As a part of the Edom Lowlands Regional Archaeology Project the UCSD Levantine Archaeology Lab under the direction of Prof. Thomas Levy, has excavated three seasons at Khirbat en-Nahas (KEN). This study of Iron Age state formation in southern Jordan is deeply rooted in three conceptual frameworks: a) general anthropological theory concerning processes of secondary state formation and the evolution of social power, b) historical models concerning the Iron Age based on Anthropology, Biblical and extra-Biblical sources, and c) Middle Range theory that aims at linking raw archaeological data with more complex generalizations and conclusions about the past based on the hard archaeological evidence retrieved from the excavations. Fundamentally, the research was a response to the unsolved problem of who controlled metal production at this key Levantine site during the Iron Age, a period that follows the collapse of many of the Late Bronze Age civilizations in the eastern Mediterranean region. Recent field work at KEN and limited AMS radiocarbon dating have pushed back the dates for the Iron Age in Edom some 200 to 400 years earlier than previously thought (Levy et al 2004, 2005; Higham et al 2005). This has opened up new research questions that challenge models that explain the emergence of the Edomite state (i.e. core-civilization (Assyrian) dominance over Edom vs. local peer polity interaction with neighboring statelets such as Israel, Judah, Moab and others).
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