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Israelite four-room houses (such as this example from Izbet Sartah), together with evidence of undecorated, utilitarian pottery and simple ancient burial customs, suggests that Biblical Israel tried to maintain the ideologies of an egalitarian society. Image courtesy Israel Finkelstein/Tel Aviv University.
Through most of the Iron Age (1200–586 B.C.E.), the heartland of Biblical Israel was the rugged central hill country, from northern Samaria to the Hebron hills south of Jerusalem. While this area has revealed many material signs of Israelite occupation, it is what archaeologists have not discovered that may provide the most insight into Israelite beliefs.
Tombs - Evidence - Customs - Israelite - Settlements
Tombs and evidence of ancient burial customs are rarely found among the Israelite settlements of the hill country, as observed by archaeologist Avraham Faust in “Early Israel: An Egalitarian Society,” in the July/August 2013 issue of BAR. As Faust explains, this “lack of burials phenomenon” is unique to the early Iron Age; in both the preceding Late Bronze Age (1550–1200 B.C.E.) and the later phases of the Iron Age (eighth–seventh centuries B.C.E.), tombs are common and ancient burial customs well known. How then can we explain this striking gap in the archaeological record of Biblical Israel?
As the point where three of the world’s major religions converge, Israel’s history is one of the richest and most complex in the world. Sift through the archaeology and history of this ancient land in the free eBook Israel: An Archaeological Journey, and get a view of these significant Biblical sites through an archaeologist’s lens.
Cremation - Exposure - Elements - Evidence - Explanation
Given that neither cremation nor exposure to the elements are supported by the archaeological or Biblical evidence, the most likely explanation is that in Biblical Israel the dead were buried well outside settlements, in areas where archaeologists rarely excavate. These burials were simple inhumations without grave...
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