This study of household archaeology at Tell en-Nasbeh initiates a broader program of research on biblical families through analyzing residential compounds at the site. By studying ceramics and small finds in their original architectural contexts, I investigated aspects of daily life in a fortified village at the household level. This provides a bottom-up view of Judean society that stands in contrast to the top-down view of royal or elite society typically represented in various texts of the Hebrew Bible during the period of the United and Divided Monarchies. This household approach also stands in contrast to most excavations in the region that have focused primarily on the archaeology of urban centers and other outposts of the central authorities, such as fortresses.
Were the pillared-houses at Nasbeh, the biblical city of Mizpah, the residencies of nuclear or extended families? Data presented allows me to define a particular five-building compound as the home of three nuclear families whose houses were physically linked. Shared or pooled resources of these three nuclear families, revealed through household archaeology, suggest that this compound housed one extended family.
Aaron Brody is the Robert and Kathryn Riddell Associate Professor of Bible and Archaeology and the Director of the Badè Museum at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. His fieldwork has been conducted primarily at Bronze and Iron Age sites on the Mediterranean coast of Israel, with participation in projects in the Negev, Akko Plain, and in northern California. His primary research interests include archaeological interpretations of the society, religion, and economy of ancient Canaan, Phoenicia, and Israel; archaeology and the study of religions; race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality in archaeology and the biblical world; and maritime/underwater archaeology. He has held research posts at both the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, in Jerusalem, and the American Center for Oriental Research, in Amman. Recently his research has focused on household archaeology, household religion, metallurgy, and interregionaltrade at Tell en-Nasbeh, the site that forms the principal holdings of the Badè Museum at Pacific School of Religion. Recent publications include The Archaeology of the Extended Family: A Household Compound from Iron II Tell En-Nasbeh, in Household Archaeology in Ancient Israel and Beyond (2011); New Perspectives on Levantine Mortuary Ritual: A Cognitive Interpretive Approach to the Archaeology of Death, in Historical Biblical Archaeology and the Future: The New Pragmatism (2010); and The Specialized Religions of Ancient Mediterranean Seafarers, Religion Compass (2008).
This lecture is being held in association with the 2013 Earl Lectures at the Pacific School of Religion, "We Are Family: Real Families, Real Faith, in the Real World"
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