The Middle Bronze Age at Tel Burna

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The Middle Bronze Age – roughly 1900-1500 BCE (although there are plenty of arguments to move it one way or the other by 50-100 years) is a period of reawakening for urbanism in the southern Levant.  after a dark age of about 350 years, where no cities are found, cities begin to emerge once again, building palaces, temples, and most notably fortifications.  These fortifications are one of the hallmarks of the period, as they many times are the reason behind the shape of the tells we know today.  These fortifications include earthworks – known as ramparts and glacis – which encompassed the cities.  Some have argued against labeling the structures fortifications, preferring alternate explanations, linked to more “social” reasoning behind their costruction.

The survey revealed that there was a considerable presence of Middle Bronze Age pottery at Tel Burna.  The rough estimate of surface scatter (the area where artifacts found dating to a certain period) is 5 hectares.  this would mean that Tel Burna was a small city, and may have been encompassed by the earthworks mentioned above.  It would be interesting to see – through excavation – if the unique shape of the tell is a result of the construction of a rampart!


3 thoughts on “The Middle Bronze Age at Tel Burna

    Lubos said:
    February 14, 2010 at 1:40 am

    Hey !

    It seems surprising to me that you call MB Tel Burna small – Hebron (Tell Rumeide) 6 ha, Eglon (possibly Tel ´Eton) 6 ha, Lachish (at the base 12 ha, on the summit 7.3 ha) – if the sherd surface was 5 ha, does it mean that the MB town was smaller ?

    I miss the big MB town (maybe region´s capital)in the area and maybe Tel Burna could be it. Even Gath/Tell es-Safi was relatively small in MBA, so I miss a major MB town between Lachish and Gezer and Ekron and Jerusalem… How big are Maresha and Tel Goded, anyway ?



      joeuziel responded:
      February 14, 2010 at 10:24 am

      Hi Lubos,

      When we say small city, again, there are a number of these in the Middle Bronze Age. One should recall the much larger cities in this period – such as Askelon and Hazor, and what some call second order cities – Kabri, Ekron, Aphek, Ajjul and others. As far as a regional capital, without written sources, like those of the Amarna period, it is difficult to know the realms of power for each polity. But from what we know today, Burna would definitely be only second order – meaning it would answer to a bigger city in the region. probably not Maresha or Goded, but possibly Lachish, which is not far at all.

        Lubos said:
        February 14, 2010 at 6:18 pm


        thanks now I see what you meant… Because I´ve been seeking for the MB regional capital of this area and looking at the size, Tel Burna is one of the most possible that´s why I was so surprised… What´s strange, in the line Lachish – Tel ´Eton – Hebron we´ve got relatively bigger (second order) cities close to each other and in the relatively much bigger area delineated by Lachish – Gezer (south – north) and Ekron – Jerusalem (west – east) there´s nothing comparable in size in MBA – and that´s intriguing… What do you think about it ?

        Too, Aren Maeir speaks about a jigsaw relationship between Tell es-Safi and Tel Miqne/Ekron (meaning at a period when one was bigger the other one was smaller) – so I wonder whether this wouldn´t be the case for Tel Burna – Tel Yarmut, too. According to Israel Finkelstein,the regional polity capital in EBA was Tel Yarmut which didn´t exist in MBA, according to current knowledge. But in LBA both cities seem to exist (what were their respective sizes ?) and in Iron Age Tel Burna seems smaller and maybe Tel Yarmut again bigger… Do you think it´s possible ?

        And last, I wonder whether the city of Jarmuth (according to your map Tel Yarmut and Tel Burna are only c. 10 km apart as the crow flies) hasn´t moved over the ages, as it may have been the case of Arad (in MBA Tel Malhata was the major city in the south which was later, in IA, replaced by Tel Arad) – what is your attitude to this possibility ?

        These regional changes are interesting to me…



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