Abstract: A Tale of Two Peoples: Phoenicians and Jews in the Land Beyond the River

Lecturer: Andrea Berlin

In 2010 we concluded six excavations at Tel Kedesh, the largest mound in Israel's Upper Galilee. Our work has brought to light an enormous, and heretofore unknown, commerical and administrative building, first constructed in the later sixth century BCE and used for the next 350 years. During this time, the region was under the control of three different imperial regimes: the Achaemenid Persians; the Ptolemies of Egypt; and the Seleucids of Syria. In each period, the large complex at Kedesh provided a stage for interactions between imperial powers, provincial administrators, and local elites. Our discoveries include glass and stone seals that show the Phoenician embrace of Persian styles; store rooms with jars containing an experimental strain of wheat; reception rooms and dishes reflecting rural knowledge of cosmopolitan lifestyles; an archive with over 2000 clay bullae depicting Greek and Phoenician deities as well as symbols and images used by elite individuals; and an enormous, solid gold coin – the largest and earliest ever found in Israel – whose appearance at Kedesh allows us a bird’s-eye view of power diplomacy in the early second century BCE. Both Phoenicians and Jews had starring roles in the life of the administrative building at Kedesh, and this lecture brings their character and interactions to life.

Short bibliography on lecture topic:

Sharon Herbert and Andrea Berlin, “A New Administrative Center for Persian and Hellenistic Galilee: Preliminary Report of the University of Michigan/University of Minnesota Excavations at Kedesh,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 329 (2003), pp. 13-59.

Andrea Berlin and Sharon Herbert, “Life and Death on the Israeli-Lebanese Border (in 140 B.C.E.): Excavating Tel Kedesh,” Biblical Archaeology Review 31.5 (2005). Pp. 35-43.

Andrea Berlin and Sharon Herbert, “Excavating Tel Kedesh,” forthcoming in Archaeology, spring 2012.

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Jodi Magness is with the Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is the Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism. She... Read More

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