Recent Essays Published by Israel Finkelstein


The article deals with Stratum VIIa at Tell el-Farah (North), location of biblical Tirzah. This layer should be dated to the very late Iron I and the early phase of the Iron IIA, meaning that it covers the early days of the Northern Kingdom in the late 10th and early 9th centuries BCE. Stratum VIIa features a sparsely built, comparatively poor, unfortified settlement that seems to have expanded over a relatively small part of the mound – an area of ca. one hectare of the acropolis. This settlement served as the seat of the early kings of Israel, and thus much can be learned from it about the nature of the territorial kingdoms of the Levant in their formative stage. What we know about Tirzah reflects on other capitals in the region at that time—first and foremost Jerusalem.

And the second, from the Journal of Archaeological Science- Human impact around settlement sites: a phytolith and mineralogical study for assessing site boundaries, phytolith preservation, and implications for spatial reconstructions using plant remains, with Dan Cabanes, Yuval Gadot, Maite Cabanes, Steve Weiner, and Ruth Shahack-Gross.

Defining the extent of human activity around settlement sites is of particular significance in archaeology as it may define peripheral activity areas and thus the site’s boundary. In Near Eastern archaeology, site boundaries are usually defined by the presence of architectural and other macroscopic archaeological remains. Here we use the phytolith concentrations and morphotype assemblages, as well as changes in the mineralogical composition of the sediments in and around the small Iron Age site of Izbet Sartah in central Israel to determine the site boundaries. The site has a shallow stratigraphy and highly bioturbated sediments. Coincidental changes in the clay/quartz ratio and phytolith concentrations define the boundary between high and low impact anthropogenic activities. This boundary is generally some 20 m away from the architectural remains. In addition, we note that the phytoliths in the site’s core show clear evidence of having been affected by chemical dissolution (i.e., diagenesis), while those in the vicinity of the site’s boundary have undergone severe diagenesis. These observations indicate that phytolith diagenesis will affect site boundaries determination, as well as phytolith-based reconstructions of activity areas. We propose that phytolith preservation depends on the initial amount of available silica, the depth of burial with respect to the active root area of modern vegetation, and the presence of fresh phytoliths in the soil.

With thanks to the good Professor for sending along a copy of both.

1 thought on “Recent Essays Published by Israel Finkelstein

  1. Pingback: Finkelstein Publishes His Analysis of Tirzah « Against Jebel al-Lawz

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