lunes, 11 de mayo de 2009

“THE MIDDLE BONZE AGE: Burial customs and tombs in Canaan ”

Por Lic. Graciela N. Gestoso
Spanish Abstract:
Los hallazgos arqueológicos correspondientes al Bronce Medio en Canaán reflejan una sociedad con: a) un crecimiento demográfico elevado; b) patrones de asentamiento y urbanismo altamente desarrollados, y c) una mayor complejidad socio-política respecto del Bronce Temprano. El propósito de este trabajo es analizar los tipos de enterramientos y tumbas empleados durante el Bronce Medio en Canaán y su relación con los conceptos de naturaleza, fertilidad, vida, muerte y renacimiento, conceptos propios del sistema de creencias de la sociedad cananea.

The Intermediate Bronze Age (Early Bronze IV/Middle Bronze I Period) (2300/2250-2000 B.C.E.)
During three hundred years following the collapse of the Early Bronze III urban culture, Canaan was sparsely populated, mainly by pastoralists and village dwellers. This period of decline parallels the First Intermediate Period in Egypt (dynasties VII-XI), during which there was a decentralization of power and a interruption –state level- in the economical and political relations between Egypt and Asia, particularly those with Byblos. The end of Canaan’s period of decline also has a parallel in Egyptian history: the revival of urbanization in Canaan at the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age II corresponds with the rise of the Middle Kingdom in Egypt, ca. 2000 B.C.E. Mesopotamia also suffered from invasions and instability, though only for a relatively short duration (ca. 2230-2130 B.C.E.).The EB IV should be seen as the phase during which the process of the desertion of the towns reached its peak; some of the towns had been abandoned during the EB III b, and others were abandoned during this phase. By the end of the EB IV, there were no urban settlements left in Canaan (Gophna 1992: 126 ff.). What were the motives of the decline of urban culture?Three different approaches of the events in Canaan during this period have been proposed. Some scholars consider that a wave of northern invaders (part of the Amorite migration to his area) or a campaign of Egyptian Fifth Dynasty kings was responsible for the destruction of the towns. The undestroyed sites would have been abandoned in terror.The second approach prefers an ecological point of view, pointing to data indicating a decrease in rainfall and a lowering of the water level, which would have doomed many settlements.Finally, others see the city-state system destroyed by friction and disagreement, a result of the constant warfare between the city-states evidenced in the repeated destructions and reconstructions visible in the EB II-III layers.Presently, it seems that an approach integrating the three explanations, along with additional reasons (trade, symbiosis, and cooperation), should be preferred in explaining the end of urban culture.
Tombs and burial customs

Three principal types of burials are known, each typical of a different area: shaft tomb, known throughout western Canaan; megalithic dolmens covered by tumuli, known in the Golan Heights and Upper Galilee; and built-up tumuli, characteristic of the central Negev. All three are interments of one or a few individuals, in either primary or secondary burial. The interment of individuals or of nuclear families in shaft tombs or megalithic monuments characterizes the burial customs in Canaan during the late III millennium B.C.E., in contrast to the Early Bronze Age practice of mass burial of many families in caves. This shift in custom reflects a change in the social structure: while the multiple burials would suit the needs of the extended families living in an urban society; the individual and secondary burials conform with the nature of a seminomadic society, in which the dead are brought to central cemeteries after primary burial elsewhere (Dever 1987 a: 9-10). Sometimes the bodies were interred whole within the tomb, in a flexed, or extended position ("primary burial"). Mostly, the bones were gathered after decomposition and placed, either piled up or scattered, in the tomb ("secondary burial"). In the cemetery adjacent to Jericho, 80 percent of the burials were secondary burials of individuals (Rosen 1995: 70-76; Kenyon 1965). At sites such as the cemeteries of Jericho (Kenyon 1960: 192 ff.; Shay 1983: 26-37) and Tell el-Ajjul (Kenyon 1956: 41-55), the shape of the tomb was correlated with the type of burial (primary or secondary) and burial gifts. The burial gifts interred in the Intermediate Bronze Age tombs do not excel in wealth. The typical offering consists of personal ornaments (metal pins, bracelets, and beads), pottery vessels, metal (copper) tools and weapons (a dagger or a spear).
Shaft tomb

Most of the cemeteries found in the country are constituted of shaft tombs. The basic form of the shaft tomb consists of a subterranean chamber approached by a vertical shaft. The entrance leading from the bottom of the shaft to the burial chamber was usually blocked with a large stone. The forms of the shafts and chambers are varied: circular, square, rectangular, and irregular (Greenhut 1995: 3 ff.). In some of the burial fields, such as those near Ain Samiya, the shafts are circular. The shafts lead into one or two burial chambers, sealed by stone slabs. In other cases, the shaft is square, rectangular, or irregular: sometimes it is very shallow and the cave is small (Lachish); in other cases the shaft is elaborate and square, and it leads into a cave with several rectangular rooms (Megiddo) (Guy 1938). The shaft tomb is considered one of the typical features of Intermediate Bronze Age, though shaft tombs of the first phase of the Early Bronze Age have been found in the cemetery of Bab edh-Dhra (Shaub 1973: 2-19). The archaeological evidence reveals that both secondary burials and shaft tombs were already known in EB I, but their use was abandoned during EB II-III. Shaft tombs were carved either in the limestone regions or in the sandstone (kurkar) ridges of the coastal plain. But, there are also some shaft tombs excavated in the soil and lined with stone slabs. Many of the shaft tombs were used for individual burials, but some several for entire families, such as the tomb at `Enan (Eisenberg 1985: 59 ff.). Shaft tomb cemeteries have been found in the Galilean hills (Safed, Hanita), the Hula Valley (Shamir, Ha-Goshrim, `Enan), the Jezreel Valley (Megiddo, Ha-Zorea), the middle Jordan Valley and the Beth Shean Valley (Tiberias, Beth Shean, En Ha-Naziv, Tirat Zvi, Tel Rehov) (Tzori 1975: 9-17), the Coastal plain (Barqai, Ma`abarot, Tel Aviv, Azor, Yavne, Tell el-Ajjul) (Gophna and Sussman 1969: 1-13; Gophna 1969: 174-177), the Central hills (the `Ain Samiya region, Gibeon), the Judaean hills (Khirbet Kufin, Efrat, Khirbet Kirmil) (Gonen 1981: 25-29; Edelstein 1971: 11-20), the Judean Shephelah (Lachish, Jebel Qalaqir) (Smith 1982: 65-73), and the lower Jordan Valley (Jericho, Bab edh-Dhra) (Shay 1983: 26 ff.; Shaub 1973: 2-19). Shaft tombs have also been discovered in the Transjordanian plateau (northern Gilead and Amman) (Prag 1995: 103-113).
Megalithic tombs

The Greek term megalithic (megas, "great"; lithos, "stone") describes tombs built of large and unworked boulders (or other stones), often covered by mounds of earth or stone piles. In the Intermediate Bronze Age, two types of Megalithic tombs were used: tumuli and dolmens.
Tumuli. In this tomb type, the corpse was laid either in an articulated or disarticulated state within a stone cist, covered with a pile of stone and earth. A stone cist, resembling a coffin, built of large slabs was constructed on the bedrock and paved with small flat stones. The deceased, or some of his bones (in the secondary burial), was then placed in the tomb with burial offerings (beads, metal artifacts, and pottery). The stone coffin was covered with flat stones and encircled by a ring of standing stones. The space between the outer stone circle and the cist was filled with stones, creating a tumulus 1-1.5 meters high.
Tumuli have been found in the basalt regions of the Hauran and Golan, in the Jordan valley, and in the Negev highlands, where thousands of tumuli have been discovered in large concentrations on mountain ridges, on hilltops, and near or within habitation sites (Har Yeruham and Beer Resisim). Similar tombs have been found in excavations at Chorazin in the Upper Galilee, near Talpiyot (Jerusalem), in Wadi et-Terfeh (northeast of the Dead Sea), and Bab edh-Dhra (east of the Lisan) (Shaub 1973: 2 ff.) (Gophna 1992: 130 ff.). Many were found empty, as if they had been for primary burial and the bones had later been removed for secondary interment.
Dolmens. The dolmens (Breton term for "stone table") are enlarged versions of tumulus-covered cists. A simple dolmen may be constructed of six large unworked slabs. The average size of dolmen stones in Canaan is 0.9 x 0.7 x 4 meters, and each weighs over a ton. Four are arranged in a rectangle, the fifth stone serves as a base, and the sixth, the largest of all, is the table slab, placed atop the rest. The whole structure served as a burial chamber and was covered with earth and stones to form a tumulus (Greenhut 1995: 3 ff.).
Dolmens have been found in the basalt region of the eastern Galilee and in the limestone regions of the central Galilee. The dolmen is generally enclosed in an oval tumulus and is sometimes entirely burial beneath it. Burials within the dolmen chambers were secondary. Alongside the dead were placed pottery, weapons, beads, and bracelets.
Economy and society

The study of the economy and society of the Intermediate Bronze Age has intended to determine the roles of sedentarism and mobility in the posturban society of Canaan in the late III millennium B.C.E. and to define the position of this society within the social framework of the Near East. The archaeological data for the study of the economic base of the Intermediate Bronze Age population include the faunal and floral remains, pounding and grinding stones, and flint tools unearthed in excavations. These may testify to the relative importance of crops, herds, and hunting in the economy of this period. Other finds, such as metal artifacts and jewelry, provide information about crafts and trade. The settlement pattern reveals certain features suggestive of an economy based on pastoralism and seasonal agriculture: a) extensive settlement in the relatively moist areas on the margins of the deserts and the Mediterranean forests of Samaria and Judaea, areas nearly devoid of settlement in the EB Age; b) cave habitation; c) the presence of what appear to be animal pens within habitation sites, and d) the limited lifespan of most settlements (such as Sha’ar Ha-Golan, Tel Yosef, and Beth Yerah). The burial customs of the Intermediate Bronze Age reflect the sedentary and mobile aspects of the period: primary burials alongside secondary burials, individual burials and family burials, cemeteries adjacent to habitation sites and far from habitation (Gophna 1992: 126-158). Presently, ethnographic studies have demonstrated that sedentarists practice secondary burial and that nomads may also practice primary burial.
The Middle Bronze Age (MB II a-b-c/MB I-II-III) (ca. 2000-1550/1500 B.C.E.)

The tendency of recent years has been to consider the Middle Bronze Age II as a period of uninterrupted development, in which the material finds, including pottery, undergo slow typological change. Nevertheless has not been reached a consensus to form a new terminological and chronological scheme (Bietak 1989: 78 ff.; Weinstein 1992: 27-46). The traditional scheme divides the period in two phases, labeled II a and II b (A third phase II c is adopted by some American Archaeologists, especially those who participated in the renewed excavations at Shechem). Middle Bronze Age Canaan reveals a picture of a society growing in population (Bietak 1991: 27 ff.), intensifying agricultural and craft production, participating in far exchange systems, and attaining over time a multi-tiered settlement hierarchy expanding into new frontiers. Gateways were themselves centers and often of a higher order than non-gateway centers. This system was the result of a long process of political and economical rationalization that began with the first wave of sedentarism in the Early Middle Bronze. Villages and farmsteads always provided the bedrock for higher-level socio-political structures, and it was from these that the centers emerged and specialized over time. The spatial distribution of power in the mid MB II may have looked something like this: a. gateways (Hazor, Ashkelon, Kabri, Pella, and Tell el-Dab`a) and regional centers (Megiddo, Beth Shean, Shechem, and Gezer); b. subregional centers and/or loci of specialist production or service (cult) (Tel Kittan and Tell el-Hayyat); c. village; and d. farmstead or hamlet (Ilan 1995 a: 300 ff.). In short, this period evinces a portrayal of increasing socio-political complexity not previously seen in Canaan.
Middle Bronze II a (ca. 2000-1750 B.C.E.)

The first phase of MB II was called by W. Albright (1960; 1962: 36 ff.; 1966: 26-35) as "MB II a" according to his excavations at Tell Beit Mirsim; though other scholars (such as K. Kenyon (1960: 192 ff.). W. Dever (1970: 133-163; 1973: 37-63; 1992 a: 1-25; 1992 b: 39-51), E. Oren (1971: 106-139), and P. Gerstenblith (1983)) designate this period "MB I". Middle Bronze II a chronology is established through the analysis of the pottery of the period. The introduction of the earliest assemblage is determined by the final date of the last pottery of the preceding Intermediate Bronze period, with a degree of overlap between the two. In terms of absolute chronology, this early phase may be attributed to the beginning of the XII dynasty, that is, the beginning of the XX century B.C.E. (Kempinski 1992 b: 159 f.f.). The date of the later phase of the MB II a is determined by two factors: first, the presence of characteristics pottery types found in the royal tombs of Byblos, which are dated by Egyptian finds to the days of Amenemhet III and IV (the late XIX and early XVIII centuries); second, the discovery of pottery typical of MB II a-b transition alongside cylinder seals attributed to the days of Hammurabi (ca. 1792-1750 B.C.E.) in phase ii tombs at Jericho (Yasur-Landau 1992: 235-246).
Textual and archeological evidence

At the beginning of the XXth century (ca. 1991 B.C.E., according to Egyptian chronology), the XII dynasty was established in Egypt. This dynasty reunited the Upper and the Lower Egypt and extended the frontiers of Egypt’s political and economical influence toward Canaan, the Lebanese coast, and Syria (Weinstein 1975: 1-16). The earliest documents of this period are the "Execration Texts". The kings of the XII and XIII dynasties resorted to magical texts to increase their control over the local rulers in Nubia, Syria, and Canaan. The earliest Execration Texts (the Berlin group) –dated to the beginning of the XII dynasty- are incantation bowls inscribed with the names of the settlements and their rulers. These refer to the towns of Ashkelon, Rehov, Beth Shean, Jerusalem, Byblos, Ullaza, ‘Arqatum, as well as a number of unidentified sites. The sites mentioned in the texts are often attributed three or even four rulers, indicating –as several scholars- that a tribal system still prevailed there. D. Redford (1992: 82-93) considers that during the XII dynasty the population of Canaan was still in a nomadic stage reflected in the culture of the Intermediate Bronze Age. Also, that pastoralist culture was an interlude of a century or two that followed the destruction of the mighty urban centers of the Early Bronze Age. Finally, he claims that the Egyptian texts from the XII dynasty of Egypt show that the Intermediate Bronze Age pastoralist culture was still prevailing in Canaan, a contention he supports by distorting the evidence of the texts: the "Execration Texts" and the "Tale of Sinuhe". The "Tale of Sinuhe" describes a highly sophisticated agriculture –intensive cereal farming- and cattle raising. Sinuhe also led forays against neighboring countries (not tribes) and plundered their cattle (Rainey 1994: 81-85). In short, we do not agree with Redford and consider that there is no longer any excuse for seeing the society of MB II a as reflecting the pastoralist society of the Intermediate Bronze Age. Inscriptions preserved on Middle Kingdom stelae mention military campaigns to Canaan. The stela of Khu-Sobek, who commanded the Egyptian army under Sesostris III (in the mid XIX century B.C.E.), reports the siege of Shechem: "when Shechem fell, all of wretched Retenu fell with it", indicating that Shechem was the chief town of the region (Sethe 1924: 82 ff.). This is the most important written record of the siege and capture of a town in Canaan by Egyptians in Middle Kingdom times. At Megiddo was found a statue of Thut-Hotep (Djehuti-Hotep), an Egyptian official who served as "agent dealing with the shipment of cattle and other goods to Egypt" (Mazar 1990: 187). The appointment of this official at Megiddo seems to indicate that during the rule of Sesostris III, a first attempt was made to incorporate Canaan in the Egyptian sphere of influence. However, there is no consensus between the scholars about the precise character of the relations between Egypt and Canaan during the Middle Kingdom. Some scholars consider that Egypt actually ruled over the region, while others affirm that the relations were commercial or diplomatic (See Flammini 1996: 33 ff.). To the reign of Sesostris III, we may ascribe a second group of Execration Texts (Brussels group) that contains many place-names of Canaan and Transjordan: such as Hormah and Ashkelon in the south; Jerusalem, Shechem, Aphek, and Lod in the central region; Beth Shean, and Shumunu in the valley region; Akhshaph, Mash’al, Rehov, and Acco in the Acco valley; Beth Shemesh, Hazor, Kedesh, Laish (Dan), and Arbel in the Galilee. The difference between the earlier group of such texts, and the later one, illustrates the expansion of urbanization in the country. The second group includes a longer list of cities, reflecting the emergence of city-states around 1800 B.C.E. We agree with A. Mazar who considers that these texts do not demonstrate direct control by Egypt over Canaan (1990: 186). Wall paintings from Middle Kingdom tombs in Egypt constitute another source of information. The paintings from Beni Hassan, in Upper Egypt, describe a caravan of Semites, apparently from northern Transjordan, led by their chief Abishar (Absha) to Egypt during the reign of Sesostris II (Mazar 1990: 166; 187). Their dress and hairstyle reveal many details of Canaanite life in the XIX century B.C.E. Of particular interest are the weapons carried by the men. Their tools, primarily the duckbill axes, show that these were people of the MB II a. The painting is important evidence for the presence of west Semites in Egypt during the Middle Kingdom, either as merchant or as wandering artisans. The title of the chief, heka khaswt ("ruler of foreign land"), is also most important: in the second part of the MB II, rulers bearing this title dominate Egypt and establish a dynasty. Consequently, Egyptian historical references to Canaan diminish; only at Byblos on the Lebanese coast have inscriptions of XIII dynasty kings been discovered. The inscription of Neferhotep I (ca. 1760 B.C.E.) (Montet 1928: 92; 1929: 12 ff.), who is represented in relief facing prince Yantin (Amu ?) of Byblos, may suggest Neferhotep’s control at least of coastal Canaan and Lebanon. But the principal evidence for Egyptian contacts comes from small finds, especially the scarab seals. The excavations at Tell el-Dab`a have revealed evidence for connections with the Levant: MB II a pottery and weapons typical to Canaan. M. Bietak (1991: 27 ff.) explains these finds as evidence of the presence of Canaanite artisans, soldiers, and metalsmiths in Egypt and evidence of the existence of trade relations. Mazar considers that "few scholars believe in a direct Egyptian rule in Canaan. The majority maintains that the relations with the city-states of Canaan were only commercial and diplomatic" (1990: 188; Weinstein 1975: 1-16). We consider that Egypt may have maintained trading posts or economical enclaves in Syria and Canaan (See Mazar 1990: 188; Flammini 1996: passim). But, other type of evidence is relevant for the study of this period. The first half of the XVIII century, Canaan first came within the sphere of influence of the Amorite kingdoms of north Syria and northern Mesopotamia (Tubb 1983: 49-62). The archive discovered at Tell el-Harari (the ancient Mari) is particularly important for its mentions of towns of northern Canaan –Laish and Hazor- and of the names of the rulers of them. The Mari evidence shows that toward mid-century, with the decline of Egyptian influence in Canaan, the Amorite kingdoms of northern Syria began to exert influence in the regions located to the north of the valley of Jezreel. The material culture reflect this change as well, placing the transition from the MB II a to the MB II b around the year 1750 B.C.E.
Tombs and burial customs

Six general tomb categories can be distinguished. Rock-carved chamber tombs, masonry chamber tombs, shaft burials (usually in combination with chamber tombs), masonry cist tombs, simple pit or cist burials, and jar burials. These can be subdivided by size and geometric form (Gonen 1992). The most common type of tomb during the MB II a was the ordinary grave dug into the surface of a tell. These graves usually contained only one or two individuals and a few offerings. The body was placed in a contracted position on its side or on its back with its knee raised. Two types of constructed tombs are found in this period. At Jericho a tomb with mud-brick walls and probably a corbelled roof was discovered on the east side of the mound. The second type of built tomb consisted of rectangular graves lined with stone on the long sides and covered with stone slabs (Rosen 1995: 70-76). This tomb type is found at Megiddo and Ras el`Ain, but the Ras el`Ain examples have an added feature. Three of the four tombs of this type at Ras el`Ain had one or two recesses in the lining of the long sides in which bones from previous burials were placed. At Jericho, Gibeon, Khirbet Kufir, and Megiddo, MB I tombs which had been reused in MB II a were found. At Lachish a cave, which had been used for burials in EB III, was reused in MB II a. Of the six tombs found, three definitely contained multiple burials, and it is likely that at least two of the others did also. Four instances of burials in large storage jars are known from this period. All were found at Megiddo, and in each case the burial was that of an infant or a young child. The offerings consisted of one or two juglets and, in three of the four cases, a bowl. Since the great majority of the MB II a burials so far discovered have been individual graves rather than multiple burials, there are usually few objects in the graves. The average burial contained two bowls, a juglet or two, and usually, one or two jugs or a jar. The forms of these vessels are completely different from those of the preceding MB I and are a further indication that a new group of people had entered the land. The relations of the MB II a pottery with that of Syria give an indication of the direction from which these groups came. In the context of an intramural cemetery, the coexistence and spatial relationships of chamber, cist, shaft, pit and jar burials can be explained by subordinate (demographic) status differentiation and kinship affiliation (Palumbo 1987: 43-59; Ilan 1995 b). Chamber tombs (masonry only) contained the skeletal material of both male and female individuals over the age of 13 years, cist tombs the remains of individuals 3-12 years, and jar burials infants under the age of 2-3 years and fetuses (Ilan 1995 a: 318). The age of 2-3 years is associated –as L. Binford (1972: 233 ff.)- with a sharp downswing in mortality rates and a corresponding change in social status, while the age of 12-13 years is associated in many societies with further status enhancement and with rites of passage leading to adulthood (Krafeld-Daugherty 1995). Superordinate (ascribed) status and wealth differences are not clearly attested to in the mortuary sample from Tel Dan or in other cemeteries (Ilan 1995 a: 318-319). Ascribed status or ranking is commonly held to be indicated by widely variant assemblages within a specific demographic category. So-called "rich" MB tombs are generally those with a long sequence of multiple successive burials with little evidence of plunder (Ilan 1992: 247-266). Alongside the History tombs were the first targets of plunder and the symbols of prestige and wealth were generally those carried off (Chapman and Randsborg 1981: 1-24). Kinship affiliation is expressed by the clustering of different demographically ordered tomb types under domestic living floors and the technique of multiple successive burial points to familial affiliation. Early MB II a cist tombs contain single burials (as in the Intermediate Bronze Age tradition), but thereafter chamber tombs and cist tombs contain multiple successive interments. Jar burials are often located next to or over cist tombs or chamber tombs. One burial type that can be considered as an indicator of rank is the warrior burial, which is comprised of an adult male buried with weapons, and sometimes an equid. Early MB burials of this type are better known due to the period’s greater propensity for single burial (such as at Beth Shean) but the phenomenon continues in the MB II b as well (Oren 1971: 106-139; Philip 1995). Many patterns in MB mortuary remains are ubiquitous for all tombs types and for all age and sex categories. These can be explained as symbolic behavior motivated by concepts of rebirth, afterlife and fertility. The tomb itself can be seen as simulation of the female reproductive organs (chamber, opening, shaft) while the usual contracted (fetal) position of the skeleton and proximity of the head to the tomb opening represents the prenatal state. In short, death and rebirth were considered part of the fertility cycle observed in agriculture and in the natural world. The MB II beliefs system is as ancient as the Neolithic (Parker-Pearson 1982: 91-113). It was concerned with the universal themes of nature, life, and death (Renfrew 1985), and it operated with profound effect in Canaanite society. The wealth in mortuary practices gives an idea of the magnitude of attitudes toward the death, ancestors, and the netherworld. Religious beliefs and cultic activity were manipulated to maintain and reinforce political structures.
Urbanism and settlement pattern

MB II a is characterized by a revolution in the urbanism (Dever 1987 b: 148 ff.) and settlement pattern (Broshni and Gophna 1986: 73 ff.). The Archaeology let us prove the existence of MB II a settlements along the northern coastal plain and along the northern valleys of Canaan (Herzog 1989: 29-42). Large fortified cities, forts, and rural sedentary settlements were found. This settlement pattern differs from that known from the Early Bronze Age, when the coastal plain was quite insignificant (Gophna and Portugali 1988: 11-28). The lack of MB II a settlement in Negev demonstrates the cultural change with respect to the Intermediate Bronze Age. Large fortified cities were founded in the coastal north of the Yarkon river. Among them are Acco and Kabri (Kempinski 1992 a: 69-73; Kempinski and Neimeier 1993: 256-259). These cities were large –25-50 acres- and defended by massive fortifications. Artificial earth ramparts surrounded several cities (such as Tel Zeror and Acco) and changed the morphology of the site. Also cities and forts were established in the Sharon plain, as Tel Burgah. One of the most important sites of this period is Aphek, where a large fortified city flourished during this period. Generally, these sites were founded on virgin soil, or in places, which had not been occupied for many centuries. A group of settlements was found along the principal East-West route connecting the coastal plain with the Jordan valley: such as Yoqnean, Tel Amar, Beth Shean, and Megiddo. Megiddo was defended by solid city walls; while Hazor was only beginning to develop at the end of MB II a, and it appears that the earth ramparts there were constructed during the transition between MB II a and b. At Aphek and Megiddo a gradual growth of the city can be detected: Pre-palace phase, which marks the beginning of urban life; Palace phase; and Post-Palace phase, when the palace went out of use, and many graves found in its area may indicate that the center of the town shifted to the east, where later palaces were found. The archaeological remains of palaces, dwellings and fortifications reflect an important development of urban life during MB II a (B. Mazar 1968: 65-97).
Pottery and metallurgy

Globular jars and jugs, carinated thin bowls, flat large bowls, piriform juglets, and large dipper juglets are characteristic of MB II a. This large variety of new shapes was the result of the innovation of the fast potter’s wheel. The well-burnished red lip appears on many of the small vessels and painted decoration usually includes horizontal bands in red or black. Painted pottery of Canaan was exported to Tell el-Dab`a, dated to the XIII dynasty. During the MB II a bronze replaced copper, which had been almost the only metal in use for tools and weapons since the Chalcolithic period. New types of metal weapons and tools appeared in MB II a: "duckbill" axe were found in northern Canaan, Lebanon, and Syria as far north as the Mari region. Shafted spearheads replaced the tanged type, and a new dagger had a tang and ridges on the blade.

Middle Bronze II b (included c; ca, 1750/1720-1580/1550 B.C.E.)
Chronology and History

W. Albright (1960; 1962: 36 ff.; 1966: 26 ff.) and G. Wright (1965) divided the period in two principal subphases, denoting them "MB II b" and "MB II c". But, this subdivision is mainly based on refined ceramic typology and the relative sequence of phases, such as at Shechem and at Gezer. The absolute chronology of the beginning and the end of MB II b-c depends on correlations to Egyptian and Mesopotamia chronologies. Albright (1956: 27-30), followed by Yadin, used the lower Mesopotamian chronology, and suggested a date ca. 1750 B.C.E. for the beginning of MB II b, conforming with his views concerning the correlation between the finds in the royal tombs at Byblos and Egyptian and Mesopotamian chronologies. In short, the MB II b-c can be correlated with the second part of the XIII dynasty (MB II b) and the Hyksos XV dynasty (MB II c) (ca. 1800/1750-1550/1540 B.C.E.). We prefer to consider MB II b as including phases b and c (Mazar 1990: 195). In the interval between the final days of the XIII dynasty and the beginning of the reconquest of Egypt and Canaan by the XVII and XVIII dynasties, local chronology is wholly dependent on that of Egypt (Hoffmeier 1989: 181 ff.). Only at the northern extremity of Syria, where the battles between the Hittite kings and the Kingdom of Aleppo took place, is it possible to link finds and strata to Babylonian chronology. At the start of the MB II b a historic event occurred related to the occupation of the city of Avaris (Tell el-Dab`a in the eastern delta) by a Canaanite dynasty and its transformation in the religious and political capital of that dynasty. The date recorded for this event is 1720 B.C.E., for at about 1320 B.C.E. Horemheb, the founder of the XIX dynasty, commemorated the enthronement of the Semitic god Baal-Seth in a stela, known as the "Stela of year 400". This stela serves as an indication of the coming to power of the Semites in the northeast delta and the installation of the Baal cult. The Semitic dynasties that seized control of the northeast delta are sometimes designated the Hyksos dynasties, but we shall apply this name only to the XV dynasty, which was so styled by the Egyptian historians themselves, as in the Turin Papyrus. "Hyksos" (heka khasut) is the Greek form of the Egyptian expression for "rulers of foreign lands", an epithet originally used to designate the heads of Canaanite families and tribes in the country, and then, in the course of the XVII century B.C.E., applied to the Canaanite rulers of Egypt. The Egyptian historian Manetho misunderstood the term and supposed that it meant "shepherd kings", thus transmitting the Greek term "Hyksos", with historical overtones of the invasion of Egypt by shepherd tribes and their chiefs, to modern historiography. It is now recognized that there was a gradual infiltration of Canaanite immigrants in the eastern delta, leading to their ultimate control of the greater part of Egypt in the second and third decades of the XVII century B.C.E. (Dever 1985: 69-87). The XV Dynasty ruled just over one hundred years. Because it came to an end in the second decade of the XVI century when Ahmose, the founder of the XVIII dynasty, completed the expulsion of the Hyksos forces from Egypt and eventually from their center in Canaan (Hoffmeier 1990: 83-89; Dever 1990: 75-81). Egyptian texts (Turin Papyrus) and Manetho mention six rulers, some of them known from finds in Israel (Sheshi, Yakub-her (II), Khyan, and Apophis). The discovery of scarabs bearing names of king of this dynasty in clean ceramic contexts facilitates the establishment of an absolute chronology of ceramic groups. Tombs containing scarabs of Sheshi belong to a group with late Middle Bronze II b features; finds are confined mainly to cylindrical juglets and open carinated bowls on a high foot. The scarabs of Apophis appear in assemblages belonging already to the transition to Late Bronze I, characterized by bichrome ware, of major importance for this transitional period. The transition seems to correspond to the end of "Apophis" reign and the reign of Khamudy, and of course to those of the first kings of the XVIII dynasty. The cultural limit of MB II b may be established at about 1600/1580 B.C.E., after which date the Late Bronze I begins. This transition is represented for the bichrome ware and the related pottery known as chocolate-on-white ware. The Alalakh evidence can confirm it. This was destroyed during the campaign of Hattusilis I, ca. 1615-1610 B.C.E., according to the middle chronology. The destruction level (Stratum VII) contained no bichrome ware, whereas the succeeding stratum –VI- has this type of pottery. The appearance of this type of pottery along the Syro-canaanite littoral may therefore be dated to about 1600 B.C.E. The second phase of the MB is marked by a wealth of the Egyptian imports. They consisted for the most part of scarabs set in the seal rings of members of the upper and middle classes, faience and alabaster vessels, and bone-inlaid boxes that reveal Egyptian influence, though some of them were manufactured in Canaan. At Tell el-Ajjul, Gezer and Megiddo were found objects of gold, which show a dramatic increase in the MB II b. The cultural and economic influence of Egypt over southern Canaanite populations stems from the close links between this population and the Canaanite population of the Delta, which had been subject to Egyptian influences for some time (Dever 1991: 73-79). The close relation with Egypt may also arise from close commercial ties between Canaan and the Delta.
Tombs and burial customs

The tomb types and burial customs introduced in Canaan during the late MB II b (included c) are: bilobate chamber tombs, chambers with loculi, "tholos" tombs, burials beneath the floors of dwellings, "horse" and ass burials, caves, and jar burial (Brink, van den 1982: 71-74).
Bilobate chambers and chambers with loculi. The best examples of the bilobate-chamber tombs were found at Tell el-Far`ah (S), but simple tomb of this type were also found at Tell el-`Ajjul, Lachish, and Jerusalem (Stiebing 1970: 102-103). Tombs with large circular, oval, or rectangular chambers with semi-circular loculi, or niches, cut into the walls and floors for burials have been found only at the sites, which had bilobate-chamber tombs (Stiebing 1971: 111-112). Chambers with loculi were most numerous at Tell el-`Ajjul, but they were found also at Tell el-Fara`ah (S) (Price 1977) and Lachish (Stiebing 1970: 103).

"Tholos". Two unusual built tombs, which also seem to date from late MB II b, were found at Megiddo. They had rectangular or semi-rectangular chambers, corbelled roofs, and fairly long stomions from the shafts in the chambers (Stiebing 1970: 124). The origin of these "tholoi" at Megiddo remains unknown, it is not likely that they were introduced –as W. Stiebing (1971: 112-113)- by the Hyksos (See also Sjöqvist 1940: 149-150).
Burials under floors or dwellings. Infant burial in jars, burials in graves and mud-brick or stone-lined tomb are all found beneath the floors of dwellings in MB II b at Taanach and Megiddo. It is probable that this practice was known at other sites as well, since a number of MB II b burials were found at Tell el-`Ajjul in the area of dwellings. At Megiddo it is clear that the practice of burying the dead beneath the floors of dwelling was one of the customs of the people who entered Canaan at the beginning of Middle Bronze II a, and this practice was continued by their descendants in MB II b.

"Horse" and ass burials. One of the most unusual and interesting features of MB II burial practices is the occasional occurrence of equine remains in tomb. While the remains of sheep, goats, oxen and even gazelles are found as food offering within burial, the equine remains sometimes appear to have been given a ceremonial burial themselves (Stiebing 1970: 137-142). The earliest example of this practice is the tomb 1417 at Tell el-`Ajjul which, like the rest of the graves in the "courtyard cemetery" dates from the end of the MB II a. MB II b is represented by a single example of this practice, tomb J3 at Jericho (Brink, van den 1982: 77-82). Petrie identified the animals in tomb 101 at Tell el-`Ajjul as "asses" and those in the other tombs (Nº 210, 411, and 441) as "horses" (Stiebing 1971: 114-116).
The burial of asses and horses with human beings has been interpreted as typically Hyksos practice, and has been used to support the arguments for Indo-European elements among the Hyksos. However, the first instance of this practice in Canaan occurs in the MB II a before the presumed Hyksos infiltration.
Caves. Cemeteries and single burial caves are found in different areas of Canaan far from any settlements site, indicating that they belonged to a seminomadic population (such as Efrat, south of Bethlehem). The use of caves for multiple burials became popular again in MB II b. Sometimes, the corpse was laid on a wooden bed in the center of the cave. At Jericho dozens of skeletons were found in the same cave, together with a burial gifts; weapons, pottery vessels, seals, and tools.
Jar burial.Another form of burial was that of infants in pottery jars placed under the floors of rooms and courtyards. In these cases, the burial gifts consist of juglets, jewelry, and ointment.
Urbanism and settlement pattern

This was a period of urban growth in Canaan. Great fortification systems were the result of the centralized power in the cities. Hazor is an excellent example of grand-scale town planning. The principal cities were: Hazor and Dan (in Upper Galilee); Kabri, Acco, Yoqneam, Megiddo, Taanach, and Beth Shean (in the northern Valleys); Aphek, Jaffa, Tel Nagila, Tel Gerisa, and Tell el-Ajjul (in the coastal plain and Philistia); Lachish, Tell Beit Mirsim, and Gezer (in the Shephelah); Shechem, Shiloh, Gibeon, Jerusalem, and Bethel (in the central hills region); and Tel Malhata, Tel Masos, and Tell el-Far`ah (S) (in the Negev) (Kempinski 1992 b: 182-199; A. Mazar 1990: 197-213). These cities were surrounded with steep artificial slopes, which raised the level of the city wall high above the surrounding area. Two types of fortifications were used: the earth rampart (Hazor, Dan, Kabri, Shechem, Ashkelon, and Tel Masos) and the glacis (Shiloh, Gezer, Jericho, and Lachish). The huge earth "rampart" were erected by dumping large quantities of earth, sometimes on both sides of a central vertical core, which served as a foundation for a freestanding city wall. The "glacis" is the artificial slope created by dumping compact earth (terre pisée) on an existing mound or hill. The glacis is in fact a rampart lacking the inner slope and core. A new type of "city gate" was used during the MB II b: rectangular, symmetrical, large gatehouse, passage, three pairs of pilasters, and two guard chambers (such as at Hazor, Shechem, Gezer, and Tell el-Far`ah (S)). Also, MB II b palaces were found at Kabri, Megiddo, Aphek, Lachish, and Tell el-`Ajjul. The palaces were architectural complexes, which include large courtyards, halls, and several rooms. The temples of MB II b –at Ugarit, Hazor, Ebla, Shechem, Megiddo, Tel Kitan, and Tell el-Dab`a- were monumental buildings –square or rectangular-, which comprise a major hall with a niche located opposite the entrance.

Many of the shapes evolved from those that were used during the MB II a. The burnished red slip was replaced by a white or creamy slip, which appears on small vessels. Painted decoration is rare or unicolored (brown on a white background) with concentric circles or horizontal stripes. Piriform juglets (red slipped and burnished) were replaced by cylindrical juglets (plain or painted) (Kempinski 1992 b: 180-182). The Tell el-Yehudiyeh ware consists of juglets, zoomorphic (like birds, and fish), and fruit-shaped vessels, which are characterized by its "puncturing" decoration (triangles and circles). The carinated bowls –"Eggshell ware"- were used in the last phase of MB II. During the XVI century B.C.E. (late MB II b or MB II c) appear two groups of pottery: Chocolate on White ware and Bichrome ware. The Chocolate on White ware includes bowls, kraters, and jugs covered with white slip and painted in a dark brown decoration. This group is found in Beth Shean and Pella. The Bichrome ware was found in Megiddo, Tel el-`Ajjul, and Tell el-Dab`a and was much more widely distributed.
Finally, the archaeological remains of the Middle Bronze Age reveal a picture of a society growing in population, highly developed in urbanism and settlement patterns, and increasing in socio-political complexity in Canaan.


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* Project at Israel Antiquities Authority. Ramat Aviv. Researcher: G.N.Gestoso. Director: I. Levy. Inform presented on January 5th, 1997.
** PhD Candidate (Buenos Aires University). Director: Dr. Alicia Daneri Rodrigo.