Date of Award
Master of Arts
Religion, MA: Archaeology
Randall W. Younker
It is quite common at excavation sites throughout the Near East to uncover the remains of metallic artifacts, though the practice of investigating these objects has fluctuated over the past 50 years of archaeometallurgical studies. Early scholars of archaeometallurgy, such as R.F. Tylecote, employed the use of elemental analysis, studying early metallurgical technologies necessary to create metallic implements around Europe and the Near East and paying close attention to the resources and energy exerted to manufacture each instrument. Other researchers compiled typological comparisons, building cultural identities off of stylistic features from the material culture. Since then, technological and elemental analyses have been utilized together, applying the study of metal artifacts from their initial ore state, to their manufacture and usage within ancient societies. Metallurgical analysis of bronze implements from Lachish, Tell edh-Dhiba’i, and Megiddo not only demonstrate an advanced metallurgical culture, but suggest the importance that metal artifacts have on the material culture of archaeological sites. Bronze artifacts have been discovered in the excavations at Jalul from 1992 to 2014, the analysis of which may contribute to the material culture of the site and suggest activities and daily life of people living at Jalul.
Forty-six bronze artifacts of varying size and type have been recovered from the excavation deposits at the site of Tall Jalul, located on the Madaba Plains of Jordan. Distributed throughout multiple strata, and within every excavated field of the site, these artifacts present a diverse glimpse of daily life, war, and prestige at Tall Jalul that can be accessed only through a tedious analysis of each artifact’s function and context. Without the necessary attention to researching each artifact, a significant amount of history would be lost from Tall Jalul. Metals reflect not only technological advancement, but the presence of trade relationships with neighboring and international communities which could increase or decrease the prosperity of a settlement. As the process of corrosion continues to limit the access to specific features of each excavated bronze artifact, the necessity for research on the Jalul bronzes becomes vital.
Justification and Purpose
The metallic artifacts excavated during the past 13 seasons at Tall Jalul comprise roughly 5% of the corpus of excavated findings from 1992 to 2014. The purpose of this study is twofold; first, to delineate the type of each individual artifact in order to define their utilization at the site. This analysis contributes to the second purpose of research, creating a cultural and chronological framework in which to place each artifact and its user, the scope of which reflects the economic status of inhabitants of Jalul as it fluctuated over time.
The bronze objects, which have been placed into groups based on functional classification (Weaponry, Tools, Jewelry and Unidentifiable), require analysis which is exclusive to their specified group. An observation of style, function, and form contributes to the typological classification of each artifact belonging to the Weaponry and Tool groups, which will be assessed alongside the parallels from neighboring sites to establish rough chronological data. The jewelry will be analyzed both stratigraphically for chronological data, and comparatively, alongside Near Eastern parallels. The last grouping of artifacts, which have been categorized as “unidentifiable,” will be analyzed by size and stratigraphic data.
Scope and Delimitations
Of the 46 bronze artifacts recorded from excavations at Jalul, 39 were analyzed for the purposes of this study. Several of the artifacts within the collection of bronzes were excavated from the Jalul Islamic Village, a site which contains a material culture not pertinent to the analysis of bronzes from Tall Jalul. However, only 17 of the 39 are currently available at the Siegfried Horn Archaeological Museum, limiting the access to a complete analysis of all the bronze artifacts. Photographs and field reports have supplied sufficient data to measure and contextually place artifacts which were not available for physical study. However, x-ray fluorescent (XRF) analysis would enable a non-destructive analysis of the chemical components of each artifact, an examination which could suggest methods of manufacture. Funds for XRF analysis were not available for the current research, but may be accessed at a later date, to improve on the results of individual analysis. The scope of jewelry throughout the ancient Near East, especially in tombs, provides a multitude of parallels far too extensive for this research. Rings, bangles, and earrings from multiple sites provide little variance from the Early Iron Age I to the Islamic period, suggesting that their utilization cannot be dated by stylistic elements. For this reason, the Jalul bronze jewelry has been analyzed mainly as evidence for luxury and prestige, and not as a means to determine chronology.
The results of the analysis of the 39 bronze artifacts illuminate several areas of interest pertaining to the Iron Age occupation at Jalul. Weaponry, 20.5% of the bronze corpus, consists of long-range and medium-range instruments discovered mainly around the perimeters of the site, in Fields G and E. Pottery readings as well as stylistic parallels from neighboring Near Eastern sites suggest their dating to the Iron Age I and Iron Age II. The tools discovered in previous seasons at Tall Jalul consist of 43.59% of the bronze implements, the largest grouping of bronze objects. An abundance of fibulae and three cosmetic applicators date to the Iron II/Persian period, at which time 51% of the overall bronze objects were found. Jewelry, roughly 31% of the corpus, was found during much of the Iron Age, the highest amounts dating to the Iron II/Persian period. Five objects, 5% of the corpus, were undateable, due mainly to their lack of field report records, or a variance in ceramic typologies connected with their associated loci.
The bronze artifacts at Jalul may represent a transition from the need for weaponry, in order to defend the community, to the interests in luxury items, reflecting a period of stability and the emergence of an elite class. Iron Age I artifacts contribute 12.82% of the total bronze corpus discovered at Jalul. Until the Late Iron II/Persian period, bronze artifacts reflect mainly weaponry, with only a few samples of jewelry occurring in the early Iron Age II. The Iron II/Persian period represents a distinct change in bronze utilization. Over 51% of the bronze artifacts analyzed were used during this period, the majority of which belong to the class of luxury and non-essential items. The implications of this research suggest that a heightened relationship between Assyria and Egypt encouraged easy access to luxury items previously unobtainable to inhabitants at Tall Jalul and within the Madaba Plains.
Tell Jalul (Jordan)--Antiquities, Excavations (Archaeology)--Jordan--Tell Jalul
Chitwood, Christine T., "The Bronze Artifacts of Tall Jalul, Jordan" (2015). Master's Theses. 72.