Jezreel Valley Regional Project Archaeology and History of a Regional Landscape

 

Copyright Jezreel Valley Regional Project © 2016

All essays appearing on this website are authored by members of the JVRP.

Authorship credit is given where appropriate, as is credit for revisions and additions.

When citing from any of this material, please cite the credited authors

and note the date and time retrieved, as all content is subject to update and revision.

Goals, Methods, Theory

This page will keep you apprised of our short- and long-term goals, our methods, and some of the theoretical perspectives with which we are experimenting.

  • Goals

    The JVRP has a number of long term goals. These include:

    1. Conduct small-scale excavations at unexcavated sites around the valley in order to test the results of surface surveys.

    2. Conduct remote sensing of various types (GPR, Satellite, etc.) to complement the surface surveys and excavation.

    3. Conduct environmental studies to flesh-out our understanding of the ancient landscape.

    4. Create an online repository of all archaeological, historical, and archival data on the Jezreel Valley.

  • Methods

    This section is under construction. Check back later for updates.

  • Theoretical Approaches

    The Jezreel Valley Regional Project employs a multi-disciplinary approach to the study of human activity in the valley. The following theoretical avenues of research are currently being deployed against questions of urbanism and state formation in the Early Bronze Age.

    Regional Archaeology

    Generally, non-site specific archaeological studies, such as those that have attempted to describe the process of urbanization in the southern Levant, have focused on diachronic changes in settlement patterns throughout the entire area, from southern Lebanon down to the southern coastal plain of modern Israel. Ultimately, the results of these types of studies, while useful, are descriptive in nature and carry very little explanatory power regarding the actual processes and causes for this urban revolution. Additionally, to assess the southern Levant in toto is to misjudge the scale necessary to resolve the details of the urbanizing process (Greenberg 2002). Circumstances, chronology, and trajectory of the adoption of urbanism are different in every region. Macroscopic studies on broad settlement patterns are simply unable to penetrate to the root causes of urbanization or to describe the processes within these regions. This project takes a comprehensive regional approach that has the penetrating power to study a regional center and its hinterland during the urbanizing process. Thus, this kind of focused study has the advantage of probing for internal causes and external stimuli that would otherwise be undetectable in broader low-resolution studies.

    Landscape Archaeology

    The Jezreel Valley Regional Project is organized in line with the field of Landscape Archaeology as defined by T. J. Wilkinson in his field-changing book, Archaeological Landscapes of the Near East:

    "Landscape archaeology is concerned with the analysis of cultural landscape through time. This entails recording and dating of cultural factors that remain as well as their interpretation in terms of social, economic, and environmental factors. It is assumed that the 'natural landscape' has been reorganized either consciously or subconciously for a variety of religions, economic, social, political, environmental, or symbolic purposes. Evidence includes traces of earth-moving activities, patterns or sequences of vegetation, traces of fields or gardens, settlements, and various types of land-use practices." (Wilkinson 2003: 3-4, as adapted from Metheny 1996: 384)

    This approach to the Jezreel Valley is further qualified through additional theoretical concepts discussed below.

    Total Landscape Studies

    The JVRP elaborates on the concept of Landscape Archaeology with its interest in the totality of the human experience across space and time. The concept of 'Total Landscape Studies' wields a number of tools for this purpose, drawing on the disciplines of history, archaeology, anthropology, and the natural sciences. We recognize that these disciplines are tool-boxes of theoretical and methodological approaches to the past. Total Landscape studies stresses a multi-disciplinary approach - we have a lot of toolboxes in our truck.

    We do not see 'Total Landscape Studies' as a sub-field of archaeology, rather it embodies what we conceive archaeology to be: a total study of the human past.

    Longue Durée

    The past is always looming. Memory, particularly as it is written in the landscape, is a powerful influence of any given present. For this reason, the JVRP does not limit its temporal boundaries. All participants in this project, whatever their temporal specialty are encouraged to benefit from other participants to understand how their landscape formed and how that might affect the sociology of their own subjects.

    Feeding Megiddo

    The JVRP takes as one of its operational hypotheses that the nucleation of the valley's inhabitants into the large settlement at Megiddo occurred because of an elite demand for the construction of the monumental Great Temple. The elite management of the nucleation process should be accompanied by notable changes to subsistence strategies evident in the archaeological record.