Determining the settlement history of hellenistic, Roman, and byzantine sites in the Galilee, Israel: Comparing surface, subsurface, and stratified artifact assemblages

Uzi Leibner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Archaeological field survey is the basic method for determining the history of settlement on the regional level. The backbone of survey is locating and surveying individual sites, estimating their size, and uncovering their settlement histories. Various biases place doubt on the reliability of surface data and the conclusions drawn from them. This study presents three methods for investigating multiperiod sites in eastern Galilee, Israel: Advanced surface survey, shovel test sampling, and large-scale stratigraphic excavations. Advanced surface survey was carried out at 46 sites settled during the Hellenistic through Byzantine periods (ca. 300 B.C.-A.D. 650). Three of these sites were later sampled using shovel test pits. Large-scale excavations were conducted at two of these sites, Khirbet Wadi H ? amam and Nasr ed-Din enabling the comparison of the three methods. Applying these three methods to the same sites allowed us to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each method for determining settlement history. The results indicate that a thorough surface survey of a site in an area where local pottery is well documented can provide a clear picture of its occupation history. However, these data are not sufficient to determine variations in the size of the site over time. Shovel test sampling presents no advantage over surface survey with regard to documenting periods of activity at a given site, but it is preferable for tracing changes in the intensity of occupation during different periods. Excavation is the most informative method, but because it is costly and time consuming, it often sheds light only on small portions of selected sites.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)387-400
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Field Archaeology
Volume39
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Trustees of Boston University 2014.

Keywords

  • Demography
  • Roman galilee
  • Settlement history
  • Shovel test sampling
  • Surface survey methods

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