Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia
Dig It: The Journal of the Flinders Archaeological Society
Volume 3, May 2016
Print: ISSN 1440-2475
Online: ISSN 2203-1898
Palatial structures of the Middle Bronze Age (MBA; 2000-1550 BCE) and the Late Bronze Age (LBA; 1550-1200 BCE) southern Levant are important governmental buildings that can provide insight into elite rulership and society. They can be divided into two distinct functional forms: the redistributive centre, a central hub of international trade and political power, and the independent estate, run by a ‘big man’ rather than a ruling elite. Historical records have suggested a change in function occurs between the MBA and LBA in these palatial buildings. These records attest to the domination of Egypt over the southern Levant in the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries BCE, indicating that the effect on elite governance would see palaces undergo a functional change. This paper investigates three case studies in the southern Levant: Kabri, Hazor and Pella. It examines whether a drastic decline and lack of maintenance of the structures in the archaeology, coinciding with an increase in Egyptian artefacts, can support this apparent change in function. The findings in the palace at Pella reinforce this theory, indicating that it is possible the ruling elite lost all control and power in the LBA, due to the new political situation in the southern Levant. Future study on a larger number of sites is recognised as key to providing a more widespread picture of the effects of empire on the palaces of the southern Levant in the MBA and LBA.
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