ASOR 2007 (p. 7)

Before beginning the next entry, I want to advertise a P.S. I attached to the previous entry with a photo of Qeiyafa.

After the upbeat lecture on Kiafa concluded, Carolina Aznar–a complete stranger to me–began her lecture entitled, “Storage Jar Transportation and Exchange Types in the Iron Age II Southern Levant”.

I must inform you that, unlike the rest of my posts in this series, I’m deliberately censoring some material in this one at the request of Dr. Aznar. Most of my other reports are on seasoned scholars & archeologists with long track records who’ve published extensively on their respective subjects. Though most of them are friendly towards me (which is quite an honor), it doesn’t really matter to them whether I write about what they do because very few people read my material, & they have no problem getting published in the journal(s) of their choice. On the other hand, Dr. Aznar is not that well established, & wants the opportunity to publish her findings first in a formal manner before I openly discuss & critique them before she’s had an opportunity to finalize them. I don’t mind complying with her request, because based on the original material she gave us a sneak preview of in this lecture, she’s in a great position to lead a new era of LMLK research–& I’m all for that!

Furthermore, since I know she’s gonna read this, I want to publicly congratulate her on all her years of hard, studious work on this subject, & I’m thrilled by her ability to forge a new path in this field by thinking so many truly original thoughts, & going where the evidence leads her despite assumptions by the consensus of her academic predecessors. She’s a trailblazer in every sense of the word.

So I’ll refrain from describing her original-research gems, & everything you read in this blog is going to be based strictly on material already available to the general public on the World Wide Web.

From 2001-2, she was a Research Fellow at the W. F. Albright Institute
of Archaeological Research (AIAR)
, then a Samuel H. Kress Fellow from 2002-3, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow from 2005-2006, & received her Ph.D. from Harvard University on “Exchange Networks in the Iron Age II Southern Levant: A Study of Pottery Origin and Distribution”. Thereafter she was appointed Professor of Archaeology and Hebrew Bible/Old Testament at St. Louis University’s Madrid campus.

All of that is a fancy way of saying that when she speaks on a subject, she knows what she’s talkin’ about!

The 2003 Annual Report by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation announced her as a Kress Pre-Doctoral Research Fellow for “Phoenician Exports to Ancient Israel: New Light on Biblical History”. According to Harvard’s Fall 2003 newsletter (vol. 2 #1) for its Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations:

“Her Thesis is a research on the making and distribution of two kinds of pottery vessels found in Iron Age II strata (ca. 1000-586 B.C.E.) from thirteen archaeological sites in the Southern Levant – Hazor, Beth Shean, Rehov, Megiddo, Horvat Rosh Zayit, Tell Keisan, Tell Abu Hawam, Gezer, Tel Batash, Ashdod, Lachish, Beer Sheva and Tel ‘Ira – with a few samples also taken from Akhziv, Tel Michal, Tel Miqne and Ashkelon. The goal of her study is to obtain new knowledge on the economic organization and exchange system of those sites at that time and hence of the Israelite, Phoenician and Philistine societies during the same period. The two types of vessels selected are storage jars and Red Slip Ware thinwalled bowls. The first will provide information on common vessel making and distribution; the latter on luxury vessel making and distribution. During these two years abroad, Carolina studied the typologies of the two types of vessels, analyzed their archaeological context and selected a total of ca. 20-40 samples of vessels from each site for physical examination and petrographic analysis, which permits identification of the origin of manufacture of the clay and inclusions of a vessel by studying a thin section of it under a polarizing microscope. The physical examination was carried out in large part at the storerooms of the Israel Antiquities Authority; the Hazor, Beth Shean, and Rehov expeditions at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and the Megiddo and Lachish expeditions at Tel Aviv University. The petrographic analysis was started at Tel Aviv University under the supervision of Dr. Y. Goren, the leading researcher in Ceramic Petrology in Israel. During her coming academic year, Carolina will continue the petrographic analysis in Cambridge as she completes writing her Thesis.”

She’s consistently presented on this general topic at each annual ASOR conference:

  • 2003: Storage Jars and Exchanges in the Iron Age II Southern Levant
  • 2004: Storage Jars, Red Slip Ware bowls and Exchanges in the Iron Age II Southern Levant
  • 2005: 8th – 7th Century B.C.E. Wine Storage Jars Exchanged in the Southern Shephelah and Northern Negev

Here’s the 2003 abstract:

“The study of storage jars, vessels used as foodstuff containers and carriers, can provide abundant information on the exchanges within and between ancient societies. This paper will present the preliminary results of a typological, contextual and petrographic analysis conducted on a group of Iron Age II storage jars coming from several sites in the Southern Levant, including Tel Keisan, Megiddo, Gezer, Ashdod and others. Through it, a picture of the pottery and foodstuff exchanges within and among the Israelite, Phoenician and Philistine ethnic groups during that period will be proposed.”

Here’s the 2004 abstract:

“The contrast between the find location and manufacture origin of pottery vessels coming from archaeological excavations provides significant information on the exchanges within and between ancient societies. This paper will present part of the results of a typological, contextual and petrographic analysis conducted on a group of Iron Age II storage jars and Red Slip Ware bowls coming from several sites in the Southern Levant, including Tell Abu Hawam, Meggido, Lachish and Ashdod, among others. The results of this analysis will be used by Ms. Aznar to draw conclusions on the pottery, foodstuff and aesthetic item exchange networks used by the Israelites, the Philistines and the Phoenicians in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age II.”

(The 2005 book of abstracts does not contain hers.)

At the 5th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, held 3-8 April 2006, she delivered a paper entitled, “The Phoenician ‘Red Slip Ware Thin-Walled Bowls'”:

“The ‘Red slip ware thin-walled bowls’ are delicate, beautiful vessels with walls as thin as 2-3 mm that are mainly found in the Mediterranean Levant and Cyprus dating to ca. 9th – 7th centuries BCE. In the southern Levant, they are one of the finest pottery types of the Iron Age II. Although these vessels were originally called ‘Samaria ware bowls’ because they were first identified in the Israelite capital city of Samaria, they had long been suspected to be a Phoenician manufacture on stylistic grounds (by scholars such as Bikai, Culican, and Mazar). A petrographic analysis of a group of these bowls from the southern Levant conducted by Aznar has proven most of the bowls were Phoenician indeed. It is probable they imitated metal bowls. In this poster, Aznar presents the refined ‘Red slip ware thin-walled bowls’ and their appearance, typology, and chronology; the main techniques used to make and decorate them; as well as the likely origin of manufacture of the type on the basis of the petrographic analysis of a group of these bowls from the southern Levant the author has conducted.

The AIAR Fellowship Reports 2005–2006 section of the Spring/Summer 2006 ASOR Newsletter highlighted her work on “Ethnicity and Exchange during the Israelite Monarchic Period”:

“During my NEH Fellowship at the Albright Institute this year, I expanded my doctoral research on ethnicity and exchanges during the Israelite Monarchic Period (ca. 1000–586 BCE) and began to prepare my dissertation for publication. As an extension of my doctoral research, I conducted petrographic analyses of storage jars from several sites, including jars from Tel Jemmeh and Tel Miqne. I spent a good part of my time using the library resources of the Albright Institute, the École Biblique, and the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University. In addition to preparing my dissertation for publication, one of the most beneficial aspects of my residence in Jerusalem was the opportunity to present my research results at three research institutes: the W. F. Albright Institute in Jerusalem, the Department of Maritime Civilizations and Archaeology at Haifa University, and the Kimmel Center for Archaeological Science at the Weizmann Institute. In my workshop at the Albright, I gave a general overview of my research results on ethnicity and exchanges during the time of the Israelite Monarchy. In my seminars at Haifa University and the Weizmann Institute, I presented two parts of this research in greater detail: the Phoenician-Philistine exchanges at the former and the centric transfers at the latter. Thanks to these presentations, I was able to get extremely valuable feedback on my research from scholars from all over the region: from archaeologists Sy Gitin, Eilat Mazar, Ayelet Gilboa, Amihai Mazar, Trude Dothan, Sam Wolff, Michal Artzy, and Ezra Marcus to historian Nadav Kashtan, and scientists specializing in laboratory analysis of archaeological data Uzi Smilansky and Steve Weiner. This feedback has widened the scope of my approach in several ways. First, my book has a new chapter on land ownership and trade in the Ancient Near East. Although there is only minimal information available about these aspects of life in ancient Israel, archival material from Mesopotamia provides the requisite background for interpreting the results of my petrographic analyses. Based on this information, I suggest that the Phoenician exports to ancient Israel consisted mostly of wine and that this commercial activity was carried out as a private enterprise. Second, in order to understand the relevance of the analyses of the storage jars in the study of these ancient exchanges, I have also included in my book a discussion on ancient maritime trade and shipwrecks in the eastern Mediterranean. Although the original manuscript of my dissertation included some evidence from several shipwrecks, it became clear that a more detailed discussion on this topic would be necessary in order to fully understand the implications of the shipwreck data. Third, my book also includes an examination of storage rooms excavated in the thirteen major sites studied (Horvat Rosh Zayit, Tell Keisan, Tell Abu Hawam, Rehov, Beth Shean, Megiddo, Gezer, Tel Batash, Lachish, Beersheba, Tel ‘Ira, and Ashdod) in which groups of storage jars have been found. This information provides insights into the scale of commercial exchanges. As a follow-up to my research this year, I plan to expand the scope of my petrographic analysis to include a study of store jars from Philistia and the Iberian Peninsula in order to broaden my analysis of commercial contacts between the eastern and western parts of the Mediterranean Basin.”

Albright News #11 (October 2006) announced “A new collaborative project between the Albright and the Complutense University of Madrid has been initiated. This is an extension of the Director’s Neo-Assyrian 7th Century Project which will focus on possible commercial contacts between the eastern and western parts of the Mediterranean Basin in the 7th century. The project will involve petrographic analysis of Philistine and Western Phoenician pottery types which will be carried out by a recent Albright NEH Fellow, Carolina Aznar of the St. Louis University campus in Madrid.

Here again are the sites mentioned above (sorted alphabetically) that were utilized for petrographic analysis:

  • Akhziv
  • Ashdod
  • Ashkelon
  • Beer Sheva
  • Beth Shean
  • Gezer
  • Hazor
  • Horvat Rosh Zayit
  • Lachish
  • Megiddo
  • Rehov
  • Tell Abu Hawam
  • Tel Batash
  • Tel ‘Ira
  • Tel Jemmeh
  • Tell Keisan
  • Tel Michal
  • Tel Miqne

Here’s her abstract for this year’s ASOR Conference I attended:

“Storage jars are good containers to hold liquid foodstuffs such as olive oil and wine. In the Iron Age II some of these jars were exchanged for the trade of their contents, some were for other purposes. Typological, contextual, and petrographic study of Iron Age II storage jars in the Southern Levant suggests that those which were exchanged for commercial purposes usually had a total weight (i.e., empty jar weight plus capacity weight) lighter than 37 kg. In Aznar’s view this relates to the fact that 37 kgs. is the maximum weight which donkeys, the main mountain transportation means, can carry on each side. These jars typically had a cylindrical shape when related to Phoenician sea trade in the 8th-6th centuries BCE, since this shape is well suited for ship transportation. Some of the storage jars exchanged for noncommercial purposes could also have a total weight lighter than 37 kgs., as seems to be the case of the small, two-handled ovoid jars from Beersheba. But frequently they had a total weight heavier than 37 kg., as is the case of the ‘Hippo’ and the lmlk jars. These must have required the use of carts and good roads to be transported. Either they were transported empty and filled in the place where they were found, as perhaps is the case of the ‘Hippo’ jars, or they were used in relation to centric transfers rather than to commercial exchanges, as is the case of the lmlk jars.”

Throughout her lecture, she utilized a captivating array of illustrations & photos including this one of an H2D handle I purchased from Robert Deutsch:

Imagine that–an unprovenanced artifact sold by an IAA-licensed dealer & exported with an IAA-permit to a private collector in America being used for scientific research–who would’ve guessed?

(The following discussion regarding this handle has NOTHING to do with Dr. Aznar’s paper; I’m only elaborating on it because it was so exciting to see a handle from my collection being used in an important conference presentation by a genuine scholar, for genuine scholars [myself excepted]!)

What makes this one interesting is that due to a fractured section of the clay on the left side of the seal impression, it reveals that the ancient potter added a lump of fresh, wet clay to the already-dry/hardened handle so that the authority could make the seal impression. You can even see the fingerprint-channels on the handle made by the potter as he/she pulled the handle & formed it for attachment to the jar.

Andrew G. Vaughn mentions this phenomenon in his book, “Theology, History, and Archaeology in the Chronicler’s Account of Hezekiah” (p. 113):

“One of the most suggestive pieces of data surrounding the importance of the legibility of the stamps to those stamping the vessels is the practice of stamping soft clay that has been added to a leather-hard jar handle. There are multiple examples of jar handles that obviously could not receive an adequate seal impression because the handle had already dried & become leather hard. In those cases, some soft clay added on top of the dried jar handle was stamped. This practice is common on stamped jar handles from controlled excavations, so there is no fear of the stamp’s being a forgery. To my knowledge, this phenomenon has not been noted previously.”

He then describes a handle found at Beth Shemesh (p. 114):

“The impression is at the top of the handle in between the dual ridges, but it does not make an indentation into the handle. This fact is important, because it is the first indication that the stamping occurred after the handle had already become leather hard. The next indication is that the lower left portion of the impression has broken off, leaving a clean fracture mark where soft clay was placed on top of a leather-hard handle and then stamped. There is also a difference in the fabric of the clay containing the stamp and the clay of the handle. If the added clay from the impression had not broken off, the impression would have been complete and legible. All of these factors indicate that–at least for this one particular jar–the ability to read the impression was important enough that added soft clay was placed on top of the jar handle to insure [sic] a clear stamping.”

Returning to Dr. Aznar, she presented photos/drawings of the so-called Hippo jars mentioned in her abstract, which date to the Iron IIA period (10th-9th centuries). You can read a description of one found in Stratum C-1a (general Stratum IV) at Tel Rehov & see a terrific enlarged photo of it as well. Until this lecture, I had never heard of, or never paid attention to, these unique & fascinating artifacts!

She also showed & discussed the famous “BT LMLK” jar from Lachish, & noted the “Helbon wine” (YYN HLBUN) passage from Ezekiel 27:18 mentioned by Nili Fox on p. 225 of her book, “In the Service of the King: Officialdom in Ancient Israel and Judah”. In reviewing LMLKv1 this evening, I was surprised to find that I did not quote this, & was also surprised that Anson Rainey didn’t mention it in his landmark work, BASOR 245. Benjamin Mazar/Maisler came close, though, in JNES vol. 10 #4 (Oct. 1951) by mentioning 27:17 (see LMLKv1 p. 170).

We had a pleasant conversation afterwards (as I patiently awaited the Kiafa/Azekah storm to subside), & was nearly floored to learn that she had not only made use of my LMLKv1 book during the course of her research, but had also been instrumental in getting Harvard’s library to acquire it.

Wow!

Imagine that–a book containing information gleaned from unprovenanced artifacts sold by IAA-licensed dealers & exported with IAA-permits to private collectors in America being used for scientific research–who would’ve guessed?

G.M. Grena

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