Judah in the sixth century b. c. e. A rural perspective

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Not much is known about the material culture of the 'Babylonian Period'. The lack of data has been explained in two contrasting ways: (1) the region was only sparsely inhabited, and the meagre settlement left only scant remains; (2) this is a very short period, whose material culture should be viewed as a continuation of that of the late Iron Age and as a predecessor of that of the Persian Period, and therefore difficult to identify. These schools differ in their views on the demographic reality in sixth century B.C.E. Judah. The former sees a great demographic decline, while the latter stresses continuity. The present paper suggests that the answer lies in an examination of continuity of settlement patterns in the rural sector. The importance of the rural sector results from the different considerations that influence the siting of urban and rural sites. Unlike their urban counterparts, whose location is a result of various considerations that can be met only by a relatively limited number of sites in any region, small rural sites are scattered throughout the landscape. Urban sites are therefore expected to be relocated on top of former urban sites, even if there is no continuity. However, if most or many Persian Period rural sites are located on top of Iron Age rural sites, then this indicates that they existed also during the sixth century, since rural sites are not usually expected to be located on top of earlier rural sites, unless they were inhabited continuously. Resettlement following a gap would result in the foundation of new sites, but only a minority of them would be located above previous ones. An examination of excavated Iron Age rural sites reveals continuity in the transition to the Persian Period in some regions, but total changes and extreme discontinuity in Judah.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-53
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Phytoremediation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003


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