O Say, Iron IIA…

The dating of Iron IIa is, perhaps, the most important issue in TBU (we can skip Finkelstein’s explanation of the origins of Israel for the while; it is basically correct). This is mainly due to this archeological period’s association with the United Monarchy and the Yadin Trinity of 1 Kings 9:15. This period is characterized by the presence of red-slip, hand-burnished pottery, distinguishing it from the later Late Iron II, characterized by its wheel-burnished pottery, and, towards its end, red-slipped unburnished pottery. Iron IIA pottery is found at the following sites:

1. Jezreel Enclosure (pg. 167)

2. Arad XII (first Israelite settlement at Arad, early) and XI (late, first fort).

3. Negev forts (early)

4. Dan IVA

5. Shechem X (and IX?)

6. Tell el-Far’ah (N,  32°17’14″N, 35°20’16″E) Stratum VIIb

7. Beersheba VII to V (had some RSHB before)

8. Lachish V(early)-IV (fortified, late)

9. Taanach II A and B

10. Rehob VI-IV

11. Hazor X-IX

12. Megiddo VB (early) and VA-IVB (late)

13. Gezer VIII (late)

14. Tel Masos II (early)

15. Tel Qasile IX-VIII (had RSHB in previous stratum)

It was only shown Iron IIa began in the so-called “Solomonic” period in 1990. Before that, any date between 1200 and 940 BC could be picked as the date of these wares’ beginning. The five-acre casemate-fortified Late Iron I site of Khirbet Qeiyafa is not included in the list.

Traditionally, the days of the Iron IIa were dated from c. 1000 to 926 BC, largely due to the excellent correlation between this chronology of Iron IIa and the claims of the Bible (see PBS, The Bible’s Buried Secrets, first, Nov 19, 2008 edition, or the second, April 13, 2011 edition, from 1:06 mark onwards, which, however, actually bothers to give viewers a good look at the Low Chronology from the 57 min mark).

However, after Finkelstein introduced the Low Chronology in 1994, radiocarbon was put up to the task to solve the chronological conundrum existing between proponents and opponents of the Solomonic paradigm. After all, there was no real archeological objection to the Solomonic Paradigm. First, dates from Tel Dor in 1997 put the start of Iron IIa in the early 9th century. These were rejoined by dates from Tel Rehov in 2003, which put the transition a century earlier. Finally, a great radiocarbon dating project begun, which concluded its preliminary results in 2007. This project, using 40 good samples, managed to conclude, with a 68.2% probability, that the transition between Iron IB and Iron IIa took place between 925 and 885 BC (mode=905 BC) and the transition between formative and “classic”(Solomonic) Iron IIa  between 865 and 830 BC (mode=850 BC) (Focused, Combined). Using the composite model, the 68.2% probability of the Iron I/II transition would be between 925 and 895 BC (mode=910 BC), the 28.3% probability of the transition to the classic Iron IIa would be between 905 and 885 BC (mode=900 BC), and the 39.9% probability of the transition to the classic Iron IIa would be between 875 and 845 BC (mode=857 BC) This made the tide begin to turn. The stronghold of Tel Rehov was shattered, yielding a 65.3% chance of the Iron I/II transition being between 960 and 914 BC,  the mode being 925 BC. Even Mazar’s own paper (pg. 113) admitted the most likely date for the Iron I/early Iron IIa transition was around 926 BC.

Megiddo and Taanach (mentioned in the Shishak list) were in their early Iron IIa phases already by the time of Shoshenq, as may have been Tel Arad. The Arads may have, as Lipinski suggested, been in entirely different locations from the Iron II Arad. The Solomonic Paradigm, therefore, seems to be having a slow and quiet funeral. The writing of Solomon’ acts must, therefore, be ascribed to the time of Hezekiah, before the compilation of the anti-Solomonic Deuteronomistic History. David and Solomon, therefore, must have been ordinary kings of the West Bank (or, at least, its southern part). The glories of the Solomonic kingdom are now ascribed to the kings Omri and Ahab, well attested from Assyrian and Moabite monuments (the Omride kingdom itself had little evidence of mass literacy). If the tide of Radiocarbon evidence is not reversed, the whole history of Palestine before Hezekiah must be revised in a Finkelsteinian manner.

Author: pithom

An atheist with an interest in the history of the ancient Near East. Author of the Against Jebel al-Lawz Wordpress blog.

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