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Title: Desert Chiefdom: Dimensions of Subterranean Settlement and Society in Israel's Negev Desert (c. 4500-3600 BC) Based on New Data from Shiqmim
Author: Levy, Thomas E Yorke P Rowan, Margie M Burton (eds)
Publisher: Equinox Publishing; Publication Date: 2013
Hardcover; ISBN: 9781845531904
Volumes: 1; Pages: 416
List Price in Cloth: $295.00 Our price: $237.99
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Sometime around 4,500 B.C., settlers penetrated into the foothill region of Israel's northern Negev desert and established the earliest permanent farming villages in this part of the ancient Near East. These pioneers introduced a wide range of innovations to the Negev, including floodwater farming and craft specialization in pottery, ivory, bone and metal. In addition, a new type of social organization evolved based on a social hierarchy--what anthropologists refer to as chiefdoms or rank societies. Using a wide range of archaeological data, this volume explores the processes that led to the emergence, maintenance, and ultimate collapse of one of the most vibrant prehistoric cultures of the southern Levant.The discovery of Shiqmim in the late 1970s, a pristine Chalcolithic settlement center untouched by modern development, provides scholars with a perfect open-air laboratory for studying problems concerning social and economic change in the Beersheva culture. In 1979, long-term interdisciplinary archaeological excavations were initiated at Shiqmim that were completed in 1993. The Phase I excavations at the site (1979, 1982-84) demonstrated the changing environmental parameters which faced these early farmers, as well as the intricacies of the earliest floodwater farming in this region. These excavations also showed the complexities and nature of early 4th millennium domestic households in this region, the technical dynamics of the earliest Levantine metal industries and some of the social, economic and ritual functions of an early chiefdom center.Deep soundings were initiated at Shiqmim after the discovery of evidence for large-scale subterranean architecture. Phase II excavations, from 1987-89 and 1993, concentrated on obtaining clear stratigraphic evidence and material suitable for radiocarbon dating to test the Beersheva culture developmental models initiated by Perrot's original field work at the remarkably similar subterranean systems of Abu Matar and Bir es-Safadi. Underground room and tunnel complexes were a local innovation and a response to both the natural and cultural environment of the northern Negev region. The construction of subterranean architecture was a feature of Chalcolithic settlement in the Beersheva valley from the earliest pioneer phase and throughout the sequence. This volume presents the final full excavation report concerning the evolution of the Shiqmim Chalcolithic chiefdom, including interdisciplinary studies, site and strata plans, photographs and artifact illustrations.