Timber in Ancient Israel

The Emery and Claire Yass Publications in Archaeology

Monograph Series of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University

No. 26

Timber in Ancient Israel: Dendroarchaeology and Dendrochronology

N. Liphschitz

Tel Aviv 2007


This study represents the result of a comprehensive investigation of the last three decades and is based, for the first time, on direct evidence derived from archaeological wood remains. The accumulated data make it possible to determine the dominant species prior to man’s interference with nature, and to reconstruct the native primary climax vegetation associations of the various climatic zones of Israel. It allows the earliest signs of cultivation to be traced, when and where the clearance of native vegetation and introduction of new species started, the subsequent results of this interference in the composition of the primary climax vegetation and where this impact was most effective. The combined evidence from dendroarchaeology, 14C dating, written sources and information on the ecology of living trees has facilitated reconstruction of the history of the arboreal vegetation of Israel during antiquity, and consequently, the macroclimate which prevailed in the various geographic regions of the country in the relevant periods. The book also deals with the exploitation of timber which originated in horticultural fruit trees, presents the timber trade and the import of timbers from abroad during antiquity into Israel, and describes the wooden artefacts found in archaeological excavations. The results of dendrochronological research in Israel are presented and the associated problems discussed. The accuracy of dating by 14C methods is also dealt with.


Contents

PREFACE

Chapter 1: THE NATURE OF THE EVIDENCE

WRITTEN SOURCES
EVIDENCE FROM PLANT REMAINS
POLLEN GRAIN ANALYSIS
FRUITS AND SEEDS FROM ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATIONS
ARCHAEOLOGICAL WOOD REMAINS: DENDROARCHAEOLOGY
SOURCES OF INFORMATION
BASIC ASSUMPTIONS
METHODS OF ANALYSIS
CONTRIBUTION OF DENDROARCHAEOLOGICAL RESEARCH
RECONSTRUCTION OF PAST ARBOREAL LANDSCAPE
IMPORT OF TIMBER AND FOREIGN COMMERCIAL RELATIONSHIPS
EVERYDAY LIFE: FURNITURE, TOOLS AND ARTEFACTS
HUMAN IMPACT: DEFORESTATION, CULTIVATION AND INTRODUCTION OF HORTICULTURE

Chapter 2: INDIGENOUS TREES AND SHRUBS OF THE MEDITERRANEAN FOREST, PARK FOREST AND MAQUIS

SOURCES OF THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL WOOD REMAINS
INDIGENOUS NON-EDIBLE TREES AND SHRUBS
RECONSTRUCTION OF THE PAST ARBOREAL LANDSCAPE
GOLAN HEIGHTS
UPPER AND LOWER GALILEE
MOUNT CARMEL
JEZREEL VALLEY
THE COASTAL PLAIN
SAMARIA
JUDAEA
CONCLUSIONS

Chapter 3: INDIGENOUS TREES AND SHRUBS OF THE SEMI-ARID AND ARID ZONES

SOURCES OF THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL WOOD REMAINS
INDIGENOUS NON-EDIBLE TREES AND SHRUBS
RECONSTRUCTION OF THE PAST ARBOREAL LANDSCAPE
THE NORTHERN NEGEV
THE CENTRAL NEGEV
THE ARAVA VALLEY
THE DEAD SEA REGION
LAND OF KINNEROT
BETH SHEAN VALLEY
CENTRAL JORDAN VALLEY
CONCLUSIONS

Chapter 4: THE ANCIENT ARBOREAL LANDSCAPE OF THE SINAI DESERT

SOURCES OF THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL WOOD REMAINS
RECONSTRUCTION OF THE PAST ARBOREAL LANDSCAPE
NORTHERN SINAI
EASTERN SINAI
CENTRAL SINAI
SOUTHERN SINAI
CONCLUSIONS

Chapter 5: EXPLOITATION OF CULTIVATED FRUIT TREE TIMBER

SOURCES OF THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL WOOD REMAINS

Chapter 6: IMPORT OF FOREIGN TIMBER DURING ANTIQUITY

IMPORTED SPECIES
SOURCES OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL WOOD REMAINS
CONCLUSIONS

Chapter 7: ANCIENT WOODEN ARTEFACTS

HOUSEHOLD OBJECTS AND TOOLS
WOODEN COFFINS
INTERIOR DECORATIONS

Chapter 8: DENDROCHRONOLOGICAL RESEARCH

CLIMATE, SOIL AND PHYTOGEOGRAPHIC UNITS
SPECIFIC DENDROCHRONOLOGICAL RESEARCH PROBLEMS
PRESENT STATE OF KNOWLEDGE
CHRONOLOGIES OF LIVING TREES
DATING ARCHAEOLOGICAL TIMBER
FLOATING CHRONOLOGIES
CONSTRUCTING A MASTER CHRONOLOGY FOR THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN REGION
DATING ARCHAEOLOGICAL MATERIAL BY 14C

Chapter 9: ARBOREAL HISTORY OF ISRAEL

References
Index of Plant Species
Index of Sites


ISBN 965-266-024-8, x+190 pages with 34 colour plates.
Hard Cover. $50.00

MONOGRAPH SERIES OF THE SONIA AND MARCO NADLER INSTITUTE OF ARCHAEOLOGY