The Archaeology of Early Iron Age West-Central Jordan
Publication Year: 2013
These settlements emerged during a period of recovery following the political and economic collapse of Bronze Age Mediterranean societies. Scholars have characterized west-central Jordan’s political organization during this time as an incipient Moabite state. Complex Communities argues instead that the settlements were a collection of independent, self-organizing entities. Each community constructed substantial villages with fortifications, practiced both agriculture and pastoralism, and built and stocked storage facilities. From these efforts to produce and store resources, especially food, wealth was generated and wealthier households gained power over their neighbors. However, power was limited by the fact that residents could—and did—leave communities and establish new ones.
Complex Communities reveals that these settlements moved through adaptive cycles as they adjusted to a changing socionatural system. These sustainability-seeking communities have lessons to offer not only the archaeologists studying similar struggles in other locales, but also to contemporary communities facing negative climate change. Readers interested in resilience studies, Near Eastern archaeology, historical ecology, and the archaeology of communities will welcome this volume.
Published by: University of Arizona Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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List of Illustrations
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This book is the culmination of research conducted over the past de cade on the Early Iron Age communities of the Levant. I fi rst became intrigued by Iron Age Jordan as a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, and my participation on two excavation projects at Tall Madaba and Khir-bat al- Mudayna al-‘Aliya solidifi ed my interests. The early Iron Age has ...
1. Introduction: The Persistence of Community
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COMMUNITY: A dream. Sometimes we do not know that we had it until Thinking clearly about the notion of “community” in today’s world is dif-fi cult. Politicians, marketers, and civic groups use the term to unite people within social groups that promise intimacy and egalitarianism. The call for community evokes nostalgia for presumably utopian pasts that ex-...
2. Communal Complexity on the Margins
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Public audiences celebrate archaeology for its investigation of “civilizations”— Mesopotamian, Roman, the Mayan and the Aztec, to name only a handful— that consistently dominate tele vi sion program-ming and glossy magazine covers. The broad appeal of civilization per-sists into the new century as societies remain concerned with maintaining ...
3. Measuring Social Complexity in the Early Iron Age
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Archaeologists are rarely drawn to periods in history known for declin-ing levels of social complexity. These eras lack the traditional trappings of civilization— urban centers, bureaucracies, written archives, and monu-mental architecture— for which archaeological research is most celebrated. The enormous amount of scholarly attention the Early Iron Age southern ...
4. Producing Community
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Many preindustrial societies or ga nized their relationships around the pro-duction of materials needed to sustain themselves and their immediate dependents. This observation partly explains why small- scale human orga-nizations form in the very fi rst instance. Production does more than make things and structure relationships, however. Ideologies are recursively gen-...
5. Managing Community
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What was the nature of leadership in Early Iron Age west- central Jordan? What role did wealth play in constituting this authority? Did the presence of leaders contribute to the communities’ resilience or did it destabilize it? Were there limits to leaders’ authority? This chapter will investigate these and other questions that pertain to the emergence of authority and in e-...
6. Conclusion: The Complex Community
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At fi rst glance, the Early Iron Age communities of west- central Jordan ap-pear to have followed patterns relatively common among small- scale agro- pastoralist sedentary societies in the Near East. Each community or ga nized its livelihood according to what it could produce from naturally available resources found in the nearby fi elds and riparian zones. The production ...
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About the Author
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Benjamin W. Porter is an archaeologist whose research focuses on the Bronze and Iron Age societies of the Middle East and Eastern Mediterra-nean. He is an assistant professor of Near Eastern archaeology at the Uni-versity of California– Berkeley and a curator of Near Eastern archaeology at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology. He received his PhD in ...
Page Count: 221
Illustrations: 9 halftones, 8 line art, 1 tables
Publication Year: 2013