Desert settlement through the Iron Age: Radiocarbon dates from Sinai and the negev highlands

Hendrik J. Bruins, Johannes Van Der Plicht

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    29 Scopus citations


    Iron Age desert settlements in the Negev Highlands and the adjacent area of north-eastern Sinai are still enigmatic. Various theories have been developed to explain these settlements, particularly concerning the majority of the fortresses that are built in an elliptical or irregular shape. Chronology is obviously a crucial factor in archaeological theory-building. The time factor in Levantine Iron Age archaeology used to be like pottery clay that could be moulded to suit various theories. Radiocarbon dating, notwithstanding its limitations, provides an independent and scientific basis for chronology, though quality control is essential. Radiocarbon dates are presented from Iron Age strata at Tell el-Qudeirat in north-eastern Sinai, and from Nahal Ha’Elah and Horvat Haluqim in the Negev Highlands. Our main conclusion is that the establishment of the elliptical fortresses and related settlements appears to predate the Solomonic period. There are many remains of Iron Age settlements in the hilly desert of the Central Negev and adjacent area of north-eastern Sinai. Detailed archaeological surveys in part of the region have so far uncovered about 350 Iron Age sites, containing 58 fortresses, 1195 dwelling structures, 360 animal pens, many cisterns, 30 threshing floors and 80 silos dug into the ground, as reported by Haiman (1994). The climate of the region is arid; the average annual rainfall ranges from about 125 mm in the north to 75 mm in the south (Bruins 1986).

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Bible and Radiocarbon Dating
    Subtitle of host publicationArchaeology, Text and Science
    PublisherEquinox Publishing Ltd
    Number of pages18
    ISBN (Electronic)9781845534981
    ISBN (Print)9781845530570
    StatePublished - 1 Jan 2005

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Arts and Humanities


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