A Bone of Contention? Iron Age IIA Notched Scapulae from Tell es—Safi/Gath, Israel

A. Zukerman, L.K. Horwitz, J. Lev-Tov, A. M. Maeir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Notched animal scapulae (shoulder blades) are one of the most enigmatic aspects of the material culture of the Iron Age Levant. Discussions of their chronology, regional distribution, function, and cultural significance appear frequently in studies concerning the culture of the Sea Peoples in Cyprus and the southern Levant. However, the available data has never been analyzed in a comprehensive manner, and many of its aspects remain obscure. This article was prompted by the recent discovery of a group of these objects in a ninth-century B.C.E. level at Tell es-Sâfi/Gath, Israel. Alongside the detailed description of the objects and their findspots, they are discussed in relation to the above-mentioned topics, and a new hypothesis concerning their function and place in the Philistine cultural assemblage is proposed. We further conclude that the notched scapulae from Tell es-Sâfi/Gath shed valuable light on the evolution of Philistine culture, especially with regard to the retention of its Iron Age I characteristics during the early Iron Age II.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)57-81
JournalBulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research
StatePublished - 2007


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