The Archaeology and History of the Negev and Neighbouring Areas in the Third Millennium BCE: A New Paradigm

Israel Finkelstein, Matthew J. Adams, Zachary C. Dunseth, Ruth Shahack-Gross

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13 Scopus citations


Conventional theory described two settlement waves in the Negev Highlands in the third millennium BCE—in the EB II and the Intermediate Bronze Age— and a period with no evidence for stone architecture between them in the EB III. Arad in the Beer-sheba Valley was presented as an EB I–II site, which lay deserted in the EB III. Old and new radiocarbon dates and other lines of evidence from the copper mining districts in the Arabah, Arad and the Negev Highlands make this scenario obsolete. The new data indicate a long period of activity in the south—throughout the Early Bronze and the first half of the Intermediate Bronze Age. Certain changes in the settlement patterns took place in the transition from the EB III to the Intermediate Bronze Age— abandonment of Arad and the rise of central trading sites within the Negev Highlands. Activity in the Negev Highlands was related to the copper industry in the Arabah and transportation of copper to the north and west. Demand for copper in Egypt played an important role in the settlement history of the arid regions: the peak prosperity in the EB III and first half of the Intermediate Bronze Age corresponds to the time of the Old Kingdom in Egypt and deterioration of the Negev system tallies with the collapse of the Old Kingdom ca. 2200 BCE. The data for the third millennium BCE enables the structuring and presentation of a broader model of human activity in the Negev Highlands and neighbouring regions in the Bronze and Iron Ages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-88
Number of pages26
JournalTel Aviv
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © The Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University 2018.


  • Arabah Valley
  • Arad
  • Copper
  • Early Bronze Age
  • Egypt
  • Faynan
  • Intermediate Bronze Age
  • Negev Highlands
  • Old Kingdom


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