Monograph Series No. 14

The Emery and Claire Yass Publications in Archaeology

Monograph Series of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University

No. 14

Highlands of Many Cultures: The Southern Samaria Survey
The Sites I

Israel Finkelstein

Tel Aviv 1997

Israel Finkelstein and Zvi Lederman

The archaeological survey of Southern Samaria was initiated as one component in a comprehensive regional project, which also included excavations at the site of biblical Shiloh (Finkelstein, Bunimovitz and Lederman 1993). The Survey aimed at a reconstruction of the settlement history of the region as a tool for the study of the settlement mechanisms in the hill country. The excavations’ goal was to reveal the material culture and occupational history of a central Bronze and Iron Age mound in the heart of the area. The two projects were interrelated and complementary in their research objectives, research methods and analysis of the results.
The Survey began in October 1980 and lasted until December 1987. Growing political tensions prevented the conclusion of the work in the field. The Survey was carried out on behalf of the Department for the Land of Israel Studies at Bar-Ilan University, the Archaeological Staff Officer for Judaea and Samaria and the Archaeological Survey of Israel, with assistance from the National Council for Research and Development and the Cherna and Dr. Irving Moskovitz Chair for the Land of Israel Studies, Bar-Ilan University. The publication project was generously supported by the Israel Science Foundation and the Dorot Foundation (USA).
In the first year (1980/81) field work, which concentrated around the site of Shiloh, was headed by Israel Finkelstein and David Eitam. The main phase of the survey (1981-1987) was directed by Israel Finkelstein, with the assistance of Zvi Lederman (1981/82-1982/83) and Shlomo Bunimovitz (1981/82-1984/85). The Survey team included students from the Department for the Land of Israel Studies at Bar-Ilan University. Pnina Ben Hanania, Shmuel Yosef, Ori Rei and Yuval Gadot (the latter from Tel Aviv University) registered the finds. Miriam Waldman, Sheila Varon, Ada Peri and Kira Trabokov drew the pottery, Ada Peri prepared the pottery plates and Ora Paran drew the maps. Nikolai Adani-Tarkhanov and Israel Finkelstein took the aerial photographs.

The goal of the publication of survey material should be twofold: a detailed description of all data collected in the field and a sophisticated treatment of the information in order to achieve historical synthesis. Surprisingly, in the Middle East, as well as in the eastern Mediterranean, this goal has not been fulfilled so far. On one hand, most survey publications from Israel and Jordan provided only partial description of the data and did not attempt any synthesis (e.g. the series of reports by the Archaeological Survey of Israel; Ibach 1987; Macdonald 1988; Miller 1991; for evaluation of the surveys in Jordan see Finkelstein forthcoming). On the other hand, the impressive syntheses of survey data from Mesopotamia (e.g. Adams 1981) and the Mediterranean (MacDonald and Rapp 1972; Renfrew and Wagstaff 1982; Cherry, Davis and Mantzourani 1991) were not accompanied by a full presentation of the data retrieved in the field.

The present publication project aims at bridging this shortcoming in survey publication. The core of the first two volumes is the presentation of the data collected in the field. A synthesis of the archaeological data with historical, economic and demographic information on the area under investigation will be published in the third volume.
A preliminary report on the Southern Samaria Survey was published several years ago (Finkelstein 1988-89) and data from the Survey have appeared in other published works (e.g. Finkelstein 1988; Finkelstein and Magen 1993; Finkelstein and Gophna 1993). The data and numbers presented in this book should be considered the last and final report on this project.

The area designated for the Southern Samaria Survey covers ca. 1050 in the heart of the central hill country, between Ramallah and Shechem (Fig. 1.1). Southern Samaria is one of four distinct geographic units of the central highlands, the other being Northern Samaria (between Shechem and the Jezreel Valley), the plateau between Jerusalem and Ramallah and the Judaean Hills south of Jerusalem. The territory of southern Samaria broadly corresponds to the biblical description of the inheritance of the tribe of Ephraim (Josh. 16; Kallai 1986:142-166). During most periods – from the Bronze Age through the Hellenistic-Byzantine period to medieval times – it was divided into the territories, or the districts, of Shechem/Neapolis/Nablus and Jerusalem (e.g. Avi-Yonah 1977; Finkelstein 1993).

The borders of the Survey were fixed along the following lines (Fig. 1.2): The Modiin – Beth Horon ascent – Ramallah – Deir Dibwan road in the south; Wadi Qanah, the western margins of Sahl Makhna and the northern margins of the valley of Beit Dajan in the north; a line beyond the outermost permanent settlements (both in antiquity and recent generations) facing the desert in the east; Grid Reference 150, which roughly corresponds to the Green Line (the pre-1967 border between Israel and Jordan) in the west.
Thorough archaeological surveys have been conducted in areas adjoining southern Samaria. The territory immediately to the south was surveyed by teams under the authority of the Archaeological Staff Officer for Judaea and Samaria (Finkelstein and Magen 1993); the region to the north (northern Samaria), with the exception of the area between Wadi Qanah and the Shechem-Tulkarm road, was surveyed in the course of Zertal’s comprehensive project in the hill country of Manasseh (Zertal 1988; 1992); the foothills to the west were combed in the 1970s by teams from the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University (Kochavi and Beit-Arieh 1994) and by Shavit (1992); the area to the east is under investigation by Shpanier on behalf of the Archaeological Staff Officer for Judaea and Samaria (Shpanier 1992; 1994).