Building 101 at Tel ‘Eton, the Low Chronology, and the Perils of a Bias-Perpetuating Methodology: A Response and a Proposal for the Study of All the Phases in the History of Buildings

Avraham Faust, Yair Sapir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Building 101 at Tel ‘Eton was a large longitudinal four-spaces (‘four-room’) house, that was destroyed by fire in the late 8th century bce, during an Assyrian military campaign. Its size, location, quality of construction and the finds unearthed in it suggest that it was an elite dwelling, that perhaps served as a governor’s residency. In 2018 we published several radiocarbon dates, taken from the floor make-up in two separate rooms, as well as from a foundation deposit, and from the earlier material into which the foundation deposit was embedded. These, along with other considerations, suggested that the building was built in the 10th century bce, and existed for some 250 years, prompting us to draw attention to the potential longevity of houses, and to what we called the ‘old house effect’. We also noted the significance of the finds for understanding social or political complexity in the region of Judah already during the 10th century bce. In a recent issue of this journal, Israel Finkelstein criticized our dating of the house, raising arguments from ‘traditional archaeology’ perspective and concerning ‘radiocarbon dating’. It is the aim of the present article to (1) properly present the relevant finds, to (2) refute Finkelstein’s argument, expose the weaknesses of his claims and the issues he failed to address, and, more importantly, to (3) elaborate on his methodological argument, which exposes a biased methodology that instead of improving our ability to study the past, only perpetuates an already existing shortcoming in addressing site histories. Finally, we (4) briefly suggest a method of dating the construction of buildings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-334
Number of pages31
JournalPalestine Exploration Quarterly
Volume153
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Palestine Exploration Fund 2021.

Funding

Much of the previous research of building 101, on which this article relies, was facilitated by a grant from the Israel Science Foundation, ‘The Birth, Life and Death of a Four Room House at Tel ‘Eton’ (ISF grant #284/11).‏ We wish to thank the Tel ‘Eton staff for their help, and the two PEQ anonymous reviewers and editor of for their constructive comments on an earlier version of this article. The responsibility for any mistake or error is, of course, ours.

FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation284/11

    Keywords

    • Iron Age chronology
    • Tel ‘Eton
    • United Monarchy
    • dating construction
    • low chronology
    • ‘old house effect’

    Fingerprint

    Dive into the research topics of 'Building 101 at Tel ‘Eton, the Low Chronology, and the Perils of a Bias-Perpetuating Methodology: A Response and a Proposal for the Study of All the Phases in the History of Buildings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this