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The transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age in the northern Levant: The evidence from Tell Nebi Mend, Syria

Bourke, SJ; (1992) The transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age in the northern Levant: The evidence from Tell Nebi Mend, Syria. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis consists of six chapters of description and analysis of the Second Millennium architecture and ceramics excavated at Tell Nebi Mend (TNM), ancient Qadesh on the Orontes. Further analysis centres on the problem of the apparent gap in occupation in many of the major sites in north-central Syria between ca. 1750-1550 B.C. Chapter One describes previous excavation and research into the archaeology of Second Millennium Syria, reviewing main discoveries and the origins of the major research problems in the field. Chapter Two outlines the history of excavation at TNM and describes in detail the archaeological stratigraphy relevant to Second Millennium investigations, concluding with a summary of stratigraphy and a short comparative analysis of regional site histories. Chapter Three details the ceramic type series, containing sections on type description, shape, ware, and decoration analysis, and a diachronic study of variation in all of the above over the course of the Second Millennium occupation at the site. Chapter Four consists of a comparative ceramic analysis. The TNM assemblage is placed in a regional relative and absolute chronological context. A final point demonstrates the importance of comparative ceramic analysis for the elucidation of cultural inter-relationships, and alterations in these over the course of the Second Millennium. Chapter Five concentrates on the problem of the Syrian MB/LB Gap Hypothesis, and through the medium of a number of archaeological case studies central to the genesis and development of scholarship on the problem demonstrate that the problem is more a function of unnecessary assumptions about the unity of ceramic occurrences, than any real gap in occupation. A concomitant problem, the definition of MB/LB and LB I ceramic assemblages, is shown to arise from unnecessary reliance on rare imported and fine ware ceramics as the determinants of relative and absolute chronology. Local coarseware ceramics, through their ubiquity, are more suitable determinants of chronological inter-relationships. Chapter Six summarises thesis arguments, and considers the phenomenon of a widespread destruction horizon in both the northern and the southern Levant at the transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age. An over-reliance on enigmatic textual sources has tended to obscure the fact that the destruction horizon is too severe and too extensive to be accounted for by the textual sources. It is suggested that the horizon of destruction is likely to be more adequately accounted for by a widespread regional earthquake, similar in severity and extent to a number of historically attested geological events. Although not central to the thesis, it is suggested that this regional earthquake is to be related to the well known MB/LB period eruption of the Thera Volcano.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age in the northern Levant: The evidence from Tell Nebi Mend, Syria
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10116522
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