Further Observations on the NOVA Special and the en-Nahas Site by Israel Finkelstein

Israel Finkelstein writes, in connection to the NOVA special – Quest for Solomon’s Mines

I read your interesting summary of the Nova production and enjoyed it. Note that Shoshenq could have boosted production at Nahas rather than disrupted it. According to 14C results Nahas operated until the late 9th century. It could have been disrupted by Damascus, that was invested in the renewal of imports of Cypriot copper.

He then offers the following interesting bibliography-

KHIRBET EN-NAHAS, EDOM AND BIBLICAL HISTORY, by Israel Finkelstein – This paper deals with a recent publication of the finds from the copper production centre of Khirbet en-Nahas (Levy et al. 2004). It argues that the site should be associated with the late Iron I and early Iron II sites of the Beersheba Valley and the Negev Highlands and thus has no bearing on the history of early Edom. It also casts doubt on the dating of the Khirbet en-Nahas fort to the 10th century BCE. TEL AVIV 32 (2005).

THE SHESHONQ I CAMPAIGN AND THE 8TH-CENTURY BCE EARTHQUAKE—MORE ON THE ARCHAEOLOGY AND HISTORY OF THE SOUTH IN THE IRON I–IIA, by Alexander Fantalkin and Israel Finkelstein- The article attempts to reconstruct the history of southern Israel (the Beersheba Valley, the Shephelah and the southern Coastal Plain) in the Late Iron I and Iron IIA. It shows that activity in the so-called ‘Tel Masos chiefdom’ commenced in the Iron I and peaked in the Early Iron IIA—parallel to the copper mining activity at Khirbet en-Naúas. Regarding the early phase of this time-span, the article proposes that the Sheshonq I campaign did not bring about the destruction of the Tel Masos chiefdom; rather, the major phase of activity in the south—in the Early Iron IIA— was a result of Egyptian involvement in the region. Regarding the end of the Iron IIA, the article rejects the notion that the Iron IIA–IIB transition should be affiliated with the earthquake mentioned in Amos 1: 1; it dates this transition to ca. 800 BCE. TEL AVIV 33 (2006).

14C AND THE IRON AGE CHRONOLOGY DEBATE: REHOV, KHIRBET EN-NAHAS, DAN, AND MEGIDDO, by Israel Finkelstein and Eli Piasetzky- A recently published volume, The Bible and Radiocarbon Dating: Archaeology, Text and Science (Levy and Higham 2005), provides data related to the debate over the chronology of the Iron Age strata in the Levant (for a review, see Carmi 2006). The present article comments on several chapters in the volume. The article highlights methodological problems, such as insecure stratigraphic provenance of 14C samples, and demonstrates how unjustified selection of data can bias the result. The article offers a new interpretation to some of the results and shows that the full set of measurements from Tel Rehov supports the Low Chronology system. RADIOCARBON, Vol 48, Nr 3, 2006, p 373–386.

RADIOCARBON AND THE HISTORY OF COPPER PRODUCTION AT KHIRBET EN-NAîAS, by Israel Finkelstein and Eli Piasetzky- The article deals with the 46 14C determinations from Khirbet en-Naúas, described as the largest Iron Age copper-smelting site in the southern Levant. It is suggested that production at Khirbet en-Naúas: (1) commenced in the early Iron I (after the collapse of the Egypto-Canaanite system) as an outcome of the decline in Cypriot copper-trade with the Levant; (2) peaked in the first half of the 9th century, possibly as a result of the need for considerable amounts of bronze by the vast and powerful armies of the rising territorial kingdoms of the Levant; (3) ended in the late 9th century BCE, probably as a consequence of the revival of contacts with Cyprus and the economic interests of Aram Damascus. TEL AVIV 35 (2008).

The Pottery of Edom: A Correction, by Israel Finkelstein and Lily Singer-Avitz- This article deals with several claims recently made by Levy et al.1 regarding pottery from Edom and sites in the Negev. Building their argument on two assumptions—that Khirbet en-Nahas constitutes part of Edom and that the fortress there dates to the 10th century BCE—they maintain that sites on the Edomite plateau had been dated to the late 7th–6th centuries BCE based on a single find—the seal impression carrying the inscription “Qos Gabr king of Edom”—and hint that this pottery should in fact be dated earlier. And based on the architectural similarity between the fortress at Khirbet en-Nahas and the fortresses of Tell el-Kheleifeh at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba and of En HaÐeva in the western Arabah south of the Dead Sea, they date the latter two to the 10th century BCE, several centuries earlier than the broadly-accepted date in the Iron IIB/C. In this article we take issue with these claims. We show that dating the sites on the Edomite plateau to the late 8th-to-early 6th centuries BCE is backed by meticulous comparison to well-stratified and dated sites in southern Judah. We also show that the fortresses of Tell el-Kheleifeh and En HaÐeva cannot be dated earlier than the late 8th century. We then deal with the reasons for Levy et al.’s errors. – ANTIGUO ORIENTE Volumen 6 2008.

THE POTTERY OF KHIRBET EN-NAHAS: A REJOINDER, by Israel Finkelstein and Lily Singer-Avitz- Smith and Levy (2008) have published an assemblage of pottery from the copper production centre of Khirbet en-Nahas in Jordan. Based on their interpretation of the 14C dates from the site and contra the accumulated knowledge on the ceramic typology of the Levant they argue that this pottery dates to the Iron I and Iron IIA, and that there was no later activity at the site. We show that much of the Khirbet en-Nahas pottery dates to the Iron IIB–C. We argue that the charcoal samples sent for radiocarbon dating originated from the waste of industrial activity at the site in the Iron I and Iron IIA, while the pottery came from a post-production activity in the Iron IIB–C — an activity that included the construction of a fort on the surface of the site. We propose that the fort was built along the Assyrian Arabian trade route, at the foot of the ascent from the Arabah to the Assyrian headquarters of Buseirah. – Palestine Exploration Quarterly, 141, 3 (2009), 207–218.

Those interested in following up on the Tel Aviv essays can find them online. With many thanks to Prof. Finkelstein for passing along these valuable and informative essays.

2 thoughts on “Further Observations on the NOVA Special and the en-Nahas Site by Israel Finkelstein

  1. “Qos Gabr king of Edom”

    What a ridiculously sweet name. I was happy to discover the other day that Edom’s deity get’s a theophoric limelight in Neh.7:55. “Barkos” (cf.Ezra 2:53).


  2. Pingback: Biblical Studies Carnival נז (November 2010) | Bulletin for the Study of Religion

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