Wednesday, 05. June 2019, 17:30

Re-evaluating Late Bronze Age chronology in the southern Levant and synchronisations with Egypt

A radiocarbon dating perspective

Lyndelle Webster (OREA)

During the Late Bronze Age (LBA), the southern Levant saw the waxing and waning of Egyptian control and served as an important land bridge during an “International Age”. Accurate reconstruction of the region’s history, including its international ties, is predicated on a reliable chronological framework. The chronology of the LBA southern Levant has long been heavily reliant on material culture connections to Egypt, and until recently radiocarbon data has been very limited – hindering our ability to develop and utilise a local absolute chronology and to independently check synchronisations with Egyptian history. Our understanding of the period is impacted by long-standing chronological debates – notably at its start and end, as well as difficulties within the Late Bronze Age; radiocarbon dating has much potential to address these issues.

To facilitate a radiocarbon-based perspective of LBA chronology, a key goal of my dissertation research – within the framework of the “Tracing Transformations” project directed by Felix Höflmayer – has been to develop new radiocarbon sequences at multiple sites. Emphasis has been particularly on addressing the earliest parts of the period, and fieldwork has concentrated on the Shephelah region of south-central Israel, including the major tell sites of Lachish, Gezer and Azekah. This lecture will discuss the implications of the main new 14C datasets generated thus far, highlighting contributions to local histories as well as the wider conundrums of the period.