Review of Adam Zertal, "El-Ahwat, A Fortified Site from the Early Iron Age Near Nahal 'Iron, Israel: Excavations 1993-2000" (Leiden: Brill, 2012).
The excavations at el-Ahwat constitute a unique and fascinating archaeological undertaking. The site is the location of a fortified city dated to the early Iron Age (ca. 1220–1150 BCE), hidden in a dense Mediterranean forest in central Israel, near the historic 'Arunah pass. Discovered in 1992 and excavated between 1993 and 2000, the digs revealed an urban “time capsule” erected and inhabited during a short period of time (60–70 years), with no earlier site below or subsequent one above it.
This report provides a vivid picture of the site, its buildings, and environmental economy as evinced by the stone artifacts, animal bones, agricultural installations, and iron forge that were uncovered here. The excavators of this site suggest in this work that the settlement was inhabited by the Shardana Sea-Peoples, who arrived in the ancient Near East at the end of the 13th century BCE and settled in northern Canaan. In weighing the physical evidence and the logic of the interpretation presented herein, the reader will be treated to a new and compelling archaeological and historical challenge.
Despite a broad temporal presence in Egyptian records, the association of the Sherden with another ‘Sea Peoples’ group – the better known and archaeologically-attested Philistines – has led to several assumptions about this people, their culture, and the role they played in the various societies of which they may have been a part. This article separates the Sherden from the Aegean migration and greater ‘Sea Peoples’ phenomenon of the Late Bronze–Early Iron Age transition and focuses on the aspect of this people for which we have the best evidence: their role in Egyptian society. Once those layers have been peeled away, a close reading of the extant literary and pictorial evidence from the New Kingdom and beyond reveals the evolving role of the Sherden in Egypt, from adversarial origin, through a phase of combined military cooperation and social exclusion, to a final, multigenerational period marked by rapid and enduring acculturation and assimilation.
The transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age (LH IIIB-C) in the eastern Mediterranean, Aegean, and Near East was marked by the destruction of empires and the migratory movement of populations. This time of upheaval was also marked by a change in the iconography of warriors and warfare, particularly in Egypt and in the Aegean world, including the first representations of true naval combat. Warriors in feathered headdresses, never before seen in Helladic or Egyptian art, are shown on Aegean pottery and in Egyptian relief taking part in battles on both land and sea, and the Helladic oared galley (Wedde’s Type V) makes its first appearance at this time as an instrument of naval warfare. This paper investigates these earliest representations of naval combat, with a special emphasis on the appearance and employment of new maritime technology and its effect on naval warfare. Also considered are what changes in fighting, if any, had to be made in order to adapt to this early form of ship-based combat.