Aren M. Maeir

On Defining Israel: Or, Let's do the Kulturkreislehre Again!

Volume 10 () / Issue 2, pp. 106-148 (43)
Published 03.09.2021

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Most study of the definition of early Israel, from an archaeological perspective, is based on outdated views on the relationship between material culture and group identity, ignoring recent social theory on the relationship between the archaeological finds and group identity. This has led to simplistic assumptions on defining and identifying the materials correlates – and the group identities – relevant for understanding the formation and development of early Israel. While critical of much of the research, and aware of the limitations of the ability to interpret the archaeological remains, I suggest some paths how to move forward in defining – what is and what is not – early Israel, stressing the need to focus on a bottom-up approach, commencing with the study of small-scale communities of practice.

Aren M. Maeir is a professor of Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, the Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology, Bar-Ilan University.