REL226: Biblical Archaeology                                                RJDKnauth


Period: Chalcolithic (Copper Age)    Years: 4300-3300 BCE 


What is happening in the Bible? Adam & Eve up to flood. Farmer/Herder conflict, violence.

What is happening in Egypt? Pre-dynastic agricultural villages.

What is happening in Mesopotamia? Ubaid culture, Uruk period. Long-lived legendary heroes in king-list (pre-flood).

Settlement Patterns: Semi-nomadic pastoralists (herders). “Chiefdoms” (central settlements dominate clusters of smaller sites along wadi banks).  Jordan valley, alluvial fans, wadi courses, Beth Shean valley.



            Building materials- large basalt stones, stone-slab paving.  Fieldstones, etc.

            Dwellings- Broad-room house (small side chamber), adjacent courtyard (sheep pens?), silos.

                        “Cultic corner” w/ stone statue?  Some subterranean cave dwellings.

            Fortifications (walls, gates, etc)- Chains of dwellings w/ shared walls creates protective outer wall (?)

            Water works- Pits dug in wadi bottoms to collect water for when wadi dries up.

            Temples- En Gedi “broad room” temple (isolated – no settlement) w/ large stone-fenced courtyard, benches along wall, double door, horse-shoe shaped “Holy of Holies” w/ polished standing stone, water basin, evidence for animal sacrifice (?), nearby copper treasure hoard (for use at this temple?).


Pottery: Mostly hand-built, but some small vessels on potter’s wheel.  Lug-handles, rope-like decorations, broad red band, triangles, nets patterns and stripes. Cornet (“v”-shaped cup w/ long pointed base).


Agriculture: Economy based on herding. First horticulture: olive trees grown, grapes. 

Also flax, wheat, barley, dates, garlic, onions, pomegranates, lentils, nuts, acorns.

Tools, Weapons, Metallurgy: Copper first used – “lost wax” technique. Flint industry flourishes. Axe and mace heads in copper. Awls for working leather. Basketry, linen and wool textiles. Shell, Bone, Ivory.


Burials: first cemeteries outside settlements.

1) Dolmen – 3 large stone slabs for table-like tomb.

2) Tumuli – circular stone cairns (Nawami tombs).

3) Simple cist graves (hole in ground) for secondary burial.

4) Pottery Ossuaries (containers for bones).


Art (ritual objects, seals, sculptures, jewelry, etc.): Nahal Mishmar “cave of treasure” copper hoard:

Crown, ritual mace heads, antlers, pomegranates, etc. all done in “lost wax” technique.

Wall paintings (incl. elaborate 8-point star fresco). Ivory figurines, basalt stone figures, “violin-shaped” figurine, pregnant “fertility goddess” (?), standing stones. Bone & Shell jewelry.


Texts, Inscriptions: Writing not yet invented, but Sumerian king lists and bible refer to this period.


Major Sites: En Gedi, Teleilat Ghassul (Ghassulian culture), Megiddo, Golan Heights, Negev (Beer Sheba), Jericho (?)


Major Innovations: Copper, Horticulture (olive oil), potter’s wheel, cemeteries, pottery ossuaries.


Evidence for Trade, foreign relations: Flint industry, Obsidian (Anatolia), Hematite (Sinai), Arsenic (?).

Continuity/discontinuity (local development vs. migration):

Neolithic>>Chalcolithic shows local development: Natufian>>Ghassulian.

Chalc>>EB shows discontinuity in settlement patterns & culture: settlements abandoned, culture ends.à Flood?