the first half of the reign of Omri (16:23). Assuming that Jeroboam ruled at least part of his reign from Tirzah, as did his son Nadab, as well as Tibni, Tirzah was the seat of the first six or seven northern kings, for a period of forty to fifty years. I see no reason to doubt the authenticity of the consistent and deeply rooted information on Tirzah as the capital of Israel. The authenticity of this memory is highlighted by the fact that Tirzah does not play an important role in the rest of the Deuteronomistic History."[8]

"Tirzah lost its importance in the early ninth century, when Omri (884-873 b.c.e.) moved the capital of the northern kingdom to Samaria, possibly in his desire to establish a link with the coastal plain and the port of Dor (de Vaux 1967, 382). Indeed, the beginning of the transformation of Israel into a more complex kingdom came with the construction of the first palace at Samaria, probably by Omri. A full-scale urban transformation of the capital and the kingdom characterizes the more advanced phase of the Omride dynasty, probably in the days of Ahab (873-852 b.c.e.)."[9]


♠ Language ♣ Hebrew ♥

General Description

_Short description_

The ancient kingdom of Israel 1030-722 CE was a monarchy established by Israelite people that was eventually conquered by the Assyrian Empire. Initially a monarchic union with Judah, around 930 BCE the Northern Kingdom (Israel) gained autonomy. In the 9th century Israel entered an anti-Assyria coalition but from Jehu (841 BCE) paid them tribute and thereafter were frequently a vassal of the Mesopotamian empire. After a revolt against Assyria in 727 CE the Assyrians ended the polity sending many of its inhabitants into exile.

The century authorities ruled through administrative centers and fortresses sites that had "public buildings and ... large open spaces."[10] Local administration may have been through tribal elders who may have been responsible for tax collection. Our image of a centralized monarchy (for some of or the whole of the period) might be tempered by the ideas of Pfoh (2008) who has argued Israel was actually a "patronage kingdom" in which a monarchy did not control a truly unitary state. Nevertheless, Israel possessed a standing army with a strong chariot corps, and used weapons of iron and bronze. Fortifications were many and imposing, and the Palace of Omri was one of the grandest in the Ancient Near East.

At its height, Israel imposed tribute on many of the surrounding kingdoms, not only Judah but Moab, Edom, and perhaps others as well. The Israelite population primarily lived in cities and towns in the hills, with fortified cities protecting the frontiers on the plains and dominating major trade routes through the region. Trade linked Israel with its northern neighbor Phoenicia, particularly through the port of Dor. At the height of its power, Israel was also a significant military force, contributing the largest contingent to the regional coalition that turned back Assyria's first attempt to conquer the Levant.

At least some of the population was literate even before the 10th Century BCE, though the prevalence of literacy is disputed. While the majority of the populace lived in small towns and villages, a significant fraction lived in walled cities such as the capital, Samaria. Most of the economy was in agriculture and pastoral production; staples for export included grain, wine, and oil. In the eighth century BCE the population likely exceeded well over a quarter of a million people, a vast increase on the less than 100,000 people estimated for the earliest times.


_Oren's long description_

How the Kingdom of Israel began is a matter of dispute. The Bible depicts it as originally being the greater part of the old Israelite tribal confederation, and then a part of the United Monarchy under Saul, David, and Solomon (c. 1030 BCE)—before seceding during the rule of Rehaboam, and forming its own state. This narrative is more or less accepted by some archaeologists such as Mazar, while others such as Finkelstein assert that Israel actually emerged first from a process of gradual state formation, with the southern kingdom of Judah emerging later.[11]

Regardless, the two kingdoms always had close interactions, and the northern kingdom of Israel was almost always the dominant one. At its height, Israel imposed tribute on many of the surrounding kingdoms, not only Judah but Moab, Edom, and perhaps others as well. The Israelite population primarily lived in cities and towns in the hills, with fortified cities protecting the frontiers on the plains and dominating major trade routes through the region. Trade linked Israel with its northern neighbor Phoenicia, particularly through the port of Dor. At the height of its power, Israel was also a significant military force, contributing the largest contingent to the regional coalition that turned back Assyria's first attempt to conquer the Levant. Israel featured a standing army with a strong chariot corps, with weapons of iron and bronze. Fortifications were many and imposing, and the Palace of Omri was one of the grandest in the Ancient Near East.

However, starting with the assassination of the Omrid king Jehoram by Jehu (c. 841 BCE), Israel's fortunes waned; and it spent the rest of its existence as the tributary of either Aram or Assyria, depending on which of the two empires were ascendent. Even when the economy of Israel flourished during particular periods of the next century (as attested to by the greater incidence of luxury goods in archaeological finds), Israel was still subject to the depredations of foreign powers, being invaded several times. Ultimately, following an ill-fated rebellion against Assyria, the polity of Israel was dissolved (c. 722 BCE), its people exiled, and the land turned into an Assyrian province.

Israelite politics were marked with instability. In contrast to the kingdom of Judah, which featured a single ruling dynasty that traced its beginnings to David, Israelite kings frequently met violent ends. These would typically be at the hands of rebellious military commanders who would seize the throne, though such rebels ran the risk of being deposed themselves in short order. Zimri, one rebel captain, would rule for only a single week before losing the support of the army to rival captain Omri, founder of the Omrid Dynasty.

At least some of the population was literate even before the 10th Century BCE, though the prevalence of literacy is disputed. While the majority of the populace lived in small towns and villages, a significant fraction lived in walled cities such as the capital, Samaria. Most of the economy was in agriculture and pastoral production; staples for export included grain, wine, and oil.

A word of caution is in order about coding methodology. Much of the evidence we have about this polity comes from archaeological finds. However, the brute fact of an archaeological artifact is often used as the basis for considerable interpretation and conjecture. Methods have been improving over time, but still some archaeologists tend to leap far ahead of what the evidence will support. Additionally, the meaning of many finds is hotly disputed by archaeologists, each faction insisting for its point of view.

Worse, scholars of this particular polity often operate with ideological motives - either to prove the essential historicity of the Bible, or to disprove it—which can distort their claims. Israel Finkelstein, for example, once claimed that King David never existed, before having to revise his view after the discovery of the Tel Dan Stela.[12] (He now believes, as National Geographic puts it, that David was "a raggedy upstart akin to Pancho Villa.") His "Low Chronology" seems to have been motivated by the attempt to disprove the early existence of the United Monarchy, and the weight of the evidence now contradicts the chronology (while still inconclusive on the matter of the United Monarchy).[13] In general, it seems that many archaeologists treat the absence of evidence as evidence of absence—risky to do, considering that new finds are unearthed practically every month.

In short, every data point that is backed up with archaeology must be considered provisional, and new discoveries can totally upend our picture of what happened. As can new interpretations that correct erroneous early interpretations, a constant danger with motivated archaeologists.

Social Complexity variables

♠ RA ♣ ♥ This polity was coded through pers. comm. with Oren Litwin

Social Scale

♠ Polity territory ♣ [8,000-15,000] ♥ in squared kilometers. The precise extent of the Northern Kingdom is uncertain, as is the distinction between territory it controlled directly versus territory that was subject to it indirectly.[14]

♠ Polity Population ♣ [40,000-50,000]: 1030-1000 BCE; [50,000-300,000]: 900 BCE; [300,000-400,000]: 800-722 BCE ♥ People.

"The central hill country—between the Jezreel and the Beer-sheba Valleys—is well known archaeologically from both excavations and intensive survey projects. The surveys, mainly those conducted in the 1980s, revealed a massive wave of settlement that swept throughout this region in the Iron I (Finkelstein 1988; 1995; Zertal 1994; Ofer 1994). The main concentration of sites can be found in the northern part of this region, between Jerusalem and the Jezreel Valley. The settlement process may have started in the final phase of the Late Bronze Age (the late thirteenth or early twelfth centuries b.c.e.), accelerated in the early Iron I (the late twelfth to mid-eleventh century), and reached its peak in the late Iron I (the late eleventh and first half of the tenth centuries b.c.e.). In the late Iron I there were approximately 250 sites in this area (compared to ca. 30 sites in the Late Bronze Age), with a total built-up area that can be estimated at roughly 220 hectares (ca. 50 hectares in the Late Bronze Age). Using the broadly accepted, average density coefficient of two hundred people living on one built-up hectare in premodern societies, the late Iron I population can be estimated at circa 45,000 people."[15]

"Estimation of population is based on the results of surface surveys; if done properly, the collection of pottery sherds at a given site can shed light on the size of the site in every period of habitation. Accordingly, one can draw a settlement map for a given period with all sites, classified according to size, and compute the total built-up area. Deploying a density coefficient (number of people living on one built-up hectare in premodern, traditional towns and villages), it is possible to reach the total number of inhabitants. The population of [the Northern Kingdom of] Israel on both sides of the Jordan River in its peak prosperity in the middle of the eighth century can accordingly be estimated at 350,000—three times larger than the population of Judah of that time (Broshi and Finkelstein 1992)."[16]

It should be noted that these estimates are highly speculative, and there is reason to believe that they underestimate the true population by a considerable amount. "Some of the densities recently put forward for area coefficients have been based on unwalled, premodern villages…. How similar is such a village to a walled Bronze or Iron Age town or city? Although this is not a case of comparing apples and oranges (more like oranges and grapefruit), it seems probable that the economic constraints of building a defensive system put a permanent physical limit on the settlement area," leading to higher population densities.[17]


♠ Population of the largest settlement ♣ [15,000-20,000] ♥ "The estimated area of Iron Age II Samaria according to Kenyon… is 70 hectares, with an estimated population of 17,000. Samaria had developed into a large central capital, larger than Jerusalem in the same period."[18]

Hierarchical Complexity

♠ Settlement hierarchy ♣ 7 ♥ levels.

1. Capital city.

2. Fortified cities.
3. Administrative centers. "Most of these sites served as royal and administrative centers or border fortresses rather than standard towns. They were devoted to public buildings and had large open spaces. Very little was found that attests to domestic quarters."[19]
4. Ring-shaped villages.
5. Agglomerated villages. is this a distinct hierarchy from #4, or simply a size difference? I.e. did ring-shapped villages serve a greater set of administrative, political, economic, ritual functions than agglomerated villages, or were they basically the same in function but differed in typical size?
6. Farmsteads.
7. Seasonal or nomadic camps.

"Volkmar Fritz identifies three general settlement types: (1) ring-shaped villages, (2) agglomerated villages, and (3) farmsteads. Characteristic of the first type—ring-shaped villages—is the arrangement of houses in a closed circle or oval, with an open area in the center, an arrangement that possibly functioned as a means of defense, as well as providing an open area for keeping animals. The agglomerated village type consists of individual buildings, or complexes of several buildings, with streets of varying width and irregular open areas left between the individual units. The edges of this village type are open, and living space is relatively close and restricted. The third type of settlement—farmsteads—consists simply of single buildings or groups of buildings surrounded by a widely extending wall, which may have functioned as an enclosure for animals."[20]

♠ Administrative levels ♣ unknown ♥ While we have some Biblical descriptions of royal bureaucracies which are paralleled by Ugaritic tablets,[21] they do not provide enough detail to infer the actual bureaucratic hierarchy with any certainty.

♠ Religious levels ♣ 2 ♥ levels. That there were dedicated priests with at least two levels of hierarchy is about all we know. Whether parochial religious figures were linked in a centralized hierarchy with the center, or whether the king claimed to be the paramount priest, or how elaborate the priestly hierarchy was, are all unknown.

♠ Military levels ♣ [6-8] ♥

1. King

2. "Sar haTzava" (commander of the army)
3. "Shalish" (captain? deputy?), possibly descended from earlier position "Nose' Keilim" (equipment-bearer, attendant)
“Only scant references exist concerning the leadership of the Israelite and Judean military. The king was the head of the army. Offices like “captain” (Hebrew, shalish) and “commander” (Hebrew, sar) were important for the army and chariotry, yet the precise nature of these offices and how one achieved them remains uncertain.”[22] “At times, the rank of shalish designated a personal assistant to the king, but Pekah’s experience as a “captain” was more likely as a member of a group of commanding officers or elite warriors within the military organization. The office shared some of the functions of and perhaps developed out of the older position of the nose’ kelim (“armor-bearer”), which had been prominent in Israel during the early stages of military development before the 9th century.”[23] (Compare with II Samuel 11:3-9.)
4. Commander ("sar") of the thousand. (It is difficult to know whether this position was distinct from that of Shalish.)
5. Commander of the hundred.
6. Commander of the fifty.
7. Commander of the ten.
“The infantry had units of 1,000, 100, 50, and 10, and may have lived in garrisons in key cities.”[24] Compare II Kings 1:9.
8. Common soldier.

Professions

♠ Professional military officers ♣ present ♥

♠ Professional soldiers ♣ present ♥ “Both biblical and non-biblical sources confirm that standing armies were in place in Israel and Judah by the Assyrian period in the 9th century.”[25]

♠ Professional priesthood ♣ inferred present ♥ The Bible (I Kings 18:19) describes how King Ahab maintained hundreds of functionaries of the Phoenician Baal "who eat at Jezebel's table". Professional priests are widely attested to in the region.

Bureaucracy characteristics

♠ Full-time bureaucrats ♣ present ♥

♠ Examination system ♣ unknown♥

♠ Merit promotion ♣ unknown♥

♠ Specialized government buildings ♣ present ♥ "At Dothan, this administrative building stands out from the surrounding domestic structures because of its repetitious internal arrangement and ashlar masonry, and, within the building, the finds consist of a series of small storage vessels filled with grain…."[26]

Law

♠ Formal legal code ♣ {present; absent} ♥ This turns on the degree to which the Mosaic code existed in a formal manner, and was followed, which is hotly debated by scholars. It is clear that informal codes existed, at the very least. There is no evidence for a royal law code for the Northern Kingdom that has survived.

♠ Judges ♣ inferred present ♥ E.g. Ahab securing the vineyard of Naboth by having him accused of blasphemy (I Kings 21).

♠ Courts ♣ suspected unknown ♥

♠ Professional Lawyers ♣ unknown ♥

Specialized Buildings: polity owned

♠ irrigation systems ♣ unknown ♥ It is a commonplace that ancient Israel depended primarily on rainwater for its agriculture, in contrast to Egypt and Mesopotamia. No evidence for large-scale irrigation systems has been found; however, that does not make smaller systems impossible.
♠ drinking water supply systems ♣ present ♥ “Huge water systems are one of the main characteristics of Israelite fortifications. These held water that often came from a source located outside the city walls. The system often consisted of a vertical shaft, with broad steps leading down to a horizontal tunnel, which in turn led to the water source, often in a cave. The entrance to the cave from outside the citadel was of course blocked off. Water systems have been excavated at Megiddo, Hazor and Lachish; the latter, however, was not finished. The water system of Jerusalem will be discussed later.”[27]
♠ markets ♣ inferred present ♥ "Physical markets, since they are as much a process as a location, are hard to detect archaeologically. Occasional markets are places of exchange, not storage, and leave few traces. At smaller cities, storage and administrative buildings next to a city gate might have served as a periodic market (Kochavi 1998; Herr 1988). In larger centers, such as Tel Dan, the paved plaza outside the city gate was a more developed locale—though the stalls for such a marketplace could still be temporary and the traders might only occasionally visit. Perhaps the most developed attempt to outline a local extramural market center would be the recent work of Yifat Thareani, who argues that the public building at Tel Aroer, containing an unusually large number of weights for measuring silver, served a commercial function (2011: 161-73, 301-4)."[28]
♠ food storage sites ♣ present ♥ "The ostraca house at Samaria received goods from clans across the territory of Manasseh (Reisner, Fischer, and Lyon 1924, with modifications in Tappy 2001: 497, fig. 84). While the ostraca house is not a common architectural form, it does have a parallel in the Iron ILA/B “administrative building” at the regional center of Tell Dothan. At Dothan, this administrative building stands out from the surrounding domestic structures because of its repetitious internal arrangement and ashlar masonry, and, within the building, the finds consist of a series of small storage vessels filled with grain…."[29]

Transport infrastructure

♠ Roads ♣ inferred present ♥ Dorsey infers this mainly from the use of chariots and wheeled carts, which require flat roads, though they seem to have been unpaved.[30]
♠ Bridges ♣ inferred absent ♥ Probably absent according to Dorsey.[31]
♠ Canals ♣ absent ♥
♠ Ports ♣ present ♥ "Dor was strongly connected by maritime trade to Phoenicia (Stern 2000; Gilboa 2005) and must have served as the main maritime gate of the northern kingdom. The fact that Ahab married a Phoenician princess (1 Kgs 16:31) testifies to the close commercial interests of the northern kingdom on the coast and in Phoenicia."[32] Smaller port at Ashkelon as well.[33]

Special purpose sites

♠ Mines or quarries ♣ inferred present ♥ Evidence of calcite-alabaster quarrying in 'Abud Cave that predated this polity and also continued after it. Additional quarrying of materials such as sandstone attested to in the Samra Caves near Jericho.[34] Given the scale of stone building in this polity, additional quarrying is practically certain—though at least some of the stone used in e.g. Samaria was quarried on-site.

Information

Writing System

♠ Mnemonic devices ♣ unknown ♥
♠ Nonwritten records ♣ unknown ♥
♠ Written records ♣ present ♥ Best example known is the Gezer Calendar.[35]
♠ Script ♣ present ♥ For example, "An ostracon from Izbet Sartah was found in a silo of Stratum II, dating to the end of the eleventh century BCE. The 22-letter alphabet was incised in five rows in proto-Canaanite script. Although it is apparently earlier than the tenth century BCE, it is included here since, from a paleographic point of view, it is similar to the inscription from Khirbet Qeiyafa and apparently belongs to the transition between Iron I and Iron II."[36] "A hoard found at Eshtemoa included five jugs full of silver scrap; the word חמש, “five”, is written in red or black ink on three of them. Based on ceramic and paleographic typology, the jugs date to the tenth or ninth centuries BCE."[37] Additional examples listed in the cited article.
♠ Phonetic alphabetic writing ♣ present ♥ For example, "An ostracon from Izbet Sartah was found in a silo of Stratum II, dating to the end of the eleventh century BCE. The 22-letter alphabet was incised in five rows in proto-Canaanite script. Although it is apparently earlier than the tenth century BCE, it is included here since, from a paleographic point of view, it is similar to the inscription from Khirbet Qeiyafa and apparently belongs to the transition between Iron I and Iron II."[38] "A hoard found at Eshtemoa included five jugs full of silver scrap; the word חמש, “five”, is written in red or black ink on three of them. Based on ceramic and paleographic typology, the jugs date to the tenth or ninth centuries BCE."[39] Additional examples listed in the cited article.

Kinds of Written Documents

♠ Lists, tables, and classifications ♣ present ♥ Best example known is the Gezer Calendar.[40]
♠ Calendar ♣ unknown ♥
♠ Sacred Texts ♣ {present; absent} ♥ This dispute depends on the timing of the Bible's writing. Elements of the books of Samuel and Kings, at a bare minimum, almost certainly date back to this period, but whether they were first transmitted in written or oral form is disputed. For example, Finkelstein writes: "The history of ancient Israel in the Hebrew Bible was written by Judahite authors in Jerusalem, the capital of the southern kingdom and the hub of the Davidic dynasty. As such it transmits Judahite ideas regarding territory, kingship, temple, and cult. Moreover, even what some scholars consider as the early layers of the history of ancient Israel, such as the books of Samuel (e.g., McCarter 1994; Halpern 2001; Römer and de Pury 2000, 123-28; Hutton 2009), were written after the northern kingdom was vanquished by Assyria and its elite was deported.… The original northern texts—or at least some of them—could have been written as early as the first half of the eighth century b.c.e. in the capital Samaria or in the temple of YHWH at Bethel, located on the northern border of Judah (also Fleming 2012, 314-21; for a later date of compilation at Bethel, see Knauf 2006; Davies 2007a, 2007b; for the archaeology of Bethel, see Finkelstein and Singer-Avitz 2009). Both written texts and oral traditions were probably brought to Judah by Israelite refugees after the fall of Israel in 720 b.c.e. (Schniedewind 2004; Finkelstein and Silberman 2006b)…"[41]
♠ Religious literature ♣ inferred present ♥ Probably the best example is the Book of Proverbs; at the very least, portions of it seem to have been inspired by a second-millennium BCE Egyptian text.[42]
♠ Practical literature ♣ unknown ♥
♠ History ♣ inferred present ♥ The Bible attests the the existence of the "Annals of the Kings," which may have been the source for the chronologies within Kings and Chronicles, but the text itself has been lost. Similar royal histories were the norm in surrounding societies.
♠ Philosophy ♣ unknown ♥
♠ Scientific literature ♣ unknown ♥
♠ Fiction ♣ {present; absent} ♥ This turns on when the Song of Songs was composed, with scholarly opinions ranging from the 10th Century BCE all the way to the 2nd Century BCE under Hellenistic influence.[43]


Money

♠ Articles ♣ unknown ♥ No sources list prices in terms of e.g. cattle, but in a recently pastoral society it is not out of the question.
♠ Tokens ♣ suspected unknown ♥
♠ Precious metals ♣ present ♥ "A hoard found at Eshtemoa included five jugs full of silver scrap; the word חמש, “five”, is written in red or black ink on three of them. Based on ceramic and paleographic typology, the jugs date to the tenth or ninth centuries BCE."[44]
♠ Foreign coins ♣ absent ♥ The earliest coins known worldwide were minted in Anatolia in the Seventh Century BCE. No coins have been found in the Ancient Near East that date from before the Persian Empire.[45]
♠ Indigenous coins ♣ absent ♥
♠ Paper currency ♣ absent ♥

Postal System

♠ Couriers ♣ unknown ♥
♠ Postal stations ♣ unknown ♥
♠ General postal service ♣ absent ♥

Warfare variables

♠ RA ♣ ♥ This polity was coded through pers. comm. with Oren Litwin

Military Technologies

Military use of Metals

♠ Copper ♣ present ♥ In the Levant, in Israel iron replaced bronze for utilitarian objects by 900 BCE[46] and data from this time shows both bronze and iron weapons were being used.[47]
♠ Bronze ♣ present ♥ In the Levant, in Israel iron replaced bronze for utilitarian objects by 900 BCE[48] and data from this time shows both bronze and iron weapons were being used.[49]
♠ Iron ♣ present ♥ In the Levant, in Israel iron replaced bronze for utilitarian objects by 900 BCE[50] and data from this time shows both bronze and iron weapons were being used.[51]
♠ Steel ♣ ♥

Projectiles

♠ Javelins ♣ present ♥
♠ Atlatl ♣ absent ♥
♠ Slings ♣ present ♥
♠ Self bow ♣ present ♥
♠ Composite bow ♣ inferred present ♥ Composite bows were known as far back as the Early Bronze period in the Levant, though they were uncommon and the simple bow was more frequently used.[52] However, they were replaced almost entirely with composite bows in the Middle Bronze period. "Indeed, the introduction of the chariot ca. 2000 B.C. coincided with the development of the composite bow, which quickly replaced the simple bow in most military contexts."[53] There is little reason to believe that composite bows fell out of use during the Iron Age.
♠ Crossbow ♣ absent ♥
♠ Tension siege engines ♣ unknown ♥ II Chronicles 26:15 records that King Uzziah of Judah commissioned defensive engines of some kind to be placed on the corner towers of Jerusalem, which could shoot "arrows and great stones," but the nature of such engines is unknown and there is no supporting evidence for them elsewhere.
♠ Sling siege engines ♣ unknown ♥
♠ Gunpowder siege artillery ♣ absent ♥
♠ Handheld firearms ♣ absent ♥

“Both biblical and non-biblical sources confirm that standing armies were in place in Israel and Judah by the Assyrian period in the 9th century. Little is known of the specific recruitment, composition, and organization of these forces, but they consisted of three primary elements: infantry, chariotry, and cavalry. Infantry formed the primary fighting force and included spearmen, equipped with spears, lances, javelins, and shields; archers, utilizing bows of various sizes, carrying quivers on their backs, and often accompanied by separate shield-bearers; and slingers, organized in combat pairs."[54]

Handheld weapons

♠ War clubs ♣ suspected unknown ♥
♠ Battle axes ♣ suspected unknown ♥
♠ Daggers ♣ present ♥
♠ Swords ♣ present ♥ "Very few long iron swords are known from Israel. The earliest is a sword of similar dimensions found in Family Tomb 1 at Achzib, Phase 1, which was dated to the 10th century b.c.e. (E. Mazar 2004: 117, 122; Fig. 29:8). It recalls our sword in its length, the fact that the handle and blade were made as one unit, and the rounded widening of the handle’s end. However, at Achzib the handle has two protrusions probably intended to hold wooden parts in place."[55]
♠ Spears ♣ present ♥
♠ Polearms ♣ absent ♥

Animals used in warfare

♠ Dogs ♣ absent ♥
♠ Donkeys ♣ inferred present ♥ Donkeys had been common in the region for millennia, and at the very least would have been used to carry supplies.
♠ Horses ♣ present ♥ "The strength of the Israelite horse industry is attested already in the mid-ninth century, in Shalmaneser III’s account of the chariot forces of the anti-Assyrian coalition in the Battle of Qarqar; Ahab is mentioned by the Assyrian king as arriving with the largest number of chariots."[56]
♠ Camels ♣ unknown ♥
♠ Elephants ♣ absent ♥

Armor

♠ Wood, bark, etc ♣ present ♥ At least some shields were made of wood.[57]
♠ Leather, cloth ♣ inferred present ♥ Leather or cloth armor was known from the Egyptians at the very least,[58] and the tribal militias were unlikely to have been issued armor from the regime, leaving them to equip themselves.
♠ Shields ♣ present ♥ “Biblical texts and Assyrian reliefs portray Israelite and Judean infantrymen as outfitted with shields, helmets, and coats of armor, sometimes including a scarf around the head and covering the ears.”[59]
♠ Helmets ♣ present ♥
♠ Breastplates ♣ present ♥
♠ Limb protection ♣ inferred present ♥ Greaves were known to the Israelites from the example of the Philistines, for example I Samuel 17:5.
♠ Chainmail ♣ absent ♥
♠ Scaled armor ♣ present ♥ “Standard dress [for light infantry] was probably a short tunic and boots, while battle gear was likely to include scale armor, a breastplate, and perhaps a helmet.”[60]
♠ Laminar armor ♣ absent ♥
♠ Plate armor ♣ absent ♥

Naval technology

♠ Small vessels (canoes, etc) ♣ absent ♥ There is no record of any Israelite navy or naval engagement during the entire period; all references to ships involve trade, sometimes sponsored by kings.[61]
♠ Merchant ships pressed into service ♣ absent ♥
♠ Specialized military vessels ♣ absent ♥

Fortifications

♠ Settlements in a defensive position ♣ present ♥ "The architectural program of the Omrides seems to have been conceived in order to serve their territorial ambitions: casemate forts or administrative centers were built on the borders of the kingdom (figs. 18, 19): Har Adir (and possibly Tel Harashim) facing Tyre; Hazor and En Gev facing the territory of Aram Damascus; Ramoth-gilead opposite Aram Damascus in the Bashan; Jahaz and Ataroth facing Moabite Dibon; and Gezer facing the Philistine city-states. Except for the capital Samaria, only Jezreel seems to have been located in the heartland of Israel. The Omride compound there could have been erected as a center of command in the demographically Canaanite valley and as a military post related to the chariot force of the kingdom (Cantrell 2011)."[62]
♠ Wooden palisades ♣ present ♥ “The Assyrian relief depicting the siege of Lachish shows wooden battlements on which shields were hung to strengthen the defence.”[63]
♠ Earth ramparts ♣ present ♥ Ancient Levant: "In the Middle Bronze Age, sloping earth ramparts known as glacis appear."[64]
♠ Ditch ♣ present ♥ E.g. "The layout of Khirbet Atarus - a rectangular, elevated compound surrounded by a rock-cut [dry] moat on three sides and protected by a steep slope on the fourth—is identical to the Omride compound in Jezreel."[65] (Note that references to "moats" in ancient Israel are invariably to dry moats, i.e. ditches.)
♠ Moat ♣ absent ♥
♠ Stone walls (non-mortared) ♣ present ♥
♠ Stone walls (mortared) ♣ unknown ♥ Smaller residential buildings were often mortared with clay, but whether this technique was used for fortifications is unknown.
♠ Fortified camps ♣ inferred present ♥ "One of Saul's important innovations was the introduction of the fortified camp for prolonged campaigns. These were well-organized, semipermanent base camps broken into special zones for training, ordinance [sic] manufacture, and quartermaster."[66] This source is fairly speculative and based on textual reading of the Bible. Later, in I Samuel 23:14, David is described as living in מצדות in the desert, variously translated as "strongholds" or "fortified camps." I favor the latter translation, as a permanent stronghold would have been easy for Saul to find.
♠ Complex fortifications ♣ present ♥ “During the United Monarchy much use was made of the so-called casemate wall, which consisted of two parallel walls joined at determined intervals by perpendicular walls. Casemate walls could be freestanding, as at Megiddo VA, or could be integrated into city buildings, as at Beer-sheba II. Casemate walls could be used as soldiers’ dwellings, or to store food or weapons that could be used in case of siege. Sometimes the stone casemates served as a framework, which was filled with earth. From the Divided Monarchy onwards massive walls are more frequent. The earliest type is the inset and offset type, built with sections of around 6m long that alternately project and recede. The degree of projection was 0.5-0.6m. Megiddo IVA is the best example of this type.”[67]
♠ Long walls ♣ 0 ♥ km.
♠ Modern fortifications ♣ absent ♥

Phase II Variables (polity-based)

Institutional Variables

♠ RA ♣ ♥ This polity was coded through pers. comm. with Oren Litwin

Limits on Power of the Chief Executive

Power distributed

♠ Constraint on executive by government ♣ absent ♥
♠ Constraint on executive by non-government ♣ absent ♥
♠ Impeachment ♣ absent ♥

Social Mobility

Status

Whether a hereditary nobility existed during this time is unclear. If it did, it has no ideological justification at all in the Bible, whose ideology is broadly egalitarian. Surrounding cultures were, however, strongly stratified; so it is conceivable that Israelite kings may have tried to set up a nobility to reward their supporters. Ahab had his גדולים, "great ones" (II Kings 10:11), and other texts reference חורים, often translated as "nobles," but whether these actually reflected a hereditary nobility or simply prominent men is totally unknown. During the United Kingdom succession struggle of Solomon and Adoniyahu (depicted in I Kings 1), the key supporters of each side are priests, prophets, or military men; but that does not exclude a nobility arising later. (Relatedly, whether royal bureaucrats were selected or hereditary is also unknown, though families of powerful royal bureaucrats are attested to in the Southern Kingdom;[68] and the line between "noble" and "bureaucrat" is fine indeed.)

Kessler[69] identifies the עמי הארץ ("people of the land") of the Southern Kingdom as a "landed aristocracy." Prominent and powerful people they certainly were, but to be a true aristocracy one must not simply have power, but some sort of formal caste privilege, for which evidence is unclear. But here we get to a question of definition: if one's father is wealthy and that wealth passes on to you, does that count as a "hereditary elite status" in our present sense? In any event, while one might infer the existence of a similar group in the Northern Kingdom, there is no explicit reference to them.

Elite status

♠ elite status is hereditary ♣ unknown ♥

Religion and Normative Ideology

♠ RA ♣ Enrico Cioni ♥ This polity was coded through pers. comm. with Oren Litwin

Deification of Rulers

♠ Rulers are legitimated by gods ♣ present ♥ "The religious politics of antiquity can be called “divine patronage” (Noll 2001a, pp. 207-15, 265-8). In most cases, it worked this way: a human king owed his authority to one god, his divine patron." [70] "The rise of David as king over all Israel and his selection of Jerusalem as his political and religious capital plays a foundational role in the conceptualization and development of ancient Israelite religion because it establishes a close interrelationship between the Davidic kings and YHWH. This interrelationship is evident in YHWH's promise of an eternal dynasty to David immediately after David brings the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem in 2 Sam. 6. According to 2 Sam. 7, David had thought to build a “house” or Temple for YHWH once he had become king, but the prophet Nathan came to David and declared that YHWH did not desire a “house.” Instead, YHWH would build a “house,” i.e., a dynasty, for David so that his descendants would rule forever in Jerusalem. David never built the “house,” or Temple, for YHWH in Jerusalem, but his son Solomon did and thereby established the Davidic monarchy and the Jerusalem Temple as the two primary institutions of ancient Israel or Judah. In short, the House of David established and supported the Jerusalem Temple of YHWH, and YHWH established and supported the House of David." [71]

While this refers to the Southern Kingdom, it is clear from the Bible that rulers in the Northern Kingdom used a similar strategy. Jeroboam I sets up a competing cult to that in Jerusalem to legitimate his own kingship; Ahab establishes the worship of the Phoenician Baal; Jehu claims to have usurped the kingship from Ahab's sons acting as YHWH's agent.

♠ Rulers are gods ♣ absent ♥

Normative Ideological Aspects of Equity and Prosociality

♠ Ideological reinforcement of equality ♣ [present; absent] ♥ On the one hand, the rulers and their cults certainly emphasized the loftiness of the divinely-chosen king. On the other hand, the pre-monarchic ideology of the Israelite people was broadly egalitarian (albeit patriarchal), deriving from the time of the tribal confederation;[72] and enough of that tradition survived to give bite to the prophecies of figures such as Amos, who castigated the Israelite elites in the mid-8th Century BCE for oppressing the poor.[73]

♠ Ideological thought equates rulers and commoners ♣ absent ♥
♠ Ideological thought equates elites and commoners ♣ unknown ♥

♠ Ideology reinforces prosociality ♣ inferred present ♥ Especially the writings of Amos, who was known to operate in the Northern Kingdom, but the Biblical tradition is full of calls to justice and charity.

♠ production of public goods ♣ unknown ♥

References

  1. Finkelstein (2013:87)
  2. Kelle (2007:78-80)
  3. Cf. Cline (2009:61).
  4. Cf. McMaster (2014:85)
  5. Flanagan (1981)
  6. Finkelstein (2013), Lehmann (2004).
  7. Estimated using Geacron for 900 BCE.
  8. Finkelstein (2013:66)
  9. Finkelstein (2013:78)
  10. (Finkelstein 2013, 104)Israel Finkelstein. 2013. The Forgotten Kingdom: The Archaeology and History of Northern Israel. Society of Biblical Literature. Atlanta, GA. Available online here.
  11. Cf. Finkelstein/Mazar (2007).
  12. Cf. Finkelstein/Mazar (2007).
  13. Mazar (2005)
  14. Estimated using Geacron for 900 BCE.
  15. Finkelstein (2013:37-38)
  16. Finkelstein (2013:109-110)
  17. Zorn (1994:33)
  18. Zertal (2001).
  19. Finkelstein (2013:104).
  20. McNutt (1999:49)
  21. McMaster (2014:83-85).
  22. Kelle (2007:44)
  23. Kelle (2007:140)
  24. Kelle (2007:71)
  25. Kelle (2007:42-43).
  26. McMaster (2014:85)
  27. Rossi (2010:72)
  28. McMaster (2014:87)
  29. McMaster (2014:85)
  30. Dorsey (1991)
  31. Dorsey (1991)
  32. Finkelstein (2013:108)
  33. McMaster (2014:86)
  34. Frumkin et al. (2014)
  35. E.g. King/Steger (2001:88)
  36. Ahituv/Mazar (2014:54). For a general overview of literacy in ancient Israel, see Rollston (2010).
  37. Ahituv/Mazar (2014:57)
  38. Ahituv/Mazar (2014:54). For a general overview of literacy in ancient Israel, see Rollston (2010).
  39. Ahituv/Mazar (2014:57)
  40. E.g. King/Steger (2001:88)
  41. Finkelstein (2013:2-3)
  42. Alter (2010:184)
  43. Exum (2012).
  44. Ahituv/Mazar (2014:57)
  45. Bienkowski/Millard (2000:77-78)
  46. (McNutt 1999, 163) Paula M McNutt. 1999. Reconstructing the Society of Ancient Israel. Westminister John Knox Press. Louisville.
  47. (Gabriel 2003, 117) Gabriel, Richard. 2003. The Military History of Ancient Israel. Westport: Praeger Publishers
  48. (McNutt 1999, 163) Paula M McNutt. 1999. Reconstructing the Society of Ancient Israel. Westminister John Knox Press. Louisville.
  49. (Gabriel 2003, 117) Gabriel, Richard. 2003. The Military History of Ancient Israel. Westport: Praeger Publishers
  50. (McNutt 1999, 163) Paula M McNutt. 1999. Reconstructing the Society of Ancient Israel. Westminister John Knox Press. Louisville.
  51. (Gabriel 2003, 117) Gabriel, Richard. 2003. The Military History of Ancient Israel. Westport: Praeger Publishers
  52. Burke (2004:62-63).
  53. Burke (2004:57).
  54. Kelle (2007:42-43)
  55. Mazar/Ahituv (2011)
  56. Finkelstein (2013:133)
  57. Gabriel (2003:116)
  58. Gabriel (2003:43)
  59. Kelle (2007:43)
  60. Kelle (2007:137)
  61. Kelle (2007:43).
  62. Finkelstein (2013:109)
  63. Rocca (2010:64)
  64. (Philip 2003, 190) Graham Philip. Weapons and Warfare in Ancient Syria-Palestine. Suzanne Richard. ed. 2003. Near Eastern Archaeology: A Reader. Eisenbrauns. Winona Lake.
  65. Finkelstein (2013:100)
  66. Gabriel (2003:32)
  67. Rocca (2010:63-64)
  68. Kessler (2008:100).
  69. Kessler (2008:99).
  70. Noll (2007).
  71. Sweeney (2002).
  72. Finer (1999).
  73. Hartin/Kugler (2008:282-285).

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