Manfred Bietak and the Hebrew/Israelite Four-Room houses at Avaris - Peter Myers, August 28, 2008; update September 13, 2010. My comments are shown {thus}. Write to me at contact.html.

You are at http://mailstar.net/four-room-house.html.

The Exodus and the Archaeology of the Bible - the findings of Egyptologist Donald B. Redford, and Israeli Archaeologists Israel Finkelstein & Neil Asher Silberman: archaeology-bible.html

(1) Four-Room houses at Avaris prove Hyksos were Hebrews/Israelites, and not slaves - Robert Giles (2) Manetho's account of the Hyksos occupation of northern Egypt, and their expulsion, as recorded by Josephus (3) Record of the Excavation at Tell el-Dabca (Avaris) (4) "Exodus" was expulsion from Avaris - Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman (5) Walter Mattfeld on Bietak findings re Avaris Four-Room houses (6) Walter Mattfeld on Israel's "Aramaean" Origins (7) Four-Room house & possible exodus of 12th century B.C.E. - Manfred Bietak (summary) (8) Four-Room house & possible exodus of 12th century B.C.E. - Manfred Bietak (detail) (9) Four-Room Israelite house - Ideology in Stone, by Shlomo Bunimovitz and Avraham Faust

(1) Four-Room houses at Avaris prove Hyksos were Hebrews/Israelites, and not slaves - Robert Giles

The city of Avaris was the capital of the Hyksos domain in the north of Egypt; it was excavated by Egyptologist Manfred Bietak.

Robert Giles wrote to me (the comments denoted [...] are part of his letter; my notes to the text are denoted {...}):

{quote} Nov. 2006

Concrete physical evidence that the Hyksos were Hebrews.

The orthogonal structures of the Hyksos [at Avaris, in the Bronze Age] {Egypt c.1640-1530 BC} is {sic} the same as the Israelite four-room homes in the Iron Age. {Canaan/Israel c1200 BC}

This proves that the Hyksos were Hebrews and later Israelites. The idea that the Hebrew-Hyksos were slaves has no merit.

Josephus was right when he said the Hyksos were the ancestors of the Israelites. The so-called exodus of the Israelites from Egypt was actually when the Hebrews were expelled from Egypt, around 1550 B.C.E.

Respectfully,

Robert Giles
{endquote}

(2) Manetho's account of the Hyksos occupation of northern Egypt, and their expulsion, as recorded by Josephus

Flavius Josephus Against Apion (1)

BOOK 1

1. I SUPPOSE that by my books of the Antiquity of the Jews, most excellent Epaphroditus, (2) have made it evident to those who peruse them, that our Jewish nation is of very great antiquity, and had a distinct subsistence of its own originally; as also, I have therein declared how we came to inhabit this country wherein we now live. ...

14. I shall begin with the writings of the Egyptians; not indeed of those that have written in the Egyptian language, which it is impossible for me to do. But Manetho was a man who was by birth an Egyptian, yet had he made himself master of the Greek learning, as is very evident; for he wrote the history of his own country in the Greek tongue, by translating it, as he saith himself, out of their sacred records; he also finds great fault with Herodotus for his ignorance and false relations of Egyptian affairs. Now this Manetho, in the second book of his Egyptian History, writes concerning us in the following manner. I will set down his very words, as if I were to bring the very man himself into a court for a witness:

"There was a king of ours whose name was Timaus. Under him it came to pass, I know not how, that God was averse to us, and there came, after a surprising manner, men of ignoble birth out of the eastern parts, and had boldness enough to make an expedition into our country, and with ease subdued it by force, yet without our hazarding a battle with them. So when they had gotten those that governed us under their power, they afterwards burnt down our cities, and demolished the temples of the gods, and used all the inhabitants after a most barbarous manner; nay, some they slew, and led their children and their wives into slavery. At length they made one of themselves king, whose name was Salatis; he also lived at Memphis, and made both the upper and lower regions pay tribute, and left garrisons in places that were the most proper for them. He chiefly aimed to secure the eastern parts, as fore-seeing that the Assyrians, who had then the greatest power, would be desirous of that kingdom, and invade them; and as he found in the Saite Nomos, [Sethroite,] a city very proper for this purpose, and which lay upon the Bubastic channel, but with regard to a certain theologic notion was called Avaris, this he rebuilt, and made very strong by the walls he built about it, and by a most numerous garrison of two hundred and forty thousand armed men whom he put into it to keep it. Thither Salatis came in summer time, partly to gather his corn, and pay his soldiers their wages, and partly to exercise his armed men, and thereby to terrify foreigners. When this man had reigned thirteen years, after him reigned another, whose name was Beon, for forty-four years; after him reigned another, called Apachnas, thirty-six years and seven months; after him Apophis reigned sixty-one years, and then Janins fifty years and one month; after all these reigned Assis forty-nine years and two months. And these six were the first rulers among them, who were all along making war with the Egyptians, and were very desirous gradually to destroy them to the very roots. This whole nation was styled HYCSOS, that is, Shepherd-kings: for the first syllable HYC, according to the sacred dialect, denotes a king, as is SOS a shepherd; but this according to the ordinary dialect; and of these is compounded HYCSOS: but some say that these people were Arabians."

Now in another copy it is said that this word does not denote Kings, but, on the contrary, denotes Captive Shepherds, and this on account of the particle HYC; for that HYC, with the aspiration, in the Egyptian tongue again denotes Shepherds, and that expressly also; and this to me seems the more probable opinion, and more agreeable to ancient history. [But Manetho goes on]:

"These people, whom we have before named kings, and called shepherds also, and their descendants," as he says, "kept possession of Egypt five hundred and eleven years." After these, he says, "That the kings of Thebais and the other parts of Egypt made an insurrection against the shepherds, and that there a terrible and long war was made between them." He says further,

"That under a king, whose name was Alisphragmuthosis, the shepherds were subdued by him, and were indeed driven out of other parts of Egypt, but were shut up in a place that contained ten thousand acres; this place was named Avaris."

Manetho says, "That the shepherds built a wall round all this place, which was a large and a strong wall, and this in order to keep all their possessions and their prey within a place of strength, but that Thummosis the son of Alisphragmuthosis made an attempt to take them by force and by siege, with four hundred and eighty thousand men to lie rotund {should be "round"} about them, but that, upon his despair of taking the place by that siege, they came to a composition with them, that they should leave Egypt, and go, without any harm to be done to them, whithersoever they would; and that, after this composition was made, they went away with their whole families and effects, not fewer in number than two hundred and forty thousand, and took their journey from Egypt, through the wilderness, for Syria; but that as they were in fear of the Assyrians, who had then the dominion over Asia, they built a city in that country which is now called Judea, and that large enough to contain this great number of men, and called it Jerusalem. (9)

Now Manetho, in another book of his, says, "That this nation, thus called Shepherds, were also called Captives, in their sacred books."

And this account of his is the truth; for feeding of sheep was the employment of our forefathers in the most ancient ages (10) and as they led such a wandering life in feeding sheep, they were called Shepherds. Nor was it without reason that they were called Captives by the Egyptians, since one of our ancestors, Joseph, told the king of Egypt that he was a captive, and afterward sent for his brethren into Egypt by the king's permission. But as for these matters, I shall make a more exact inquiry about them elsewhere. (11) ...

16. This is Manetho's account. And evident it is from the number of years by him set down belonging to this interval, if they be summed up together, that these shepherds, as they are here called, who were no other than our forefathers, were delivered out of Egypt, and came thence, and inhabited this country, three hundred and ninety-three years before Danaus came to Argos; although the Argives look upon him (12) as their most ancient king Manetho, therefore, hears this testimony to two points of the greatest consequence to our purpose, and those from the Egyptian records themselves. In the first place, that we came out of another country into Egypt; and that withal our deliverance out of it was so ancient in time as to have preceded the siege of Troy almost a thousand years; but then, as to those things which Manetbo adds, not from the Egyptian records, but, as he confesses himself, from some stories of an uncertain original, I will disprove them hereafter particularly, and shall demonstrate that they are no better than incredible fables. ...

{endquote} http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/text/josephus/apion1.html

Josephus quotes Manetho in two places in Against Apion, in Book 1 Section 14f, and in Book 1 Section 26f; the above link provides both. The first deals with the expulsion of the Hyksos; the second with "lepers" led by Osarsiph, who is equated with Moses.

Walter Mattfeld wrote in his article Israel's "Aramaean" Origins (updated to 15 May 2005):

{quote} Mainstream scholarship understands Israel's settling of the Hill Country is Iron I, ca. 1200-1000 BCE based on archaeological findings. Why then does the Bible's chronology have an Exodus "hundreds of years" earlier ?

The answer is very surprising and has been preserved for almost 2000 years in the writings of an Egyptian priest/historian called Manetho. He wrote a history of Egypt in the 3rd century BCE for his Hellenistic Greek overlord Ptolemy II. He noted that TWO EXPULSIONS occurred in Egypt's history, of Asiatics. The first was of the Hyksos of the mid 16th century and then another in the Ramesside era. He understood that the Hyksos fled to and settled at Jerusalem, but that 500 years later (Josephus' reckoning) "their descendants" reinvaded Egypt, resettling at the town they had been expelled from earlier called Avaris. After 13 years of "lording it" over the eastern delta, the Ramessides expelled the Hyksos' descendants a SECOND TIME, and they eventually again settled at Jerusalem.

{endquote} http://www.bibleorigins.net/AramaeanIsrael.html

And he continued in his article

Dating the Exodus (Josephus' Hyksos Expulsion vs. Manetho's Ramesside Expulsion)

of 31 May 2004:

{quote} My conclusion from reading Manetho's account (if Manetho is correctly relaying Egyptian events) is that TWO EXODUSES occurred, one in Hyksos times and the other in Ramesside times, and that these came to be fused into ONE via oral traditions by Late Iron II times when I understand the Primary History, Genesis-Kings to have been composed ca. 562 BCE in the Exile.

{endquote} http://www.bibleorigins.net/ExodusJosephusVSManetho.html

However, the Archaeologists say that while the Expulsion of the Hyksos is well attested in the archaeological record, there is no evidence for such a second Exodus: archaeology-bible.html.

Donald B. Redford writes in Egypt, Canaan and Israel in Ancient Times (Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ, 1992):

{p. 416} The fate of the victims in the Osarsiph legend differs from that of the Hyksos. The latter were expelled through war, whereas the lepers were enslaved. It is from Osarsiph or its prototype that the "Bondage" tradition of Exodus originated.

{p. 415} The use of the Greek terms "lepers" and "unclean" suggests a pejorative in the original Egyptian (or demotic) that in Pharaonic propaganda was customarily attached to undesirable antisocial elements, whether native or foreign. In the present case it seems clear that the devotees of Akhenaten's sun cult are the historical reality underlying the "lepers," and this is confirmed by the iconoclastic nature of the lepers' legislation and the figure of thirteen years for the occupation, which corresponds to the period of occupation of Amarna. Osarsiph moreover is remembered as a priest of Heliopolis,

{p. 416} where sun worship was endemic, and his name may be construed as a perjorative applied in later tradition to Akhenaten.

{end of quotes} More at archaeology-bible.html.

Redford also wrote in Pharaonic King-Lists, Annals and Day-Books (Benben Publications, Mississaupa,1986):

{p. 293} Manetho's statement that there were "learned priests" among the lepers in the quarries would find a ready explanation in awareness of the Wady Hammamat inscriptions of Akhenaten's year 4, which states that May, the high-priest ot Amun, had been sent there to procure stone. The plague motif itself has precedent in earlier hieroglyphic sources and quite likely reflects a reminiscence of the historic plague of Amarna times. The plague also is connected with Kush in the tradition Eusebius transmits, and its tied in with the 5th year ot Amenophis III, possibly due to a false interpretation of his Aswan and Nubian stelae recording his victorious campaign of that year.

The occupation ot a deserted area, set apart, (though in the modified form of the story replaced by Avaris) sounds like the hegira to Amarna, and the 13 years ot woe wrought by lepers and shepherds can only be the term of Akhenaten's stay in his new city. The figure ot Osarsiph-Moses is clearly modelled on the historic memory of Akhenaten. He is credited with interdicting the worship of all the gods and, in Apion, of championing a form of worship which used open-air temples oriented east.

In short the combined themes ot "plague/expulsion" and "invasion trom the north," as they appear in Manetho's source, have been modified to meet the requirements of an aetiology of Amarna period monuments in Upper Egypt. The date of this source is difficult to ascertain, though I doubt that it is much earlier than Manetho

{p. 294} himself.

{endquote}

Redford replies to Freud on the Akhenaten-Moses link: moses.html.

(3) Record of the Excavation at Tell el-Dabca (Avaris)

http://www.auaris.at/html/history_en.html

Tell el-Dabca (8km north of Markaz Faqus, eastern Delta, 30° 47' N, 31° 50' E) can be identified now certainty with Avaris, capital of the Hyksos (c. 1640-1530 BC) and with the southern part of Piramesse, the Delta residence of Ramesses II and his successors. In the 18th Dynasty the site can most probably be identified with Peru-nefer, the major naval and military stronghold of the Tuthmosides. Most probably this place was also identical with the biblical town Raamses/Ramesse from the time of the Ramessides. The easternmost branch of the Nile passed once west of the site.

History of the Excavation Excavations there started 1885 by E. Naville.

1941-42 Labib Habachi worked there for the Egyptian Antiquities Service and suggested an identification with Avaris.

1951-1954 Shehata Adam excavated partly the 12th Dynasty-site of cEzbet Rushdi.

1966-69 and from 1975 onwards the site is under survey and excavation with more than 45 field- and study campaigns by the Austrian Archaeological Institute in Cairo.

History of the site The history of this site started at the beginning of 12th Dynasty under Amenemhet I (c. 1963-1934 BC) with a planned settlement (str. M-N).

Probably already in the Heracleopolitan period existed an estate of a king Khety with the name Hw.t R3w3.ty Hty. Soon afterwards another settlement spread at the southeastern bank of the Pelusiac Nile Branch at cEzbet Rushdi es-sagira (str. I-L) (>>cEzbet Rushdi).

A memorial temple for Amenemhet I, the founder of the 12th Dynasty was constructed in the year 5 by Senwosret III (c. 1872-1853 BC) (str. K-H). This temple was abandoned already in the second half of the 18th century BC during the time of the 13th Dynasty.

From the late 12th Dynasty onwards a community of Asiatics (carriers of the Syro-palestinian Middle Bronze Age culture IIA) settled there, which led to a considerable enlargement of the town (str. H) (>>stratum H).

The majority of the settlers seemed to serve under the Egyptian Crown to judge from the offerings in the tombs. Probably they were employed as soldiers, sailors, shipbuilders and craftsmen. Their tombs can be found in the midst of the settlement.

During the time of the 13th Dynasty a palatial quarter for officials was constructed (str. G/4). It seems that their function was to supervise trade and expeditions abroad. They were in Egyptian services but were of Asiatic origin. A cemetery with domed chapels as superstructures belonging to those officials was found attached to the building (>>stratum G/4).

Statues of queen Nofru-Sobek and king Hornedjheryotef of the late 12th and early 13th Dynasty, found by Labib Habachi, were probably only transported to this site in later times together with numerous other royal statuary (pic. 1).

The settlement increased steadily. In the second half of the 18th century BC (str. G) a strong influx of syro-palestinian MB-elements is noticable. pic. 1

With str. F and E/3 a sacred precinct was constructed in the Eastern town (>>area A/II). It consisted of two temples of Near Eastern type and mortuary chapels of Egyptian typology with adjoining cemeteries. In front of the main temple, remains of oak tree pits were identified. Probably the cult can be associated with the Canaanite godess Ashera in syncretism with the Egyptian goddess Hathor who not only was established in the Near East too but also had an association with mortuary cult.

As dynastic god the Egyptian storm god Seth was introduced. There is every reason to believe that he is at this site only the Egyptian version of the Syrian storm god Hadad/Baal-Zaphon because a seal cylinder with a representation of this Canaanite god was found already in the palace of the early 13th Dynasty (str. G/4). As the seal was locally made, the conclusion can be drawn that the cult of this god was already established in the Eastern Delta (>>stratum G/4).

Of special interest is the development of settlement. From str. F onwards a tendency towards a social differentiation can be observed. Bigger houses are surrounded by smaller houses on the same plots while before in str. G an egalitarian pattern prevailed. With the beginning of the Hyksos Period (str. E/2-1) the town expanded considerably to 250 hectar. This goes hand in hand with a gradual internal intensification in settling. One gets the impression that Egyptianised Asiatics who settled previously at other areas of Egypt concentrated now in the Eastern Delta and contributed to the built up of a "homeland" for the carriers of the Hyksos rule in Egypt.

The evaluation of the ceramical material shows that most of the imports were in the Hyksos Period amphorae from Syria/Palestine, which contained originally wine or olive oil (pic. 2). pic. 2 Imports of Cypriot pottery increased considerably after c. 1650 and had a remarkable floruit in some parts of the town towards the end of the Hyksos period (pic. 3).

An increasingly isolationistic tendency can be seen in the internal trade. Towards the end of the Hyksos Period (str. D/2) at the western edge of Avaris, along the eastern bank of the Pelusiac branch, a huge citadel was constructed on hitherto uninhabited land (>>citadel). pic. 3 After the conquest of Avaris by Ahmose c. 1530 BC the major part of the town was abandoned. The citadel, however, was destroyed and enormous storage facilities set up, among them numerous silos. On top of those remains traces of a camp with bonfires a, ovens and postholes of tents were encountered. Bodies probably of soldiers were buried without any offerings in pits. Also bodies of several horses were found in this stratum.

On top of the camps and soldier graves a new palatial compound of the 18th Dynasty was constructed mainly of brick material from the Hyksos citadel. It consisted of three palaces, all of them constructed on elevated platforms (pic. 4). At least two palaces (Palace F and G).had been decorated by Minoan wall paintings (>>palatial compound ). pic. 4 The palatial precinct which covered an area of 5.5 hectar (13 Feddan) was surrounded by an enclosure wall with an entrance pylon in the north. Together with the town in the south and the bay at the river in the north it can most probably be identified with Peru-nefer, the major Egyptian naval and military stronghold. The palace which dates precisely from Tuthmosis III and Amenophis II, the time when Peru-nefer was active, the presence of Nubian soldiers as evidenced by Kerma pottery and Kerma arrow tips as well as workshops producing arrows and slingshots proves the presence of military units.

Later the ruins of the Tuthmoside Period were covered by a fortress of Horemheb, a time when Peru-nefer was in need for building up military measures against the new military superpower, the Hittites.

In the time of the 21st and 22nd Dynasties and afterwards TD as southern part of Piramesse served as a quarry to procure building material, especially stone blocks and monumental statues for the new residences at Tanis, Bubastis, Leontopolis (Tell el-Muqdam) and elsewhere. Together with the monuments also cults of Piramesse were to some extent transferred to the new sites.

It is not surprising therefore that in the time of the 30th Dynasty secondary cults of the gods of Ramses II appeared in Tanis and Bubastis independently. This explains why already in antiquity the town of Raamses/Ramesse was located at Tanis (Ps. 78:12, 48) and to the East of Bubastis in the Wadi Tumilat (Septuagint version of Gn. 46:28-29). Without knowing the original position of Avaris, Piramesse, the identity of thos two towns and also their identity with the biblical town of Raamses/Ramesse was kept in memory till the Manethonian tradition according to Josephus (C. Ap., I.26-31, §§ 237-287).

Bibliography: Bietak, M. 1968 Vorläufiger Bericht über die erste und zweite Kampagne der österreichischen Ausgrabungen auf Tell ed-Dabca im Ostdelta Ägyptens (1966/1967), MDIK 23, 79-114. 1970 Vorläufiger Bericht über die dritte Kampagne der österreichischen Ausgrabungen auf Tell ed-DabÔa, MDIK 26, 15-41. 1989 Servant Burials in the Middle Bronze Age Culture of the Eastern Nile Delta, EI 20, 30-43. 1991 Unter Mitarbeit von C. Mlinar und A. Schwab, Tell el- Dabca V, Ein Friedhofsbezirk der Mittleren Bronzezeitkultur mit Totentempel und Siedlungsschichten, UZK VIII. Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Denkschriften der Gesamtakademie IX, Wien 1994a Kleine ägyptische Tempel und Wohnhäuser des späten Mittleren Reiches. Zur Genese eines beliebten Raumkonzeptes von Tempeln des Neuen Reiches, in: C. Berger, G. Clerc und N. Grimal, Hommages à Jean Leclant. IFAO, Kairo, 413-435. 1994b "Götterwohnung und Menschenwohnung", Die Entstehung eines Tempeltyps des Mittleren Reiches aus der zeitgenössischen Wohnarchitektur, HÄB 37, 13-22. 2002 Temple or 'Beth Marzeah' ? in Symbiosis, Symbolism and the Power of the Past: Canaan, Ancient Israel and their Neighbors, From the Late Bronze Age through Roman Palestine. The W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research and the American Schools of Oriental Research Centennial Symposium, Israel Museum, Jerusalem, May 29-31, 2000, eds. W.G. Dever and S. Gitin. Winona Lake, Ind. 2002 Boessneck, J. 1976 Tell el- Dabca III. Die Tierknochenfunde 1966-1969, UZK III. Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Denkschriften der Gesamtakademie V, Wien

(4) "Exodus" was expulsion from Avaris - Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman

On the Rise and Fall of the Hyksos in northern Egypt, Archaeologists Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman wrote in their book The Bible Unearthed (The Free Press, New York, 2001):

{p. 55} The most important dig has been undertaken by Manfred Bietak, of the University of Vienna, at Tell ed-Daba, a site in the eastern delta identified as Avaris, the Hyksos capital (Figure 6, p. 58). Excavations there show a gradual increase of Canaanite influence in the styles of pottery, architecture, and tombs from around 1800 BCE. By the time of the Fifteenth Dynasty, some 150 years later, the culture of the site, which eventually became a huge city, was overwhelmingly Canaanite. ...

But there is an even more telling parallel between the saga of the Hyksos and the biblical story of the Israelites in Egypt, despite their drastic difference in tone. Manetho describes how the Hyksos invasion of Egypt was finally brought to an end by a virtuous Egyptian king who attacked and defeated the Hyksos, "killing many of them and pursuing the remainder to the frontiers of Syria." In fact, Manetho suggested that after the Hyksos were driven from Egypt, they founded the city of Jerusalem and constructed a temple there. Far more trustworthy is an Egyptian source of the

{p. 56} sixteenth century BCE that recounts the exploits of Pharaoh Ahmose, of the Eighteenth Dynasty, who sacked Avaris and chased the remnants of the Hyksos to their main citadel in southern Canaan - Sharuhen, near Gaza - which he stormed after a long siege. And indeed, around tne middle of the sixteenth century BCE, Tell ed-Daba was abandoned, marking the sudden end of Canaanite influence there.

So, independent archaeological and historical sources tell of migrations of Semites from Canaan to Egypt, and of Egyptians forcibly expelling them. This basic outline of immigration and violent return to Canaan is parallel to the biblical account of Exodus. Two key questions remain: First, who were these Semitic immigrants? And second, how does the date of their sojourn in Egypt square with biblical chronology?

{p. 58} Was a Mass Exodus Even Possible in the Time of Ramesses II?

We now know that the solution to the problem of the Exodus is not as simple as lining up dates and kings. The expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt in 1570 BCE ushered in a period when the Egyptians became extremely wary of incursions into their lands by outsiders. And the negative impact of the memories of the Hyksos symbolizes a state of mind that is also to be seen in the archaeological remains. Only in recent years has it become clear

{p. 59} that from the time of the New Kingdom onward, beginning after the expulsion of the Hyksos, the Egyptians tightened their control over the flow of immigrants from Canaan into the delta. ...

The border between Canaan and Egypt was thus closely controlled. If a great mass of fleeing Israelites had passed through the border fortifications of the pharaonic regime, a record should exist. Yet in the abundant Egyptian sources describing the time of the New Kingdom in general and the thirteenth century in particular, there is no reference to the Israelites, not even a single clue. We know of nomadic groups from Edom who entered

{p. 60} Egypt from the desert. The Merneptah stele refers to Israel as a group of people already living in Canaan. But we have no clue, not even asingle word, about early Israelites in Egypt: neither in monumental inscriptions on walls of temples, nor in tomb inscriptions, nor in papyri. Israel is absent - as a possible foe of Egypt, as a friend, or as an enslaved nation. And there are simply no finds in Egypt that can be directly associated with the notion of a distinct foreign ethnic group (as opposed to a concentration of migrant workers from many places) living in a distinct area of the eastern delta, as implied by the biblical account of the children of Israel living together in the Land of Goshen (Genesis 47:27).

There is something more: the escape of more than a tiny group from Egyptian control at the time of Ramesses II seems highly unlikely, as is the crossing of the desert and entry into Canaan. In the thirteenth century, Egypt was at the peak of its authority - the dominant power in the world.

{endquote} More at archaeology-bible.html.

(5) Walter Mattfeld on Bietak findings re Avaris Four-Room houses

https://listhost.uchicago.edu/pipermail/ane/2003-September/010346.html

[ANE] Bietak's 12th Century Exodus Walter R. Mattfeld mattfeld12@charter.net Mon, 8 Sep 2003 21:38:36 -0400

Bietak's 4-room house and the 12th century BCE Exodus

As Albright proposed that Israel's enslavement began under Ahmose I with the expulsion of the Hyksos and Bietak proposed an Exodus no earlier than the mid-12th century BCE based on a 4-room house he identified as possibly Israelite, and as a peiod of approximately 400 years elapsed between Ahmose I and Ramesses IV, I thought I ought to do some more "research" on the 4-room house.

The thought "crossed my mind" that if Israel was in Egypt for 400 years, ca. 1540-1140 BCE and her ancestors were of Northern Syria and Trans-Eruphrates, that pehaps they kept alive the tradition of the 4-room house which Bietak identified as North Syrian and Mesopotamian going back to the 4th millennium BCE. Sad to say, my search drew a "negative" !

Bietak discusses in some depth the "Mittlesaalhaus" in his monogram on Avaris. He notes it is an Asiatic design and first appears during late Dynasty 12, noting it appears in Syria and Mesopotamia as early as the 4th millennium BCE. The problem ? His excavations reveal that the Asiatics eventually acculturated and assimilated to some degree Egyptian ways, and ABANDONED the building of the "Mittlesaalhaus," that is, they began copying the floorplans of Egyptian houses, of the "Middle-class" type. Soo, "goodbye" sweet notion that Israel "might" have preserved for 400 years the Mittlesaalhaus, to introduce it to Iron I Canaan and the Hill Country ! For the details cf. Manfred Bietak. _Avaris, The Capital of the Hyksos, Recent Excavations at Tell el-Daba_. London. The British Museum Press. 1996 and pp. 10 and 49

Bietak :

"According to Eigner, the layout of the houses resembles closely both the "Mittlesaalhaus" (fig. 8) and the "Breitraumhaus- ancient architectural types which occur in northern Syria in the second half of the fourth millennium BC. A "Mittlesaalhaus" was also an element of the palace of Mari (fig. 9). (p.10. Bietak)

"On the other hand, foreign house types were no longer used. The house plans, as noted were of purely Egyptian type." (p.49. Bietak) Bietak's proposal of course was NOT that Israel's captivity began under Ahmose I, that's Albright's notion. Bietak in his B.A.R. article suggests that Israel entered Egypt in the Iron I period either as captives of Ramesses II or wandered in with their herds about the same time (cf. pp.46-47. Manfred Bietak. "Israelites Found in Egypt, Four-room House Identified in MEDINET HABU." pp.41-49, 82-83. _Biblical Archaeological Review_. Sept/Oct 2003. Vol 29. No. 5)

(6) Walter Mattfeld on Israel's "Aramaean" Origins

Israel's "Aramaean" Origins

Walter Mattfeld

15 May 2005

http://www.bibleorigins.net/AramaeanIsrael.html

The biblical narrator is adamant that Israel's ancestors are Arameans, from Aramean lands, northern Syria as well as southern and northern Mesopotamia.

Deut 26:5

"And you shall make response before the Lord your God, 'A wandering Aramean was my father; and he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number; and there he became a nation great, mighty and populous." ...

Professor Anson Rainey has an article arguing for Israel's Iron Age I Transjordanian and Aramean origins titled "The Consensus Theory is Dead."

Rainey:

"Most significant of all, the Aramean tribes in the east flooded North Syria and surged into Mesopotamia (today's el-Jezira) and forced even the Assyrians to fight for their lives. The sudden appearance of so many small camps and village sites in the hills of Western Palestine (Judea, Samaria, Lower and Upper Galilee and the Beth-Shean Valley) from which the Israelites emerged represents the southern extension of this Aramean movement ..."

Bietak noted that the Asiatics at Tell ed-Daba, believed to be the Hyksos capital of the eastern delta, were a mixed group. Some of the pottery and building styles suggested for him migrants arriving via ship from ports in northern Syria, such as Ugarit, and Phoenicia. Other pottery forms suggested migrants from south Canaan. In the biblical narratives Israel's patriarchs are from North Syria (Haran and Damascus) and South Canaan (the Negev). When the Hyksos were expelled, they fled back to their homelands. The Hyksos were not confined to southern Canaan, evidently some returned to northern Syria. When Ahmose and his successors followed up on the Hyksos expulsion they followed their enemy all the way to the Euphrates and Ugarit, making the former Hyksos empire an Egyptian empire. The bible's claim that Israel's patrimony would extend from the river of Egypt (wadi el Arish) to the Euphrates, may be recalling the Hyksos world lost to New Kingdom Egypt. The Hyksos of northern Syria evolved into "Arameans" who, in the late 13th-12th centuries BCE began the re-claiming of the former Hyksos empire. ...

(7) Four-Room house & possible exodus of 12th century B.C.E. - Manfred Bietak (summary)

In the following article, Bietak is not talking about Avaris or the Hyksos - they were gone long before the Ramesses kings.

He's talking about some rude makeshift huts whose design reminds him of the Four-Room houses; but he comments that "Similarly constructed huts can still be found in Egypt even today."

The evidence for a Hebrew/Israelite presence there in the 12th century B.C.E. is scant, but he considers the possibility of an "exodus" around that time.

He comments, "if an Exodus (a flight of a group of proto-Israelite slaves) occurred, the order of the Biblical tradition should be reversed. First came the Israelite settlement of Canaan, which had already begun before their sojourn in Egypt. Otherwise they would not have demanded to return to this region after leaving Egypt. Second came their time in Egypt. Third came the Exodus from Egypt. ..."

Israelites Found in Egypt

Four-Room House Identified in MEDINET HABU

Manfred Bietak

http://www.bib-arch.org/bswb BAR/bswbba2905f2.html

Reed huts more than 3,000 years old belonging to workers - perhaps slaves - and with the same floor plan as ancient Israelite four-room houses have been identified at MEDINET HABU, opposite Luxor in Egypt. ...

Similarly constructed huts can still be found in Egypt even today. ...

A four-room house consists of three parallel long rooms separated by two walls or rows of columns, plus a broad room across one end. Often the rooms are subdivided, and sometimes subsidiary rooms are added. The central long room is thought to have been a roofless courtyard, often separated from one of the adjoining rooms by a row of columns. The four-room house is the predominant type of domestic building in Palestine during the entire Iron Age (1200-586 B.C.E.). In other words, it made its initial appearance when the Israelites began to settle perceptibly in Canaan in Iron Age I and continued to be the most popular house-type during Iron Age II. After the Babylonian destruction of 586 B.C.E., it entirely disappeared. The house-type endured for more than 600 years.

In scholarly circles today, the four-room house is often called the "Israelite house" because it is ubiquitous in the Israelite period and at Israelite sites, with only a few appearances elsewhere. The late Yigal Shiloh called the four-room house "an original Israelite concept."5 Two Israeli archaeologists recently concluded in these pages that "the four-room house may safely be called the Israelite house."* I am not so sure. First, there is a very old prototype from Mesopotamia and Syria, called the "Mittelsaal Haus" (middle-room house), which goes back to the fourth millennium B.C.E. Second, the four-room house can also be found outside the settlement area of the proto-Israelites. Perhaps, as has been suggested, the exceptions can be accounted for as belonging to Israelites living for relatively short periods in non-Israelite areas. On the other hand, some of the earliest four-room houses, at Tel Masos in the Negev, have been ascribed to the Amalekites,6 although the excavators claim the settlement is Israelite. At two sites suggested to be Philistine (Tel Qasile, stratum X, and Tel SeraÔ#146;=Tell esh-ShariÔ#146;a, stratum VII), four-room houses have been excavated, but they date to the end of Iron Age I (1000 B.C.E.) at the earliest and probably to Iron Age II. Apparently, if Philistines built four-room houses, they did not do so until some time after their settlement on Palestine's southern coastal plain. Most of the four-room houses are from Israelite settlements. Even if all early four-room houses are not necessarily Israelite, the early or proto-Israelites were surely among their main inhabitants. ...

On this basis, the workmen - perhaps slaves - employed to demolish the Temple of Ay and Horemheb in the late 12th century B.C.E. could have been early Israelites, although we cannot prove it with absolute certainty.

Ramesses III campaigned against Sea Peoples (including Philistines), as well as Shosu Bedouin, and brought them back as prisoners of war. ...

If proto-Israelites were in Egypt at this time, as the reed huts by the Temple of Ay and Horemheb suggest, they must have been close to Egypt prior to this time. It seems highly likely that to some extent they had already settled in Canaan or in its immediate neighborhood, and later were either deported to Egypt by force, or migrated toward Egypt in order to keep their flocks alive (as the Bible suggests). This reasoning would imply that if an Exodus (a flight of a group of proto-Israelite slaves)11 occurred, the order of the Biblical tradition should be reversed.

First came the Israelite settlement of Canaan, which had already begun before their sojourn in Egypt. Otherwise they would not have demanded to return to this region after leaving Egypt.

Second came their time in Egypt.

Third came the Exodus from Egypt. ...

(8) Four-Room house & possible exodus of 12th century B.C.E. - Manfred Bietak (detail)

Israelites Found in Egypt

Four-Room House Identified in MEDINET HABU

Manfred Bietak

http://www.bib-arch.org/bswb BAR/bswbba2905f2.html

The history behind the biblical tradition of Israel in Egypt has always excited scholars and laymen alike. The subject may seem somewhat worn out, however, especially in view of the current "minimalist" tendencies in scholarship. I do not claim to be a Bible scholar myself - I am an Egyptologist. But sometimes an outsider can shed new light on an important subject. I hope that will be the case here.

Reed huts more than 3,000 years old belonging to workers - perhaps slaves - and with the same floor plan as ancient Israelite four-room houses have been identified at MEDINET HABU, opposite Luxor in Egypt.1 These reed huts may represent extra-Biblical evidence of Israel in Egypt.

If true, Israelite - or proto-Israelite - workers were in Egypt in the second half of the 12th century B.C.E., more than a half century later than has previously been thought. This evidence, in turn, would have important implications for the historicity of the Biblical narrative.

Our story begins in the 1930s on the west bank of the Nile, where the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute was carrying out excavations at MEDINET HABU, the area at the southern end of the Theban necropolis. The most conspicuous standing monument at MEDINET HABU is the so-called "House of a Million Years," a memorial temple of Ramesses III (c. 1184-1153 B.C.E.), but numerous other temples pepper the site, designed for worship of the state gods connected to the Pharaoh's divinity and his mortuary cult. One of these is the Temple of Ay and Horemheb. Ay (1327-1323 B.C.E.) was an important figure in the court of Akhenaten, the heretic king who tried to limit Egyptian worship to the single god Aten. Ay also played a leading role in the court of Akhenaten's successors, especially Tutankhamun (c.1336-1327 B.C.E.); Ay may have figured prominently in Tutankhamun's rejection of the Aten heresy and the restoration of the cults of all the other gods. In any event, on Tutankhamun's death, Ay became the ruler of Egypt, even though he was not born into the main royal line. And Ay promptly began the construction of a memorial temple for himself at MEDINET HABU.

Ay's reign lasted only three years - not long enough to complete his temple. He was succeeded by Horemheb, who was not of royal blood. Horemheb started out as a mere scribe and, after a successful military career, rose to the top rank. When Ay died, Horemheb assumed the throne. He was the last ruler of the XVIIIth Dynasty.

During his reign, Horemheb usurped the not-yet-finished memorial temple of Ay. (That is why it is called the Temple of Ay and Horemheb.) At the time of Ay's death, only the temple rooms and some subsidiary buildings had been completed. The decoration, however, was of the very highest artistic quality. Extraordinarily fine relief carvings - of which, unfortunately, only fragments have survived - lined the walls. The temple was also embellished with fine statuary, including colossal seated figures of Ay himself. The courts in front of the temple, however, were completed only by Horemheb, who enclosed the temple in a magnificent colonnade of papyrus-cluster columns and reconstructed the forecourts with three imposing sets of pylons. In addition, he was careful to obliterate all references to Ay, simply replacing them with his own name. It was this temple of Ay and Horemheb that was excavated by the Oriental Institute in the 1930s.

In the course of this excavation, the archaeologists discovered evidence of some rude makeshift huts, whose dates I shall discuss later. The evidence for the huts consisted of narrow trenches chiseled out of the bedrock, from 6 to 8 inches wide and only 4 to 8 inches deep. In these small trenches were postholes, apparently for wooden poles or reed bundles bound together with ropes to be used as posts. The trenches and postholes still held evidence of the mortar or plaster used to secure the posts and the reed-walls. At two spots, postholes were found in pairs at ends of trenches, showing breaks. Here doorposts could be reconstructed. The excavators interpreted all this as evidence of workers' huts, the walls of which were made of reeds plastered with mud or desert clay stamped around them and supported by intermittent posts in grooves in the bedrock. Similarly constructed huts can still be found in Egypt even today.

But what was the date of these ancient huts? Although some mud-brick domestic buildings were older than the temple at MEDINET HABU, the huts we are talking about are, as the excavators recognized, later than the temple. They are actually situated in the temenos (courtyard) of the temple and are built parallel to the temple wall - leading the excavators to suggest that the temple was still there when the huts were built and belonged to workmen assigned to demolish the temple. When was the temple demolished? We know that it was still standing in the time of Ramesses III (c. 1184-1153 B.C.E.). We know this because he built his temple adjacent to the temple complex of Ay and Horemheb; the girdle wall of the Temple of Ramesses III is slightly deflected from its course in order to avoid the nearby complex of the Temple of Ay and Horemheb. (That is actually how the excavators happened to find the Temple of Ay and Horemheb: They saw the deflection of the girdle wall of the Temple of Ramesses III and suspected it made this curve to avoid another temple complex.)

So the Temple of Ay and Horemheb was demolished no earlier than the time of Ramesses III's successor, Ramesses IV, who reigned from approximately 1153 to 1147 B.C.E. Indeed, Ramesses IV is the most likely candidate to have begun the demolition since he erected a temple immediately adjacent to the north and found it necessary to move some of the perimeter wall of the Temple of Ay and Horemheb. Moreover, Ramesses IV demolished several temples in the Theban west bank; the spoils were found in the remains of another of his temples, in an area known as Asasif.2

From the evidence of postholes and trenches, the excavators were able to draw a careful plan of one entire workmen's hut and part of another. The plan of the huts is actually marked in the bedrock. In vain, however, do we look to Egyptian house architecture for parallels.3 On the contrary, despite the flimsy construction of these huts, we find the same room configuration in the so-called Israelite four-room house in Palestine.4

A four-room house consists of three parallel long rooms separated by two walls or rows of columns, plus a broad room across one end. Often the rooms are subdivided, and sometimes subsidiary rooms are added. The central long room is thought to have been a roofless courtyard, often separated from one of the adjoining rooms by a row of columns. The four-room house is the predominant type of domestic building in Palestine during the entire Iron Age (1200-586 B.C.E.). In other words, it made its initial appearance when the Israelites began to settle perceptibly in Canaan in Iron Age I and continued to be the most popular house-type during Iron Age II. After the Babylonian destruction of 586 B.C.E., it entirely disappeared. The house-type endured for more than 600 years.

In scholarly circles today, the four-room house is often called the "Israelite house" because it is ubiquitous in the Israelite period and at Israelite sites, with only a few appearances elsewhere. The late Yigal Shiloh called the four-room house "an original Israelite concept."5 Two Israeli archaeologists recently concluded in these pages that "the four-room house may safely be called the Israelite house."* I am not so sure. First, there is a very old prototype from Mesopotamia and Syria, called the "Mittelsaal Haus" (middle-room house), which goes back to the fourth millennium B.C.E. Second, the four-room house can also be found outside the settlement area of the proto-Israelites. Perhaps, as has been suggested, the exceptions can be accounted for as belonging to Israelites living for relatively short periods in non-Israelite areas. On the other hand, some of the earliest four-room houses, at Tel Masos in the Negev, have been ascribed to the Amalekites,6 although the excavators claim the settlement is Israelite. At two sites suggested to be Philistine (Tel Qasile, stratum X, and Tel SeraÔ#146;=Tell esh-ShariÔ#146;a, stratum VII), four-room houses have been excavated, but they date to the end of Iron Age I (1000 B.C.E.) at the earliest and probably to Iron Age II. Apparently, if Philistines built four-room houses, they did not do so until some time after their settlement on Palestine's southern coastal plain. Most of the four-room houses are from Israelite settlements. Even if all early four-room houses are not necessarily Israelite, the early or proto-Israelites were surely among their main inhabitants.

The four-room house at MEDINET HABU was not recognized as such by the excavators. I recognized it by pure chance when studying the Chicago reports. There can be no doubt now what it is, especially because of the very typical pillar separation of the center room or courtyard from one side room (a hallmark of the four-room house) and the fact that the four-room house first appears in Palestine at precisely this time. In one detail, however, the Egyptian example does deviate from the usual four-room house: Its entry is through the broad room rather than through the courtyard (the middle long room). (From the broad room, one would have walked into the middle long room.) But even this anomaly sometimes occurs in houses in Canaan, at Tel Masos, for example.7 It may well be that the entry to this house is through the broad room because it is the northern room and, as in most contemporary Egyptian houses, is designed to let the prevailing north wind enter the house, especially during the heat of the summer.8

On this basis, the workmen - perhaps slaves - employed to demolish the Temple of Ay and Horemheb in the late 12th century B.C.E. could have been early Israelites, although we cannot prove it with absolute certainty.

Ramesses III campaigned against Sea Peoples (including Philistines), as well as Shosu Bedouin, and brought them back as prisoners of war. According to the first section of the Papyrus Harris (one of the longest ancient Egyptian papyri still in existence, now in the British Museum), most of these Shosu Bedouin were dispersed among the main temples as slaves. Many scholars follow Raphael Giveon in identifying the early Israelites as a faction of the Shosu Bedouin.9 In any event, it is clear that the majority of early Israelites came out of this pool of wanderers.

The above-mentioned Harris papyrus recounts Ramesses III's exploits during what was probably the last, large-scale Egyptian campaign in Canaan:

I extended all the frontiers of Egypt and overthrew those who had attacked them from their lands. I slew the Denyen in their islands, while the Tjeker and the Philistines were made ashes. The Sherden and Weshesh of the Sea were made nonexistent, captured all together and brought in captivity to Egypt like the sands of the shore ... I destroyed the people of Seïr among the bedouin [Shosu] tribes. I razed their tents, their people, their property, and their cattle as well, without number, pinioned and carried away in captivity, as the tribute of Egypt. I gave them to the Ennead of the gods, as slaves for their houses (temples).10

The Sea Peoples (including Philistines) who came originally from the Aegean or Asia Minor had their own distinctive domestic architecture. (No four-room houses have been found at such Philistine sites as Ekron, Ashdod and Ashkelon.) They may have occasionally adopted the four-room house, but only later. (But even this is doubtful, as excavator Amihai Mazar informs me; at the Philistine site of Tell Qasile, the discovery of a colored rim jar may be an indication that Israelites were present at the site and responsible for building the four-room houses there.)

The proto-Israelites, however, were expanding dramatically in the 12th century B.C.E. Archaeologists have recently found several hundred new settlements with four-room houses and related structures in the highlands of central Canaan. Therefore some proto-Israelites were very likely among the prisoners from the campaigns of Ramesses III and were employed to demolish the Temple of Ay and Horemheb. The workmen who lived in the four-room house in Egypt were probably slaves descended from the prisoners of war from Palestine or the desert of Seïr - perhaps early or proto-Israelites.

The next question is whether this four-room house in Egypt may be significant in dating the presence of proto-Israelites in Egypt (perhaps corresponding to the Biblical Exodus). I think it is. The demolition in which these probable proto-Israelite workmen participated occurred after the time of Ramesses III, no earlier than the reign of Ramesses IV - c.1153-1147 B.C.E., in other words in the mid-12th century. Not in the XVIIIth Dynasty, not in the XIXth Dynasty, but in the XXth Dynasty, the second of whose rulers was Ramesses III.

If proto-Israelites were in Egypt at this time, as the reed huts by the Temple of Ay and Horemheb suggest, they must have been close to Egypt prior to this time. It seems highly likely that to some extent they had already settled in Canaan or in its immediate neighborhood, and later were either deported to Egypt by force, or migrated toward Egypt in order to keep their flocks alive (as the Bible suggests). This reasoning would imply that if an Exodus (a flight of a group of proto-Israelite slaves)11 occurred, the order of the Biblical tradition should be reversed.

First came the Israelite settlement of Canaan, which had already begun before their sojourn in Egypt. Otherwise they would not have demanded to return to this region after leaving Egypt.

Second came their time in Egypt.

Third came the Exodus from Egypt. It is also possible that some proto-Israelites moved (or were moved) to Egypt directly from Transjordan, and only afterwards departed for Canaan. Such a case could be made for the Shosu whom Ramesses III captured in the desert of Seïr.12 But for most of the proto-Israelites the connection with Canaan must have been established before their journey to Egypt. Therefore, the presence of proto-Israelites in Egypt should be dated to a time when the settlement at Canaan had already begun.

According to recent archaeological surveys, the spread of Iron Age settlements ascribed to the proto-Israelites began no earlier than the 12th century B.C.E.13 These settlements were located in the central hill country of Canaan, while the Canaanites continued to control the fertile plains. However, the material culture - mainly pottery - of these new settlers is so significantly different from that of the inhabitants of Palestine in the Late Bronze Age that we must assume a new population with a pastoral background had arrived. Whether this migration was a peaceful infiltration or a military conquest is a question that we need not decide here.14 Suffice it to say that in the stratigraphy of a large part of Canaan, archaeologists have found a series of destruction levels in the 12th century B.C.E. indicating military actions by the Sea Peoples (Philistines),15 by proto-Israelites and by related populations. These are found not only on the coast, but also in the interior (at Megiddo, Taanach, Gibeon and Hazor).

The famous Merneptah Stele that mentions Israel in Canaan, not as a city or a state or a land, but as a people, can be dated to the late 13th century B.C.E. and is therefore sometimes cited as evidence for an Exodus at some time earlier in the 13th century. But Israel is mentioned along with Ashkelon, Gezer and Yinoam. These names follow a progression from the coast to the interior (Yinoam is southwest of the Sea of Galilee). The stele may indicate that the people Israel were still east of the Jordan at this time. At any rate, the Israelites (or proto-Israelites) clearly did not possess any land of their own at this point, because the hieroglyphic determinative attached to their name indicates they were still a people without a land.16

All this, I believe, supports an assumption that the settlement in Canaan took place no earlier than the early 12th century B.C.E. - in the XXth Dynasty. This was followed by the sojourn in Egypt (at least by some of the proto-Israelites). If there was a historical Exodus, it was probably a group of these people who left Egypt in the XXth Dynasty.

This finding also could have significant implications for the core historicity of the Biblical account. Ancient philology indicates that the historical reliability of oral traditions can be sustained for only about three to six generations - say 200 years at most. After that the historical picture fades into mythical darkness.17 This is as true for Herodotus as it is for the Hebrew Bible. Genealogical lists are the exceptions; they can be reliable for a much longer period.18

The books of Genesis and Exodus may have taken their final shape only in the seventh century B.C.E. Admittedly, the Biblical writers had sources. They did not write on a clean slate, a tabula rasa. There may well have been written accounts from as early as the time of the United Monarchy (the hotly debated tenth century B.C.E.), when we even find some references to court annals.19

If Israel's stay in Egypt and the so-called Exodus occurred in the XXth dynasty, say the middle of the 12th century B.C.E. (and it may have occurred a little later - Ramesses IV's reign is the earliest that the Temple of Ay and Horemheb could have been destroyed), and if the accounts of the Exodus were written down in the mid-tenth century B.C.E., this puts us just within the limits of historical reliability. (Another way of calculating is by the number of generations in the Biblical account. Gary Rendsburg has counted five generations from David back to the Exodus - back to Nachshon, Aaron's brother-in-law [Exodus 6:23].)

Dating the Exodus to the XXth dynasty (mid-12th century B.C.E.) brings us significantly closer to the composition of the Biblical writings that incorporate the Exodus tradition.

Moreover, a date so late would be consistent with the description of the "Way of the Land of the Philistines" in the book of Exodus (what the Egyptians called "the Way of Horus"). The Israelites did not, according to Exodus 13:17, leave Egypt by the Way of the Land of the Philistines. By the XXth dynasty, the Philistines were already settled in their pentapolis - Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gath, Ekron and Gaza - on the southern Canaanite coast. The term "way of the Philistines" is no longer an anachronism. It would make sense for the Israelites to avoid this route.

From a purely literary viewpoint, the earliest Hebrew texts - like the Song of Deborah (Judges 5) and the Song of the Sea (Exodus 15) - that incorporate the Exodus and Sinai traditions date from very close to this time, in the opinion of leading scholars, including Frank M. Cross, J.C. De Moor, D.A. Robertson and others.20 In the article following this one, Baruch Halpern, a respected Biblical scholar, explains how these poems are dated and places their composition between 1050 and 1100 B.C.E. - well within 200 or even 100 years of the Exodus, meaning that they could very likely contain an accurate recital of core history. Indeed, people who had been in Egypt and participated in the Exodus may well have still been alive when these songs were composed.

1 See U. Hölscher, The Excavations of MEDINET HABU II, Oriental Institute Publications 41 (Chicago: Oriental Institute, 1939), pp. 68-72, esp. 71 and fig. 59. See also Manfred Bietak, "An Iron Age Four-Room House in Ramesside Egypt," Eretz Israel 23 (1991), pp. 10-12, and "Der Aufenhalt Ô#145;Israels' in Ägypten und der Zeitpunkt der ÔLandnahme' aus heutiger archäologischer Sicht," Egypt and the Levant 10 (2000), pp. 179-186.

2 Manfred Bietak, "Thebes-West (Luqsor): Vorbericht über die ersten vier Grabungskampagnen (1969-1971)," Sitzungsberichte der Philosophisch-historischen Klasse der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 278, Band 4 (Vienna, 1972), pp. 17-26.

3 H. Ricke, Der Grundriss des Amarna Wohnhauses (Leipzig, 1932); A. Badawy, A History of Egyptian Architecture: The Empire (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1968), pp. 11-35, 55; E. Roik, "Das altägyptische Wohnhaus und seine Darstellung im Flachbild," Europ. Hochschulschriften, Reihe XVIII, Band 15 (Frankfurt-Bern, 1988). The contributions in the following provide a panorama of the present state of house research in Ancient Egypt: "House and Palace in Ancient Egypt," International Symposium 8th to 11th April 1992 in Cairo, ed. M. Bietak, in Untersuchungen der Zweigstelle Kairo des Österreichischen Archäologischen Instituts 14. Denkschriften der Gesamtakademie 14 (Vienna, 1995), pp. 23-43.

4 Recent summary of literature: John S. Holladay, Jr., "The Four-Room House," in Eric M. Meyers, ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East vol. 2 (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1997), pp. 337-342. Further reading: Yigal Shiloh, "The Four-Room House: Its Situation and Function in the Israelite City," Israel Exploration Journal (IEJ) 20 (1970), pp. 180-190, and "The Four-Room House - The Israelite Type-House?" Eretz-Israel 11 (1973), pp. 277-285 (in Hebrew); Volkmar Fritz, "Bestimmung und Herkunft des Pfeilerhauses in Israel," Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palastina-Vereins (ZDPV) 93 (1977), pp. 30-45; F. Braemer, L'architecture domestique du Levant à l'age du fer (Paris, 1982), pp. 102-105; George Ernest Wright, Ancient Building in South Syria and Palestine (Leiden-Köln, 1985), pp. 134-136, 225-229, 294-298 and Figure 31, 194.

5 Shiloh, "Four-Room House," IEJ 20 (1970), p. 180.

6 Personal information.

7 Volkmar Fritz, ZDPV 92 (1976), pl. 2, loc. no 110b and 124 and ZDPV 96 (1980), pp. 121-135; Fritz and Kempinski, "Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen auf der Chirbet Msas (Tel Masos), Abhandlungen des Deutschen Palästina Vereins, vols. I-III (Wiesbaden, 1983).

8 The plan of the second four-room house, of which only about a third is plotted, does not appear to contain this anomaly. The entry is not through the north.

9 Raphael Giveon, Les Bedouin Shosou des documents égyptiens (Leiden, 1971).

10 James B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 1969), p. 262.

11 As illustrated in Papyrus Anastasi V.19, 3-20-6 from the time of the end of the XIXth Dynasty (c. 1200 B.C.E.)

12 W. Erichsen, Papyrus Harris I, Hieroglyphische Transkription. Bibliotheca Aegyptiaca V, Brussels 1933, 93 (p. 76, 9-10).

13 Israel Finkelstein, The Archaeology of the Israelite Settlement (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society 1988 [Hebrew, Tel Aviv, 1986]).

14 On this, see Abraham Malamat, "Israelite Conduct of War in the Conquest of Canaan," in Symposia Celebrating the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Founding of the American Schools of Oriental Research (1900-1975), ed. Frank M. Cross (Cambridge, MA, 1979), pp. 35-56; B.S.J. Isserlin, "The Israelites' Conquest of Canaan: A Comparative Review of the Arguments Applicable," Palestine Exploration Quarterly 115 (1983), pp. 85-94; Volkmar Fritz, "Conquest or Settlement? The Early Iron Age in Palestine," Biblical Archaeologist 50 (1987), pp. 94f.

15 M. Bietak, 'Zur Landnahme Palästinas durch die Seevölker und zum Ende der ägyptischen Provinz Kanaan," in Festschrift Werner Kaiser, MDAIK 47 (1991), pp. 35-50; "The Sea Peoples and the End of the Egyptian Administration in Canaan," in A. Biran and J. Aviram, eds., Biblical Archaeology Today II, Proceedings of the Second International Congress on Biblical Archaeology, Jerusalem, June-July, 1990 (Jerusalem, 1993), pp. 299-306; Trude Dothan, "The Arrival of the Sea Peoples: Cultural Diversity in Early Iron Age Canaan," in Recent Excavations in Israel: Studies in Iron Age Archaeology, ASOR 49 (1989), pp. 1-14; T. Dothan & M. Dothan, People of the Sea: The Search for the Philistines (New York, 1992); I. Singer, "The Beginning of Philistine Settlement in Canaan and the North Boundary of Philistia," Tel Aviv 12 (1985), pp. 109-122; I. Singer, "Egyptians, Canaanites, and Philistines in the Period of the Emergence of Israel," in From Nomadism to Monarchy, eds. I. Finkelstein and N. Na'aman (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1994), pp. 232-238; Lawrence E. Stager, "The Impact of the Sea Peoples in Canaan (1185-1050 B.C.E.)," in T.E. Levy, ed., The Archaeology of Society in the Holy Land (New York: Facts on File, 1995), pp. 332-348.

16 H. Engel, "Die Siegesstele des Merneptah," Biblica 60 (1979), pp. 373-394; M.C. Astour, "Yahweh in Egyptian Topographical Lists," in Elmar Edel Festschrift (Bamberg 1979), pp. 17-34.

17 D.P. Henige, The Chronology of Oral Tradition (Oxford, 1974); J. Vansina, Oral Tradition as History (London, 1985); O. Murray, "Herodotus and Oral History," in H. Sancisi-Weerdenburg and A. Kuhrt, eds., Achaemenid History II: The Greek Sources (Leiden, 1987), pp. 93-115; D.D. Fehling, Herodotus and His Sources (Leeds, 1989); W. Burkert, "Lydia Between East and West or How to Date the Trojan War: A Study in Herodotus," in J.B. Carter and S.P. Morris, eds., The Ages of Homer, A Tribute to E.T. Vermeule (Austin, 1995), pp. 139-148.

18 D.P. Henige, The Chronology of Oral Tradition (Oxford: Clarendon Press), pp. 121-144.

19 On the emergence of written culture with the state, see for example, T.N.D. Mettinger, "Solomonic State Officials. A Study of the Civil Government Officials in the Israelite Monarchy," Coniectanea Biblica, OTS, vol. V (Lund, 1971); Volkmar Fritz, "Die Entstehung Israels im 12. und 11. Jh. V. Chr.," Biblical Encyclopaedia vol. 2 (Stuttgart, 1996), pp. 202f.

20 Frank M. Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic (Cambridge, MA, 1980); J.C. De Moor, "The Rise of Jahwism. The Roots of Israelite Monotheism II" Bibliotheca ephemeridum theologicarum Lovaniensium (Louvain, 1990); D.A. Robertson, Linguistic Evidence in Dating Early Hebrew Poetry (Missoula, MT, 1972).

(9) Four-Room Israelite house - Ideology in Stone, by Shlomo Bunimovitz and Avraham Faust

Ideology in Stone

Shlomo Bunimovitz and Avraham Faust

Biblical Archaeology Review 28:04, Jul/Aug 2002.

cojs.org/cojswiki/Ideology_in_Stone,_Shlomo_Bunimovitz_and_Avraham_Faust,_BAR_28:04,_Jul/Aug_2002

During the late 1920s, an expedition by the Pacific School of Religion discovered three houses of strikingly similar design at Tell en-Nasbeh, Biblical Mizpah. When the first of these was unearthed in 1927, excavators thought it was a temple, and Professor William F. Badè, the excavation director, held a church service in its ruins.1 Today, hundreds of these buildings have been found, and are now referred to by a generic name, the four-room house. Sometimes they are also called the "Israelite house," and whether that is an acceptable designation is among the questions we will consider.a

The four-room house has three parallel long rooms separated by two walls or rows of columns, plus a broad room across one end. Subsidiary rooms may be added and rooms may be subdivided, but the basic plan is always the same. Some scholars think that one of the long rooms, usually the center one, was unroofed, creating a kind of courtyard. Most of these buildings also seem to have had a second story, although only sparse evidence of this has survived.

This kind of house is found throughout the country. It is the predominant type of domestic building in Iron Age Israel (1200­586 B.C.E.). It first appeared in about 1200 B.C.E. - just as the Israelites were beginning to coalesce as a people in Canaan - and reached its mature form toward the end of Iron Age I (sometime before 1000 B.C.E.), roughly when the processes that led to the establishment of the Israelite monarchy were beginning. It dominated the architecture of Iron Age II (1000­586 B.C.E.) and completely disappeared after the Babylonian destruction of 586 B.C.E., which ended the monarchy and started the Babylonian Exile.2

Some scholars have suggested that the four-room house evolved from the earlier nomad's tent,3 while others seek its roots in Late Bronze Age Canaanite architecture, especially in the region of the Shephelah.4 Most often, however, the popularity of the four-room house has been explained in terms of its close association with the Israelites as a people. The idea of the four-room house as the Israelite house was expressed by the late Yigal Shiloh, of Hebrew University: "In the light of the connection between the distribution of this type and the borders of Israelite settlement, and in the light of its period of use and architectural characteristics, it would seem that the four-room house is an original Israelite concept."5

But neither Shiloh nor any other early proponent of the association between the four-room house and the Israelites suggested a satisfactory answer to the basic question: Why was this type of building so popular among the Israelites? Only recently has an answer been offered - an explanation that stresses the house's function. In the view of Harvard's Lawrence Stager, "The pillared [four-room] house takes its form not from some desert nostalgia monumentalized in stone and mudbrick, but from a living tradition. It was first and foremost a successful adaptation to farm life: the ground floor had space allocated for food processing, small craft production, stabling, and storage; the second floor was suitable for dining, sleeping, and other activities É Its longevity attests to its continuing suitability not only to the environment É but also for the socio-economic unit housed in it - for the most part, rural families who farmed and raised livestock."6 John S. Holladay of the University of Toronto echoes Stager: "From the time of its emergence in force until its demise at the end of Iron Age II, the economic function of the ÔIsraelite [Four-Room] House' seems to have been centered upon requirements for storage and stabling, functions for which it was ideally suited É Furthermore, its durability as preferred house type, lasting over 600 years throughout all the diverse environmental regions of Israel and Judah, even stretching down into the wilderness settlements in the central Negev, testifies that it was an extremely successful design for the common - probably landowning - peasant."7

While this functional explanation seems compelling, however, it fails to convey the full story of the four-room house as a cultural phenomenon.

More than 30 years ago, Shiloh himself noticed that the four-room plan appears in a wide variety of Iron Age II buildings - from common private dwellings to monumental buildings such as the citadel at Hazor in the north or the Negev forts. He reasonably concluded that "The four-room plan was thus used as a standard plan for buildings of very different function within the Israelite city."8 Today we can expand Shiloh's conclusion to include many more examples, from isolated farms and hamlets to main urban centers. Even though all these buildings haven't been fully analyzed, it is clear from their contents that they served a great variety of functions - as residences for single soldiers,9 as dwellings for nuclear and extended families,10 as administrative buildings11 and so on. All these diverse functions were served by the same basic architectural plan - a plan that was used even in tombs.12 This "astonishing rigidity in concept," as Volkmar Fritz aptly phrases it,13 also had astonishing durability - it lasted almost 600 years.

Is there more to the popularity and durability of the four-room house design than its functionality? And if the raison d'être of this structure lies only in its functional suitability for peasant life, why did the peasants in ancient Israel not continue to use it following the Babylonian destruction and exile, through the Persian period and thereafter? And why did they use it for other than domestic purposes before the Babylonian exile?

We believe that the four-room house was a symbolic expression of the Israelite mind - that is, their ethos or world-view. At the same time, this style of domestic architecture in turn helped to structure that mind.

Our approach to the four-room house issue concurs with the idea of a "new Biblical Archaeology" promoted recently by William G. Dever. He calls for a renewed, balanced dialogue between archaeologists of the Biblical period and the Biblical texts that provide an indespensable "window" into the thought-world of ancient Israel. According to Dever: "an explanation of what really took place in ancient Israel in the Iron Age must look not only at the material remains of that culture, but also at those ideals, spiritual and secular É that motivated those who were the bearers of that culture."14 In light of current theoretical development in archaeology, it is obvious that an explanation of "what happened in history" cannot be reduced merely to adaptation - to materialist or determinist schemes that only take into account factors like environment, technology and subsistence and ignore the role of symbols, ideology and even religion in the shaping of society and in culture change.

At the start, we may dispel the argument made by some scholars that the four-room house is not really an Israelite house due to the fact that examples can be found outside Israelite territory.15 Most of the examples often cited, such as ÔAfula, Tel Qiri and Tell Keisan in the northern valleys of Israel, are not really four-room houses; while they may have four rooms, their configuration is completely different - comprising broad rooms and front courts or a mixture of rooms and courts.16

In other cases (for example, Sahab in Transjordan) there seems to be some confusion between four-room houses and pillared buildings.17 True four-room houses found outside Israelite territory mainly date to the early Iron Age,18 prior to the final consolidation of ethnic groups in the region. And some of these houses may actually have been located within a temporarily expanded Israelite territory.19 The remaining examples outside ancient Israel are very few indeed, and may be explained as representing ephemeral use by non-Israelites or by Israelites living in non-Israelite regions. Both temporally and geographically, the four-room house may safely be called the Israelite house.

The first scholar to suggest that the four-room house might be explained as a symbolic expression of the uniquely Israelite mentality and worldview was Moshe Weinfeld of Hebrew University.20 More than a decade ago, Weinfeld insightfully suggested that the house plan might have facilitated the separation between ritual purity and impurity - such as men's avoidance of women during menstruation - that was so important to the Israelite way of life. Indeed, on examining the four-room plan one can immediately recognize its greatest merit, which is maximum privacy: Once you entered the central space of the building (whether an open or roofed courtyard), you could enter any room directly without passing through adjacent rooms. Other dwelling structures in ancient Israel during the Bronze and Iron Ages seem to lack this special quality.

In the last couple of decades, cultural anthropologists have written about what they call "the social logic of space."21 The way people organize the spaces they inhabit reveals such matters as social hierarchies and cultural codes. Building layouts can be analyzed and compared for their "space syntax": How, for example, does a particular building plan affect the way a visitor or inhabitant may have access to its different rooms? Which rooms must be passed through first? What parts of the house are most out of reach? The social meaning of space syntax derives from the possible contact of a building's inhabitants with strangers as well as each other. Different space syntaxes, therefore, hint at different systems of social and cultural relations.

For example, if matters of purity were crucial in the conduct of Israelite daily life, then the unique plan of the four-room house facilitated it. Many societies segregate or restrict the movement of women who are menstruating; unlike the laws of other ancient Near Eastern societies, most of the Biblical purity injunctions22 do not require menstruating women to leave the house,23 but given other restrictions imposed on them, it is reasonable to assume that if some of these rules were kept, Israelite women spent some of their time separate from the house's other inhabitants. The plan of the four-room house seems eminently suited to such a practice: Because each room could be entered directly from the central space without passing through other rooms, purity could be strictly maintained even if a ritually impure person resided in the dwelling.

Examples like this hint at a possible connection between the four-room layout and specific cultural behavior (like men avoiding menstruating women). The layout may have been developed to accommodate that specific behavior - or, perhaps, the behavior may have grown out of the house plan. That is, while the plan may have developed for other (perhaps functional) reasons, it might have also enabled (or even encouraged) the development of a certain "purity behavior" and discouraged other behavior that could not be accommodated within the house. Indeed, it could well be that the house plan and the behavior evolved together and shaped each other.

The four-room house also expresses the "democratic" or egalitarian ethos of Israelite society. In this respect, the space syntax of the four-room house is conspicuously different from that of other contemporaneous house types, such as the houses at Tell Keisan, Tel Qiri and Tel Hadar in northern Israel as well as Bronze Age houses. The latter have a more linear form - a visitor must pass through each room in sequence - which expresses hierarchy and restricts access or movement within the dwelling.24 The four-room house does the opposite: Its shallow, "tree-like" shape allows easy and direct access to each room from the central courtyard.

A recent study has demonstrated that large households with more families have a more complex and hierarchically structured arrangement of living and sleeping spaces, reflecting their complex social structure. People of lower status - whether because of age or gender or marital status - are more accessible in terms of the structural "depth" of space within the house than are those of higher status. For instance, in these houses, special living or sleeping areas are frequently set aside for married children as opposed to unmarried children; this is in contrast to the ad hoc sleeping arrangements or shared sleeping spaces often seen in societies with simpler, more egalitarian dwellings. We would expect to see some degree of hierarchical structuring of the domestic space in Israelite houses: In rural and elite, well-to-do four-room houses, rooms are often subdivided, enabling them to be divided hierarchically. But the potential for that is limited because of the inherent simplicity of the layout - the house, again, lacks depth. The four-room house plan therefore expresses the egalitarian ethos of the Israelites.

But was Israelite society actually egalitarian? Biblical scholars have long emphasized its democratic and egalitarian character as portrayed by the Biblical narratives, and many passages contain information about the egalitarian character of the Israelite society.25 But social ideology - the way a society represents itself - often differs from social reality. Indeed, anthropology teaches us that "equality is a social impossibility."26 Niels Lemche has suggested that "instead of speaking of egalitarian societies it would be more appropriate to speak of societies which are dominated by an egalitarian ideology É A society whose ideology is egalitarian need not in fact be egalitarian."27 So although the Bible reflects an egalitarian ethos, the reality was undoubtedly somewhat different. The "egalitarian" four-room house plan seems to have been more consonant with the Israelites' ideology than other house plans, even though as a matter of social reality there were small and large houses, poor and rich ones.

The four-room house was really a kind of symbol - communicating the Israelites' value system nonverbally to both its occupants and to the surrounding community.28 The house's internal structure communicated to its residents the mutually-held concepts of a common cultural system, by creating an environment that reinforces existing social divisions based on gender, generation and rank, which are linked to cosmological schemes - that is, the people's view of how the world is ordered. Just by living in the house, occupants are constantly reminded of these values and principles, which are thus inculcated in each new generation.

The house also conveyed a message to the outside community about the economic and social status of the household, sending signals about matters of social difference like affluence and taste. At the same time, it also seems to bear a message essential in supporting the egalitarian ideals of Israelite society as a whole. Building a house according to the traditional code of a society communicates the important message that "we're part of the community," thereby enhancing the cohesion of that community.

But how do we explain why the four-room house is so ubiquitous, even in nonresidential buildings? No matter how persuasive, the functional argument falls far short of explaining why this layout was applied not only to family dwellings but also to public buildings.

The anthropologist Mary Douglas has developed the idea that many of the Biblical laws are actually about order.29 Only in wholeness and completeness may holiness reside. Many of these laws, covering all aspects of life - from war to sexual behavior and from social conduct to dietary rules - are based on precepts that are rooted in that basic principle. All of these precepts embrace the idea that holiness comes from order and sin from chaos. Holiness requires completeness in a social context - an important enterprise, once begun, must not be left incomplete. To be holy, individuals must conform to the category to which they belong, and different categories of things must not be mixed together. To be holy is to be whole, to be one; holiness is unity, integrity, purity, perfection of the individual and of the kind. Hybrids and other mixtures are abominations.30 For example, garments of mixed wool and flax are forbidden and an ass may not be yoked with an ox (Deuteronomy 22:10­11).

The Israelites' ideology of purity and order helps make sense of the astonishing dominance of the four-room plan at almost all levels of Israelite architectural design. To the Israelites, this conformity of design communicated unity and order and negated separateness and chaos. These strongly-held concepts must have percolated through all spheres of daily life, including material culture. We can imagine that once the four-room house took shape and was formalized as the container and embodiment of the Israelite lifestyle and symbolic order, it became the "right" house type - hence its great popularity. Building according to other architectural schemes must have been considered a deviation from the norm and possibly a violation of the holy order.

For these reasons, the four-room house became the Israelite house. The two are synonymous. At the dawn of the Iron Age, the embryonic versions of the four-room house and its more humble subtypes were options among a variety of house plans. The limited popularity of the house at this stage barely hinted at its eventual universality. Function may have played a role in the evolution of the layout, but one should not forget that for many generations Canaanite peasants seem to have managed quite well with other types of dwellings. In any event, during the later part of Iron Age I, the well-known form of the house crystallized and became dominant, mainly in the central hill country where archaeology and the Bible tell us that early Israelites settled. The few examples of the four-room house outside this region did not outlast Iron Age I.

Apparently, in this very phase of the Israelites' emergence as a distinct, unique people, the Israelites' ideology and mindset shaped (and were shaped by) the form of their domestic architecture. At this point, the house began to reflect Israelite cultural behavior - their egalitarian ethos, their need for privacy, the seclusion of the ritually impure and so on - and perhaps even became an ethnic marker - that is, a distinctive feature of the Israelites as an ethnic group unto themselves (see "Israelites and Canaanites: You Can Tell Them Apart," in this issue).

Material culture should not be equated too directly with ethnicity,31 but when ethnic groups express their identity as different from other groups, they may deliberately use certain distinctive aspects of their material culture to communicate that difference. This can be done in several ways. People could adopt certain traits that identify them as belonging to group X and not Y (in many cases a certain item of clothing is used). These symbols, however, are arbitrary (that is, ethnic distinctions can make use of any material item), and are, therefore, sometimes hard to identify archaeologically.

Another way ethnicity is reflected in the archaeological record is through "ethnically specific behavior."32 We have seen how, internally, the four-room house successfully expressed and reinforced Israelite values and way of life, as demonstrated by its growing popularity. And because of the importance of order and unity to the Israelites' perception of holiness, the four-room layout soon became the dominant building plan throughout Israelite territory, and stayed that way for more than half a millennium. Whether it was deliberately chosen at the end of Iron Age I as an ethnic marker or only gradually, unconsciously took on this role (that is, as a result of "ethnically specific behavior") we cannot say. Yet evidently, during the later part of Iron Age I and throughout Iron Age II, the four-room plan must be considered as predominantly Israelite, although others may have sporadically used this type of dwelling.

The Assyrian invasion of the late eighth century B.C.E. ended the northern kingdom of Israel. The Babylonian invasion of the early sixth century B.C.E. ended the southern kingdom of Judah. Thus was ended also the omnipresent ethnic symbol that was the four-room house. It exited the historical stage, leaving us with only hints of its symbolic meaning for ancient Israelite society.

a. On Badè's excavation at Tell en-Nasbeh, see Jeffrey R. Zorn, "Mizpah: Newly Discovered Stratum Reveals Judah's Other Capital," BAR 23:05.

1. George Ernest Wright, "A Characteristic North Israelite House," in Archaeology in the Levant: Essays for Kathleen Kenyon, Roger Moorey and Peter Parr, eds., (Warminister: Aris & Phillips, 1978), p. 149.

2. The origins and architecture of the four-room house and its subtypes - the three- and the five-room house - have been the subject of numerous studies, as has the ethnicity of the inhabitants. See Yigal Shiloh, "The Four-Room House: Its Situation and Function in the Israelite City," Israel Exploration Journal (IEJ) 20 (1970), pp. 180­190 and 'The Four-Room House - The Israelite Type-House?" Eretz-Israel 11 (1973), pp. 277­285 (in Hebrew); also Wright, 'A Characteristic North Israelite House," pp. 149­154; François Braemer, L'architecture domestique du Levant à l'åge du Fer (Paris: éditions Recherches sur les civilizations, 1982); Lawrence E. Stager, "The Archaeology of the Family in Ancient Israel," Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (BASOR) 260 (1985) pp. 1­35; John S. Holladay, Jr., "House, Israelite," in David Noel Freedman, ed., The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol. 3 (New York: Doubleday, 1992), pp. 308­318; John S. Holladay, Jr., "The Four-Room House," in Eric M. Meyers, ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East vol. 2 (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1997), pp. 337­341; Ehud Netzer, "Domestic Architecture in the Iron Age," in Aharon Kempinski and Ronny Reich, eds., The Architecture of Ancient Israel from the Prehistoric to the Persian Period (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1992), pp. 193­201.

3. Volkmar Fritz, 'Bestimmung und Herkunft des Pfeinlerhauses in Israel," Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 93 (1977), pp. 30­45; Volkmar Fritz, Tempel und Zelt (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchen, 1977); Aharon Kempinski, "Tel Masos," Expedition 20:4 (1978), pp. 29­37; Ze'ev Herzog, Beer-Sheba II: The Early Iron Age Settlements (Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv Univ., 1984), pp. 75­77.

4. Amihai Mazar, "The Israelite Settlement in Canaan in the Light of Archaeological Excavations," in Janet Amitai, ed., Biblical Archaeology Today: Proceedings of the International Congress on Biblical Archaeology, Jerusalem, April 1984 (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1985), pp. 66­68; Joseph A. Callaway, "Ai (et-Tell): Problem Site for Biblical Archaeologists," in Leo G. Perdue, Lawrence E. Toombs and Gary L. Johnson, eds., Archaeology and Biblical Interpretation. Essays in Memory of D. Glenn Rose (Atlanta: John Knox, 1987), pp. 87­99; and Shmuel Givon, 'The Three-Roomed House from Tel Harassim, Israel," Levant 31 (1999), pp. 173­77. There are two problems with this idea: The supposed Canaanite "prototypes" lack the broad room, which is essential for the definition of the four-room house type; more importantly, even if some Late Bronze Age architectural ideas were adopted during the Iron Age I period it does not say anything about the meaning of the houses during these periods. People can, and do, adopt cultural elements from other periods and cultures but vest them new and different meaning. See, for example, Abner Cohen, Two Dimensional Man: An essay on the Anthropology of Power and Symbolism in Complex Society (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul), p. 3; Ian Hodder, The Present Past, (London: Batsford, 1982), pp. 204­207.

5. Shiloh, "Four-Room House," IEJ 20 (1970), p. 180.

6. Stager, "Archaeology of the Family," p. 17.

7. Holladay, Jr., "House, Israelite," The Anchor Bible Dictionary (1992), p. 316.

8. Yigal Shiloh, "Four-Room House," IEJ 20 (1970), p. 190 (emphasis added).

9. Lily Singer-Avitz, "Household Activities at Beersheba," Eretz-Israel 25 (1996), pp. 166­174 (in Hebrew).

10. Stager, "Archaeology of the Family"; Avraham Faust, "Differences in Family Structure between Cities and Villages in Iron Age II," Tel-Aviv 26 (1999), pp. 233­252. See also Avraham Faust, "The Rural Community in Ancient Israel during the Iron Age II," BASOR 318 (2000), p. 17­39.

11. Keith Branigan, "The Four Room Buildings of Tell en-Nasbeh," IEJ 16 (1966), pp. 206­209. See also Shiloh, "Four-Room House" and "The Four-Room House-The Israelite Type House?"

12. Amihai Mazar, "Iron Age Burial Caves North of the Damascus Gate, Jerusalem," IEJ 26 (1976), p. 4, n. 9; Gabriel Barkai, "Burial Caves and Burial Practices in Judah in the Iron Age," in Itamar Singer, ed., Graves and Burial Practices in Israel in the Ancient Period (Jerusalem: Yad Izhak Ben Zvi, 1994), p. 149 (in Hebrew); and Gabriel Barkai, "Burial Caves and Dwellings in Judah during Iron Age II: Sociological Aspects," in Avraham Faust and Aren Meir, eds., Material Culture, Society and Ideology: New Directions in the Archaeology of the Land of Israel (Ramat-Gan: Bar-Ilan University, Department of Land of Israel Studies, 1999), pp. 96­102 (in Hebrew with English abstract).

13. Volkmar Fritz, The City in Ancient Israel (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), p. 142.

14. William G. Dever, "Biblical Archaeology: Death and Rebirth," in Avraham Biran and Joseph Aviram, eds., Biblical Archaeology Today, 1990. Proceedings of the Second International Congress on Biblical Archaeology, Jerusalem, June-July 1990 (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1993), pp. 706­722.

15. Mohammad M. Ibrahim, "Third Season of Excavation at Sahab" (Preliminary Report), Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 20 (1975), pp. 69­82; Gusta W. Ahlström, The History of Ancient Palestine from the Palaeolithic Period to Alexander's Conquest (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), pp. 339­340; Israel Finkelstein, "Ethnicity and the Origin of the Iron Age I Settlers in the Highlands of Canaan: Can the Real Israel Stand Up?" Biblical Archaeologist 59 (1996), pp. 198­212.

16. See Avraham Faust, "Ethnic Complexity in Northern Israel during Iron Age II," PEQ 132 (2000), pp. 2­27. This research demonstrates that the houses were most probably built by Canaanite-Phoenician population.

17. See, for example, Ibrahim, "Third Season of Excavations at Sahab."

18. James R. Kautz, "Tracking the Ancient Moabites," Biblical Archaeologist 44 (1981), pp. 27­35; P.M. Michèle Daviau, 'Domestic Architecture in Iron Age Ammon: Building Materials, Construction Techniques and Room Arrangement," in Burton MacDonald and Randall W. Younker, eds., Ancient Ammon (Leiden: Brill, 1999), pp. 113­136.

19. Chang-Ho C. Ji, "The Iron I in Central and Northern Transjordan: An Interim Summary of Archaeological Data," Palestine Exploration Quarterly 127 (1995), pp. 122­140; and "A Note on the Iron Age Four-Room House in Palestine," Orientalia 66 (1997), pp. 387­413; Larry G. Herr, "The Settlement and Fortification of Tell al-'Umayri in Jordan during the LB/Iron I Transition," in Lawrence E. Stager and Michael D. Coogan, eds., The Archaeology of Jordan and Beyond, Essays in Honor of James A. Sauer (Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, 2000), pp. 167­179.

20. Ehud Netzer, "Domestic Architecture in the Iron Age," 1992, p. 199, n. 24.

21. Bill Hillier and Julienne Hanson, The Social Logic of Space (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ., 1984). See also Edward Bruce Banning and Brian F. Byrd, "Alternative Approaches for Exploring Levantine Neolithic Architecture," Paléorient 15 (1989), pp. 154­160; Sally M. Foster, "Analysis of Spatial Patterns in Buildings (Access Analysis) as an Insight into Social Structure: Examples from the Scottish Atlantic Iron Age," Antiquity 63 (1989), pp. 40­50; Richard E. Blanton, Houses and Households: A Comparative Study (New York: Plenum, 1994), pp. 24­37.

22. There is almost a consensus regarding the dating of some of the Biblical laws (including purity laws) to the Iron Age. Many of the laws that are attributed to the Deuteronomist ("D") are thought to have been written during the late part of that period. The dating of other laws, including the majority of the purity laws, however, is debatable. Most purity laws are attributed to the Priestly source ('P"), and while most scholars have dated P to the Persian period (e.g., Otto Eissfeldt, The Old Testament - An Introduction [Oxford: Blackwell, 1965], pp. 207­208; Alexander Rofe, Introduction to the Composition of the Pentateuch, [Jerusalem: Academon, 1994] [Hebrew]; see also Gordon J. Wenham, The Book of Leviticus, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament [London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1979], pp. 9­11), there is a recent tendency to date it to the Exilic period and to date some, or even most, of its content even earlier (e.g., David J.A. Clines, "Pentateuch," in The Oxford Companion to the Bible, eds. Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan [Oxford: Oxford Univ., 1993], p. 580). Moreover, a growing number of influential scholars date P on various grounds to the Iron Age (e.g., Avi Hurvitz, "The Evidence of Language in Dating the Priestly Code," Revue Biblique 81 (1974), pp. 24­56; Moshe Weinfeld, "Literary Creativity," in The World History of the Jewish People, The Age of the Monarchies: Culture and Society, ed. Avraham Malamat (Jerusalem: Massada, 1979), pp. 28­33; Wenham, The Book of Leviticus, p. 13; Richard E. Friedman, Who Wrote the Bible (New York: Summit, 1987); Jacob Milgrom, Leviticus 1­16: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, vol. 3 of the Anchor Bible Series (New York: Doubleday, 1991), pp. 12­13; Baruch J. Schwartz, The Holiness Legislation, Studies in the Priestly Code (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1999) pp. 32­33 (in Hebrew).

23. Milgrom, Leviticus 1­16, pp. 952­953.

24. In this regard, see also Banning and Byrd, "Alternative Approaches for Exploring Levantine Neolithic Architecture," p. 156; and Frank E. Brown, "Comment on Chapman: Some Cautionary Notes on the Application of Spatial Measures to Prehistoric Settlements," in Ross Samson, ed., The Social Archaeology of Houses (Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ., 1990), pp. 103. For the examples, see Avraham Faust, "Ethnic Complexity in Northern Israel during Iron Age II", PEQ 132 (2000), pp. 2­27.

25. C. Umhau Wolf, "Traces of Primitive Democracy in Ancient Israel," Journal of Near Eastern Studies 6 (1947), pp. 98­108; Robert Gordis, "Primitive Democracy in Ancient Israel," in Poets and Prophets and Sages, Essays in Biblical Interpretation (Bloomington: Indiana Univ., 1971), pp. 45­60; Ephraim Speiser, "The Manner of Kings," in The World History of the Jewish People, Judges (1971), p. 284; George E. Mendenhall, "The Hebrew Conquest of Palestine," Biblical Archaeologist 25 (1962), pp. 66­87; and Norman K. Gottwald, The Tribes of Yahweh (New York: Orbis Books, 1979).

26. Morton H. Fried, The Evolution of Political Society (New York: Random House, 1967), pp. 27­28.

27. Niels Peter Lemche, Early Israel (Leiden: Brill, 1985), p. 223.

28. Richard Blanton, a leading scholar who has developed this concept of nonverbal communication, divides this phenomenon into two types - canonical and indexical nonverbal communication; see his Houses and Households, pp. 8ff.

29. Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger. An Analysis of the Concept of Pollution and Taboo (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966).

30. Douglas subsequently changed her opinion, suggesting other considerations in the classification of pure and impure creatures (e.g., "The Forbidden Animals in Leviticus," Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 59 [1993], p. 17). This is part of a broader transformation in her views (Richard Fardon, Mary Douglas: An Intellectual Biography [London: Routledge, 1999], pp. 185­205). It is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss in detail Douglas's ideas, but her initial interpretation seems to be more in line with the reality of ancient Israelite society (see also Milgrom, Leviticus 1­16, p. 728). In any event, it should be noted that she still stresses the importance of "order."

31. See Fredrik Barth, ed., Ethnic Groups and Boundaries (Boston: Little, Brown and Co. 1969); Kathryn Kamp and Norman Yoffee, "Ethnicity in Western Asia during the Early Second Millennium B.C.: Archaeological Assemblages and Ethnoarchaeological Prospectives," BASOR 237 (1980), pp. 85­104; Ian Hodder, Symbols in Action (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ., 1982a); Randall H. McGuire, "The Study of Ethnicity in Historical Archaeology," Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 1 (1982), p. 160; Geoff Emberling, "Ethnicity in Complex Societies: Archaeological Perspectives," Journal of Archaeological Research 5 (1997), p. 299 ; and Siân Jones, The Archaeology of Ethnicity (London: Routledge, 1997), p. 113.

32. Randall H. McGuire, "The Study of Ethnicity in Historical Archaeology," Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 1 (1982), p. 160. Retrieved from "http://cojs.org/cojswiki/Ideology_in_Stone%2C_Shlomo_Bunimovitz_and_Avraham_Faust%2C_BAR_28:04%2C_Jul/Aug_2002."

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Summary by Peter Myers

Biblical Archaeology Review is a Zionist journal.

My purpose was to show that even the best Archaeological arguments put by the Zionists do not amount to much.

The Archaeologist Manfred Bietak is inclined to believe in a 12th century BC Exodus, but even he could find scant evidence for it. On the contrary, the houses he excavated at Avaris, the Hyksos capital in the north of Egypt, have a clear tie to Palestine and to later Hebrew/"Israelite" houses, showing that the Exodus was a garbled memory of the expulsion of the Hyksos.

The point is that the Bible is neither "revealed" - and therefore right on all matters - nor totally wrong. It does preserve, despite its demolition job on "pagan" cultures like Egypt, Babylonia and Phoenicia (Canaan), much that was in them, and therefore is interesting and worthwhile, once one removes its Puritan overlay.

In the same way, Catholic tradition too preserves much of the culture of its enemies. The monstrance is a relic of the Sun-God; the Madonna and Child hark back to Isis and Horus of Egypt; the litanies addressed to Mary as "Queen of Heaven" were first recited to Ishtar of Babylon; and December 25 was originally the birthdate of Mithra.

Ezra constructed the Torah out of previous written and oral sources, and gave them an editorial workover, constructing the Exodus theme to encourage those exiled in Babylon - who were enjoying life there - to "return" to Palestine, and imposing a "monotheism" there more in keeping with the new Zoroastrian religion of the Persian Empire than with traditional Hebrew polytheism: toynbee.html.

Also see:

The Exodus and the Archaeology of the Bible - the findings of Egyptologist Donald B. Redford, and Israeli Archaeologists Israel Finkelstein & Neil Asher Silberman: archaeology-bible.html

Richard Friedman: Who Wrote the Bible? bible.html.

Back to the Zionism/Communism index: zioncom.html.

Write to me at contact.html.

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