Graduation Year

2006

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Anthropology

Major Professor

Robert H. Tykot, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

E. Christian Wells, Ph.D.

Committee Member

James Strange, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Brian Hesse, Ph.D.

Keywords

Near Eastern Archaeology, Zooarchaeology, Archaeozoology, Animal Domestication, Early Bronze Age

Abstract

Located in today’s southern Israel, Tell el Hesi provides archaeologists with important clues to political and social changes in the ancient Near East. Zooarchaeological and stable isotopic analyses were conducted to evaluate shifts in animal husbandry practices during changing socioeconomic and sociopolitical conditions in the southern Levant.

During the Early Bronze Age, Tell el Hesi thrived as an agricultural grain producing center for the southern Levant. The acropolis served as both a storage and redistribution center for the inhabitants of Tell el Hesi. Coinciding with the collapse of the southern Levant, Tell el Hesi was abandoned throughout the Middle Bronze Age and Late Bronze Age. Socioeconomic relations collapsed between the southern and northern Levant as foreign cultures swept into the region. The Iron Age and Persian Period represented constant sociopolitical change as Assyrian and Persian armies battled against Egypt for territory and natural resources, using Tell el Hesi as a military outpost and storage facility for soldiers and equipment.

Unsystematic excavations at the site make it difficult to interpret how animals were used at Tell el Hesi over time. Zooarchaeological analysis suggests, however, that amidst constant societal changes at Tell el Hesi, the inhabitants of the site used animals in similar ways throughout time. Statistically, there seems to be little difference in the quantity of animal species represented during the Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Persian Period. This suggests that the once common specialized pastoralism found in the Early Bronze Age survived into the Persian Period at Tell el Hesi and was an effective herd management strategy for small populations living in ever changing societies. Future excavation and analysis would be able to further assess this hypothesis.

The stable isotope results suggest that domesticated animals at Tell el Hesi were consuming both C3 domesticated grain along with C4 wild grasses. Economically significant animals appear to have been foddered within the city boundaries of Tell el Hesi but predominantly grazed in the surrounding foothill area. Wild animals such as deer, gazelle and antelope share similar δ13C values with the domesticated animals at the site.

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