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Title:Pots and Polities: Material Remains of Late Iron Age Judah in Relation to its Political Borders Raz Kletter
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Body:Pots and Polities: Material Remains of Late Iron Age Judah in Relation to its Political Borders Raz Kletter

Land of Israel Studies Department University of Haifa Mt. Carmel, Haifa, Israel

Website note: Raz Kletter is a modernist, Bible trashing archeologist who makes these statements in this document:

"Border trespassing against God's will is considered a sin both at the national level (Deut 2:19; Amos 1:13; Hosh 5:10) and in the private domain ("thou shalt not remove thy neighbor's landmark"; Deut 19:14; 27:17). Of course, these are ideological conceptions and should not be taken to be historically accurate."

"The story about the conquest of southern Samaria by Abiyah in 2 Chronicles 13 is historically doubtful (Klein 1983; cf. Jones 1994). We should not rely on this story to restore the borders of Judah."

We feel it is important for the reader to know the anti-biblical bias of Raz Kletter as he reads his work.

(Remains of Late Iron Age Judah in Relation to its Political Borders, Raz Kletter, 1999 AD)

"The note seemed to fix the boundaries of Uqbar, but its nebulous reference points were rivers and craters and mountain ranges of that same region"—Borges 1970: 29.

Archaeological studies during the last three decades have tended to draw a sharp separation between "pots" and "people." The latter are understood as ethnic units, but ethnicity is problematic to define and use in archaeology. On the other hand, politi-cal units or polities can be studied more easily, at least for historical periods. There are rich historical sources about political borders in the ancient Near East and Judah. During the later part of the Iron Age II (eighth-seventh centuries B.C.), Judah existed as a state, or "polity," with clear political borders. Despite many difficulties, it is pos-sible to define Judaean material culture and to consider its relation to the borders of Judah. This article calls for a more balanced attitude toward the question of material remains and political entities.

A direct connection between material remains and political or ethnic entities was a com-mon underlying assumption in archaeologi-cal studies in the past. Archaeologists identified pots with people, often in very simplistic ways. Pottery was labeled with ethnic definitions and artifacts were connected with immigration and settlement waves. Simplistic equations of this kind have been strongly criticized and their limitations made clear over the last 30 years in the so-called new archaeology. For example, Renfrew (1984: 25) wrote, "The basic misconceptions were to confuse questions of social organization with those about ethnicity (for Childe and his contemporaries interpreted the term 'cul-ture' in an ethnic sense), and to assume that arbi-trarily defined taxonomic units (i.e., 'cultures') had clear ethnic correlations. Both of these are errors of method." Other scholars express similar views. Mostof the new archaeologists adhere to the opposite point of view, distinguishing completely between pots and peoples. Renfrew (1984: 35-36) suggests that, "the only solution is the total abandonment of the notion of culture. Of course we are at liberty to classify the material remains of the past in any way we choose, but the inference should be avoided that such arbi-trary categories mean anything in terms of 'people' or `societies'."1

During the last decade, the new archaeology has been criticized by "post-processual archaeology" ("PPA," e.g., Hodder 1982; 1985; 1986; 1989; Kohl 1985). PPA is by no means a homogenous move-ment, but generally, it "sees archaeology as an his-torical discipline" (Hodder 1982: 13) and calls for a contextual archaeology, stressing symbolic aspects of artifacts and explanations of their meanings within particular historical settings (Hodder 1982; 1985;

1986; 1987a; 1987b; Hodder et al. 1995: 3-29; cf. Kohl 1985; 1993). PPA recognizes pottery style as a possible indicator of human groups. For example, different styles can be related to a "national taste" in one case (e.g., Sinclair 1987: 44), and to group bound-aries in another (Franklin 1989: 278-90). However, in regard to political borders, PPA studies usually continue the views expressed by former "new" ar-chaeologists. For example, Hodder (1987a: 4) gives the very cautious view that "Anyone who has tried to define a culture or type as a clear-cut entity, will know that different entities can be produced by con-sidering different traits." He continues, explaining that "the boundary of the context of a 'typical' artifact will rarely be the boundary of the culture (or tempo-ral phase) of which it is typical" (Hodder 1987a: 5). I will review a few fields of theoretical study relevant to the present paper.

Theoretical studies of core versus periphery or frontier are widespread, and relate to grasping mate-rial culture as systems (for systems theory in ar-chaeology see Clarke 1968; Renfrew 1984: 258-82, 331-56).2 One could have anticipated that frontiers would be connected with borders or boundaries, as stated in a study by Green and Perlman (1985: 4): "As the 'front,' the frontier defines a cultural bound-ary." However, Green and Perlman do not discuss borders, but a theoretical model of cultural change, stating that "frontier and boundary studies can help us to develop more open models of society and build more realistic theories of cultural change" (Green and Perlman 1985: 4).3 Indeed, most studies about core and periphery, or interaction between polities, do not discuss borders at all (Rowlands, Larsen, and Kristiansen 1987; Schortman and Urban 1992; Hall and Chase-Dunn 1993).

While Israelis tend to think of borders in terms of linear lines, the history of America involves the concept of a shifting frontier, defined as an area (and "front" in English is used in military contexts). Lerner (1984: 67) define frontier as "an undevel-oped or unoccupied area that undergoes coloniza-tion by a population from an adjacent or distant territory." In this context, frontiers have a dynamic quality that goes beyond simply demarcating the limits of a culture (De Atley and Findlow 1984: 2). If a frontier is seen as an area where cultures mix, cultural assemblages "provide no means for recog-nizing the culturally meaningful boundaries of the groups in question, since the distinguishing traits usually are found to merge into one another at themargins of the social units" (De Atley and Findlow 1984: 1). Human groups do not have "margins" like organisms do, warn De Atley and Findlow, who point out (1984: 1-2) that "most populations merge or overlap and therefore are not discrete."

A few core and periphery studies express other views. Trinkaus (1984) is exceptional, even if only because he studies a historical case—the Sassanian empire. Trinkaus is aware that certain artifacts may be more helpful to studies of boundaries, especially "official" or "political iconography," although his conclusion is rather skeptical (Trinkaus 1984: 36-38). He also notes that "a complex of artifacts and features is more convincing than a single one to estab-lish official presence and state activity" (1984: 38). Ericson and Meighan (1984: 145) write that "dis-continuity in the material culture might be useful in identifying the location of the border." They also quote studies that indicate that some artifacts may be extremely sensitive as indicators of "group-specific identity," so that "stylistic analyses of designated items will be a viable new [sic!] approach to identifying ethnic group boundaries in the future" (Ericson and Meighan 1984: 146).

One study, of obsidian tools in prehistoric California, is enlightening (Hughes and Bettinger 1984). Hughes and Bettinger have shown that the failure to relate obsidian tools to social organization was due to mistaken preconceptions rather than to lack of such relationships. Scholars applied economic evaluation, but neglected the socioceremonial uses of some obsidian tools. Each area and period should be studied on its own merits; Hughes and Bettinger (1984: 165) assert that there are cases in which "the manufacture of tools occurs in distributions that conform to the location of land holding socio-political groups." These groups are defined with the help of ethnographic records, and Hughes and Bet-tinger caution us not to ignore the exceptional quality of ethnographic information available in such in-stances (1984: 158). This last conclusion is very interesting for Iron Age Judah, as one only has to replace "ethnographic" with "historical."4

Many scholars see cultures as territorially (and temporally) related. For example, Jarman studies "site-territory," where the borders of the site are de-termined by factors such as physical distance, commercial potential of land, and its accessibility. Such factors determine the extent of land surrounding a given site that would merit exploitation (Jarman 1972: 705-12). One can draw "time-contour" lines around a site, and define the limit of a system by incorporating factors such as the nature of the economy of that system (Jarman 1972: 712-16). This method, however, is applicable to only a few sites and is basically socioeconomic in nature. It does not anticipate political factors, such as power relations between states, which may affect political borders.

An important contribution to spatial studies was made by Johnson, who formulated the "rank-size" rule. By this rule, if all the sites of a certain sys-tem are listed according to size, a site number N in the list will have 1/N population of the largest (first) site (Johnson 1981: 144, fig. 1).5 If we draw site lists on logarithmic graphs, systems obeying the rank-size rule appear as straight lines. "Deviations" can be seen and connected to differences in the social order. Sys-tems with one large center and many much smaller sites will appear as convex lines (Johnson 1981: 148, fig. 2). These are termed "primate" or "dendrite" systems, probably having a strong central organiza-tion. Systems that have no clear "capital" but a few large sites, similar to one another, appear as con-cave lines and might reflect weak intersite relations. Sometimes, a system might have a "primate" core with a "concave" periphery (Johnson 1981: 174-75, fig. 13). To make the rank-size rule valid, a clear-cut definition of the borders of any system is a pre-condition. Otherwise, a mingling of settlements from different systems, or a partial presentation of one sys-tem, will distort the results (Johnson himself clearly observed this phenomenon [1981: 167-71]).

Renfrew (1975: 94-97) also sees civilizations as land- and time-related. His "early state module" (ESM) defines civilization as composed of organiza-tional units, and is used mainly to define the early phases of the creation of civilization in Mesopota-mia and Mesoamerica. Most ESMs have small territories (ca. 1500 km2, with 40 km between system centers; cf. Hodder and Orton 1976). The so-called "tent" formula helps to fix the presumed border between ESMs, by marking a "minimal relation-ship line" between systems (cf. Bunimovitch 1988). Again, this formula does not take into consideration political factors (for distribution of single artifact types, cf. also Hodder and Orton 1976; 98-100). In the last decade, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) have been used for visualizing spatial analyses (Lock and Harris 1992; Allen, Green, and Zubrow 1990). Although GIS may prove to be a powerful tool, we will still always have to define what we are looking for.

Renfrew and other scholars define polity as a socioeconomic autonomous entity, politically inde-pendent, which lies beside similar entities. Civili-zation (or "culture" in archaeology) is seen as a cluster of polities with similar traits, e.g., a common system of measures (Renfrew and Cherry 1986: 1-2; cf. Renfrew 1984: 30-53). There is a diversity of possible interpolity relations. Renfrew and Cherry admit that "There must indeed be relationships be-tween the extent of ethnic units and of style zones, as they can be determined by careful examination of the variation and distribution of artefactual forms, decorative forms and by other aspects of material culture" (Renfrew and Cherry 1986: 157); but they do not discuss "simple trait distributions" or borders, noting only that the last are hard to define (Renfrew and Cherry 1986: 152-53; cf. Snodgrass 1986: 47, who uses historical cases to verify models of inter-actions between polities).

Ethnoarchaeology deals with relationships be-tween ethnic groups and material culture (Schiffer 1978: 229-47; Kramer 1979). Many papers discuss pottery in relation to ethnicity, and the emerging picture is varied. Sometimes there is no correlation between pottery distribution and conquests or immi-grations (e.g., the immigration of the Tew people in 18th century Africa, or the Spanish conquest of Peru and Mexico, which left very few artifacts from its first years). Different social groups are known to have lived together and to use the same pottery, though their script and language remained separate (Stanis-lawski 1978). On the other hand, there are also cases of direct connection between ethnicity and artifacts (Sterner 1989; Morgan and Whitelaw 1991: 79-108; Underhill 1991: 12-27). Thus, in a study about the Vandals, Martens (1989: 64) writes that "we must thus accept the existence of different tribes that mark their ethnicity, their alliances, enmities, etc., in a way which can be materially detected" (cf. Veit 1989; for PPA works in this field see Yoffee and Sherratt 1993: 60-78, 93-104; Shennan 1989: 1-30).

Criticism and Summary

In an effort to make archaeology an exact science, the new archaeology tried to find general, "covering laws." Such laws were hard to find, or are defined in such broad terms that they become meaningless. The heavy use of jargon was disturbing. Models often became an end rather than the tool for creating a more meaningful analysis. The new archaeology

Fig. 2. The Judaean pillar figurines. Drawings are not to scale. 1. Beth Shemesh (Mackenzie 1912: 76, pl. 42); 2. Gezer (Macalister 1912: fig. 502); 3. Jerusalem (Holland 1975: fig. 3:2); 4. Tell en-Nasbeh (after the figu-rine in the Rockefeller Museum); 5. Jerusalem (Holland 1975: fig. 9:4); 6. Tel Beer Sheba (unpublished, courtesy of I. Beit Arieh and Z. Herzog).

focused primarily on prehistoric phases and on cul-tural changes, and neglects historical cases. At least in its more dogmatic forms, it failed to discuss polit-ical borders in a satisfactory way, since it created a sharp dichotomy between pots and people—as if pots were independent beings. It is worth quoting the words of Hughes and Bettinger (1984: 169): "It is human behavior, not obsidian behavior, which is of interest."

Post-processual archaeology has brought about an increased awareness of these problems and has pro-vided important contributions, but political borders are still neglected. Indeed, the terms polity, border, and boundaries are not even found in a recent im-portant glossary (Hodder et al. 1995: 232-48). One exception is a discussion by Rowlett (1989) of the prehistoric Marnian culture in the area of modern France. Rowlett found a direct correlation between distance of graves from the margins of their ar-chaeological culture and the rate of grave looting. He suggests that neighboring groups were responsi-ble for the looting, and that "the limits of the cul-tural group was also approximately the same as the limits of the political group." The last conclusions are deduced with the help of later, historical records (Rowlett 1989: 229).

The stress on ethnicity is another problem. Eth-nicity has many connotations in our modern world, and is hard to define in the context of ancient soci-eties. What happens if, instead of ethnic groups, we pose the question in terms of polities or states, with well-defined political borders? This would enable us to use the rich body of evidence provided by ancient Near Eastern documents and the OT.


Political Borders in the Ancient Near East

Many sources indicate the existence of clear political borders in the ancient Near East. For example, Cooper (1983: 22, 49, text 6: i) writes: "Enlil, king of all gods . . . demarcated the border between Nin-girsu and Shara. Mesalim, king of Kish . . . measured it off and erected a monument there." This quotation relates to the border disputes between the Mesopotamian cities of Umma and Lagash in the third millennium B.C. (best remembered by the famous "Vulture Stele," for which see Winter 1985).

The disputed area, the GU.edena, changed hands several times; it was a fertile zone beside a canal (Cooper 1983: 28-29). Although the story is told specifically from the point of view of Lagash, the conception of borders is general: The gods fixed the border, and their act served Lagash as justification for its claims of ownership. The border was not a theoretical conception, but a clearly defined object. The kings of Lagash marked their border with border stones, which Umma destroyed whenever possible. These stones, especially if early in date, are mentioned as another justification of ownership. During a certain period, there existed a sort of no-man's land between the cities. At one time Umma conquered part of the area under dispute. To mark his control over this area, the king of Umma changed the names of the local settlements there (Cooper 1983: 23-24).

Border monuments are mentioned in Egyptian sources, and Akhenaten marked the borders of El-Amarna with monuments (Murnane and Van Siclen 1993; Ahituv 1996). Royal Assyrian stelae inform us about border disputes in vassal kingdoms in Ana-tolia, where Assyrian kings set borders and marked them with border stones. The Assyrian stelae included not only descriptions of the borders, but also curses against attempts to remove or damage the stones (Donbaz 1990). The borders are defined in these stelae by lists of towns and villages. Usually, the political affiliation of each town was recorded. In unpopulated areas, and sometimes for the sake of clarification, geographical features were given, e.g., mountains or rivers. Another source, the "Synchro-nistic History," relates border disputes between As-syria and Babylon in the first millennium B.C., with similar conceptions. It presents the border line as mutually accepted by both sides, but actually it marked forced annexations (Liverani 1990: 80-81).

Hittite documents present especially detailed information on political borders in second millen-nium B.C. Anatolia. Borders were defined by lists of settlements and other specific points, such as fields, salt marshes, etc. (Goetze 1940: 48, 63). The bronze tablet of the treaty between Tudhaliya IV and Kurunta, king of Tarhuntasha, is a good example of a border definition (Otten 1988). None of the above-mentioned cases are later than Iron Age Judah (there are, of course, many later examples, including bor-ders defined structurally by defenses, e.g., Hadrian's wall in Britain or the Great Wall in China; for a Sassanian border wall see Trinkaus 1984: 43).

Liverani has provided a thorough discussion of political borders, mainly pertaining to the Levant in the second millennium B.C. He distinguishes (with a strong Marxist taste) two kinds of ideologies influ-encing border concepts: "centralized" versus "plural-istic" (Liverani 1990: 33-78). Both ideologies aimed at achieving prestige and economic gains, but "cen-tralized" called for continuous expenditure and rec-ognized only cosmic or natural borders. On the other hand, the pluralistic concept recognized the existence of neighboring political entities, which had rights; and this recognition resulted in a state of equilib-rium expressed by accepted borders. Both ideologies can be found together, e.g., a king addressing an enemy king claimed that he had taken nothing of his enemy's land; but when addressing his own subjects, he boasted of conquests and deportations (Liverani 1990: 92-93; for ideology in regard to the definition of Sinai as a border zone between Canaan and Egypt see Na'aman 1986b: 237-52).

The "pluralistic" ideology demanded clear defi-nition of borders, since these are not cosmic or nat-ural: a border may pass anywhere, and there was the danger that it would not be distinguished. There was a general ambition to fix borders by treaties and boundary stones (Liverani 1990: 82). This is the very opposite of the centralized ideology, in which kings erected cosmic stelae and claimed to have reached "the ends of the world" (Liverani 1990: 87-94). Pluralistic borders were necessary for purposes of taxation and economic control, as well as for le-gal purposes (return of refugees and captives, use of force, etc.). Seaports and nomads constituted a sort of "in between," or partial extraterritorial, case (Liv-erani 1990: 100). Border trespassing is presented in the sources as "disorder," "injustice," or "oppres-sion," and forms a legitimate cause for declaring war. Often it is stated that borders have been estab-lished "since olden times," or "since time immemo-rial" (Liverani 1990: 83). Change in border lines was justified by claims such as that the new border was really the ancient and true one, or that the inhabit-ants of the land moved to the other side of their own free will (as if only they moved, while the border remained stable; cf. Goetze 1940: 37). In other cases, the change was explained as a punishment for the alleged crimes of the defeated side.

Borders were not theoretical lines. Especially in densely populated areas, they had to be carefully established. In legal documents borders are expressedby lists of settlements, since the affiliation of settle-ments to each side counted much more than the mere geographical definition of the border (Liverani 1990: 89-90). Liverani also warned against an uncritical attitude toward the ancient sources: Not even the inner population of the time, the original addressee of the royal propaganda, was probably as candid as an uncritical reading of the royal manuscripts leads some modern scholars to be" (Liverani 1990: 58).

Border Ideology in the OT

A clear grasp of political borders appears in the OT, and the conceptions are similar to those of the ancient Near East as a whole. In Iron Age II Judah, the "pluralistic" ideology surely prevailed as "real politics," while the "centralized" ideology can be traced in historiography. The system of tribal boundaries in the Book of Joshua defines borders by lists of settlements (for some basic studies see Alt 1966; Na'aman 1986b: 33, 79; Kallai 1986: 279). Sometimes, geographical definitions are added to the settlements' names (e.g., Josh 18:12, 14; cf. Aharoni 1958: 30). Topographic terms may serve as back-ground or may give realistic touches to OT stories (Amit 1987, but this is not so when dealing with border descriptions, where their purpose is quite different). Theologically, God gave the land to the peoples (Deut 2:5, 9; 19:14; Josh 1:13; 18:3) and set the borders (Josh 22:25; cf. Ps 104:9). God is also the cause for both loss of land (for the sins of its inhabitants) and new conquests (e.g., Exod 34:24; cf. Deut 19:8; 12:20-21). Border trespassing against God's will is considered a sin both at the national level (Deut 2:19; Amos 1:13; Hosh 5:10) and in the private domain ("thou shalt not remove thy neighbor's landmark"; Deut 19:14; 27:17). Of course, these are ideological conceptions and should not be taken to be historically accurate.6

Clear and well-defined borders were thus a necessity for maintaining normal relationships between neighboring entities—be they cities, kingdoms, or empires. Judah and its neighbors in the Iron Age II were states or polities with well-defined borders and border concepts (geographical as well as ideological). Recent archaeological theories have largely ignored the historical sources that indicate the importance of political borders. But by emphasizing states or polities, one is obliged to recognize the necessity of political borders. Thus, exploring the relationship between political borders and material culture is not a theoretical exercise, but a requirement for under-standing the reality of the period and place discussed.


Prior to Sennacherib's Campaign

Judah's borders were stable from the reign of Asa until 705 B.C. (1 Kgs 15:16-20; Na'aman 1989a: 19, 54-55; Kletter 1996: 43-44 presents a more de-tailed treatment). Judah's northern border followed a line between Jericho and Mizpah (Tell en-Nasbeh); Jericho belonged to Israel (Weippert and Weippert 1976). The story about the conquest of southern Samaria by Abiyah in 2 Chronicles 13 is historically doubtful (Klein 1983; cf. Jones 1994). We should not rely on this story to restore the borders of Judah. Judah's eastern border, the Dead Sea, and its south-ern border, the Arad and Beer Sheba valleys, were natural borders.

The western border was the most unstable of Judah's borders. It passed through the Shephelah, encompassing Azekah, Lachish, and Beth Shemesh (Na'aman 1974; 1994; cf. Galil 1992: 117; Ussish-kin 1978; 1983; for Timnah see Kelm and Mazar 1995; Cahill 1995: 247, n. 18). Gezer belonged to Israel and later to the Assyrian province of Samaria (Na'aman 1988: 74). The identification of sites in the southern Shephelah is a well-known problem, but geographic features and settlement patterns present some clues (Gophna 1970; Dagan 1992). Ekron and Gat (Tell es-Safi) were Philistine cities (Dothan and Gitin 1994; Gitin 1989; 1995).

During the Revolt of Hezekiah (705-701 B.c.)

Hezekiah achieved control over areas west of Judah's border in the Shephelah, although the exact extent of these areas is not certain. Certainly, Ekron was under his sphere of influence, since he captured Padi, king of Ekron. According to Mittmann (1990), Hezekiah annexed Ekron and a large part of Ashdod (based on Micah 1, which is a very obscure source; Vargon 1994: 47-54; Schmitt 1990). Ashkelon and its Jaffa-Azor extension probably also became part of the anti-Assyrian alliance. Hezekiah may have hadcontrol over Gat as well (Na'aman 1979: 67; 1974: 27); but against this, see Mittmann (1990: 98-99),7 which is convincing; hence, there is no clear evi-dence about Gat.

Campaign of Sennacherib (701 B.c.) and Its Aftermath

Sennacherib seized areas from Judah and deliv-ered them to the rule of Ashdod, Gaza, and Ekron. Scholars at one time thought that most of Judah was affected, except for a small enclave around Jerusa-lem (Alt 1953: 242-43; Noth 1960: 268-69); but current research indicates that only parts of the Shephelah were torn from Judah (Na'aman 1986a: 17; Galil 1988: 11, n. 35). The change in occu-pation is reflected in a sharp drop in settlement density in the eastern Shephelah during this period (Dagan 1992: 260-62). The centralization of the oil industry at seventh century B.C. Ekron may also reflect the loss of oil-producing areas in the Judaean Shephelah (Eitam 1990). Gezer returned to direct Assyrian rule (Reich and Brandl 1985; Becking 1992: 114-18).

During the Pax Assyriaca Period (ca. 700-630/620 B.C.)

Although historical sources on Judah's borders during this period are lacking, archaeologists have attempted to distinguish two or even four subphases within the seventh century B.C. (Yadin and Geva 1983; Eshel 1986; Oren et al. 1991: 13-15; Oren 1993). Unfortunately, such efforts cannot yet be ac-cepted (Kletter 1996: 8-9). Many scholars, for ex-ample, believe that Manasseh reclaimed the areas lost in 701 B.C. (Ginsberg 1950: 349-51; Bulbach 1981; Tatum 1991; Rainey 1993: 160-62; Finkelstein 1993: 64), but this reconstruction is based, to a large extent, on accepting the Chronicler's story about the repen-tance of Manasseh (2 Chr 33:10-17). However, the historical accuracy of this story is doubtful (North 1974: 336-38; Williamson 1982a: 388-93), and it hardly mentions any border changes. It is possible that the return to the traditional western border was achieved later, by Josiah (Na'aman 1989: 85). In any case, it is unlikely that Judah expanded outside its traditional borders in the prevailing political circum-stances of the Pax Assyriaca.

During the Reign of Josiah (639-609 B.c.)

A very common view claims that Josiah con-quered vast areas (for the latest adherents, see Wein-feld 1992: 146; Stern 1994; Suzuki 1992: 32-37; Laato 1992: 76), acting as an independent king for most of his reign. This theory is based on an early date for the Assyrian withdrawal from the west, largely following the early date and wide geographic extension of Josiah's reform, mentioned in 2 Chron-icles 34. However, it seems that the version of 2 Kings is more reliable (Spieckermann 1982: 30-41; Na'aman 1989: 50, n. 118); thus a later date for the reform accords well with a later date for the Assyr-ian withdrawal from the west. Furthermore, 2 Kgs 23:15 limits Josiah's reforms to Judah and the Bethel region (for "the cities of Samaria" in 2 Kgs 23:19 see Na'aman 1989: 55, n. 138). The death of Jo-siah at Megiddo (2 Kgs 23:29) remains enigmatic (Spieckermann 1982: 138-53; Williamson 1982a: 408; 1982b; 1987). It is likely that Josiah came to submit to Egypt and not to fight her; the story of his death does not imply that he ruled over northern Is-rael (Na'aman 1989: 63-68). An important source for Judah's borders is the town list of Joshua 15 (Alt 1925). The geographical scope of that list fits the small kingdom of Josiah, and the dating of the list to his reign is based on the inclusion of Bethel, Ophra, and Jericho. Judah controlled those cities only during Josiah's reign (Galil 1987; Na'aman 1989; contra Garfinkel 1987; Galil 1991-1992; Ahituv 1994).

Archaeological remains have been seen as a proof of an "empire" of Josiah, especially since the ex-cavation of Mesad Hashavyahu near Ashdod. This site is explained as a Judaean fort of Josiah (Naveh 1962; Reich 1989), leading to the conclusion that Josiah controlled access to the sea (cf. Na'aman 1989: 56-57, nn. 147-48). A few Judaean inscribed stone weights, found in Philistia, were taken as evi-dence for Josiah's control (Yadin 1964; Stern 1973; Yadin and Geva 1983), but this cannot be accepted (Kletter 1991; 1998). Wenning offers a lower date for Mesad Hashavyahu, around 600 B.C. (Wenning 1989: 183-89; cf. Dion 1992: 86-88, n. 103; Wald-baum 1994: 59). Wenning (1989: 189-90) suggests that king Jehoiakim was the ruler of this fort, but he was a weak king, subservient to Egypt and Babylon (2 Kgs 24:1). The question of Mesad Hashavyahu will be discussed more fully below.

From the Death of Josiah to the Fall of Jerusalem (609-568 B.c.)

Different reconstructions of changes in Judah's borders can be made for the period 609-568 B.C. Perhaps the area of Benjamin was lost to Babylon and the Negev to Edom, but there is no clear his-torical evidence. It seems that until the last days, the borders remained more or less the same: the Shephelah, Lachish, and Azekah remained in Judah (Jeremiah 34:7, and the Lachish Letters [Torczyner 1938]), as did En Gedi in the east and Arad in the south (the Arad ostraca [Aharoni 1981]). Perhaps some sites were ruined a little prior to 586 B.C., whether by Edomites (Arad ostraca; Aharoni 1981, nos. 24:20, 40:15; for the sites of Qitmit and En Hazeva, see Beit-Arieh 1995; Cohen and Yisrael 1995), Babylonians, or other enemies; but this theory cannot be confirmed.

The Danger of Circular Arguments

In many instances, the historical evidence re-garding the borders of Judah during the late Iron Age is partial or obscure. One must therefore use archaeological information to help fill the lacunae even though combining the two disciplines carries the danger of tautological, or circular, arguments. The arguments are: 1) If a certain type of artifact is found in Judah, 2) then it is a Judaean artifact, 3) and since it is Judaean, 4) its distribution relates to Judah's borders. The problem concerns the definition of Judah in the first and second clauses: How are the borders of Judah defined there—are they the same borders that we try to relate with the material finds in the fourth clause? On the one hand, the interpre-tation of the historical evidence is disputed; on the other hand, it is impossible to rely solely on ar-chaeological evidence without the help of histori-cal sources. Even the dating of the "archaeological" strata is dependent upon historical evidence (e.g., the dating of the destruction of Lachish Levels III and II to 701 and 586 B.C., respectively, is based on histor-ical interpretation).

As a working solution, I will use the concept of a "heartland" or "traditional" Judah.8 The heartland of Judah is the area that was always under Judaean control, i.e., a minimal definition. Inside this area, Judaeans surely comprised the overwhelming per-centage of the total population, and it was they who wielded political control. The heartland of Judah included the Judaean mountains, Benjamin, the Ju-daean desert, and the biblical Negev. Clearly, transjordan, northern Israel, Phoenicia, and Philistia had never been a true part of Judah. The Shephelah presents a problem due to the unstable border in this area between Judah and Philistia (above). One can separate the eastern Shephelah (Beth Shemesh, Azekah, and Lachish, which form part of the heart-land of Judah) from the western Shephelah (Gat, Ekron, etc., which were part of Philistia). A mar-ginal zone remains, where the affiliation of sites such as Tel Erani or Tel Burnah is open to discussion (cf. fig. 1).

The concept of the heartland of Judah is far from perfect. It is based on historical sources and used only as a working tool, because it might help in the definition of Judaean artifacts. Even if Judah ex-panded outside this heartland area, that fact would only strengthen the definition of artifacts as Judaean; and it seems that Judah did not shrink much from these borders, except perhaps during its final days. We turn now to a discussion of various artifacts in relation to the borders of Judah as defined here.


The artifacts chosen for discussion here present various facets of ancient life such as trade and econ-omy (the inscribed weights), possibly religious be-liefs (the "pillar figurines"), and production and use of pottery and perhaps the royal administration (the rosette seal impressions). Some of these artifacts were defined as Judaean long ago, but they were not studied thoroughly in connection with the borders of Judah. Such research faces many problems and difficulties. A significant number of each type of ar-tifact is needed, otherwise the distribution patterns are not statistically reliable. There are many lacunae and obscure sections in our knowledge, e.g., finds not recorded properly, biases resulting from different methods of excavation and differences in wealth between sites and excavated areas within sites. Even the context and date of many artifacts are often vague, as are their symbolism and functions. Fur-thermore, I cannot discuss in detail here every as-pect of the examined artifacts, such as symbolism or breakage patterns, although such issues might have effects on the Judaean definition and on the relationwith Judah's borders. Rather, I will concentrate pri-marily on typology and distribution patterns.

"Pillar Figurines"

The "pillar figurines" (figs. 2-4) have been dis-cussed often over the past century (e.g., Pilz 1924; Pritchard 1943; Reed 1949; Holland 1975; Engle 1979; Hubner 1989; Winter 1983: 108; Keel and Uehlinger 1992: 369-90; Franken 1995). I have defined 854 "pillar figurines" as Judaean (JPF), ex-cluding at least 100 other JPF of unknown origin (Kletter 1996).

There are marked differences between the JPF and other pillar figurines from neighboring areas. The JPF have solid, handmade bodies, without separation of legs (fig. 2: 1-2). The base of the body is widened and usually concave. There are two main types of heads. The first is a simple, solid, handmade head. It is pinched to form crude eye depressions and pro-truding nose. There are no incisions and no indica-tion of pupils, but often there are applied hats or sidelocks (fig. 2: 3-4). The second type has a molded face, with ridges above the forehead, usually curled (fig. 2: 5-6). It has prominent but short sidelocks, reaching no further than the chin. The ears are never indicated. The head was covered by calcite white-wash, often with red, yellow, or brown paint to enhance facial details. This type of head always ends in a peg, which is inserted into a cavity in the hand-made body (fig. 2: 2). The body is always a stereotype, featuring a standing woman with hands supporting the breasts (or placed a little beneath them). Breasts and hands are applied to the body. There is no indication of fingers, but often bracelets or necklaces appear painted in red or yellow.

The JPF clearly define the dominant type of hu-man figurine in Iron Age Judah. Variant female pillar forms do exist in Judah, e.g., female pillar figurines holding drums (e.g., Pritchard 1961: 16, fig. 41: 557; RR 1: pl. 5; Holland 1975: A.I.G.1); or having a hollow, wheel-made base (Lachish III: pl. 28, 10); "lamp" figurines (Isserlin 1976; cf. Gubel 1982: 134; Beck 1991: 91, nn. 24-26), and even one woman with a child (TBM 3: pls. 32: 1, 54b: 4; = Holland 1975: A.I.H.2), but such examples are very rare. There are other Judaean types, such as a few male figurines; birds with pillar bases; horses and riders; and of course animals, which are always more abun-dant than the anthropomorphic figurines. The identi-fication of a JPF is often possible, even if only a

small fragment has survived (contrary to Engle [1979], who threw all the body fragments and even the handmade heads out of his discussion, neglect-ing a major part of the JPF corpus). True, identifica-tion is not always easy, e.g., the separation of JPF handmade heads from the similar heads of horse-and-rider figurines. In any case, the JPF characteris-tics are typical of Judaean coroplastic art in general, therefore a mistake in the exact classification of a few fragments would not cause havoc in regard to the definition of Judaean artifacts and borders.

I have mapped the other Iron Age anthropomor-phic figurines of Israel and Transjordan, altogether some 900 artifacts (Kletter 1996). It is nevertheless evident that, though female pillar figurines are wide-spread, the JPF are different from neighboring types of pillar figurines. It is possible to define coastal (fig. 3: 1-5), Phoenician (fig. 3: 6), and Transjordanian types (fig. 3: 7; I use the neutral term "coastal," but this area fits, more or less, historical Philistia). These figurines are usually more realistic in design and richer in decoration than the JPF. Many coastal figu-rines have moldmade heads with exaggerated ears, applied necklaces (often with rosette pendants), arid long locks (fig. 3: 1-2). Coastal handmade heads are also common, but with applied disk eyes and incised details (fig. 3: 4-5). Coastal figurines are often hol-low and wheel-made (fig. 3: 3). In Transjordan, the use of black paint is common (fig. 3: 7; cf. CAmr 1980; Dornemann 1983: 129-37; Gubel 1982: 137; for Edom see Beck 1995: 180-82, 185-87; for Phoenicia, Culican 1969; 1975-1976; Gubel 1982; Meyers 1991). Of course, the JPF are very different from the preceding plaque figurines (fig. 3: 8).

Most of the JPF belong to the eighth-seventh centuries B.C. A few exceptions are dated a bit earlier or later, but most of those datings are doubtful or re-fer to fragments whose identification as JPF is not clear. The JPF are found in all contexts, from tombs to domestic loci and public places. The overwhelm-ing majority were found broken, in secondary loca-tions. About 30 pieces are whole, or nearly whole, and most of those were discovered in graves. The JPF seem not to have been broken deliberately, either in a religious reform or in a magical rite. Despite many earlier claims, there is very little evidence re-lating JPF with cult (whether official cult, "house cult," or "magic"). With great caution, the JPF may be identified with the OT Asherah. This has been claimed by many scholars (Patai 1967: 35, 43, 60; Engle 1979: 1, 27; Dever 1982: 37; 1990; 1995; Ahl-strom 1984: 136; Holladay 1987: 278; Wenning 1991: 90) and based on the OT sources (for which see Reed 1949; followed by a huge number of studies, recently Dietrich and Loretz 1992; Dietrich and Klopfen-stein 1994; Keel and Uehlinger 1992; Schroer 1987: 21-45). It is important to understand that direct proof for this identification is lacking (Kletter 1996: 80-81). Moreover, the OT Asherah is not equal to the JPF, which are small, simple cheap clay figu-rines, not necessarily sacred. To infer back from the JPF to the OT Asherah, without due caution, would involve circular arguments.

The definition of JPF as Judaean relies mainly on their distribution pattern (figs. 4-5a). Of the 854 JPF, 819 (ca. 96 percent) were found in the heartland (above). Of these 819 JPF, 76 percent (620 figurines) were found in the northern Judaean mountains and Benjamin, 13.4 percent (110) in the Shephelah, and ca. 11 percent (89) in the Negev. Only 35 JPF (4 percent) were found outside the heartland, but many of those are badly fragmented, and their definition as JPF is not clear. Four of these 35 figurines are from the coastal plain and 7 from northern Israel, and these are so few that they de-mand no special explanation. Moreover, they are found as isolated objects among rich local assem-blages (e.g., at Samaria, Megiddo, or Ashdod). In Ashdod, for example, there is one JPF fragment among some 60 anthropomorphic figurine fragments. Four JPF are known from Jericho, and the same num-ber from Bethel (fig. 4). The case of Ekron, Gezer, and Tel Erani, in the western Shephelah, is some-what different. Small groups (7-8 items) of JPF were found in Gezer and in Tel Erani (the Ekron finds are not yet fully published). Tel Erani may have belonged to Judah (by the nature of its finds as a whole—such a conclusion cannot be based on a few JPF). The appearance of the JPF at Gezer and Ekron may be related to the pre-701 B.C. situation (direct or indirect control of Judah over this area during Hezekiah's revolt). Trade contact is a possible explanation for the distribution pattern, but that is unlikely in view of the religious nature of the JPF and their crude manufacture. If such figurines were traded, one would have expected an import of figurines into Judah, since coastal figurines are finer both in man-ufacture and finish than the Judaean ones.9 On the whole, the number of JPF in Ekron and Gezer is not great, and does not in itself prove Judaean polit-ical or military control. The distribution pattern (figs. 4-5a) indicates the validity of defining the JPF as

Fig. 3. Other figurines. Drawings not to scale. 1. Khirbet Hoga (Holland 1975: B. VI.6a); 2. Tel Serac (EAEHL 4: 1069, bottom left); 3. Tell Jemmeh (Petrie 1928: pl. 36:14); 4-5. (Ashdod I: figs. 26:3); 6. Achziv (EAEHL 1:29, lower right); 7. Khirbet el-Medeineh (Glueck 1934: fig. 7); 8. Tacanakh (Sellin 1904: fig. 47).

Fig. 5. Distribution of artifacts (main sites). Percentages are rounded.

Judaean, as well as their close relation to Judah's political borders.

Inscribed Scale Weights

The first Judaean inscribed weights (JIW) were discovered in Jerusalem by Guthe (1882) and havebeen discussed by many distinguished scholars since (e.g., Pilcher 1912; Macalister 1912: 280; Barrois 1932; Diringer 1942; Lachish 348-56; Scott 1959; 1964; 1965; 1970; 1985; Stern 1963; Lemaire 1976; 1980; 1982; Lemaire and Vernus 1983; Barkay 1978; 1981. A summary on 362 JIW was published in 1991, and by now about 450 are known


Fig. 6. The Judaean inscribed weight-system. Drawings not to scale. After Kletter 1991: fig. 1.

(Kletter 1998).10 Almost all these weights (fig. 6) are made of limestone and are dome-shaped with flattened base (except a few made of bronze; a few are cubical or trapezoid). Of the 419 JIW, 195 can be dated by archaeological context, but of these 106 can only be dated generally to the Iron Age II. Very few JIW have been ascribed to periods later than the Iron Age (from Ramat Rahel Level IV, Aharoni 1956: 138-39, pl. 12: 9; from Gezer, Macalister 1904a: 209; 1904b: 358; 1912: 280). It seems that

these weights came from disturbed loci, or were wrongly dated. Eighty-two JIW are well dated to the seventh century B.C., i.e., Lachish Level II and its comparable levels at other Judaean sites, and it is clear that this is the main period of use of the JIW. However, a few JIW undoubtedly belong to the eighth century B.C.: one 8 gerah weight from Lach-ish Level III (Diringer 1942: 96; Lachish III: 349); two weights from Beer Sheba Level II (BS I, Loci 282, 808) and perhaps also one weight from Arad

Level VIII and one from Tell el-Farah (N) Level VII (Kletter 1991: 124-26). It follows that the JIW appeared from the end of the eighth century B.C. at the latest, and were definitely not an invention, or "reform," of king Josiah, as often claimed in earlier literature (e.g., Yadin 1964; Scott 1965: 133; 1970).

The metrology of the JIW, their relations to the OT and the Hebrew ostraca, and the hieratic numer-als found on them are beyond the scope of this article (but see Kletter 1991: 124, 131-39; 1998). However, the new JIW only strengthen the conclu-sions reached in previous publications. The JIW apparently are not royal weights but regular, "com-mon" weights for daily use. This conclusion stems from their archaeological contexts, which are mostly domestic loci. Moreover, many JIW come from small sites, not situated on any international trade route. There were probably also royal Judaean weights, in view of the major role of the royal house in the economic life of Judah. I believe that these were perhaps different in shape or material, but not in standard, following the evidence of the inscribed "II lmlk" weight from Gezer (Macalister 1912: 285, fig. 433; Barrois 1932: 65; Scott 1959: 32; Yadin 1964: 326; cf. a similar weight, but of unknown origin: Deutsch and Heltzer 1994: 66-67, fig. 32).11

The geographical origin of 199 of the 419 JIW is known (figs. 5b, 7): 172 (87 percent of the 199) were found in the Judaean mountains, Benjamin, the Judaean desert, the Negev, and the Shephelah; 16 were found in the southern coastal plain (ca. 8 per-cent); only 7 (3.5 percent) were found in northern Israel and 3 (1.5 percent) in Transjordan, most prob-ably brought there through trade or other sporadic contact. Sites at which the JIW were found include Jerusalem (56 weights, 28.1 percent of the 199 weights with known origin), Lachish (25 weights, 12.6 percent), Arad (15 weights, 7.5 percent), and Gezer (11 weights, 5.5 percent). A total of 148 JIW have been found in the area termed the heartland of Judah (ca. 75 percent). Outside this area consid-erable concentrations of JIW appear only in the western Shephelah (24 JIW, 12 percent) and in the Coastal Plain (16 JIW, 8 percent). These numbers make it clear that the JIW are indeed Judaean weights, forming the weight system of the kingdom of Judah. The limestone from which they are made is typical to Judah, and the Hebrew script also strengthens the Judaean identification (with caution, since the definition of a Philistine script in this period is still not very clear; Naveh 1985; Kempin-ski 1987; Na'aman and Zadok 1988). The metrol-ogy of the JIW is also distinctive, being different from other weight systems such as the Egyptian (Petrie 1926; Cour-Marty 1990), Mesopotamian (Powell 1979; 1992), and Phoenician (Kletter 1994). Regrettably, our knowledge of the weight system(s) of Philistia, Transjordan, and northern Israel is meager.

Since the weights are not necessarily royal (above), they may represent private trade relations rather than public administration. One must bear in mind that weights served in series, involving the use of differ-ent weight units together (Kletter 1991: 128). Thus, five or even ten different JIW at a certain site may imply only one series, used by one (local or foreign) merchant. Weights from a foreign system can also be used, theoretically, within another, local, system, regardless of their origin; but this possibility should not be accepted without corroborating evidence. It is suggested that the JIW outside the heartland of Judah reflect trade relations, as indeed would be ex-pected of weights that had been deliberately adjusted to the Egyptian weight system for the benefit of in-ternational trade (Scott 1965: 135; Kletter 1991: 138).

Rosette Stamps

The rosette jar-handle impressions (fig. 8) were recognized as Judaean long ago (Mendelsohn 1940: 21, with n. 51 by Albright; Lachish III: 346; Aha-roni 1956: 144, 147-48; Yadin 1961: 12; RR 1: 21, 35, 48; RR 2: 22, 35, 60, 63; Welten 1969: 32-33, 191). Recently, the corpus of stamps has been en-larged (Barkay 1985: 406-7, 417; Nadelman 1989: 132). Zimhoni dealt with the rosette jars (1990; cf. Mommsen, Perlman, and Yellin 1984: 106-7), while Na'aman (1989: 42-44) studied the distribution and the relation to Judah. Detailed studies of the stamps were made by Ofer (1993) and Cahill (1995).

The rosette stamps were impressed on Lachish type 483 jars, dated to the seventh century B.C. (Zim-honi 1990: 9, 32; one stamp from Tell en-Nasbeh is exceptional: Zorn 1993: 81-82). A few stamps are dated to the Persian period, mainly from Ramat Ra-hel IV. Many scholars have tried to pinpoint the date more accurately to the reign of Josiah (e.g., Yadin 1961: 12; Mazar, Dothan, and Dunayevsky 1963: 48; Keel and Uehlinger 1992: 404-5). Other scholars, however, prefer a date later than Josiah's reign (e.g., Cross 1969: 22; Barkay 1985: 406, 417; Eshel 1986: 345-46); while Ofer (1993: 99-100) and Cahill

Fig. 7. The Judaean inscribed weights, distribution map. - - - - Judah's border, following Nacaman 1989. Num-bers indicate the quantity of weights found at each site (omitted when only one weight was found). Not shown are seven weights from northern sites (Accho, Dor, Samaria, Shechem, Tell el-Farah North, and Tell Keisan) and three weights from Transjordanian sites (Buseirah, Khirbet El-Biara, and Tell Deir `Alla).

Fig. 8. The rosette seal impressions. Source: RR 1: pl. 15:9.

(1995: 244-48) specify king Jehoiakim. I can find no basis for such a narrow dating. Even if Cahill is right in dating stamps to the end of the Iron Age, it is only a terminus ante quem. It does not necessarily limit the stamps to a few years, and they could have appeared 20 or 30 years earlier. Historically, there is no reason to relate all the rosette stamps to one Judaean king. I suspect that this narrow dating stems, to a large extent, from the notion that the rosette seals are royal seals, similar to the lmlk seals and to royal Hittite and Assyrian seals, which often show a rosette motif. This idea is taken for granted, except by Mendelsohn (1940) and Welten (1969), who favor an explanation of a guild of private potters.

The rosette motif is widely represented in the an-cient Near East, both temporally and spatially, and in a wide variety of artifacts (Imai 1977; Goode-nough 1956-1958: 182; Markoe 1985). This poses a serious problem in identifying the origin or sym-bolism of the Judaean stamps—indeed, we do not have to assume outside influence (cf. Welten 1969: 33). It is certainly true that rosettes appear in rela-tion to kings, e.g., on royal Hittite seals or on clothes of Assyrian kings (e.g., Beran 1967: pl. 14: 184, fig. 5: 145; Boehmer and Giiterbock 1987: pl. 32: 252; Amiet 1980: figs. 119, 121-22, 126, 129; Meyer 1970: figs. 109, 118, 167; Frankfort 1970: no. 176). In Egypt, rosettes decorate tomb ceilings and jewelry of kings (Goodenough 1958: 180-82; Goff 1979: figs. 46, 118; Baker 1966: figs. 67, 112-13). Since ancient art was often related to royalty, it naturally depicted mainly royal subjects (Goodenough 1958:189). However, there are clear examples of nonroyal functions for the rosette motif.

In the Hittite empire, rosettes appear on simple artifacts found in the lower city of Bogazkoy (Boeh-mer 1979: pls. 12: 2767b-2768a; 13: 2934; 29: 3658b; 43: 3828). They appear on early Hittite seals, which probably have no relation to royalty (Beran 1967: pl. 2:12-18; 67 n. 14; Boehmer and Giiterbock 1987: pls. 1:12-14, 2:16-18, 14:143). The rosette is actu-ally scarce on Hittite royal seals, and another symbol is usually identified as the royal Hittite motif (Beran 1967: 49; Boehmer and Guterbock 1987: 20). In Assyrian art, rosettes are commonly connected with gods (Amiet 1980: no. 99; Frankfort 1970: 37, 40, 61, no. 188). They may have symbolized the goddess Ishtar as a star (Van Buren 1939; Oppenheim 1949; Black and Green 1992: 156-57; Moortgat-Correns 1994). Rosettes also appear in relation to demonic creatures (e.g., Amiet 1980: figs. 604-5; Frankfort 1970: fig. 180; Meyer 1970: figs. 66, 112, 118; Imai 1977: 138-k1, 139-k5). A rosette is found on a har-ness of a horse brought by the Medians to the Assyrian king (Amiet 1980: fig. 118). Most important, rosettes appear on Assyrian seal impressions of the seventh century B.C., which definitely belonged to private in-dividuals (a merchant and an owner of a plow: Her-bordt 1992: 104-5, pl. 11:3-4). In Israel the rosette appears in a variety of representations during the Iron Age: on a lyre in the seal of a king's daughter (Avigad 1978) and on simple faience, bone, and other arti-facts (e.g., Gezer IV: pl. 60: 4; Lachish III: pl. 66: 60; TBM 3: pl. 55). A rosette is inscribed on the base of

an inscribed Beqa` weight (Barkay 1978: 213, fig. 1: 3, pl. 33e-g); others appear on pottery vessels (Prit-chard 1961: pl. 46:258; Shiloh 1984: 14, 18).

It thus seems that scholars who ascribe royal sta-tus to the Judaean rosette stamps rely only on anal-ogies that fit their viewpoint, while in Assyria, the Hittite empire, and elsewhere rosettes are related to gods as well as to individual persons. Though the discussion so far only shows that not every rosette necessarily relates to royalty, it seems to me that there are doubts in regard to the royal status of the Judaean rosette stamps, and hence to their relation with any specific royal administration. One argument is the scarcity of this motif in Hebrew seals, which date to the sample period of time as the rosette im-pressions, and only one Hebrew seal is known with a rosette, (Uehlinger 1993: 272; Sass 1993: 209, 214-17, no. 39). If the rosette had been a royal symbol, one would surely have expected it to appear on Judaean seals (cf. the appearance of the scarab motif on seals, Sass 1993: no. 85). Second, the seventh century B.C. was the most literate period of the Iron Age, so why would a royal symbol be purely icono-graphic—as opposed to the lmlk stamps? Third, the assumed large number of rosette seals (a few dozen, according to Cahill 1995) is surprising, and may signify a varied and perhaps not so much centrally oriented phenomenon (vs. an estimation of 25 lmlk seals, used for the many more lmlk stamps [Lemaire 1981]). In this regard, the lmlk (Lachish type 484) jar is the dominant Judaean jar of the eighth cen-tury B.C., while the rosette (Lachish type 483) jar is only one among a varied assemblage of Judaean seventh century B.C. jars (Zimhoni 1990). Having said that, I admit that other explanations for the ro-sette stamps, i.e., signs of pottery guilds or potter's marks, are not very satisfactory. Perhaps more neu-tron activation analyses and studies of whole jars would help to define the meaning of these stamps.

The distribution of the rosette stamps (Cahill 1995: 245) leaves no doubt about their Judaean definition, as noted by earlier scholars. Since Cahill (1995) does not give a detailed list, I have retained the previous number of 178 stamps.12 More than 60 percent were found in Jerusalem and Ramat Rahel, and ca. 66 percent in the northern Judaean moun-tains in general (fig. 6c). Only 42 stamps (ca. 24 per-cent) were found in the Shephelah, about half of those at Lachish. The central Judaean mountains and the Negev (12 stamps) are almost negligible. The scarcity of these stamps at Tell en-Nasbeh isinteresting, since the site seems to have prospered in the seventh and early sixth centuries B.C. (Zorn 1993). True, understanding the distribution pattern depends, to a certain extent, on understanding the function and the symbolism, in sort of a vicious cir-cle: Are these royal stamps, indicating royal Judaean activity? Was such royal activity perhaps concen-trated only on certain frontiers? Or are these "pri-vate" stamps, signifying local economic activities?

In any case, the Judaean character of the stamps is clear. The relatively limited number of stamps in the Shephelah and Negev makes it hard to use them to define political borders there. The distribution in the Shephelah is more restricted than that of the Judaean weights or figurines (above), but this can reflect the deterioration in the settlement of this area following Sennacherib's campaign. The few stamps outside Judah might reflect economic relations and do not substantiate claims of a Judaean political takeover.

Comparison Between the Rosette and the Lmlk Seal Impressions

A comparison of the rosette and lmlk seal impres-sions is required, since many aspects are common to both kinds of stamps. Both were Judaean stamps, impressed on specific types of jars (on a rather small percentage of these jars). Often, more than one han-dle of the same jar was impressed. The seals them-selves have not been found, presumably because they were made of wood. The notable differences are the date (seventh versus eighth century B.C.), the quan-tity (1200 versus 178, numbers found up to 1990) and the clearly royal status of the lmlk stamps (shown in their inscriptions). The comparison leads to the following remarks (fig. 5c-d):13

1) The lmlk stamps are more or less equally dis-tributed between the Judaean northern mountains (49 percent) and the Shephelah (47.5 percent). In the mountains, the stamps are divided among a few central sites (Jerusalem, 21 percent; Ramat Rahel, 13 percent; Tell en-Nasbeh and Gibeon, 7 percent each). In the Shephelah, Lachish is the only promi-nent site (33 percent). The distribution of the rosette stamps represents a rather different picture: a con-centration in Jerusalem and its vicinity (66 per-cent), versus smaller numbers in the Shephelah (24 percent), reflecting well the rise in the status of Jerusalem as a capital and the deterioration of the Shephelah following Sennacherib's campaign.

2) If we disregard single stamps and define the borders of Judah by the main concentration, then the picture is similar for both types of stamp (with differences of quantity rather than of quality): only in the northern Shephelah do the lmlk stamps ap-pear a little more westward (significant numbers at Gezer and Tel Batash). That may imply direct rule by Hezekiah there, or at least close relationships. The royal status of the lmlk stamps negates an expla-nation of simple trade relations, but the stamps can-not indicate an exact border line, nor short time fluctuations.

3) I have not dealt with the so-called "private" stamps (Garfinkel 1984; 1985), since these form an inseparable part of the phenomenon of the lmlk stamps and should therefore be studied with them (Na'aman 1988). Garfinkel (1984: 40) unified Ra-mat Rahel and Jerusalem as if it were one site, but this obscures the general picture. He also ignored the fact that all the lmlk jars were probably made in one center, so the stamps cannot reflect different geographic status of the officials named in them (cf. Na'aman 1988: 76).

Horse and Rider Figurines

Horse and rider figurines (HRF, fig. 9) from Judah have been known since the beginning of the 20th century (Mackenzie 1912-1913: 88), and often in-terpreted as toys (e.g., TBM 3: 142). Almost all the scholars who dealt with them were interested mainly in finding meanings for them, and in recent decades HRF were regarded as cultic or religious objects. They were usually interpreted as symbols of the lo-cal sun cult and sun god, especially in relation with 2 Kgs 23:11 (May 1935: 28; MacKay 1973; Dever 1990: 156-57; Taylor 1993: 24-37; 1994: 55-59; for standing riders, Wenning 1991), or even Yahweh himself (Ahlstrom 1982: 82-83; 1984: 22-23). Some scholars saw these figurines as representations of a sky god or its agents, and there are various other suggestions (Keel and Uehlinger 1992: 390-98; Worschech 1992: 387-88; E. Mazar 1979: 151-52). For Spieckerman, they indicate Assyrian influence (1982: 254, but cf. MacKay 1973; Holloway 1992: 501-9). The meaning of the HRF is beyond the scope of this article, but some much-neglected as-pects that concern their relationship to political bor-ders will be discussed.

Ciasca (1964) showed that it is often possible to define fragments of HRF, according to color changes of parts that were not exposed to oxygen duringfiring. For example, a rounded black area on a horse's back can indicate the existence of a rider, even if nothing actually remains of it. Holland (1975: type D, 331-36) made the most thorough survey of HRF, collecting 130 examples from 19 sites (Holland 1975: 38, chart 2, fig. 4, but sometimes a figurine appears twice, once as a rider and once as a horse, e.g., Holland 1975: D.VI.a.11 = D.XV.a.1; D.XIII.c.4 = D.X.b.1). Holland noticed the existence of regional variations, but did not connect them with political entities.

Currently 284 examples of HRF from 36 sites have been identified (detailed catalogs exist so far only in Hebrew; Kletter 1995, appendixes 6-7). The figurines are sorted according to the heads, which are the most detailed parts, into the following main types (fig. 9):

Type 1 consists of solid, simple figurines (fig. 9: 1). The rider has a simple, handmade head, and stands on the back of the horse with hands glued to its head or neck. The horse has a simple muzzle, often painted with red or yellow, above whitewash, but without applied parts. Some of the riders have pillar bodies; others have narrow bodies, sometimes end-ing in little "stump"-like legs. The horse may have a curl or a disk on the head, but rarely (less than ten examples); as noted earlier, such disks appear else-where, e.g., on animal representations of the goddess Hathor in Egypt (Holloway 1992: 505). Even more rare are riders that carry a shield, made of an applied piece of clay. Type 2 is very similar to type 1, except that the eyes are applied disks (fig. 9: 2). Type 3 (fig. 9: 3) is solid and handmade, but the rider's face is molded and he has a pointed helmet or hat. The rider is glued along the neck of the horse and holds the horse's head. A pointed helmet or hat appears on the head of the horse as well, beneath which protrude the ears. Details such as mouth and nostrils are in-cised, and the eyes of the horse are applied. The horse has applied trappings. Often, the tail of the horse is curved upwards and glued to the back (for examples, E. Mazar 1990; Paraire 1980: 377-46). Type 4 (fig. 9: 4) is similar to type 3 in that the riders have molded faces and pointed "hats," but the riders have long legs and hold a whip in one hand, which extends along the horse's body to its front. The horses have rounded legs and full bodies. The figurines are painted in black and white on red surface, or black on white (Dornemann 1983: 137-40, 181; CAmr 1980: 170, 189). A few miscellaneous fragments could not be identified and are grouped under type 5 (7 frag-ments altogether).

Fig. 9. Horse and rider figurines, typology. 1. Beth Shemesh (Mackenzie 1912: pl. 54:3, 55); 2. Lachish III: pl. 29:17); 3. Achzib (after Mazar 1990: 107-8); 4. Meqabelin (after `Amr 1980: no. 116, pl. 28:2).

While it is easy to sort whole HRF (15), many fragments (120) cannot be ascribed with certainty to any type. With varying degrees of certainty, 116 HRF can be assigned to type 1, 10 to type 2, 15 to type 3, and 16 to type 4. About 119 HRF can be dated, mostly to the eighth century B.C., but some tothe seventh century B.C. as well. Data about later or earlier HRF are not available. The fact that many HRF appear in Judah already in the eighth century B.C. calls for explanation, since Dailey (1985) as-sumed that Israel had no significant cavalry forces in that period. This question should be addressed in

more detail elsewhere (for history of horse riding, see especially Littauer and Crouwel 1979; on the prob-lem of the biblical term V1D, see Ap-Thomas 1983).

The HRF database is limited; their distribution is given in table 1; Fifty belong without question to type 1; all were found in Judah, except one from Qadesh Barnea. An additional 66 HRF are probably of type 1; all of these are also from Judah, except one from Tell Jemmeh and one from Megiddo. Thus, type 1 is clearly a Judaean type. Type 2 is rare, and appears in Judah (6 examples), Philistia (2 exam-ples), and elsewhere. Types 3 and 4 are foreign to Judah and appear in Phoenicia and Transjordan, respectively. Unfortunately, the number of published HRF from those regions is small. Among the 212 from Judah, 101 were found in Jerusalem (48 per-cent), 31 at Tell en-Nasbeh, 27 at Tel Beer Sheba (most not yet published), and 16 at Ramat Rahel. HRF are not common in the Shephelah or in Ash-dod. A partial explanation is the difference between old excavations (e.g., Beth Shemesh), where only the few whole or beautiful HRF were published, and new excavations, where many fragments were kept and identified (e.g., Tel Beer Sheba).

Whatever the meaning of these figurines, it is clear that there is a Judaean type, easily distinguish-able from other types from neighboring areas. Like the JPF, the difference lies more in details than in the motif as a whole. HRF appear, more or less at the same period, throughout the Levant. For example, they are abundant in Cyprus (Tatton-Brown and Crouwel 1992; Crouwel and Tatton-Brown 1988). The distribution of the Judaean HRF (type 1) fit the heartland of Judah, with perhaps as much as 98 percent of this type found inside Judah. This picture is very similar to that of the JPF, and strengthens the conclusions about that form.

CONCLUSIONS Definition of Artifacts as Judaean

Many difficulties face the study of relations be-tween artifacts and political borders in Iron Age II Judah. Despite the difficulties, the present study leads toward a clear positive answer about the defini-tion of artifacts as Judaean. This definition is based primarily on the distribution pattern, but also on the character of the artifacts discussed above. The over-whelming majority of these artifacts have been found in areas that were always part of Judah (defined asthe heartland of Judah). Ninety-six percent of the JPF, 98 percent of the Judaean HRF, 96 percent of the rosette impressions, and 75 percent of the in-scribed weights originated in this area. This fact does not imply that every one of these artifacts was manufactured, used, and owned solely by Judaeans, although most of them probably were.

A tiny minority of these artifacts was found out-side the heartland of Judah (except ca. 25 percent of the inscribed weights). Various explanations are possible for the appearance of Judaean finds outside Judah. At most sites, they appear as isolated objects, one or two among local assemblages (different from the Judaean assemblages). Such isolated finds do not imply a conquest by Judah or even close political or economic relations with Judah. At the most, they can indicate trade relations, or small-scale immigra-tion by individuals or families. Trade would nicely explain the larger quantity of inscribed weights out-side Judah, since these weights were intended for use in trade. The western Shephelah is the only area outside Judah that shows a meaningful concentra-tion of Judaean artifacts (below).

The definition of material remains as Judaean is not only possible, but is demanded by the facts. Dur-ing the Iron Age II Judah had clear political borders and developed its own unique material culture. To claim that there was no connection between "pots and polity" would be only to demonstrate ignorance of the historical and archaeological sources.

Isolated Sites: Qadesh Barnea and Mesad Hashavyahu

Qadesh Bamea and Mesad Hashavyahu pose a challenge in regard to the definition of Judah's borders. Final reports are not yet published (for prelim-inary reports see Cohen 1983; Naveh 1962; Reich 1989). Judaean artifacts found at both sites include, for example, inscribed weights, pottery vessels, and Hebrew ostraca. It must be accepted, therefore, that these sites had relations with Judah; but were they governed by Judah as part of its sovereign territory? Mesad Hashavyahu is especially important in this regard, for political control over it would mean access to sea trade routes as well as control over the vital way from Egypt to Phoenicia and Syria along the coastal plain. The material culture of both sites is not purely Judaean, but mixed: Aegean artifacts appear at Mesad Hashavyahu (East Greek pottery) and possibly also coastal artifacts (Reich 1989); "Negbite" wares are known from Qadesh Barnea

(regrettably, the percentage of each component is not clear. For Qadesh Barnea see Ussishkin 1995: 126-27, with references). There are marked differ-ences between these two sites: Mesad Hashavyahu is a single-period, short-lived site, while Qadesh Barnea existed throughout the eighth and seventh centuries B.C. Archaeologically, both sites can be defined as fortresses related to public administra-tion; but Qadesh Barnea is similar to other Judaean fortresses, while the plan of Mesad Hashavyahu is unique and no similar fortresses are known from nearby kingdoms.

Qadesh Barnea and Mesad Hashavyahu (near Ashdod) cannot help in determining the borders of Judah at present because they are both isolated sites, detached from any other Judaean settlement. A border is defined by a succession or sequence, of the kind found, for example, in the Judaean Shephelah. Qadesh Barnea and Mesad Hashavyahu are situated well outside any sequence of Judaean settlements, like parts of a puzzle that do not combine with other parts. Because they were isolated, it is extremely difficult to assess their political status. Even if we define their material culture as Judaean, this does not necessarily imply Judaean rule over them or over the surrounding area. To clarify this point, let us compare the mate-rial culture of ancient commercial colonies. It can be mixed or even predominantly foreign, although such a colony may depend upon the cooperation and good will of a sovereign, local authority (e.g., the Old Assyrian colonies in Anatolia).

For our purposes, the important question is not the identity of the artifacts from Qadesh Barnea and Mesad Hashavyahu or the ethnic definition of their inhabitants, but the political affiliation: who ruled these sites and what did this rule imply? This question is debated, and has to be judged mainly by historical means (cf. Na'aman 1989). From the historical perspective, Judaean control of the coastal way is even less likely if one accepts the lowering of the date of Mesad Hashavyahu to ca. 600 B.C. (Wen-ning 1989: 183-85; Dion 1992: 86-88; Waldbaum 1994: 60-61). The suggestion that the Judaean presence there is related to vassal service (Na'aman 1989) seems more plausible than the assumption of independent Judaean control.

TABLE 1. Horse and Rider Figurines: Distribution Table

Area and Sites

Type 1

Type 1?

Type 2

Type 4

Type 6

Type 7







Bad Faluh



Beth Shemesh
























Ramat Rahel










Tel Beer Sheba






Tell Beit Mirsim




Tell en-Nasbeh






Tell el-Ful



Tel Ira




Tel Halif



Tel Masos



Coastal Plain




Tell el-Farah (S)




Tell Jemneh






Phoenicia / North





















Tell el-Farah (N)



Tell el-cOreimeh



Tell Keisan



Tell Zeror




Khirbet el-Balu'




Khirbet el-Medeiyneh






Rabat Ammon




Tell Deir Alla




Tell el-Mazar



Other Sites

Kadesh Barnea













* Question marks indicate that the typology of the concerned figurines is in doubt.

Judaean Artifacts and the Borders of Judah

Archaeology is able to deal with political borders and to show relationships between artifacts and political borders, at least in historical periods, when the existence of polities is known. It cannot pin-point accurate border lines, nor establish easily the political affiliation of single sites. Also, archaeolog-ical evidence can be used in relation to archaeologi-cal periods, while short-term fluctuations in border lines might not be discerned at all. Archaeologi-cal finds defined as Judaean fit, more or less, with the heartland of Judah, and do not indicate any large-scale expansions. This fits the historical recon-struction of Josiah's borders as made by Na'aman (1989). Archaeology currently cannot prove—or refute—the possibility that Josiah or other Judaeankings lost or gained small areas for short duration. The paucity of Judaean finds outside the heartland of Judah does carry some weight against the as-sumption of a Judaean "mini-empire" under Josiah, even though it is basically negative evidence. The few Judaean finds outside Judah are best explained by trade and exchange, or by physical crossing of the borders by a few individuals or families (defini-tely not significant large-scale immigrations).

The area bounded, roughly, by Ekron-Gezer-Tel Batash deserves a closer look. The three sites have been extensively excavated. Despite some difficul-ties (the problematic nature of the old excavations at Gezer, lack of final reports of the new excava-tions), they clearly exhibit a mixture of culture: on the one hand, Judaean finds in significant quantities (JPS, weights, rosette impressions, other pottery types, etc.); on the other hand, coastal components (such as coastal types of figurines and pottery forms). A sim-ilar mixture, on a much smaller scale, appears also in Judaean frontier sites in the Shephelah, e.g., a few coastal figurines at Lachish (Lachish III: pl. 31: 16) or MArisha (Kloner 1991: 72, upper photo). Per-haps a similar phenomenon emerges in the Negev, where a mixture of Edomite and Judaean elements appears, especially at Malhata (Beit-Arieh 1995: 315). The area of Gezer-Ekron-Tel Batash may have held a mixed population, and some of the finds may indicate trade relations. Another very possible explanation is Judaean domination, or at least polit-ical intervention, during Hezekiah's revolt.

Artifacts are varied, and so is their value for the definition of political borders (cf. Ericson and Meighan 1984: 146). Weights are normally related to trade, including international trade, and thus are expected to appear in some quantities outside their homeland area. The Judaean inscribed weights have been adjusted to the Egyptian weight system, and could have functioned also in trade with other local kingdoms. The JPF are probably related to religious beliefs (Kletter 1996: 80-81), perhaps the HRF as well. This may explain why they seem to fit Judah's political borders so well: probably, religious expres-sion took different, unique forms within each politi-cal entity. The general themes may be widespread, and there may have been a common origin for a religious phenomenon; but once it was adopted by a certain people, it developed specific traits and details and should not be taken as a form of some "universal religion" (this view is contrary to that of many scholars, who identify many goddesses as one basic "mother goddess"). Royal artifacts are very


TABLE 2: Lachish and Ekron

important, since they may represent political au-thority (e.g, the lmlk impressions). Unfortunately, the royal status of the rosette impressions is not clear, and they are not necessarily indicative of the centralized Judaean administration. Many types of artifacts may be common to more than one political entity (e.g., "Solomonic" city gates, "Samarian" pot-tery, and four-room houses). A diversity of Judaean artifact types at a site is more important to the defini-tion of Judaean political affiliation than the appear-ance of one type only: the assemblage as a whole is more important than the study of one or a few com-ponents, a fact well recognized in pottery studies (Zimhoni 1990) and theoretical studies (Clarke 1968; Trinkaus 1984: 38; DeCorse 1989: 138).

Political borders might form considerable barriers for material culture, blocking the spread of artifacts. For example, compare Lachish and Ekron during the Iron Age (table 2). The cities are in close geographic proximity to each other and enjoy similar environ-mental conditions (notwithstanding the somewhat more hilly region of Lachish). The fate of each city alternated: Ekron prospered during the Iron Age I, while Lachish was barely inhabited. Starting with the tenth century B.C., or perhaps a little later, Lach-ish began to grow and reached its zenith at Level III of the eighth century B.C. During the same period, Ekron declined, and its archaeological remains are modest. Then the situation changed, as a result of Sennacherib's campaign. Lachish was ruined and never regained its former position, while Ekron sud-denly became a very large and prosperous city, and a major industrial center—no doubt at the expense of the Judaean Shephelah. The political border thatseparated Ekron and Lachish determined their fate, both historically and archaeologically.

The present study may be enhanced by other Judaean types of artifacts, not discussed here. A promising field is the study of Judaean burial forms, since these have distinctive typological traits (Bar-kay 1994). Yet, one must also consider the fact that different types of soils force the use of different burial types. Inscriptions can also make a contribution, since script is often a good indication of political entities, if the Judaean script can be separated clearly from that of Israel and Philistia (Naveh 1985; Kempinski 1987; Na'aman and Zadok 1988: 36-42; Na'aman 1993: 108-9). The study of pottery is developing con-siderably, and differences between Judaean and other assemblages are becoming more and more evident (Zimhoni 1990). Borders may also be defined from the outside, by "negative molds," formed by artifacts of neighboring entities. For example, Assyrian court-houses (Amiran and Dunayevsky 1958; Fritz 1979; Bloom 1988: 83-84) are not known in Judah, and appear mainly in southern Philistia and northern Israel. Most of these houses relate to Assyrian prov-inces or to Assyrian military activity (although a few might reflect cultural imitation by locals).

Can we relate polities and ethnic groups? Ren-frew (1984: 37) wrote that, "What is a people if it is not a political unit?" and practically all the mod-ern cultures that we know are national ones. Eth-nicity is, however, a topic well beyond the scope of the present work. It merely calls for a more balanced position in regard to relations between "pots and polities" than that held at present by many archaeologists.


I thank Nadav Na'aman and the late Pirhiya Beck, both of Tel Aviv University, for their encouragement and criticism. Thanks also to the British Council for a Post-doctoral Scholarship at Oxford University. England, where the first version of this paper was written. I am much indebted to P. R. S. Moorey, Ashmolean Museum, and H. G. M.

Williamson, Oxford University, for reading and comment-ing on the manuscript. Warm thanks are due to the Faculty of Humanities, University of Haifa, for its aid; to Y. Ben Artzi, University of Haifa, and to my colleagues and friends there and in the Israel Antiquities Authority. Finally, I thank D. Porotsky for the illustrations that appear in this article.


1I use the term political borders merely for conve-nience; the written sources refer also to borders between cities, tribal groups, etc., and not only between polities.

2For discussions of material culture in the "new archae-ology" see Dymond 1974: 39-42; Binford and Sabloff 1983: 397-403, table 1.27; Renfrew 1984: 31.

3Justeson and Hampson for example, (1985: 17), say that "in open models, the definition and location of the boundaries are inherently relative, problem related con-structs, and are therefore of central importance in setting on a productive modeling strategy." They say nothing helpful about borders or boundaries.

4I will not discuss studies of trade (e.g., Renfrew 1969: 51-169; Kohl 1975; Curtin 1984), since they usually deal with relations across borders, rather than with the defini-tion of borders.

5For example, if the largest site has 15,000 inhabitants, the second one will have 7500 (1/2) and the third 5000 (1/2). 6For biblical borders, see also Hess 1994.

7Gitin noted Judaean ceramic forms at Ekron at the end of the eighth century B.C. (1993: 249 n. 1; Dothan and Gitin 1994: 21). The appearance of horned stone altars at Ekron was attributed by the excavators to Israelite immi-gration (Dothan and Gitin 1994: 21), I hope that this will be clarified in the final publication.

8This is not a new term; it has been used, for example, by Alt (1966: 159; 1953: 222).

9That the JPF were not traded does not mean that other figurines were not; for example, there was international trade of figurines from later periods (Linder 1986).

10The present study uses a database of 419 weights, and the last additions (in Kletter 1998) could not be treated here.

11Another fact is the lack of direct correlation between the JIW and the Assyrian weight system, as opposed to the clear correlation with the Egyptian weight system. This is surprising, since Assyria ruled over the Levant during most of the seventh century B.C. It may relate to the lack of written sources about the international trade system in the Neo-Assyrian Empire (Elat 1990, with references; Kletter 1998).

12 Ofer (1993) mentions about 240 impressions, but his number does not change the picture presented here, in re-gard either to the Judaean definition of the stamps or their relation with the borders of Judah.

13The lack of seals must be noted (cf. the case of the lmlk stamps, Lemaire 1981: 57*). One lead seal from En Gedi is said to be connected with the rosette stamps, but no photograph was published (Mazar, Dothan, and Dun-ayevsky 1963; Welten 1969: 191; Barkay 1985: 417; Keel and Uehlinger 1992: 404-5). There is no evidence that this seal was used on Lachish type 483 jars, and it is not rele-vant to the distribution of rosette stamps (En Gedi is cer-tainly not a manufacturing center for these jars).


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