Part Two: Middle Bronze

Now we need to backtrack and consider the cultures known as Middle Bronze (MB). When some EB site was abandoned, the standard presumption is that the cause was the advent of the Middle Bronze "Age". It is not evidence which demands this consecutive arrangement, but rather it is the conventional theory.

In contrast to this, I have asserted that the EB and MB societies and city-states are not consecutive, but contemporary. In maintaining this, I have exposed myself to rather harsh criticism: for example, one anonymous reviewer of this article wrote that “the author displays a lack of knowledge of primary archaeo­logical data from Syria-Palestine” (private communication). I suggest that this is the same re­sponse that creationists meet from evolu­tionists. Just as evolu­tionists see only genetic relationships where crea­tionists see intelli­gent design, in explaining similarities between distinct biological taxa, so the stan­dard archeological paradigm admits only consecu­tive cultures, where this new biblical paradigm interprets the EB and MB soci­eties as contemporaneous. Rather than dismiss this article out of hand, a critic must demonstrate any real contradic­tion between my theory and the archeological record. It is not enough to say that the standard paradigm exists, therefore there is no other explana­tion: it is necessary to prove some real inadequacy.

But if the standard theory is incorrect, how then can the evidence be explained? An examination of Table V will reveal how the facts fit our new biblical paradigm. I have extended this reconstruction far beyond the narrow focus of this article, and found it to be valid. And as is needful for any true theory, this also is subject to falsification. For example, if we were to find MB IIB artifacts over an EB city which, say, the Bible stated was destroyed by Joshua and not rebuilt, this paradigm would be falsified. When the Bible does make such statements, they of course everywhere support this theory — or, if you will, this theory everywhere supports the statements.

According to the conventional scheme the "period" following EB III is characterized, as we might predict, by “terminological chaos” (Mazar, p. 152). This article will use the "Middle Bronze I" label, which is said to mark the same period as "EB IV", which we have just considered. Albright's "EB IV" was originally “vaguely determined . . . . [by] only a few tomb groups in western Palestine, and deposits from Transjordanian sites” (Mazar, p. 152). Such vagueness allowed scholars to select labels more to their liking. Thus, Tufnell called it the "Caliciform culture", Kenyon the "Intermediate Early Bronze-Middle Bronze Period" (Kenyon, 1960, p. 162), and Lapp the "Intermediate Bronze Age". In 1968, Lapp found significant continuity between EB III and this culture at Bab edh-Dhara`, and so reverted to Albright's "EB IV" label. Finally, to add to the confusion, Albright's (and Kenyon's) "MB I" is more widely (and here) called "MB IIA".

MB I 1970-1300's / c. *2200-1950 or *2000-1800 (standard match with Akkad, Ur III, Isin-Larsa, and the illusory "1st I.P.". True match with ED I & II, MB IIa&b, Sumer, Akkad & Ur III, and Archaic thru "2nd I.P.")

The terminating crisis of the Early Bronze Age culture lasted only “a short time, to be replaced by a to­tally different, nonurban pattern . . . . The exact date, nature, and cause of this crisis are among the major questions concerning the period. . . .Pal­estine [became] sparsely populated, mainly by pastoralists and village dwell­ers.” (Mazar, pp. 141,151.) The most important fact in this discussion is that the population distribution of the MB I culture “was consider­ably differ­ent from that of the Early Bronze Age.” (Mazar, p. 154.) “The characteristics of this period [culture] are regionalism of the material culture, lack of fortifications, aban­donment of the E.B. urban sites, and extension of occupa­tion, at least seasonal­ly, into fringe areas.” (Libolt, p. 588.)

The phrase "abandonment of the EB urban sites" has the effect of a code, meaning that MB I artifacts do not generally follow the last EB layers. Liv­ing in the open land between the various EB urban areas were pastoralists, who were effectively independent of the urban societies. There was a fundamental indepen­dence of each from the other, which in turn supports the reinterpreta­tion by our new paradigm of the evidence: these were contemporary communities in different locations, rather than one culture which coincidentally avoided the ruins of the previous culture.

Careful analysis reveals that any nomadic settlement of a certain type or location is assigned to the MB I "period", regardless of its place in real chronology. These MB I seminomads retained a cultural continuity “from EB I down to EB IV/MB I.” (Mazar, p. 117.) In other words, MB I is not a chrono­logical, but a cultural label.

The archeologist who first identified this culture noted that “there are few synchronisms to assist” in correlating MB I to the rest of history (Albright, p. 52). Albright found MB I strata at Tell Beit Mirsim, “in good stratigraphic sequence”; this "sequence" was MB I topped by MB IIA (see Table VI), so there is no apparent EB connection. We can recognize this as a pastoral MB I group pioneering a site later occupied by urbanized MB II Amorites.


Who were these MB I people? An enduring opinion is that they were "West­ern Semitic" seminomads from the Syrian steppes — either those same Amorites (MAR.TU in Sumerian, meaning "westerners") who troubled Mesopotamia, or else related opportunists who came to fill the supposed void at the end of the Early Bronze Age. Another view identifies the MB I race as Indo-Europeans, noting first the similarity between copper grave goods found at MB I Ras Shamra and in Europe, and also the mutual use of tumuli, which were an essen­tial feature of Indo-European culture. More recently the fashionable view is evolution­ary, emphasizing indigenous traits and dismissing the idea of grand invasions by semites or aryans.

I maintain that, just as the ethnic Canaanites spread their EB culture, so this Middle Bronze I culture was indeed that of the ethnic Amorites — though as descendants of the patriarch Canaan, they were semit­ic only in their language. These people appeared on the scene after the Sodom catastrophe, and it is tempting to link them to the displaced culture of EB I, which was supplanted by the Canaanites of EB II. By this understanding, any genuine similarity to Indo-European traits is due to the proximity of both races to the time of the Tower of Babel.

Although the description of the MB I race as nomadic may not be entirely accurate, “there can be no doubt that the diffusion of its pottery was closely related to the extraordinary development of the donkey caravan trade during the Third Dynasty of Ur and the Twelfth Dynasty in Egypt.” (Albright, p. 54; paren­thetical reference deleted.) This tells us that, whatever the particu­lars, the people of MB I were somehow intimately connected with caravans and trade. We may gain some insight as to why this is so, when we realize that the word "Canaanite" was synonymous in ancient times with "merchant" or "trad­er" — and the Amorites were descended from the patriarch Canaan. It seems fair to conclude, then, that at least some of the Amoritic Canaanites known from their MB I artifacts were traders, whose artifacts are found along trade routes.


The MB I "period" is a "dark age" which was designed by modern scholars to save the standard paradigm. Its outline is defined solely by Egyptian chro­nology: the

“precise chronological framework for [EB IV/MB I] is based on the dates of the end of EB III and the beginning of the following MB IIA. . . .the end of the EB III urban culture can be dated to the beginning of the Sixth Dynasty in Egypt, c. 2300-2250 b.c.e. The beginning of MB IIA should probably be determined at ca. 2000 b.c.e., corresponding to the beginning of the Middle Kingdom in Egypt.” (Mazar, pp. 168-169.)

In between these Egyptian labels, the artificial "period" of MB I is inserted, correlated to Egypt's imagi­nary "First Intermediate Period" (1st I.P., to which have been assigned Dynasties VII to XI).

The 1st I.P. is supposed to be an era of “decentralization of power and a break in the traditional connections between Egypt and Asia, particularly those with Byblos.” (Mazar, p. 151.) This "Intermediate Period" is a complex subject, which I discuss elsewhere (JH, 1997a, ch. 12); it is enough now to say that the 1st I.P., like the MB I "period", has no chronological reality other than as a saving device for orthodox Egyptology.

In its mystery, MB I corresponds not only to the imaginary "dark age" of the 1st I.P., but also to the Mesopotamian "dark age" / label, Early Dynastic I & II (1940‑1860 bc / *2900‑2600). However, note that the standard scheme has MB I corresponding to the end of the Ur III period (14th cent. / *21st cent. bc), when, conveniently, there were also no explicit interactions with Palestine or Egypt.

Middle Bronze I supposedly lasted something over 200 years, but this dura­tion is not based on actual assemblages of pottery, MB I with Dynasty XII or Ur III. In any case, if this link is correct, I have shown that Dynasty XII ended in the 1700's (JH, 1997a, ch. 10), and Ur III thrived in the 1300's (JH, 1997a, ch. 16) — which would mean MB I lasted a minimum of 400 years, with its "ends" in reversed order. Likewise, it is claimed that the MB I pottery of Palestine “goes back ultimately to Meso­potamian prototypes of the Accad period (*24th-*22nd centuries bc [/1600's to 1400's bc])” (Albright, p. 53). In reconstructed time, MB I pottery is earlier than the Akkadian dynasty — so that the influence is the reverse of what is commonly believed. We can explain this by recalling the MB I trade routes. In terms of actual correspondences, then, Middle Bronze I seems to start before Dynasty XII, includes the Exodus and Sargon's Akkadian line, and ends with Ur III.

The only significant correlations of MB I are with Syria. Imported Syrian Black Ware have been found in association with the Northern type of MB I ceramics (S. Mazzoni, 1985), in a cave near Qedesh and in the Megiddo grav­eyard. The ornamentation and the caliciform shapes of this ware are known from northern Syria, from Levels J1 thru J4 of Hama, and from the Palace G and post-palace era of Ebla (Tell Mardikh, Phase IIA & IIB). These are the only finds which allow any direct correlation with a community outside of Palestine it­self — in this case with Ebla, and so with Naram Sin's Akkad.

In sum, MB I is a virtually free-floating culture, with no direct archeologi­cal anchor to Mesopotamia or to Egypt; it is this fact which allows archeologists to date it howsoever they please, and to make it last as long as they need: the controversy as to its dating should illustrate its ad hoc nature. Pales­tine's MB I and Egypt's 1st I.P., and the "earlier" Mesopotamian ED I & II, are associ­ated and mysterious "dark ages", invented to fill the inevitable gaps which must result when the evidence does not fit the theory.


The obvious styles of MB I ceramics are the Northern and the Southern, and the Transjordan (EB IV) which we have already discussed. All three share certain shapes, such as small double-handled jars (amphoriskoi), "teapots", goblets, and four-spouted lamps. The pottery is predominantly handmade, as predictable for pastoral people, who would not wish to be encumbered with a potter's wheel. The Northern type, which does not appear further south than Wadi Farah, has two subtypes: the Upper Galilee group (found in a Qedesh cave and at the cemetery of Maayan Baruch), and the Jezreel Valley group (of Megiddo, Hazorea, and Beth-Shean). Although it is unlike the Trans­jordan group, the Northern type also has an EB feature, in its "ledge handle", here folded to be "envelope shaped". As for the South­ern group, it includes everything else to the south of Sinai, and is least related to any EB type.

The metal objects of Middle Bronze I demonstrate such a high degree of skill that specialists must have been at work. We see such metal-smiths, as Mazar observes (p. 166), in the famous Middle Kingdom tomb painting of Beni Hasan, which depicts a family of smiths, the elder bearing the typi­cally West­ern Semitic name of Ab-sha; this picture gives us a uniquely detailed picture of the amu, regarding style of dress, beards and hair; they are mount­ed on donkeys (known in Byblos but not in Egypt). Beni Hasan died c. 1829 / *1890, "the sixth year" of Senusert / Sesostris II, about the first year of the co­regency of the great Sesostris III (JH, 1997a, ch. 8). This is the period of Middle Kingdom contact with Byblos.

A characteristic MB I copper artifact is the "eye shaped" axehead, superi­or in design to the "E-shaped" EB axes, from which they supposedly derived. Similar eye-shaped axes were common at Byblos and Ras Shamra; however, the

“appearance of ceremonial gold axes of the "eye" type in Middle Kingdom contexts at Byblos appears to contradict the chronology used here, as the Eye Axe is supposed to be replaced by a new type (the ‘duckbill’ axe) during MB IIA, which is claimed to be contemporary with the Mid­dle Kingdom at Egypt.” (Mazar, p. 173, note 19.)

By standard reckoning this anachronism would be due to some unusual conserva­tive trend at Byblos; but since MB I and MB II overlap by our reconstruction, there need be no real anomaly after all.

Finally, the silver Ain Samiya Goblet is the only acknowledged MB I art object. Found in a shaft tomb, it depicts kilted Sumerians enacting a Mesopo­tamian creation myth involving serpentine Tiamat and heroic Marduk. Apparent­ly, this unique object was imported from northern Syria, which has yielded undecorat­ed goblets of similar shape (M.-H. Gates, 1986).


Based on the range of cemeteries, it has been presumed that MB I settle­ments were once scattered across the country. Whatever the actual range — and the evidence is quite meager — there is very little mixing or innovation in certain MB I regions. For example, south “of Esdraelon, 'MB I' is astonish­ingly homoge­neous” (Albright, p. 53). Thus, MB I ceramic and metal artifacts of the Negev, the Hebron Hills, and the Shephelah are identical, suggesting that the Negev highlands and the north­ern regions were seasonal feeding grounds (Dever, 1985).

Of major EB cities, only Hazor, Megiddo, Beth-Shean, and Jericho were beneath “a scanty occupa­tion level” of the MB I culture (Mazar, p. 152). However, at the outskirts of various ruined cities, new MB I settlements were often established and occupied only by this society. As for autochthonic settle­ments, Jebel Qaaqir (west of Hebron in the inner Shephelah) is one of the rare excavated sites: its people lived in caves and rude huts, and the most significant of its features was a large and populous graveyard. Like­wise, at Dahr Mirzaneh an expansive grave­yard encircles what may have been a season­al campsite of pastoralists (see Dever, 1972).

Only a few other remote sites have been found and excavated, and informa­tion “concerning this period is limited; most of it has come from cemeteries” (Mazar, p. 151; see S. Richard, 1980 & 1987). There are three types of buri­als: 1) shaft tombs of western Palestine, 2) megalithic dolmens of Upper Gali­lee and the Golan Heights, and 3) stone tumuli of the central Negev. Each type of tomb housed one or just a few bodies, in contrast to the crowded graves of the EB Canaanites. It is reasonable to suppose that city dwellers maintained multi-generational family crypts, whereas seminomads practiced "secondary burials": moving bones to a vast and permanent central location after the circuit of seasonal travels was completed. This practice of reburi­al, ignored by EB II/III, was known to the EB I race, of which MB I seems to have been the heir.

The shaft tombs of the west were numerous, most likely because of the obvious factor of economy (it is easier to dig a hole than to move huge boul­ders one atop another). A high degree of variation exists among such shaft tombs, even in the same graveyard. Grave goods include only pottery, and occasionally a copper dagger or spear, or beads for females.

The Golan dolmens were built for the secondary burial of a single individ­ual. These tombs were formed by several basaltic uprights capped by massive slabs of stone, all heaped over by rocks which form the tumuli. In such a tomb was found what is recognized as the first bronze alloy weapon, influenced perhaps by Syria (E. Eisenberg, 1985). Chalcolithic and EB Transjordan sites have such structures (K. Yassine, 1985), but the Golan builders were of MB I. (Bronze Age Europe also had megalithic dolmens of very similar type, but the significance of this must await exploration in another place.)

As for the Negev tumuli, some were round cairns located prominently on high places, and others were built between village houses. Although sometimes housing a body and grave goods, many of these tumuli are found empty, which suggests that the bones may have been removed for another, secondary burial, in accordance with apparent MB I custom.


“A most peculiar feature of EB IV/MB I is the habitation of arid regions, particularly the central Negev and Sinai.” (Mazar, p. 154.) The Negev and Sinai were widely populated by MB I people, and the remains of their culture include [1] hundreds of small settlements of only a few huts and animal enclo­sures, [2] several larger villages which housed perhaps 75 people and had dozens of homes spread across up to five acres, and [3] a number of sprawling burial grounds, as we have seen.

The relevant Negev region is now suited to pastoral nomadism, and it is expected that it was so used throughout all historical periods. The problem is that “significant archaeological remains have been found here from only a few periods, one of the predominant of which is EB IV/MB I.” (Mazar, p. 154.) This is "enigmatic", since this area was supposedly

“almost uninhabited at times when an urban culture flourished in the rest of the country (such as in EB III, in the Middle and Late Bronze peri­ods); but the region was heavily settled in EB IV/MB I — when in the fertile areas of Palestine there probably was no lack of land and pasture, and population was relatively sparse. This paradox is sharp­ened by Paleoclimatic studies showing that after the end of EB III drier conditions prevailed.” (Mazar, p. 158.)

Why would the Negev be avoided in rainier "EB III times", while in drier "MB I times" the more fertile lands to the north were likewise avoided? Well, by our reckoning the question is illegitimate, since its assumptions are invalid. The region gives anomalous evidence of having been inhabited only sporadi­cally, and, enigmatically, during MB I over more urban "periods", because MB I was not a "dark age" lasting only a few hundred years, but rather an enduring pastoral culture which paralleled and outlasted the EB cultures. The MB I race lived in the Negev not only after the fall of EB, but while EB city-states controlled the fertile north. Thus, the imagined EB void was actually filled by MB I settlements.

The fact that two cultures could co-exist without noticeable archeological contacts is demonstrated and confirmed by the fact that EB IV is said to have been contemporaneous with MB I, while there is no notable sharing of artifacts between these two contemporary but discrete cultures. The new biblical paradigm merely distributes this acknowledged co-existence throughout the entire EB II-III period.

Although having “superficial similarities”, the MB I settlements of the central Negev and northern Sinai are fundamentally different than the EB II sites of the entire Negev and southern Sinai, in that the EB sites are far fewer in number, and describe a line of communication between Palestine and southern Sinai (Mazar, p. 156). This difference is reasonable, given that the EB II sites are clearly linked to the copper trade, while the MB I were evi­dently self-sustain­ing. Further, site- and house-plans are recogniz­ably dif­ferent, with EB II rooms being broader and surrounding a courtyard; MB I huts were smaller and generally did not encompass a courtyard, and their “planning resembles much earlier, Neolithic sites.” (Mazar, p. 157.)

The "superficial similarities" between EB II and MB I sites are not coin­cidental, but represent the adaptation by the later EB II settlers of the customs of the earlier (and more enduring) MB I people. The supposedly later MB I sites are like Neolithic sites because they were the heirs of that peo­ple, with no "Early Bronze Age" separating the Negev Neolithic from the MB.

What then shall we conclude about the MB I culture? The tremendous upheaval of the Exodus event displaced many races, so that Indo-Europeans most certainly could have passed through Canaan — al­though their graves could have been laid long before and long after the Exodus, as well. At the fall of the Early Bronze civilization, the Western Semitic invaders were the Hyksos, the Amu, the Amorites, the Amalekites, who truly did bring a dark age, which last­ed the entire half-millennium of the Judges. Even the continuity of the native element is clear, since Neolithic and EB I fade into MB I, and EB III fled into EB IV.

The total evacuation of great cities, and the sprouting up of rude villag­es over the ruins of other cities, speak of both natural disaster and of war. The complete quarantine of the MB I pastoralists from the EB II/III urban domains can be rationally understood, I think, only as spheres of influ­ence. The MB I resurrection of Neolithic and EB I traditions can easily be under­stood, if we do not assume a separate, intervening urban EB era.

MB IIA — c. 1900-1700-1500's / *1950-1800 or *1800-1750

Middle Bronze II arose, I maintain, around the same time as EB II and MB I. It began with the appear­ance of city life in specific regions of Palestine, “at first on a limited scale, and later more extensively.” (Mazar, pp. 174.) This so-called urban revival “corresponds with the rise of the Middle Kingdom in Egypt, [c. 1920 bc /] ca. *2000 b.c.e. Mesopotamia also suffered from invasions and instability, though only for a relatively short duration ([the post-Exodus Guti period, 15th century bc /] ca. *2230-2130 b.c.e.).” (Mazar, p. 151.) Most signifi­cantly, the urban MB race was contemporaneous with and segregated from the EB Canaanites.

The MB IIA civilization of Palestine's coastal plain appeared “in a crys­tallized form”, with no hint of evolution, and no link to the material culture of EB. “One cannot follow any gradual evolution from EB IV/MB I to MB IIA. The difference between the two *periods is distinct, and the transition from one to the other is one of the most clear-cut in the history of Palestine.” (Mazar, p. 188.) The independence of MB IIA from the supposedly prior EB II/III civili­zation is demonstrated by “an almost total revolution in all aspects of material culture: settlement pattern, urbanism, architecture, pot­tery, metallurgy, and burial customs.” (Mazar, pp. 174,175.) In other words, the roots of MB IIA are not found in EB soil — there is no connection between these two urban societies. Conventional wisdom explains this by supposing the passage of a very long time, and the immigration into Palestine of a new race. This new paradigm explains the dissimilarity as geographical rather than chro­nological: that is, two separate races lived in the same coun­try at the same time, but in separate regions and with separate customs (we have a well-known example of this, in the Philistines and the Phoenicians, living in aloof juxtaposition to the Israelites). As to which explana­tion is correct, we shall continue to examine the evidence.


It is supposed that MB IIA originated on the coasts of Lebanon and Syria, where strata of Byblos link EB and MB with little sign of disruption. At Byblos, the MB IIA Temple of the Obelisks followed the same foundation as an EB temple, “thus demonstrating urban continuity between the two periods.” (Mazar, p. 189.) This temple, and the Field of Offerings, and the royal tombs, reveal a prosperous society. Based on the proximity of MB to EB stra­ta, it is supposed that the similarities “between the Byblian civilization and that of MB IIA Palestine point to the former as being the most probable source of the new culture.” (Mazar, p. 189.) Overpopulation supposedly spurred migration south, which led to the sponta­neous generation of MB IIA.

Other suggestions for the origin of MB IIA are that the Levant was settled by urbanized Amorites from the northeast, specifically from the Orontes Valley of northeastern Syria (Dever, pp. 4‑29). Here, Ebla and Hama have walls, gates and temples similar to those of MB IIB, and ceramic styles suggest those of MB IIA.

From our paradigm, it appears that the MB IIA culture most likely came out of the east after the Sodom cataclysm in the mid-20th century bc. With the decline of EB Byblos, the void there was quickly and smoothly filled by MB IIA. Later, the Hyksos of MB IIB appear to have had some contact with or influence from Ebla.

Whatever the point of origin, it seems clear that the urban Middle Bronze culture “was ushered in by the appearance of a new group of people. This is clearly indicated by the appearance of new pottery, new weapons, new burial customs and a revival of town life.” (Kenyon, 1960, p. 162.) Our first clue as to the identity of this new race comes from Egyptian texts, where we find that MB IIA names were "Western Semitic" — called "Amorite".

The Amorites have an impressive history in the ancient world, but accord­ing to our new paradigm, the chronology of their history is rather twisted. Thus, in Mesopotamia the Amorite governments of Isin and Larsa, and in Old Babylon under Hammurabi, are properly correlated to the MB II era, but Isin-Larsa is said to match (pre-Exodus) MB IIA when it actually correlates to (Judges) IIB. The fact that both Mesopotamia and Palestine had significant Amorite dynasties at this (corrected) time goes a long way in explaining the “extensive international relations of the *eighteenth century b.c.e.” (Mazar, p. 174) — that is, the 11th century bc of Hammurabi and king Saul (cf. JH, 1997a). Dependant upon this confusion is the claim that the ethnic name "Canaanite" appears for the first time in the Mari texts (c. 1100 / *18th century bc); however, it is plain to see that our paradigm rejects such men­tions as the first. This skepticism is supported by the fact that “the 'Amorite' personal names were very close to *Canaanite [LB Amorite] ones of the later centuries.” (Mazar, p. 189.)

It is said that the migrating MB IIA Amorites were developing an increas­ingly centralized system of government (Libolt, p. 589). This characteriza­tion of their society is, however, the product of the confused chronology, which wrongly places Ur III prior to MB IIA, rather than after it. So, while it is true that the 13th / *20th century Amorites (who succeeded the empire of Ur III in Mesopo­tamia) developed a form of government where the Palace took precedence over the Temple, the earlier cities of the MB IIA soci­ety need not have followed this form of government. The evidence, such as it is, needs to be reevaluated in light of this new interpretation.


The culture of MB II Palestine “was to have a very long life. In spite of the fact that a series of events took place of major political importance, there is no cultural break until at least *1200 bc.” (Kenyon, 1960, p. 162.) This includes, then, the culture of the Late Bronze Age. It takes some effort to decipher just what actual date is meant by this "*1200": this is the *date imagined to follow shortly after the liber­al idea of the "Exodus", but it is also the *date when the Iron Age started. Our new biblical paradigm of histo­ry places the true Exodus and the Iron Age almost 850 years apart — with nei­ther hav­ing anything to do with the actual year 1200 bc. The upshot is that the standard model has MB/LB lasting some 800 years, while I have it lasting about 1,200 years.

Again, by the standard paradigm, the Middle Bronze II era lasted from *2000 to about *1550 bc — less than 500 years. But from our new paradigm we can see that it is only MB IIA which spanned from the 20th century bc to the 1500's of the Exodus and the Conquest, while MB IIB lasted from the Conquest to the Kingdom of Israel under Saul and David, in the late 11th century bc (cf. JH, 1997a, ch. 17) — altogether some nine centuries (excluding LB, of course).

MB IIA was first identified by Albright at Tell Beit Mirsim (of the inner Shephelah), Strata G and F, which correspond to Egypt's Middle Kingdom and pre-Hyksos era (this site's MB IIB Strata E & D are of the Hyksos era). Tell Beit Mirsim is the only inland site known to have multiple IIA levels, and only its second phase, Stratum F, had a wall. For his MB IIA chro­nolo­gy, Albright relied on the princely tombs of Byblos, which we will consid­er later. The earliest of these tombs are dated by artifacts of the latter part of Dynasty XII, so Albright's MB IIA was first fixed from *1900 thru *1750 bc (Albright, 1960). Kenyon gave this culture a short duration, from *1950/1900 to *1850 (Kenyon, 1970). Others see MB IIA span­ning all of the Middle King­dom, *2000-*1800 (B. Mazar, 1968), since some sites have multiple IIA layers, indicating the passage of more than a mere 50 or 100 years. Albright later revised MB IIA to a mere *1800 thru *1750 bc (Albright, COWA), because of an increasingly apparent connection to Dynasty XIII (*1786-1633), as at Tell-el-Daba (strata G-F), which yielded IIA weapons, and ceramics used for agricul­tural imports from southern Palestine.

The relations between MB IIA Palestine and Egypt are ambiguous, “due to the nature of the evi­dence.” (Mazar, p. 185.) A sign of the general confusion of the evidence is that in Egypt, foreign objects found in Dynasty XII con­texts “can be fully evaluated only when taken together with the Egyptian small objects and inscribed statues found in Crete, Palestine, Syria, and even as far north as Anatolia.” (Kantor, p. 19.) The caution of this statement hints at the shortcom­ings of the standard paradigm.

The few relevant Egyptian texts consist primarily of the Story of Sinuhe, the Execration Texts, and a moiety of other brief scraps. For a discussion of Sinuhe's adventures, see my Most Ancient Days (JH, 1997a, ch. 8). The Execration Texts are “of the utmost importance, since they contain the earli­est known lists of cities, regions, and governors in Palestine and southern Syria.” (Mazar, p. 186.) Inscribed on figurines or pottery, the Texts are comprised of three groups of brief invectives against adver­saries of Egypt. The earliest is dated c. 1850 / *1900, and mentions Jerusalem, Ashkelon and Rehob, as well as the names of sundry tribes and rulers. A later group (c. 1750 / *1800) is said to demonstrate an increased urbanization of Palestine, and mentions: [a] in the Trans­jordan region, Ashtaroth, Qanah and Maachah; [b] in the Acre valley, Acre, Mishal, Achshaf and perhaps Rehob; [c] in Upper Galilee, Iyon, Laish, Hazor and Qedesh; and [d] in the central hills, Shechem and Jerusalem. Some major cities, such as Gaza and Megiddo, are not mentioned; reasons for this might be that they were not hostile to Egypt, that they were not occupied, or that the lists are simply not complete; Megiddo, indeed, was appearently in MB I ruins. The final significant category of writings is of Dynas­ty XII scarabs found in Syria and Palestine, bearing the names of pharaohs.

Of Egyptian objects found outside of Egypt, most important are those found in relative plenty at Byblos, where there was a clear Egyptian influence upon local artisans. Other such artifacts consist of small statues of people and sphinxes at sites in Syria (Ugarit, Qatna) and Palestine (eg. Tell el-Ajjul, Gezer, Megiddo); for example, at Megiddo was found a statue of an official, Thuthotep, whose tomb shows him bringing cattle to Egypt from Palestine. In the eastern Delta's Tell el-Dab`a (not Avaris, as is sometimes said), MB IIA painted ceramics are found in association with relics of the Middle Kingdom's late Dynas­ty XII and Dynasty XIII.

Given all this, it is clear that Middle Bronze IIA thrived during the time of Dynasty XII (c. 1900-1700 / *1991-1786). Artifacts indicate contact by Egypt, although apparently not significantly into Egypt. The slight interac­tion of the EB Canaanites with their Old Kingdom Egyptian allies was still more vigor­ous than that which the MB IIA Amorites had with the Middle Kingdom cul­ture. So it is that

“. . .Middle Kingdom materials do not provide any such direct and high­ly satisfactory Syro-Palestinian correlations as do Old Kingdom finds. In fact, the synchronism of the Twelfth Dynasty with the Middle Bronze IIA period must be substantiated by discoveries made outside Egypt, such as the Byblos tombs and temple dated by the names of the Twelfth Dynasty Pha­raoh Amenemhet III and IV” (Kantor, p. 19).

The Dynasty XIII connection is clear but chronologically problematic. Thus, when *Canaanite “pot­tery groups which were considered transitional between MB IIA and MB IIB were dated to the latter part of the Thirteenth Dynasty”, the claim arose that MB IIA ended c. *1710 bc (M. Bietak, 1984); this, how­ever, raises correlation difficulties with Mesopotamia, and invali­dates the favored "middle chronology" of Egypt. Mazar demurs, saying that it seems

“that there is still insufficient data from Egypt concerning the begin­ning of MB IIA, and that the determination of the end of the period depends on exact definition of pottery groups which are denoted 'transitional MB IIA/MB IIB'. As the transition between MB IIA and MB IIB was a smooth and slow process of cultural development unaccom­panied by a cultural crisis, the dating of this transition is hard to establish.” (Mazar, pp. 190‑191).

The upshot of all this is that the MB II culture survived the advent of the Hyksos, and that this transition was not marked by any significant or abrupt change in ceramic styles. As for Dynasty XIII, remember that to pre­cisely the degree that there is a concrete correlation between EB III and the Old Kingdom, there is a tenuous correlation between MB IIA and the Middle Kingdom. The link is so weak that the termination of MB IIA cannot be identi­fied, save “by the circumstance that the following Middle Bronze IIB period is again directly correlated with Egypt.” (Kantor, p. 19.) My reconstruction explains this quite simply, since the Old Kingdom is closer to us in history than the Mid­dle Kingdom, and so the thread between MB IIA and the Exodus is lost, taken up by "earlier" periods.


This brings us, finally, to the specifics of archeology. As we should have come to expect by now, the “small number of excavated sites from MB IIA provide only limited knowledge of the urban architecture of this period.” (Mazar, p. 180.) But we can speak with confidence about the range of the urbanized Amorites of Palestine: “on the evidence of the pottery we can say that the same basic [MB IIA] culture grew up in an area stretching from Ras Shamra in the north to the desert fringes of Palestine in the south.” (Kenyon, 1960, p. 162.) Generally, from MB IIA villages evolved the mighty fortified cities of MB IIB — the time of the Judges and the Hyksos (JH, 1997a). These bas­tions were en­compassed with massive earthen ramparts — the largest being at lower Hazor, with its wall 100 feet thick, encircling 175 acres. But this is outside our scope.

The MB IIA civilization was located primarily in northern Israel's valleys and coastal plains, a pattern which “differs from that known from the Early Bronze Age, when the coastal plain was quite insignificant.” (Mazar, p. 178.) Specifically, there was a “peculiar concentration of [MB IIA] population along the northern coastal plain”, but a “total lack of MB IIA settlements in the northern and central Negev as well as in inland Transjordan . . .” (Mazar, pp. 178,179.)

The coastal Plain of Sharon (north of Jaffa and the Yarkon River) was checkered with a number of massively fortified strongholds, with the largest (up to 50 acres) between Mount Carmel and Lebanese border, including Kabir and Acre. The large walled city of Aphek preserves the best sequence of strata for the region, with three major archeological phases: [1] its Pre-Palace phase which begins urban life, having a few scanty dwellings and graves; [2] the palace, which had a large courtyard and thick-walled corridors with finely plastered floors; and [3] the Post-Palace phase, when the palace was obsolete and the town center shifted east, where later palaces are found. These MB IIA fortresses were typically located in marshy or forested areas, near a plentiful supply of water, and most of the important sites of Sharon “were founded on virgin soil, or in places which had not been occupied for many *centuries (such as Aphek, which had been deserted since the end of EB II).” (Mazar, p. 176.) Of course, our new chronology obviates the need for centuries to have passed before the EB II site was re-settled by the MB II culture. In any case, the MB IIA cities and for­tresses were the hub of many small camp­sites and settlements (Gophna and Beck, 1981).

Inland, MB IIA levels are either absent or insignificant, except for the valleys of Jezreel and Beth-Shean, where a chain of settlements — including Tel Amar, walled Yoqneam and Megiddo, and Beth Shean (with its rich tomb and unex­plored mound) — link the coast with the Jordan Valley. To the south, MB IIA sites are rare. South of Jaffa, at Yavneh-Yam, a large quadrant of land is girded by an MB IIA earthen rampart, with a typical MB II six-pier gate (like those of Hazor and Dan). Since this area is almost entirely with­out debris, it was apparently abandoned shortly after its construction. On the banks of the Besor Brook (just south of Gaza), there is an MB IIA ceme­tery on the large mound of Tell el-Ajjul, but no settlement has been asso­ciated with it.


While EB had modest glacis of stone which supported massive stone or brick walls, MB IIA cities had more complex ramparts. Like northern Syria, e.g. Ebla, some MB IIA sites had large freestanding earth ramparts (Acre) which became common in IIB; their construction would have required a centralized govern­ment. Some IIA cities — such as Yoqneqm, Aphek and Tell Beit Mirsim (Stra­tum F, its second phase) — had solid brick walls, 12 to 15 meters thick. Megiddo and Tel Poleg also had such freestanding walls, along with rectangular towers; further, Tel Poleg had glacis, after the EB fashion. The gates of Megiddo and Acre necessitated a vulnerable approach through a long corridor (stepped at Megiddo) ending in a chamber (Dothan and Raban, 1980). Such walls indicated an MB IIA concern for security much more intense than that of the EB cities. Such defenses were the response to a challenge to the urban MB cul­ture which was evidently not faced by their upland, urban EB contemporaries.


Middle Bronze jugs, jars and bowls are characterized by their elegance. Pottery shapes are indepen­dent of EB (P. Beck, 1985), due especially to the use of the potter's wheel. But “some surprisingly recall EB III pottery types which went out of fashion in the EB IV/MB I phase. This interesting phenome­non . . . is [thought to be] of importance for tracing the origins of the MB IIA culture.” (Mazar, p. 182.) Small jugs with "stump bases" appeared near the end of EB III, which “may be taken as forerunners of Middle Bronze Age II juglets which were to appear almost *four hundred years later.” (Mazar, p. 132.) Interpreted through our biblical paradigm, we see that there is no gap of *400 years, no "dark age" needed to make the evidence fit reality, and no need to make a hackneyed appeal to evolutionary "convergence"; rather, MB IIA naturally and immediately followed EB III. The already existing MB II juglet style showed up in a decadent EB city as a sign of its cultural weakness. Our reconstruction finds no surprise in a simi­larity between the pottery styles of contemporary cultures.

MB IIA pottery is typified by the polished red slip of many small vessels, with decorations usually of red or black painted horizontal bands. Sometimes this pottery has triangles drawn in black, filled with red diagonals or web­bing, which style is similar to that of Byblos and the Orontes Valley of inner Syria. This triangular style also appears, perhaps, in northern Mesopotamia's Habur River region, where it is found at Chagar Bazar beneath a level with texts naming Shamshi-Adad I, Assyrian elder of Hammurabi; “however, the rela­tion between the painted pottery of the Habur region and that of Syria and Palestine is not entirely clear.” From this reconstruction it is quite rea­sonable that the Habur similarity is meaning­less and unrelated to the styles of Palestine and Syria, as others also suggest (Tubb, 1983). MB IIA contact is also indicated with Anatolia, as seen from ceramics of northern Palestine — especially a style of polished red jugs with diagonally cut rims.


Bronze was used by MB IIA, whereas for the Chalcolithic and EB cultures, copper was “almost the only metal in use for tools and weapons.” (Mazar, p. 184.) Since bronze is copper with 5 to 10% tin, if EB cities had no access to tin, they must be EB rather than MB. It appears that the nearest exploited tin supply was in Afghanistan, requiring far-reaching trade routes, apparently controlled by the MB Amorites, rather than the EB ethnic Canaanites. In this regard, the Mari library (c. 1100 / *1800) notes shipments of tin to Hazor. Tin was also mined in southern Anatolia's Taurus Mountains, though this source was perhaps not used by the MB culture.

Given the superiority of one technology over another, bronze over copper, it is certainly reasonable to interpret the EB and MB cultures as successive rather than coeval. However, the simple awareness that one society has a technological edge over another does not ensure that parity will follow – that secrets would be shared. Just as in modern times, ancient cultures had secret weapons, secret processes, which gave a competitive advantage. Numerous examples might be cited — most relevant, perhaps, being the perceived Anatolian monopoly of iron before and during the "Iron Age". The point is that the evidence, upon reinspection, is subject to more than the simplistic linear interpretation. With bronze we may be dealing with a later innovation, or with a cultural monopoly which excluded adversaries: remember the Chinese monopoly of silk production, preserved on pain of death. If the presence of bronze is diagnos­tic of Middle Bronze II, then given the premise here, it is necessary to re-evaluate the designation of any number of sites and levels: EB Canaanites may be called MB Amorites simply because they happened to own the odd bronze artifact.

As for the specific MB use of metal, most significant was the duckbill axehead with a shaft, found in Syria as far east as Mari, in Lebanon, and in northern Palestine; this axe "evidently developed" from the "earlier" copper EB axes decorated with holes — fenestrated (Mazar, p. 184). In southern Syria and Palestine, a slender, chisel axehead tied to a haft was common. MB spear­heads, like some MB axeheads, also had a shaft. These three, axes and spear, were also found at the graveyard of Tell el-Daba. Other MB metal items are daggers, tanged in a fashion similar to EB spears. Again, a rare style of scimitar has been found, unique to MB IIA. Finally, in royal tombs and at votive sites of Byblos, silver and gold cere­monial weapons of local manufac­ture were found, datable to Dynasty XII.


This brings us to the Exodus and the Conquest, when the cultures of the Canaanites and Amorites were catastrophically disrupted. This period is found in the "end" of MB I, the end of MB IIA, and the end of EB II/III, and also in the "start" of MB I, and of MB IIB. Remember that MB IIA "just withers away," and its end is dated by the appearance of the culture of MB IIB. This miracle of invisibility is accomplished because the events and evidence of the Exodus period are assigned to the “ends” of MB I and EB IV.

So, at the end of one of the phases of MB I (c. 1520 / *2000 or *1800) — and also of MB IIA (c. 1500 / *1750) — Egypt fell to the Asiatics (Hyksos / Amalekites). At this time, the powerful Palestinian states of the *19th and *18th centuries (e.g. Byblos) weakened and were assaulted by “a new warrior aristocracy [which] was acquiring influence and introducing new methods of warfare.” (Kenyon, 1980, p. 934.) Faulty chronology misidentifies these peo­ple as those of several centuries later. Aside from being the Hebrews of Joshua and the Judges, this "warrior aristocracy" consisted of the Western Semites — Hyksos, Amu, Amorites, Aramaeans, Amalekites — all essentially the same people. I discuss the Hapiru in The Days of Brass and Iron, but here I will just assert that they were not Hebrews.

The Exodus period is recognized from the EB perspective as well, marked by the destruction of its cities. Regarding the destruction of the EB III cul­ture, the chief excavator of Jericho — Kathleen Kenyon — notes that the

“final end of Early Bronze Age civilizations came with catastrophic completeness. . . .Every [EB] town in Palestine that has so far been investigated shows the same break. The newcom­ers were nomads, not interested in town life, and they so completely drove out or absorbed the old population, perhaps already weakened and decadent, that all traces of the Early Bronze Age civilization disappeared.” (Kenyon, 1960, p. 134.)

According to our new paradigm, these EB people were the Canaanites; the nomads were, in effect, the Israelites, but more broadly they were the Western Semites who were on the move immediately after the Exodus. Again, notice how there is no clean fit between the cultures: there is an abrupt break, with no tangible link between the EB society and the "newcomers". The evidence does not demand that one comes into being only at the demise of the other — this is merely the expectation of the standard theory. Where EB II/III cities were supplanted by those of MB IIA, the reason must be that EB kings could not stand against the onslaught of MB adversaries allied with Middle Kingdom pha­raohs. Some EB cities did survive to the end (allied perhaps with Old King­dom pharaohs), and these cities would never be re­placed by the MB IIA culture, but only, perhaps, by MB IIB – which replacement would be interpreted by the standard view as occurring only after the passage of centuries.


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