This is going to be a difficult article to illustrate, I thought to myself as I started to write this article for BAR. How do you illustrate something that isn’t there?
This is an article about burials—or perhaps tombs would be more accurate. But they aren’t there!1
At least not at this time and place. The time is Iron Age I and Iron Age IIA—and even early Iron Age IIB. This is essentially the Biblical period. Iron I is usually denominated the period of the Judges, from about 1200 to the first half of the tenth century B.C.E. Iron Age IIA and the beginning of the Iron Age IIB cover the rest of the tenth century (the time of the United Monarchy) as well as the ninth and even the first part of the eighth century B.C.E. So we’re really talking about 1200 B.C.E. to the beginning of the eighth century B.C.E., a period of about 450 years.
The place is (mainly) the highlands of ancient Israel, which includes the area from northern Samaria all the way south through Benjamin and Judah to the southern slopes of the Hebron hill country (but the phenomenon expands even somewhat beyond that).