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Crossway ESV Bible Atlas Copyright © 2010 by Crossway Text copyright © 2010 by John D. Currid Published by Crossway a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers 1300 Crescent Street Wheaton, Illinois 60187 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher, except as provided for by USA copyright law. Maps by David P. Barrett ( Illustrations produced by Maltings Partnership (Derby, England) under the direction of Leen Ritmeyer. Terrain imagery generated from digital elevation data provided by CIAT (A. Jarvis, H. I. Reuter, A. Nelson, E. Guevara, 2006, Hole-filled seamless SRTM data V3, International Centre for Tropical Agriculture [CIAT], available from Maps of average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall for the Near East generated from data provided by UNEP/DEWA/GRID-Europe ( Cover and interior design: Jimi Allen Productions First printing 2010 Printed in Singapore Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scripture references marked RSV are from The Revised Standard Version. Copyright © 1946, 1952, 1971, 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-0192-0 ISBN-10: 1-4335-0192-9 ePub ISBN: 978-1-4335-1914-7 PDf ISBN: 978-1-4335-1912-3 Mobipocket ISBN: 978-1-4335-1913-0 Currid, John D., 1951 Crossway ESV Bible atlas / John D. Currid and David P. Barrett. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and indexes. ISBN 978-1-4335-0192-0 (hc) 1. Bible–Geography–Maps.  2. Bible–History of Biblical events–Maps.  I. Barrett, David P.  II. Title. G2230.C8 2010 220.9’10223–dc22 2009036660 IMG 17 16 15 14 10 9 8 7 6 5

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12 3

11 2

10 1

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Photograph Acknowledgments Photographs, used by permission, have been provided by the following: Todd Bolen/ 0-2, 0-3, 0-6, 0-8, 0-11, 0-13, 1-1, 1-3, 1-4, 2-2, 2-3, 2-4, 3-1, 3-2, 3-3, 3-4, 4-1, 4-3, 4-4, 5-1, 5-2, 5-4, 5-5, 5-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4, 7-1, 7-4, 10-1, 10-2, 12-1, 12-2, 12-4, 12-5, 12-6, 12-9, 12-13, 1216, 12-17, 12-19 (photos 2-4, 3-1, 5-4, 12-9 courtesy of the Rockefeller Museum) (photos 0-11, 12-6 courtesy of the Istanbul Museum) John D. Currid: 0-4, 0-7, 0-9, 0-10, 0-12, 0-14, 0-15, 12-3, 12-7, 12-8, 12-10, 12-18 Michael Luddeni: back cover (inscription), 0-1, 2-1, 7-2, 8-1, 9-1 The British Museum: 6-3, 7-3, 7-5, 8-2 (ŠThe Trustees of the British Museum. All rights reserved.) iStockphoto: cover (pyramid), 1-2, 12-12, 12-14, 12-15 David Bivin/ 0-5, 4-2 The Barry J. Beitzel Photographic Collection: 11-1 Michael Luddeni/Oral Collins: 3-3 Michael Luddeni/Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology, Jerusalem: 5-3 William L. Krewson/ 12-11 Getty Images: cover (aqueducts)

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BEFORE ABRAHAM In the Beginning From the beginning, humans have pondered the origin, operation, and meaning of the universe. For example, the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh (c. 2000  B.C.) tells the story of a king named Gilgamesh and his quest to understand the cosmos. The text describes Gilgamesh’s struggle with the issue of the death of a friend and his own end as well: “I became afraid of death, so that I now roam over the steppe. The matter of my friend rests heavy upon me, hence far and wide I roam over the steppe. The matter of Enkidu, my friend, rests heavy upon me, hence far and wide I roam over the steppe. How can I be silent? How can I be quiet? My friend, whom I loved, has turned to clay; Enkidu, my friend, whom I loved, has turned to clay. And I, shall I not like unto him lie down and not rise forever?” Gilgamesh travels across the earth in an attempt to discover the significance of the universe, the meaning of life and death, and the secret to immortality. From ancient times until today, people individually and collectively have sought answers to these same questions. Who are we? Where have we come from? Where did the universe come from? Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This is a proclamation

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of the origin of the universe. In the next 11 chapters of Genesis, the author then describes the beginning of many things, such as the human race, sin, agriculture, cities, and so forth. Other cultures of the ancient Near East, in particular Egypt and Mesopotamia, have different accounts of how the universe began. Because much of the time described in Genesis 1–11 preceded the invention of writing, historians often refer to it as protohistory or prehistory. Much of our knowledge of this protohistoric period comes from archaeological investigation. It is appropriate at this point to provide the chronology of the prehistoric periods as defined by archaeologists, and then to give a brief description of the relics and ruins of each period as discovered through archaeology.

The Paleolithic Period (pre-10,000 B.C.) According to archaeologists, the Paleolithic period can be defined as one in which people were hunters and gatherers. In other words, they did not produce their own food through either herding or agriculture. The dwelling places of the time were primarily cave settlements, and the tools were stone. By the very end of the period (called the Upper Paleolithic) great transitions were

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A Garden in Eden

is uncertain, although many suggestions have been

In Genesis 2:8, the writer says that the “LORD God

either in Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, or even Australia!

planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put

The word “Havilah” is mentioned several times in the

the man whom he had formed.” Immediately after the

Bible. Its next appearance after the Eden account is

creation of mankind, God plants “a garden in Eden.”

in Genesis 10:7, where Havilah is listed as one of the

Note that the text does not say “Garden of Eden.”

sons of Cush. Another Havilah occurs in the same

Apparently Eden was a larger geographical area than

genealogy as a son of Joktan (Gen. 10:29). In two

merely the spot occupied by the garden. Also, “in the

other instances, Havilah is used geographically and

east” probably refers to the eastern part of the re-

probably refers to an area near Egypt (Gen. 25:18;

gion called Eden. The meaning of the name “Eden” is

1 Sam. 15:7). The location of the second river, Gihon,

uncertain. In Akkadian a similar word meant “plain/wil-

is also unknown. The text says that it flows around

derness.” Canaanite texts used the word to reflect an

the land of Cush. Scholars disagree on whether “the

area that is well watered and fertile. In Hebrew, “Eden”

land of Cush” refers to an area of Mesopotamia or a

may be related to a term that means “luxury/delight.”

region in Ethiopia. The Bible normally treats “Cush”

Because of that possible meaning, the Septuagint

as an area at the source of the Nile River (Gen. 10:6;

(the Greek Old Testament) rendered the term as

Isa. 11:11; 18:1; Ps. 68:31). It may be that the two

paradeison, from which derives our word “paradise.”

rivers, the Pishon and the Gihon, represent what we

made; various authors argue that it ought to be located

The means of watering the garden was by irriga-

know as the Blue Nile and the White Nile. The problem

tion from a river that flowed through it. After feeding

is that the name “Cush” is also unmistakably tied to

the garden, the river flowed out of it and divided into

Mesopotamia in the Table of Nations (Gen. 10:8–12).

four “rivers” (Gen. 2:10). That word in Hebrew actually

In that passage, Cush is identified as the father of

means “headstreams,” and so when the river sepa-

Nimrod, who is said to have founded numerous cities

rated it broke up into four headwaters that were the

in Mesopotamia. Some scholars propose that “Cush”

sources of the four great rivers identified in the text.

is the person who gave his name to the “Kassites,”

The name given to the first river was Pishon, and it

who ruled in Babylonia in the second millennium

flowed around the whole land of Havilah. Its location

If that be the case, some commentators conclude that


the River Gihon is to be located in Mesopotamia. The Ca

B la ck Sea


Mount Ararat Araxes River



n Se a

TILE CRE FER SC EN Euphrates River


Nile R

Red Sea

Persian Gulf


100 200 200

areas of settlement in Mesopotamia. knows for certain (see map 1-1). Many suggest that it was located in Mesopotamia; some believe it may have been situated in the mountains of Armenia where ed. Others argue that it was in southern Mesopotamia



Tigris and Euphrates. These were, of course, the main

the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates are locat-



third and fourth rivers flowing out of Eden were the

So, where was the garden in Eden? No one

Tigris River Choaspes Ulai River River?





n Sea

1-1. The Garden of Eden  (Genesis 2:4–3:24; Ezekiel 31:1–18) Genesis describes the location of Eden in relation to the convergence of four rivers. While two of the rivers are unknown (the Pishon and the Gihon), the nearly universal identification of the other two rivers as the Tigris and the Euphrates suggests a possible location for Eden at either their northern or southern extremes.


300 mi

400 km

where those two rivers flow into the Persian Gulf. Others offer another alternative, that Eden was in Canaan: the two rivers of Pishon and Gihon were the Blue and White Nile in Ethiopia, and the Tigris and Euphrates were located in Mesopotamia. In between them lay the land of Canaan.








600 Miles

200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 Km

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taking place. Base camps for hunting began to appear: one of these, found at Ksar Akil, would have been used by 25–30 people. There was a broad spectrum of food use here, many tools, and hearths. Small settlement sites also first appeared during this period, and these contain very simple buildings. Deliberate burial practices also began at this time.

The Epi-paleolithic Period (10,000–8000 B.C.) Although there is debate regarding precisely when the domestication of plants and animals occurred, the evidence seems to argue for the Epi-Paleolithic or “Natufian” period. Life became centered in one place rather than in groups moving from one place to another. For example, at the site of ‘Ain Mallaha, the archaeologist determined that 200–300 people lived there. He found primitive houses with lime-coated walls and paved flooring. There were elaborate types of burials at the site. During this period, sickle blades made their first appearance, and the people ate a broad spectrum of food, including wild grains. Because of this transition to agriculture and herding, many consider this to be the period in which permanent settlement really began.

The Neolithic Period (8000–4000 B.C.) The sedentarization that began at the end of the Natufian period continued into the subsequent Neolithic period. The settlements, however, became larger and more elaborate. A good example of this “urbanization” may be seen at the site of Jericho, in which major excavations unearthed significant remains of the Neolithic period. The Neolithic is normally divided by archaeologists into three periods: Pre-pottery Neolithic A, Prepottery Neolithic B, Pottery Neolithic. We will look at the remains found at Jericho in each of these periods.

Pre-pottery Neolithic A During this first phase of the Neolithic period, Jericho was one of the largest known settlements. A great population increase took place here, and the settlement covered 10 acres. The archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon estimated that 2,000 people lived at Jericho during this period. The first fortification known to man was discovered here: it was a freestanding round stone tower that stood c. 28 feet (9 m) high. It contained an inside stairway with 22 steps leading from a bottom door to an opening on the top of the structure (see photo 1-1). Later in this 1-1. This round stone tower at Jericho  was originally a freestanding tower that was later connected to a city wall. It is the earliest known fortification structure in the world, dating to c. 7000 B.C.

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period the tower was attached to a city wall c. 5 feet (1.5 m) wide and 13 feet (4 m) high. Near the tower were unearthed round houses made of mud-brick; some of these contained postholes for the support of a roof. There is evidence of agriculture at the site, and Kenyon argues that the inhabitants employed irrigation techniques.

Pre-pottery Neolithic B The Pre-pottery Neolithic B period at Jericho had a less defensive posture than Pre-pottery Neolithic A. There were no fortification walls at the site. The architecture of the buildings during this period, however, was much more elaborate than the earlier period. The houses were now rectangular, rather than circular, and their walls were plastered and highly burnished with red ochre paint. The floors were hard lime plaster. And the houses were built around courtyards containing hearths. There were various rooms in each house, and many of the rooms had pillars and bases to hold up roofs. The buildings were constructed of cigar-shaped bricks

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that had thumb indentations to hold the mortar together firmly. The tool industry of this time was an improvement on Pre-pottery Neolithic A; the earlier period had a crude assemblage whereas this period had much finer ware. The appearance of turquoise perhaps indicates that there was some kind of trade taking place between Jericho and other areas. A most interesting find from this period was a series of plastered and modeled skulls sealed beneath the floors of houses. No one knows for certain what purpose they served, but perhaps they reflected some sort of ancestor worship.

Pottery Neolithic The Pottery Neolithic era was a dark age throughout the ancient Near East. Architectural remains from sites are shabby and primitive. Lots of places that had been settled in the Pre-pottery Neolithic were now unoccupied. Some archaeologists argue that Palestine was generally abandoned at this time due to climatic changes or some other natural force.


In other words, each period had its own distinctive

During the Neolithic period, pottery made its first ap-

and typical pottery. Archaeologists are able to date

pearance in the ancient Near East. Pottery is a most

any level or stratum in a site by the type of pottery

valuable tool for the archaeologist, and it is the most

that appears in it. Among the elements of pottery

basic and useful tool for developing chronology. It not

that help to distinguish one period from another are

only helps to determine the dating of layers of an indi-

form, decoration, material composition, and method

vidual site, but the archaeologist can compare pottery

of manufacture.

gathered from various sites to establish a relative dat-

Sometimes excavations uncover sherds with

ing sequence for a region. What is it about pottery that

inscriptions. These are called “ostraca” (singular “os-

makes it so valuable in this regard?

tracon”). The inscriptions are normally written in ink

First, pottery is durable. Although whole vessels

and are short, ranging from a few words to several

are fragile and break easily, potsherds are virtually

lines. Some of them appear to have been written in

indestructible. They do not decay, rust, burn, cor-

times of crisis when other writing materials were un-

rode, evaporate, or melt. Pottery is found in every

available. Perhaps the most well-known ostraca found

layer of a site because it lasts. Second, pottery is

in Palestine are the Lachish Letters from the time of

changeable. That is to say, while the features of

the destruction of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar in 586

pottery vessels, such as design and shape, were

B.C. (See

remarkably standardized during any given period in

ostraca found at Samaria, the capital of the northern

a region, these traits changed at frequent intervals.

kingdom of Israel, are also of great importance.

“The Lachish Letters,” p. 174) The numerous

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On the other hand, it may be that there was not an abandonment but rather a shift from the sedentary life back to pastoralism. Jericho was occupied during this time, but the settlement was small and in decline from the previous periods. Although the period was one of general degeneration, it was not devoid of importance. Pottery came into use in this final phase of the Neolithic era, and its importance for the reconstruction of chronology and life in the ancient Near East cannot be overstated.

population throughout the ancient Near East, and there were more and larger settlements. The first known use of metal for tools and weapons occurred at this time; locations for copper smelting have been discovered. Settlements had specialization in various crafts; some were, for example, copper smelting villages, and others worked only in ivory. The pottery of the period was mostly handmade, although there is some evidence for the beginning of slow wheel manufactured ceramic. Trade throughout the ancient Near East became more robust. In Palestine, most populations of the Chalcolithic era were living in more arid areas. Near Beersheba, three sites have been unearthed from this period that are called the “Beersheba group.”

The Chalcolithic Period (4000–3200 B.C.) Some very important changes occurred in the Chalcolithic period, from the previous “dark age” of the Pottery Neolithic. There was an increase in

C as

Black Sea Magog




















Heth Aram

anean Sea



Zemarites Arvadites Hamathites Sinites Arkites Sidon Hivites Girgashites Jebusites Amorites

ab im ?

Persian Gulf


Red Sea

Havilah? She ba?

Sabtah? th ave Uzal? erm Haz

Gulf of Aden Ophir?

400 mi 600 km








100 200



Miles 0

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Cush 200






Descendant of Japheth




Descendant of Ham




Descendant of Shem






Red Sea










Kittim Elishah?


Caphtorim Tiras = Etruscans? (Italy) Tarshish = Tartessos? (Spain)



1-2. Table of Nations, c. 2200 B.C.  (Genesis 10:1–32) Many of the people groups mentioned in Genesis 10 can be identified with relative certainty. In general, the descendants of Ham settled in North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean coast, the descendants of Shem in Mesopotamia and Arabia, and the descendants of Japheth in Europe and Asia Minor.


1000 Miles


100 200 mi


200 km

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The sites are Abu Mater, Khirbet Beitar, and Safadi. They appear to have been typical of the period, with each site having a specialized craft. There was clear evidence of trade with Egypt: beads made of shells from the Nile River were unearthed at Abu Mater. Sacred shrines became more common in this period. Near Engedi, next to the Dead Sea, a longroomed shrine was found that was surrounded by a sacred enclosure wall. Inside the temple was discovered a favissa, a sacred pit where ritual items used in the temple would be buried. In a cave near the site, a horde of 400 copper objects was found that perhaps went with the temple. This is called the “Cave of the Treasure,” and many of the objects were ritual or ceremonial pieces.

The Early Bronze Age (3200–2200 B.C.) The Early Bronze Age was characterized by urbanization, a shift from village life to city dwelling. More settlements appeared in this age than at any time previously, and they were fortified. Fullfledged agricultural production, both fruits and 1-3. The Near East during the Early Bronze Age, 3200– 2200 B.C.  In the Ancient Near East, the Early Bronze Age was marked by urbanization, agricultural production, and international trade. Complex and powerful civilizations flourished around the Nile, Tigris, and Euphrates Rivers.

vegetables, also became a major part of life in the ancient Near East. A brisk international trade network was in evidence, especially between Palestine and Egypt. This was the time of the first great empire building in the ancient Near East, with grand states formed in Egypt and in Mesopotamia (the region between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers; see map 1-3).

Egypt Prior to 3100 B.C., the political situation in Egypt is obscure. There appear to have been two separate kingdoms: a northern kingdom in the Delta (at the city of Pe), and a southern kingdom in the Nile River Valley (at Nekhen). This political duality persisted throughout Egyptian history in different political and religious symbols of Egypt: separate northern and southern crowns, the representation of the north by the serpent goddess Wadjit and the south by the vulture goddess Nekhbet. Egypt itself was often called the two lands. The Archaic period. The first two dynasties of Egypt lasted from 3100 to 2700 B.C., and we know

Black Sea

H aly s R




er T ig ris

Se a

Carchemish Ebla






M e d i t e r ra n e a n S e a

Eu p h

Hamath Gebal





iv er


ACC A D Kish




Nile R




Thebes (No-amon)


Miles 0






Susa ELAM Nippur Lagash Umma Erech SUMER Ur


Persian Gulf


Memphis (Noph)

Red Sea

nS ea





r S U BA RT U Asshur

t ra






Araxes Ri


0 0

100 200


300 400

400 mi 600 km

600 Miles

Km 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 Km Miles 0


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600 Miles

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very little about them. We know that it was a period of unification of the two kingdoms. The first king was probably the Scorpion king. A ceremonial mace head of this king has been found, and it commemorates his victories over enemies that may have included native Egyptians of the Delta area. One of the registers on the mace head pictures Scorpion wearing the crown of Upper Egypt and opening an irrigation canal, which was a common duty of the king. The next king was probably Narmer. A palette has been discovered of this king: on one side he is pictured wearing the crown of Upper Egypt, posing in victory over the conquered ones from the Delta, and on the other side he wears the crown of Lower Egypt in procession over his slain enemy. Narmer is often identified with Menes, the traditional founder of the First Dynasty of Egypt. Apart from unification, virtually nothing of a political nature is known explicitly from these first two dynasties, although the names of the kings are verified on contemporary monuments. However, we do know that nearly all the social, political, religious, and cultural institutions that identify Egyptian civilization originated during this Archaic period. Excavations of tombs from this period at Saqqarah and Abydos provide much of the material remains of the time. The Old Kingdom. This period consists of Dynasties Three–Six (2700–2180 B.C.). The main

figures of the Third Dynasty were Djoser and his architect Imhotep. They built the Step Pyramid complex at Saqqara. That pyramid and its temple were the first exclusively stone buildings in Egyptian history. Imhotep was later deified by the Egyptians, and he was given much credit as a wise man who helped in the development of writing, medicine, and mathematics. Reliefs from the time of Djoser and his successors indicate that turquoise and copper mining began in the Sinai in this period. Dynasty Four (2620–2480 B.C.) was the culmination of the building of the pyramids in Egypt with the great monuments built at Giza by Cheops, Chephren, and Mycerinus (see photo 1-2). Little is known of historical events during this dynasty, but it is clear that the government was centered in the king and the royal family. Royal hereditary succession was the rule. The king had absolute final authority over law; his word was law. He also had control of the military, the economy, and taxation. And, most importantly, he was considered a god. Each king of this period had a “Horus name,” by which they were identified as the earthly form of that god. The pyramids at Giza were royal tombs for the god/king for continued existence in the afterlife. The construction of these pyramids was a grand organizational accomplishment. For example, the Great Pyramid of Cheops measured 756

1-2. The pyramids at Giza in Egypt.  All three of these pyramids and their outer buildings date to the twenty-sixth century B.C.

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feet (230 m) square and 481 feet (147 m) high, and it covered 13 acres of land. It took less than 20 years to build, and most of the work occurred during the three months of each year when the Nile was inundated, when the workers could use the Nile to move the stone from the quarry to the building site. It has been estimated that, to finish the pyramid in 20 years, 1,000 blocks needed to be put in place per day of each three-month period. One can imagine the organization that was needed to feed the workers, house them, keep them working in teams, and so forth. The Egyptian historian Manetho claims that the pyramids put to work 100,000 people out of an Egyptian population between 1 and 2 million. In addition, each pyramid had subsidiary structures, such as temples in which the dead king could be worshiped. Tombs of the royal family and high officials of the court were also found next to the pyramids. The pyramids are in a sense symbolic of the centrality of the king to the Egyptian society of the time. Dynasty Five (2480–2340) was characterized by the domination of the solar Re cult at Heliopolis. Userkaf, the first king of the dynasty, donated 33,000 acres of land to the cult of Re. The name Re became a common element in the names of the kings: Sahure, Djedkare, and so forth. It was also at this time that the king began to be called “son of Re.” The Pyramid Texts first appeared at the end of this dynasty during the reign of Unis, and they continued into the Sixth Dynasty. The Pyramid Texts were magical spells that provided for the welfare of the king in the hereafter. They were the oldest religious texts of ancient Egypt. Also, beginning in this dynasty were detailed reliefs and painted scenes in tombs, and these provided remarkably vivid descriptions of the daily life of the time. Political events of Dynasty Six (2340–2180) are not well known. Several of the kings ruled for long periods: Pepi I for 49 years and Pepi II for 94 years. There is no reason to question the extraordinary length of the latter rule. It is attested in several documents, and he became king at the age of five as a co-regent with his mother. The dynasty closed with a series of weak kings and a general collapse of the central governmental authority. The weakening of Egypt at this time was perhaps due to three

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factors: (1) the power of Egypt was decentralized, that is, authority shifted from the king to powerful nobles who set themselves up as rulers over large regions; (2) northern Egypt, in particular, was subjected to numerous incursions of Asiatics; and (3) it is likely that there were catastrophic drought conditions at the very end of the dynasty, and this climatic event helped put an end to an already weakened central authority. The First Intermediate period (2180– 2040 B.C.). Most of this period is characterized by civil strife, and Egypt was divided. The period consisted of Dynasties Seven–Eleven, and Egypt was ruled from Herakleopolis in Dynasties Nine–Ten and from Thebes in Dynasty Eleven. These dynasties were started by provincial governors (“nomarchs”) and nobles who proclaimed themselves kings and were able to gain some support from the population. Rulers changed frequently, and the time produced no outstanding kings. Perhaps the major problem of the time for Egypt was the migration of Asiatics into northern Egypt.

Mesopotamia The Sumerians. The dominant group in Mesopotamia during the third millennium  B.C. was the Sumerians. Their place of origin is not certain, although they seemed to have settled in the region as early as c. 5000 B.C. The Sumerians dominated the political landscape of Mesopotamia from 3500–2350 B.C. The age of their supremacy is divided into four periods: Uruk (3500–3000 B.C.), Jemdet Nasr (3000–2650), Early Dynastic (2650– 2500), and the First Dynasty of Ur (2500–2350). We will consider these four periods in order. Probably the most important event of the Uruk period was the invention of writing. Since the oldest tablets we possess were written in Sumerian, the Sumerians have been credited with the invention of writing. The first writing was pictographic (i.e., a picture representing an action), then ideographic (a symbol representing an idea), and, finally, syllabic (a symbol representing the sound of a consonant and a vowel together). Almost all Sumerian texts were written in cuneiform, that is, wedge-shaped characters etched in clay tablets with a stylus. Also from this period came the invention

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of the cylinder seal that is found throughout the history of ancient Mesopotamian civilization; it is an important relic in the reconstruction of cultural and religious ideas. The period, in addition, began the shift of population from the village to the temple-city, and the Sumerian culture started to become a “temple economy.” A temple economy was one in which the god owned everything; in other words, all property belonged to the deity. His dwelling was in the temple in the city, and all Sumerian society centered on the temple. At Uruk, two temples dominated the urban landscape: one dedicated to the god Anu and the other to Inanna. The temple of Anu was built on a terrace constructed of mud-brick; this was a forerunner of the later ziggurat that became characteristic of Mesopotamian religious architecture (see photo 2-1, p. 65; and illustration, p. 66). The Jemdet Nasr period occurred in the first quarter of the third millennium B.C. This period continued much of the cultural innovations that had begun in the Uruk age. For example, writing, which was invented in the Uruk period, now proceeded from pictographic to ideographic form. Metals began to be used in a much more widespread way, and bronze was introduced, appearing now in tool and weapon assemblages. The following Early Dynastic period was characterized by increased urbanization in Mesopotamia. Towns also began to be heavily fortified; for example, Uruk contained an outer wall that was six miles (10 km) long with 900 towers. Writing also developed significantly, moving from the ideographic to the syllabic. Prior to this time most writing simply recorded commercial sales and transactions, but now the literature became quite varied, including religious stories, palace edicts, and so forth. The societal structure of the Sumerians began to change during this period. No longer was it based merely on a temple economy; the king began to become as important as the priest. Many cities flourished in the First Dynasty of Ur, such as Nippur, Lagash, and Mari. Ur, however, seems to have been the most important city of the time, and it had the political power and leadership over Sumer. The splendor of Ur is confirmed by excavations that unearthed its royal tombs from

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this period; it contained great riches, such as the gold ornaments of Queen Shubad. In addition, the tombs contained mass burials of servants to accompany their sovereign into the afterlife. Toward the end of the First Dynasty of Ur, there began a period of weak rulership throughout Sumer, to the point that the kingship passed into the hands of the priesthood. There was one last gasp, however; in the city of Umma a leader arose named Lugalzaggisi. He appears to have been the first great conqueror as he carried out his idea of unifying all of Sumer under one ruler. He first conquered Lagash and several other cities, and then he made Uruk the capital of his kingdom. But this was short-lived as a new power began to assert itself—the Akkadians under the rulership of Sargon I. The Akkadian Empire (2350–2150  B.C.). Semites had been settling in Mesopotamia for centuries, and now Semitic princes became strong and altered the course of events in the region. The founder of the Akkadian empire was the Semite Sargon I. He had been cupbearer to the king of Kish, but he overthrew his master and then marched his forces to Uruk. Sargon defeated Lugalzaggisi who, at the time, was overlord of Sumer, and proceeded to conquer Ur, Lagash, Umma, and finally all of Sumer even to the Persian Gulf. He founded his capital at the city of Agade, the only royal city of ancient Mesopotamia whose location is unknown. He expanded his kingdom with several military campaigns against Elam to the east and Syria to the west. Sargon I’s reign was a glorious one, lasting no less than 55 years. After Sargon’s death, his son Rimush had to repress several revolts in the kingdom; he was assassinated after nine years, and his brother Manishtusu kept the empire together for another 15 years. Naram-Sin, Sargon’s grandson, then took over the reins of the empire; he was the last great monarch of the Akkadian dynasty. His reign of more than 35 years was filled with military operations and great victories for the Akkadian army. When he died (c. 2250 B.C.), the empire began to crumble at the frontiers; although the empire lasted for almost another century, the rulers of Akkad became increasingly weak. In the end, the Gutians, centered in the Zagros Mountains, overran Mesopotamia. They ruled the land for a

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century (2150–2050 B.C.), and it was a dark age of cultural stagnation.

Syria-Palestine Archaeologists normally divide the Early Bronze Age in Syria-Palestine into four periods: Early Bronze I, II, III, and IV. We will briefly discuss the nature and characteristics of the remains from each of these periods. Early Bronze I (3200–2800 B.C.). As in the rest of the ancient Near East, this period in SyriaPalestine was characterized by urbanization. There was a shift from village life to city life, and the people founded many more settlements. We also see Tyre










Sea of Galilee


Rakkath Shimron


Beth-yerah Edrei

Megiddo Taanach [T. an-Asawir]


[T. al-Hisn]




J o rd a n R i v e r


[T. Umm Hammad]

[Azor] Lod


Gezer Gath



Dead S ea

[T. ‘Erani]

Lachish [T. an-Nagila]

[T. al-Hasi] Arad 0 0

10 20


30 40


40 mi


60 km

1-4. Canaan during the Early Bronze Age, 3200–2200 B.C.  During the Early Bronze Age, the land of Canaan appears to have experienced many of the same developments as the rest of the Near East, including increased urbanization, agricultural production (especially wine and olive oil), and international trade (especially with Egypt).

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a brisk international trade beginning between this area and the rest of the ancient Near East, in particular with Egypt. Full-fledged farming began at this time in the Mediterranean world, and Palestine became a major international wine center. In regard to pottery, kilns and the pottery wheel were in full use at this time. Early Bronze II (2800–2600 B.C.). Building on the urbanization of Early Bronze I, settlements in this period became increasingly large. For example, Ai was 27 acres in size and Arad was between 23 and 25 acres. Cities in this period were becoming quite complex. A typical city for the time was Arad (see photo 1-3). It contained a lower and an upper city. The lower city was surrounded by a thick fortification wall (8 feet [2 m] thick) with semicircular towers spaced every 65–80 feet (20–24 m) in the wall line. The length of the city wall measured approximately two-thirds of a mile (1 km). Inside the city wall was a street that encompassed most of the site; no buildings were attached to the outer wall. The domestic quarter contained rectangular “broad room” houses, namely, houses that had an entrance in one of the long sides, with benches on the inside of the structure, and they were built around a courtyard. Public buildings of the site included a palace, a marketplace, and a twin temple structure. The latter was two temples that shared a common wall. It is thought that one of the temples was for a female deity and the other for a male deity. There was, in addition, a vast trade network in this period between Palestine and Egypt in the south and Byblos in the north. Palestine had much to offer: pitch, cedar, wine, olive oil, copper, and turquoise. Early Bronze III (2600–2350 B.C.). Marked prosperity characterized Palestine during the Early Bronze III period. New settlements were founded, such as Tell el-Hesi. New types of pottery appeared: the most impressive was the Khirbet Kerak ware that was a beautifully burnished red-black ceramic. Early Bronze  IV (2350–2200  B.C.). A huge cultural shift marked the end of the Early Bronze III period. Many of the cities of Palestine had a gap in occupation during the Early Bronze IV and Middle Bronze I (2200–2000 B.C.) periods. Major settlements such as Beth-shean, Shechem, Ai, Gezer,

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and Hazor were unoccupied at this time, and others, such as Megiddo, Jericho, and Tell Beit Mirsim had meager remains at best. Generally, the Early Bronze IV–Middle Bronze I periods in Palestine were non-urban in character. Most of the settlements now seem to have been located in the fringe areas of Palestine, namely, in the Negeb, Transjordan, and Jordan Valley areas. Why this shift took place is unknown, although climatic change has often been suggested as the catalyst for it. In any event, at the end of the third millennium, the population shifted away from urbanism to an increased nomadism.


1-3. Part of the Canaanite city of Arad in the Negeb from the Early Bronze Period.  It was a well-planned city, built in such a way as to maximize its ability to catch and collect rainwater.

1-4. Round stone altar at Megiddo from c. 2500 B.C.  It originally stood alone but was later linked to a two-room temple.

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