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Preface—The Iron Age in Israel: The Exact and Life Sciences Perspectives

  • Israel Finkelstein (a1), Steve Weiner (a2) and Elisabetta Boaretto (a2)


In the original proposal entitled Reconstructing Ancient Israel – The Exact and Life Sciences Perspective, two of us (Israel Finkelstein and Steve Weiner) wrote, “If the microscopic data are well integrated into the macroscopic (archaeological) record, they will undoubtedly provide new insights into the study of Ancient Israel.” And this was what this 5-year (2009–2014) European Research Council (ERC) sponsored program (details below) was all about. New ground was broken on three fronts: conceptual, methodological, and in the generation of new data that indeed provide novel insights into the history and material culture of Ancient Israel in particular and the Iron Age Levant in general. The reviews presented in this special volume synthesize some of these new insights. The findings have been published in about 70 papers (see Appendix).



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Published and accepted for publication

Asscher, Y, Lehmann, G, Rosen, SA, Weiner, S, Boaretto, E. 2015. Absolute dating of the Late Bronze to Iron Age transition and the appearance of Philistine culture in Qubur el-Walaydah, southern Levant. Radiocarbon 57(1):7797.
Asscher, Y, Regev, L, Weiner, S, Boaretto, E. 2012. Atomic disorder in fossil tooth and bone mineral: an FTIR study using the grinding curve method. ArcheoSciences 1:135–41.
Asscher, Y, Weiner, S, Boaretto, E. 2011. Variations in atomic disorder in biogenic carbonate hydroxyapatite using the infrared spectrum grinding curve method. Advanced Functional Materials 21:3308–13.
Boaretto, E. 2015. Radiocarbon and the archaeological record: an integrative approach for building an absolute chronology for the Late Bronze and Iron Ages of Israel. Radiocarbon 57(2):207–16. (this issue)
Cabanes, D, Gadot, Y, Cabanes, M, Finkelstein, I, Weiner, S, Shahack-Gross, R. 2012. Human impact around settlement sites: a phytolith and mineralogical study for assessing site boundaries, phytolith preservation, and implications for spatial reconstructions using plant remains. Journal of Archaeological Science 39(8):2697–705.
Cabanes, D, Weiner, S, Shahack-Gross, R. 2011. Stability of phytoliths in the archaeological record: a dissolution study of modern and fossil phytoliths. Journal of Archaeological Science 38(9):2480–90.
Eliyahu-Behar, A, Yahalom-Mack, N, Gadot, Y, Finkelstein, I. 2013. Iron smelting and smithing in major urban centers in Israel during the Iron Age. Journal of Archaeological Science 40(12):4319–30.
Eliyahu-Behar, A, Yahalom-Mack, N, Shilstein, S, Zukerman, A, Shafer-Elliott, C, Maeir, AM, Boaretto, E, Finkelstein, I, Weiner, S. 2012. Iron and bronze production in Iron Age IIA Philistia: new evidence from Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel. Journal of Archaeological Science 39(2):255–67.
Faigenbaum, S, Sober, B, Finkelstein, I, Moinester, M, Piasetzky, E, Shaus, A, Cordonsky, M. 2015. Multispectral imaging of two hieratic inscriptions from Qubur el-Walaiydah. Egypt and the Levant 24:349–54.
Faigenbaum, S, Sober, B, Moinester, M, Piasetzky, E, Bearman, G. In press. Multispectral imaging of Tel Malhata ostraca. In: Beit-Arieh, I, editor. Tel Malhata: A Central City in the Biblical Negev. Tel Aviv: Emery and Claire Yass Publications in Archaeology.
Faigenbaum, S, Sober, B, Shaus, A, Moinester, M, Piasetzky, E, Bearman, G, Cordonsky, M, Finkelstein, I. 2012. Multispectral images of ostraca: acquisition and analysis. Journal of Archaeological Science 39(12):3581–90.
Faigenbaum-Golovin, S, Shaus, A, Sober, B, Finkelstein, I, Levin, D, Moinester, M, Piasetzky, E, Turkel, E. 2015. Computerized paleographic investigation of Hebrew Iron Age ostraca. Radiocarbon 57(2):317–25. (this issue)
Faigenbaum, S, Shaus, A, Sober, B, Turkel, E, Piasetzky, E. 2013. Evaluating glyph binarizations based on their properties. In: DocEng '13 Proceedings of the 2013 ACM Symposium on Document Engineering. New York: Association for Computer Machinery. p 127–30.
Finkelstein, I. Forthcoming. The Levant and the Eastern Mediterranean in the Early Phases of the Iron Age: the view from micro-archaeology. In: Aruz, J, editor. From Assyria to Iberia. New York: The Metropolitan Museum.
Finkelstein, I, Ben-Dor Evian, S, Boaretto, E, Cabanes, D, Cabanes, M-T, Eliyahu-Behar, A, Faigenbaum, S, Gadot, Y, Langgut, D, Martin, M, Meiri, M, Namdar, D, Sapir-Hen, L, Shahack-Gross, R, Shaus, A, Sober, B, Toffolo, M, Yahalom-Mack, N, Zapassky, L, Weiner, S. 2012. Reconstructing ancient Israel: integrating macro- and micro-archaeology. Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel 1:133–50.
Finkelstein, I, Langgut, D. 2014. Dry climate in the Middle Bronze I and its impact on settlement patterns in the Levant and beyond: new pollen evidence. Journal of Near Eastern Studies 73(2):219–34.
Finkelstein, I, Weiner, S, Boaretto, E. 2015. Preface—The Iron Age in Israel: The Exact and Life Sciences Perspectives. Radiocarbon 57(2):197206. (this issue)
Finkelstein, I, Zapassky, L, Gadot, Y, Master, DM, Stager, LE, Benenson, I. 2011. Phoenician “torpedo” amphoras and Egypt: standardization of volume based on linear dimensions. Egypt and the Levant 21:249–59.
Forget, M, Regev, L, Friesem, D, Shahack-Gross, R. 2015. Physical and mineralogical properties of experimentally heated sundried mud bricks: implications for reconstruction of environmental factors influencing the appearance of mud bricks in archaeological conflagration events. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 2:8093.
Friesem, D, Boaretto, E, Eliyahu-Behar, A, Shahack-Gross, R. 2011. Degradation of mud brick houses in an arid environment: a geoarchaeological model. Journal of Archaeological Science 38(5):1135–47.
Friesem, DE, Tsartsidou, G, Karkanas, P, Shahack-Gross, R. 2014. Where are the roofs? A geo-ethnoarchaeological study of mud brick structures and their collapse processes, focusing on the identification of roofs. Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 6(1):7392.
Gadot, Y, Finkelstein, I, Iserlis, M, Maeir, AM, Nahshoni, P, Namdar, D. 2014. Tracking down cult: production, function and content of chalices in Iron Age Philistia. Tel Aviv 41(1):5475.
Gilboa, A, Namdar, D. 2015. On the beginnings of South Asian spice trade with the Mediterranean region: a review. Radiocarbon 57(2):265–83. (this issue)
Goldenberg, L, Neumann, R, Weiner, S. 2014. Microscale distribution and concentration of preserved organic molecules with carbon-carbon double bonds in archaeological ceramics: relevance to the field of residue analysis. Journal Archaeological Science 42:509–18.
Gur-Arieh, S, Boaretto, E, Maeir, A, Shahack-Gross, R. 2012. Formation processes in Philistine hearths from Tell es-Safi/Gath (Israel): an experimental approach. Journal of Field Archaeology 37(2):121–31.
Kagan, EJ, Langgut, D, Boaretto, E, Neumann, FH, Stein, M. 2015. Dead Sea levels during the Bronze and Iron Ages. Radiocarbon 57(2):237–52. (this issue)
Kagan, E, Stein, M, Agnon, A, Neumann, F. 2011. Intrabasin paleoearthquake and quiescence correlation of the Late Holocene Dead Sea. Journal of Geophysical Research 116:BO4311.
Langgut, D. 2013. The role of pollen analysis in archaeology: an example from the Royal Persian Garden at Ramat Rahel (Jerusalem). Cathedra 150:3750. In Hebrew.
Langgut, D. 2014a. Southern Levant pollen record, palaeo-climate and human impact from the Late Bronze Age to the Persian Period. In: Bieliński, P, Gawlikowski, M, Koliński, R, Ławecka, D, Sołtysiak, A, Wygnańska, Z, editors. Proceedings of the 8th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (ICAANE 2012), Warsaw. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. p 541–58.
Langgut, D. 2014b. Prestigious fruit trees in ancient Israel: first palynological evidence for growing Juglans regia and Citrus medica. Israel Journal of Plant Sciences. doi:10.1080/07929978.2014.950067.
Langgut, D, Finkelstein, I, Litt, T. 2013. Climate and the Late Bronze collapse: new evidence from the southern Levant. Tel Aviv 40(2):149–75.
Langgut, D, Finkelstein, I, Litt, T, Neumann, FH, Stein, M. 2015. Vegetation and climate changes during the Bronze and Iron Ages (≃3600–600 BCE) in the southern Levant based on palynological records. Radiocarbon 57(2):217–35. (this issue)
Langgut, D, Gadot, Y, Lipschits, O. 2014. “Fruit of goodly trees” – the beginning of citron cultivation in Israel and its penetration into Jewish tradition and culture. Beit Mikra 59:3855. In Hebrew.
Langgut, D, Gadot, Y, Porat, N, Lipschits, O. 2013. Fossil pollen reveals the secrets of the Royal Persian Garden at Ramat Rahel, Jerusalem. Palynology 37(1):115–29.
Langgut, D, Lev-Yadun, S, Finkelstein, I. 2014. The impact of olive orchard abandonment and rehabilitation on pollen signature: an experimental approach to evaluating fossil pollen data. Ethnoarchaeology 6(2):121–35.
Langgut, D, Neumann, FH, Stein, M, Wagner, A, Kagan, EJ, Boaretto, E, Finkelstein, I. 2014. Dead Sea pollen record and history of human activity in the Judean Highlands (Israel) from the Intermediate Bronze to the Iron Ages. Palynology 38(2):123.
Lipschits, O, Gadot, Y, Langgut, D. 2012. The riddle of Ramat Rahel: the archaeology of a royal Persian Period edifice. Transeuphraten 41:5779.
Martin, MAS, Eliyahu-Behar, A, Anenburg, M, Goren, Y, Finkelstein, I. 2013. Iron IIA slag-tempered pottery in the Negev Highlands, Israel. Journal of Archaeological Science 40(10):3777–92.
Martin, MAS, Finkelstein, I. 2013. Iron IIA pottery from the Negev Highlands: petrographic investigation and historical implications. Tel Aviv 40(1):645.
Meiri, M, Huchon, D, Bar-Oz, G, Boaretto, E, Kolska Horwitz, L, Maeir, AM, Sapir-Hen, L, Larson, G, Weiner, S, Finkelstein, I. 2013. Ancient DNA and population turnover in Southern Levantine pigs: signature of the Sea Peoples migration? Scientific Reports 3:3035.
Namdar, D, Gadot, Y, Freud, L, Liphshits, O. In press. Content of YHD jars from Ramat Rahel. In: Lipschits, O, Gadot, Y, Oeming, M, editors. Ramat Rahel VI: Pottery Assemblage and Stamp Impressions from the Babylonian and Early Persian Periods. Tel Aviv: Institute of Archaeology.
Namdar, D, Gilboa, A, Neumann, R, Finkelstein, I, Weiner, S. 2013. Cinnamaldehyde in early Iron Age Phoenician flasks raises the possibility of Levantine trade with South East Asia. Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry 13(2):119.
Namdar, D, Zukerman, A, Maeir, AM, Katz, JC, Cabanes, D, Trueman, C, Shahack-Gross, R, Weiner, S. 2011. The 9th century BCE destruction layer at Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel: integrating macro- and microarchaeology. Journal of Archaeological Science 38(12):3471–82.
Nir-El, Y, Goren, Y, Piasetzky, E, Moinester, M, Sober, B. In press. X-ray fluorescence (XRF) measurements of red ink on a Tel Malhata ostracon. In: Beit Arieh, I, editor. Tel Malhata: A Central City in the Biblical Negev. Tel Aviv: Institute of Archaeology.
Regev, L, Cabanes, D, Homsher, R, Kleiman, A, Weiner, S, Finkelstein, I, Shahack-Gross, R. In press. Geoarchaeological investigation in a domestic Iron Age quarter, Tel Megiddo, Israel. Bulletin of the American Schools for Oriental Research.
Regev, L, Eckmeier, E, Mintz, E, Weiner, S, Boaretto, E. 2011. Radiocarbon concentrations of wood ash calcite: potential for dating. Radiocarbon 53(1):117–27.
Sapir-Hen, L. In press. The faunal remains from the Iron Age building complex. In: Weksler-Bdolah, S, Onn, A, editors. The Western Wall Plaza Excavations IV: The Iron Age. Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority.
Sapir-Hen, L, Bar-Oz, G, Gadot, Y, Finkelstein, I. 2013. Pig husbandry in Iron Age Israel and Judah: new insights regarding the origin of the “taboo.” Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 129:120.
Sapir-Hen, L, Gadot, Y, Finkelstein, I. 2014. Environmental and historical impacts on long term animal economy: the Southern Levant in the Late Bronze and Iron Ages. Journal of Economic and Social History of the Orient 57(5):703–44.
Sapir-Hen, L, Meiri, M, Finkelstein, I. 2015. Iron Age pigs: new evidence on their origin and role in forming identity boundaries. Radiocarbon 57(2):307–15. (this issue)
Sapir-Hen, L, Sasson, A, Kleiman, A, Finkelstein, I. In press. Social stratification in the Late Bronze and early Iron Ages: an intra-site investigation at Megiddo. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 35(1).
Shahack-Gross, R, Boaretto, E, Cabanes, D, Katz, O, Finkelstein, I. 2014. Subsistence economy in the Negev Highlands: the Iron Age and the Byzantine/Early Islamic period. Levant 46(1):98117.
Shahack-Gross, R, Finkelstein, I. 2015. Settlement oscillations in the Negev Highlands revisited: the impact of microarchaeological methods. Radiocarbon 57(2):253–64. (this issue)
Shaus, A, Finkelstein, I, Piasetzky, E. 2010. Bypassing the eye of the beholder: automated ostraca facsimile evaluation. MAARAV 17(1):720.
Shaus, A, Sober, B, Turkel, E, Piasetzky, E. 2013. Improving binarization via sparse methods. In: Nakagawa, M, Liwicki, M, Zhu, B, editors. Recent Progress in Graphonomics: Learn from the Past. Proceedings of IGS 2013. Tokyo: Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology Press. p 163–6.
Shaus, A, Turkel, E, Piasetzky, E. 2012a. Quality evaluation of facsimiles of Hebrew First Temple period inscriptions. In: Proceedings of the 10th IAPR International Workshop on Document Analysis Systems. Gold Coast, Australia: IEEE. p 170–4.
Shaus, A, Turkel, E, Piasetzky, E. 2012b. Binarization of First Temple period inscriptions – performance of existing algorithms and a new registration based scheme. In: Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Frontiers in Handwriting Recognition. Bari, Italy: IEEE. p 641–6.
Sober, B, Faigenbaum, S, Beit-Arieh, I, Finkelstein, I, Moinester, M, Piasetzky, E, Shaus, A. 2014. Multispectral imaging as a tool to enhance the reading of ostraca. Palestine Exploration Quarterly 146:185–97.
Toffolo, MB, Arie, E, Martin, MAS, Boaretto, E, Finkelstein, I. 2014. Absolute chronology of Megiddo, Israel, in the Late Bronze and Iron Ages: high-resolution radiocarbon dating. Radiocarbon 56(1):221–44.
Toffolo, MB, Fantalkin, A, Lemos, IS, Felsch, RCS, Niemeier, WD, Sanders, GDR, Finkelstein, I, Boaretto, E. 2013. Towards an absolute chronology for the Aegean Iron Age: new radiocarbon dates from Lefkandi, Kalapodi and Corinth. PLoS ONE 8:e83117.
Toffolo, MB, Klein, E, Elbaum, R, Aja, AJ, Master, DM, Boaretto, E. 2013. An Early Iron Age assemblage of faience beads from Ashkelon, Israel: chemical composition and manufacturing process. Journal of Archaeological Science 40(10):3626–35.
Toffolo, MB, Maeir, AM, Chadwick, JR, Boaretto, E. 2012. Characterization of contexts for radiocarbon dating: results from the Early Iron Age at Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel. Radiocarbon 54(3–4):371–90.
Weissbrod, L, Bar-Oz, G, Cucchi, T, Finkelstein, I. 2013. The urban ecology of Iron Age Tel Megiddo: using microvertebrate remains as ancient bio-indicators. Journal of Archaeological Science 40(1):257–67.
Weissbrod, L, Malkinson, D, Cucchi, T, Gadot, Y, Finkelstein, I, Bar-Oz, G. 2014. Ancient urban ecology reconstructed from archaeozoological remains of small mammals in the Near East. PLoS ONE 9:e91795.
Yahalom-Mack, N, Eliyahu-Behar, A. 2015. The transition from bronze to iron in Canaan: chronology, technology, and context. Radiocarbon 57(2):285305. (this issue)
Yahalom-Mack, N, Gadot, Y, Eliyahu-Behar, A, Bechar, S, Shilstein, S, Finkelstein, I. 2014a. Metalworking at Hazor: a long-term perspective. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 33(1):1945.
Yahalom-Mack, N, Galili, E, Segal, I, Eliyahu-Behar, A, Boaretto, E, Shilstein, S, Finkelstein, I. 2014b. New insights into Levantine copper trade: ingots from the Bronze and Iron Ages in Israel. Journal of Archaeological Science 45:159–77.
Zapassky, E, Gadot, Y, Finkelstein, I, Benenson, I. 2012. An ancient relation between units of length and volume based on a sphere. PLoS ONE 7(3):e33895. Submitted
Kagan, E, Langgut, D, Boaretto, E, Neumann, HF, Stein, M. Chronology, sedimentology, and lake levels of the Dead Sea during the Bronze-Iron Age transition. Quaternary Science Reviews.
Shaus, A, Sober, B, Tzang, O, Ioffe, Z, Cheshnovsky, O, Finkelstein, I, Piasetzky, E. Raman mapping of Biblical Period ostraca: bypassing the ink composition analysis. Raman Spectroscopy.
Yahalom-Mack, N, Eliyahu-Behar, A, Martin, MAS, Kleiman, A, Shahak-Gross, R, Homsher, RS, Gadot, Y, Finkelstein, I. Metalworking at Megiddo during the Late Bronze and Iron Ages. Tel Aviv.


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