Biblical Archaeology Review 40:5, September/October 2014

Archaeological Views: Why People Interested in Biblical Archaeology Should Also Be Interested in the Prehistory of the Land of Israel

By Dani Nadel

Biblical archaeology attracts the attention of millions around the world. The archaeological finds uncovered all over the Holy Land that pertain to the Biblical period are indeed of much interest to scholars and laypeople alike, as they have been for more than a century. Important and fascinating as these finds are, however, they are only a small part of a very long cultural history in this region. Indeed, the prehistory of the Land of Israel (as part of the southern Levant) is one of the most important and most studied on the globe.

Those who, like readers of BAR, are interested in the Biblical period may gain new perspectives and insights if they are more familiar with the preceding long cultural sequence in general, and the last prehistoric cultures in particular. The latter include the first villages of the Neolithic period, about 11,000 years old, and several subsequent Neolithic phases, during which the full domestication of cereals and farm animals took place. The last prehistoric period, the Chalcolithic, is well-known to all those interested in Biblical archaeology. Among its many inventions and innovations are the first examples of metallurgy and the onset of new social and political systems.

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