LATE BRONZE (1570 - 1200 B.C.E.)


Egypt dominated the political life of Palestine during the Late Bronze Age, a period contemporary with the Egyptian New Kingdom (see, ANEP, 313-315, 320-331). The first king of the Eighteenth Dynasty defeated the Hyksos at Avaris and continued the battle to Sharuhen (ANET, pp. 233-234) in southern Palestine. Thothmosis I and Thothmosis III extended Egyptian influence over the entire region from the borders of Egypt to the Euphrates, the great river that flows backwards. Under the descendants of Thothmosis III, Egypt exercised full hegemony over Palestine(ANET, pp. 234-252) by establishing systems of control over vital trade routes and local principalities. Towards the end of the Eighteenth Dynasty(ANET, pp. 250-252), Egyptian control may have declined somewhat due to the general lack of attention to political and military matters during the Amarna period.

The Nineteenth Dynasty kings quickly reestablished Egyptian control under Seti I. By the middle of the thirteenth century (ANET, pp. 252- 260), Egypt lost control of much of northern Syria to the Hittite kings (ANET, pp. 255-258). The two major kings of this dynasty, Seti I and his son Ramesis II, carried out campaigns near Beth Shan. Later in the thirteenth century, Merneptah may have campaigned in Palestine if there is any historical credulity to his hymn of victory, sometimes called the Israelite stela.

The great Temple of Amon-Ra at Karnak is an excellent spot to understand Egypt's power and influence over the Asiatics. Asia was Amon-Ra's domain and the spoils of conquest/tribute supported the building of the world's largest religious structure. Tombs of noblemen, high official in the court and in the Temple at Karnak, also provide a wealth of information about Egyptian control and influence. (See: ANEP, 4-9, 45-56.) In sites in Palestine, excavations show a slow but steady egyptianization of the culture as more egyptian or egyptianized artifacts appear in the latter half of the Late Bronze Age, and as egyptian practices (e.g. burial practices) become more the fashion. Remains from sites such as Beth Shan,Tell el-Farah (S), Hesi, Jemmeh, Masos, esh-Sharia and Aphek attest to their extensive control of this region. The copper mines at Timna seem to have been operated under Egyptian direction throughout the Nineteenth and part of the Twentieth Dynasties. All this evidence collectively indicates how thoroughly Egypt controlled this region.

Depictions of Asiatics (ANEP, 312- 331, 772): On Egyptian temple walls and tombs, the inhabitants of Syria and Palestine are depicted as vassals of their Egyptian overlords. Asiatics, usually dressed in long robes and wearing decorative headbands, bring tribute and produce into Egypt; are bound captive slaves or fierce mercenary soldiers; and work as corvee laborers assisting Egyptians in obtaining raw materials (timber and copper) and exotic produce (wine, oils and perhaps even opium). Of particular interest to archaeologists are the types of goods offered to the officials, for many of these items are known from excavations. The Egyptians did not hold Asiatics in high esteem and often depicted them as a pack of yelping dogs doing the bidding of their Egyptian masters.


Who are the Canaanites? And where is Canaan precisely? Both questions prove to be more difficult to answer than one might first suspect. The land of Canaan seems an imprecise geographical term that is applied sometimes to the entire region of the Egyptian empire and at other times to Lower Retenu or Djahi, that is, southern Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and the Sinai.

The Canaanites were one of many groups that inhabited the area and in Hebrew Bible the word became the designated term for all the inhabitants of the region before the Israelites. There is still some debate on the words etymology. Does it mean lowlanders? Or does Canaan mean the Land of Purple, a probable reference to the dye used to color cloth? Scholars who opt for this second interpretation note that the Greeks referred to the coastal region of Phoenicia as the purple land.

The Canaanites, or Bronze Age inhabitants, made a number of lasting contributions to ancient and modern society, such as specialized storage jars for the transportation of oil and wine, and musical instruments like the castenet. Their high art in working ivory as well as their skills in viticulture were prized in antiquity. Perhaps their most lasting contribution was the development of the alphabet from the proto-alphabetic script of Egyptian hieroglyphics. William Foxwell Albright and others have shown how a simplified syllabary of the Middle Bronze Age eventually was exported to the Greek and Roman worlds by the Phoenicians, northern coastal mariners of the Iron Age (ANEP, 271 - MB dagger (Lachish), 286 - alphabet, 287 - pseudohieroglyphic script (Byblos)).

[add other references here]
Tufnell, Olga. Lachish IV: The Bronze Age. (London, 1958),
     Pl 42:2. Example of proto-sinaitic scribe on MB II dagger.

ANET, pp. 376-378). The text may indicate first that Israelites tribes were in the land of Canaan by this time, and second that the exodus occurs earlier in the same century when the first Rameside kings built their new capital, PerRamesis, in the Delta.

James, T.G.H. "Egypt: From the Expulsion of the Hyksos to Amenophis 
    I," Cambridge Ancient History.


Archaeological Periods
                                           Lachish       Megiddo     Hazor

Late Bronze I                         IX              IX               XV
(1570 - 1400 B.C.E.)

Late Bronze IIA                     VIII            VIII            XIV
(1400 - 1300 B.C.E.)

Late Bronze IIB                     VII              VIIB          XIII
(1300 - 1200 B.C.E.)

U-Museum's                LB I                 LB IIA          LBII B
Excavations &

Baq'ah Valley              Cave A2            Cave B3        Cave B3

Beth Shan                                            IX                VIII-VII
                                  Tombs 27, 29,                        Tombs 60,241,
                                  42, 59,303                              90, 107, 219,

Beth Shemesh              IV                     IV                 IV
(Ain Shems)

Gibeon                                                 Tomb 10
(el Jib)

Tell es-Sa'idiyeh                                                       Tombs 101, 102,
                                                                         103, 104, 105L. 107, 109S,
                                                                         110, 117, 119, 
                                                                         121, 132, 
                                                                         137, 139, 141 

Two points need to be made concerning the archaeological remains from this period. First, there is strong cultural continuity between the Middle and Late Bronze Age. The assigned break between the two periods is more a function of Egyptian chronological history than a change in material culture. No excavator or historian familiar with the remains has suggested otherwise. Also, it is important to note that there are scant archaeological remains in the first part of the Late Bronze Age. Many sites in the hill country and Negev were abandoned. Other sites, especially in the southern coastal region, are destroyed and only marginally reoccupied in Late Bronze I.

A second important point about the Late Bronze Age concerns the egyptianization of this indigenous culture. Artifacts and building structures become more egyptian-like as one moves from Late Bronze I into Late Bronze II. Cultural practices also change to Egyptian fashion (e.g. burial practices). Such egyptianization may be due to the proximity of Egypt to Palestine as well as the ways in which Egypt exercised complete control over this region. (NOTE: Egyptianization of Nubia occurred during the same period and may speak to how Egypt influence native culture to adopt an egyptian life style.) As Albright and others may have rightly noted, Palestine proper remained generally loyal to Egypt throughout the Late Bronze Age, while Upper Retenu, modern Syria, did not.

Images and related material are drawn from the excavations at Beth Shan, Beth Shemesh and Tell es-Sa'idiyeh. Complete ceramic forms and some of the fine objects were taken from specific tomb contexts: Beth Shan Tomb 42 (LB I), Gibeon Tomb 10 (LB IIA), Beth Shan Tombs 219 and 90 (LBIIB-Ir I), and Tell es-Sa'idiyeh cemetery (LBIIB-Ir I). The tombs together constitute less than half of the cited material below. Almost all the remaining artifacts, with the exception of one or two outstanding pieces from Beth Shemesh StatumIV, are from strata IX-VII Beth Shan, dated to fourteenth-thirteenth centuries. In particular, we focused on the material from the important Egyptian/Canaanite temple. Be aware that Beth Shan is a highly egyptianize site so that it better reflects the cultural mix of many large sites in the lowlands of southern Palestine (Tell el-Farah S, Tell el-Ajjul, Lachish and Megiddo) and the greater Jordan valley (Tell es-Sa'idiyeh and Deir Alla) than other inland or more northern sites (Hazor).

Aharoni, Yohanan. The Archaeology of the Land of Israel.
     Philadelphia, 1978. pp. 112-152.
Mazar, Amhai. Archaeology of the Land of the Bible.
     New York, 1985. pp. 232-294.
Franken, H.J. "Palestine in the time of the 19th Dynasty,"
     Cambridge Ancient History.
Kenyon, Kathleen, "Palestine in the time of the 18th Dynasty,"
     Cambridge Ancient History. 


There is a definite decrease in occupied settlements in the Late Bronze Age from the previous Middle Bronze period. Surveys and excavations appear to confirm that the hill country region lacked a sedentary population except at a few major sites (e.g. Shechem or Tell Beit Mirsim). For example, Tell es-Sultan is abandoned by Late Bronze II; Gibeon show no sedentary occupation in the Late Bronze period though a single tomb was used in Late Bronze IIA.

Many small and minor sites in the coastal region appear also to be abandoned, and very few new sites (e.g. Tell Abu Hawam) are founded.

Baumgarten, Jacob J. "Urbanization in the Late Bronze Age,"
    The Architecture of Ancient Israel. (Jerusalem, 1992),
    pp. 143-150.


Kempinski, Aharon. "Middle and Late Bronze Age Fortifications," 
     The Architecture of Ancient Israel. (Jerusalem, 1992),
     pp. 127-142.

Middle Bronze fortifications systems were reused in the Late Bronze Age (Hazor, Shechem and Megiddo) without significant changes. New fortification systems were constructed at Ashdod, Tell Abu Hawam, Tell Beit Mirsim and Beth Shan. Some important sites (e.g. Lachish), however, show no significant fortifications and may even be unfortified. Perhaps this lack of fortifications may be a direct consequence of the way Egypt disarmed the local population. Other evidence for Egyptian control of the population can be found in the Amarna tablets (Amunhotep III and IV) and inscriptions dating to the reign of Thothmosis III.

A migdol fortress may have been uncovered in Beth Shan VIII-VII. Although damaged by later Roman and Byzantine remains, the structure parallels contemporary fortresses along the "Way of Horus," the coastal road in the Sinai and at Tell Mor, Deir el-Balah. A building next to this migdol may, in fact, be a residency. It also varies from other contemporary buildings in that it lacks a courtyard.

GATES: Gate systems follow the same general plan as those from the Middle Bronze Age. The gate systems at Megiddo, Hazor and Shechem continue to be used throughout the period and undergo little significant modifications. Parts of a three pier gate may have been construction at Beth Shan (Stratum IX). The roadway leading to the gate followed the all system. A basalt orthostat, depicting a dog attacking a lion, may be part of the decoration in the gate area.


Large houses, or palaces, followed the same Middle Bronze design of rooms built around a central courtyard (e.g. Megiddo Strata VIII-VII). Some minor changes in style do occur. For example, more rooms seem to surround the central courtyard (Taanach, Megiddo and Bethel) in the Late Bronze Age than in the Middle Bronze period. Bethel's house has a well-constructed "French drain system" which discharges rain-water outside the city.

The so-called patrician house at Tell Batash (Timnah., pp. 53-67, Fig. 4:18) appears to have two stories and a storage area on the first floor with wooden pillars and stone bases, a design that seems to foreshadow architectural design of the Iron Age. (See house structures in the Iron Age.)

Probably the most significant palace discovered to date is at Megiddo. Located in the area near the gate, the palace has small rectangular rooms surround courtyards. Like the Ajjul palace it is equipped with in-door plumbing and staircases. The structure underwent several renovations and additions, and although massive in design for this region it is dwarfed in size and intricacy by other palaces in Syria (e.g. Ras Shamra or ancient Ugarit).

Oren, Eliezer. "Palaces and Patrician Houses in the Middle and Late
     Bronze Ages," The Architecture of Ancient Israel. (Jerusalem,
     1992), pp.105-120.

In the Late Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age, a number of well-built square-shaped houses can be cited: Tell Sera', Tell Masos, Beth Shan, Tell Hesi, Gerar, Tell Aphek and Tell el-Farah (S). Built on a mud-brick foundation with walls also constructed of mud-brick these structures parallel house designs from Tell el-Amarna and suggest at the very least, Egyptian origin. More likely, they are remains of the Egyptian garrisons that occupied the region. The Beth Shan 1500 and 1700 houses are particularly helpful in noting Egyptian ownership since the door jambs written in hieroglyphics name the Egyptian governor of the site.

TEMPLES AND SELECTED CULTIC OBJECTS (ANEP, 731 -Fosse Temple (Lachish), 732 - Beth Shan Temple St. IX, 735 - Shechem Temple St. VIII-VII, 737 - Beth Shan Temple St. VII, 738 - Beth Shan Temple St. VI)

Several large temple complexes from Lachish, Hazor and Beth Shan are constructed in the Late Bronze Period.

The three fosse temples at Lachish provide an instructive view of cultic aspects. The last and best preserved temple consisted of a long room with benches around the sides, niches in the walls, and a mud-brick altar built on a step platform. Numerous animal, bird and fish bones were found in the complex and pits just outside. Almost all animals (sheep or goat, ox and only two wild beasts) were young and represented by only the metacarpal of right foreleg (see, Leviticus 3:1-17, 7:15-18, 29-34). Astragali were also found in only the first phase of the complex (Structure 1). The temples had a rich assortment cylinder seals and scarabs, faience and paste beads, faience and stone vessels, statuary, figurines and pottery. (For comparison purposes, see Tell Mevorakh shrine (Late Bronze Age), Tell Qasile (Iron I), and Sarepta shrine (the late Iron II - Persian shrine at Sarepta).)

The Beth Shan complex has both Egyptian and Palestinian elements. The overall structure of the temple has been thought to parallel contemporary temples in Egypt, although one can note many features (e.g. benches, raised altars, storage bins, piazza around the structure, and deposit pits) that occur in local temples at Lachish and elsewhere in the region. The types of artifacts in the Beth Shan VII and later VI temple, built on the same design, suggest rituals of Palestine and Egypt. Votive offerings found around the inner and outer altars seem akin to egyptian practices. The presence of animal bones near the outer altar is suggestive of animal sacrifice known at other contemporary and later sites in Palestine. Depiction of Egyptian and Palestinian deities further suggest the mix practices in this structure during the thirteenth-twelfth centuries.

Stern, Ephraim.  Excavations at Tel Mevorakh: The Bronze Age.
     Qedem 18 (Jerusalem, 1984),  pp. 4-39.
Tufnell, Olga. Lachish II, The Fosse Temple. London, 1940. 

Cultic Objects from Beth Shan: The two earliest and complete temples provide a rich assortment of supposed cultic objects. Votive stele as well as metal and pottery statuary may represent deities and their worshippers. Kernoi, fragments of house models and large cylindrical pottery stand, some of which are decorated with birds, snakes and figurines, may be utensils used in the cultic practices. Other objects found in the complexes parallel the repertoire found at Lachish Fosse Temple, Tell Mekovrakh, Tell Qasile and other structures with similar architectural features as that of these two so-designated temples at Beth Shan.

One temple at Hazor proves particularly instructive and on a somewhat superficial evidence been compared to the Temple of Solomon (1 Kings 6-7). The temple has three rooms. An entrance portico is flanked by two pillars. In many ways, this interesting structure is similar to one at Tell Atchana (Alalakh) dated also to the thirteenth century. The following artifacts found in the structure at Hazor are: basalt basin, basalt bowl, basalt statue of seated man on chair, bronze figurines, cylinder seals and faience beads. (See also, ANEP, 869-871.)

BURIAL PRACTICES (ANEP, 641 - Anthropoid coffing, north cemetery Beth Shan)

Large cemeteries and major tombs have been uncovered at a number of sites: Deir el-Balah, Tell el-Farah (S), Tell el-Ajjul, Tell Abu Hawam, Megiddo, Beth Shan and Tell es-Sa'idiyeh. In this period, burials are less commonly found inside the city, as was characteristic in the Middle Bronze Age, and are generally deposited outside the towns on the tell slopes (Tell es-Sa'idiyeh) or gentle rises in the land near the ancient city (Tell el-Farah S). (Note: A few examples of burials inside city walls still can be cited from this period (See, Tel Dan Tomb 387).)

The 900 cemetery at Farah (S) is particularly informative about changes in burial practices. Primary burials lying in a supine fully extended position becomes the more common burial fashion rather than secondary burial characteristic of Middle Bronze II. (Compare Middle Bronze II Gibeon Tomb 15 with Late Bronze Age cemetery at Tell es-Sa'idiyeh.) This change in fashion continues into Iron I although secondary burial does not completely disappear (see, Baq'ah, Lachish 40004, Megiddo 1100, 1145, Gezer 10A, Tomb 1 Pella, Tomb 387 Dan).

Coffin burials first appear in the Late Bronze Age. The earliest examples from Akko and Gezer are clay boxes. The Gezer coffin with it handles reminds most excavators of coffins from the Aegean world, yet in general ways it bears similarities to the unusual and perhaps minature clay boxes from the Beth Shan temples. In the thirteenth century anthropoid coffin can be cited from a number of sites: Beth Shan, Lachish and Deir el-Balah. Anthropoid coffin burials continue to be employed in the Iron Age: Beth Shan, Dhibah, Sahab and Amman.

Perhaps the use of coffins to preserve the dead reflects Egyptian influence on the culture. Certainly this influence of Egypt on Palestine is quite evident in two unique bitumen burials from Tell es-Sa'idiyeh.

Burial of infants, children and sometimes adults are found in storage jars and pithoi. This practice of jar burials especially for infants and small children can be cited from the Middle Bronze and Iron Age as well.

Dothan, T. The Excavations at the Cemetery of Deir el-Balah.
    (Jerusalem, 1979).
Oren, Eliezer. The Northern Cemetery Beth Shan.
    (Leiden, 1973).
Pritchard, James B. The Cemetery at Tell es-Sa'idiyeh, Jordan.
    (Philadelphia, 1980).
Seger, J.D. & Lance, H.D. Gezer V. (Jerusalem, 1988).
Tufnell, Olga. Lachish IV: The Bronze Age. (London, 1958),
     pp. 131-132 (non-sensical hieroglyphic inscription on coffin),
     248-249, Pls 45-46.

LATE BRONZE POTTERY (ANEP, 147-148 - Pottery corpus)

Painted pottery and imports vessels are the characteristics of the Late Bronze ceramic repertoire. Painted pottery first appears at the very end of the Middle Bronze IIC (Bichrome ware) and continues to be the preferred treatment on vessels throughout the period. In fact, the amount of applied paint seems to increase as one moves from the beginning Late Bronze I to the end of Late Bronze II. The use of applied paint to decorate vessels decreases by the latter half of Iron I.

Middle Bronze forms continue into the Late Bronze Age, but do change in shape slowly. The heavy carination on bowls and chalices changes in favor of softer, rounder lines. Other characteristic shapes (e.g. barrel juglets) disappear by Late Bronze II. New forms enter the repertoire, in particular imitations of imported vessels. Imports from Syria and the Aegean world are together a definable trait of the Late Bronze Age ceramics. Cypriote bilbils and Syrian flasks become common by the end of Late Bronze I and are imitated by Late Bronze II. Mycenean imports (pyxides, stirrup jars and amphoriskoi) become common place by Late Bronze II and are imitated by local potters from that point on. The presence of such imports, along with other evidence (e.g. Canaanite storage jar and several shipwrecks off the southern coast of Turkey), indicate evidence of trade with the greater Aegean world. It appears that commodities such as scented and blended wines and various grades of oils were exported from the Levant. The nature of imported goods in Aegean vessels is still open to some discussion, and some scholars have speculated that diluted opium was imported particularly in bibils.

Amiran, Ruth. Ancient Pottery of the Holy Land. (Rutgers, 1970),
     pp. 124-190.
Epstein, C. Palestinian Bichrome Ware. (Leiden, 1966).
Furumark, A. Mycenaean Pottery. (Stockholm, 1972).
Prag, Kay. "The Imitation of Cypriote Wares in Late Bronze Age Palestine,"
     Palestine in the Bronze and Iron Ages. ed. by Jonathan Tubb.
     (London, 1985), pp. 154-165.

In addition to locally made vessels and Aegean imports, one finds Egyptian forms especially at the very end of the Bronze Age.


The types of weapons used in the Middle Bronze period continue into the Late Bronze. A major innovation in the Late Bronze Age is that the entire blade and handle are cast together. Ivory or bone inlays are inset into the handle. Other unusual knives can be cited exclusively from the Late Bronze Age. A bronze knife with handle ending in a cloven hoof occur both to Egypt and Palestine (Tell Jemmeh St. J, Lachish Tomb 216, Tell Abu Hawam St. V, Megiddo St. VIII, VIIB). A bronze knife with a cut-out, again probably Egyptian in origin and common in burials of women in ancient Egypt, occur at a few sites (Deir el-Balah Tombs 114 and 118, Tell Jemmeh and Lachish).

Maxwell-Hyslop, R. "Daggers and Swords in Western Asia:
   Iraq 8 (1946) 1-65.
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. "Western Asiatic Shaft-Hold Axes,"
   Iraq 11 (1949) 90-129.
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. " Bronze Lugged Axe- and Adze Blades
   from Asia," Iraq 15 (1953) 69-87.
Tubb, Jonathan N. "Some observations on Spearheads in Palestine
     in the Middle and Late Bronze Ages," Palestine in the
     Bronze and Iron Ages. London, 1985.

Yadin, Yigael. The Art of Warfare in Biblical Lands. Jerusalem, 1962.

Two major types of arrowheads (ANEP, 805 - inscribed javelin heads) occur in this period: long, slender arrowheads (most of the Late Bronze Age) and small blunt ones (generally thirteenth century). Arrowheads with a pronounced midrib or with a swelling at the base may date to the end of the thirteenth century.

*Cross, F.M. Jr & Milik, J.T. "A Typological Study of the el
   Khadr Javelin- and Arrow-Heads," ADAJ 3:15-23.
Tufnell, Olga. Lachish IV: The Bronze Age. (London, 1958),
    Pl. 25:1-6,17-22, 26,30,35,36,43, 47, 48, 52, 54-62, 66, 67.

Although one cannot be fully certain that the following objects are not knobs for lids or daggers (see Middle Bronze weapons) or furniture, the design and style of these knobs are almost identical to connectors on chariot fittings from the Tomb of Tutankhamun and as depicted on New Kingdom reliefs. A sizable collection of such knobs occur in Beth Shan Strata X through VII.


Plough points, lithic sickles and other agricultural tools occur in domestic areas on tells.

Grinding stones and bowls are common implements uncovered mostly but not exclusively in domestic areas on tells. (Note: grinding stones did occur in the Temple VII and suggest preparation of ritual meals perhaps.) There is little variations in style of such stones from third millennium to the common era. The chalice, found in the Temple of VII, is dated to just the Late Bronze and early Iron Age.


Jewelry styles increase prodigiously in the Late Bronze Age. Paste and Lotus-seed carnelian beads, more intricate toggle pins, royal scarabs, and theophoric and other types pendants/amulets occur throughout the lands that Egyptians called Djahi, or Palestine. Some pieces were obviously manufactured in Egypt, though many more appear to be local imitations of Egyptian prototypes.

AMULETS/PENDANTS: By the late thirteenth century, egyptian amulets appear in the richer burials and are commonly found in altar areas in temples. Archaeologists hypothesize that these artifacts were either votive objects offered to the gods and/or decorated statuary of particular deities. Some of the more common types of amulets/pendants include depictions of deities (Ptah Sokar, Bes, Aegis of Bast, Sacred eye of Horus), animals (fish, hippopotamus), flora, hieroglyphs and geometric forms. Most amulets and pendants are faience, although the few locally made examples are gold, bone, shell and metal. Plaque amulets become more common place towards the end of the period and continue into the Iron I period.

James, Frances & McGovern, Patrick, The Late Bronze
    Egyptian Garrison at Beth Shan (Philadelphia, 1993),
    pp. 125-135.
Tufnell, Olga. Lachish IV: The Bronze Age. (London, 1958),
     Pl. 29: 52-68.

BEADS AND BEAD SPACERS: Beads, which are extremely rare in the Middle Bronze II, increase in number and types as one moves from the Late Bronze I to Late Bronze II. The dramatic increase in beads, both number and type, perhaps is a direct result of the invention of glass around 1600. Spherical, cylindrical, barrel and disc-shaped beads are made of paste or faience, though stone and metal beads continue to be produced throughout the period and into the Iron Age. Generally bead shapes prove an unreliable indicator of date. A few bead forms, however, are distinctive and can be placed into specific chronological periods. The gold palmette bead is well known from Egyptian sites, but rare in Palestine (Deir el-Balah Tomb 118). A derivative form, the lily shaped pendant, is common in the Late Bronze II. The lotus-seed carnelian bead appears in Late Bronze II (Deir el-Balah Tomb 116, Tell el-Farah S Tomb 934, Beth Shemesh St. IV Pit 1005) and continues into Iron I (Beth Shan Tombs 7, 66).

As the number of bead strands increases towards the end of the Bronze Age, bead spacers are employed to separate anywhere from two to almost a dozen strands of beads.

Dothan, T. Excavations at the Cemetery of Deir el-Balah. 
     Qedem 10. (Jerusalem, 1979), pp. 42-43 (lotus-seed bead),
     77-80 (palmette bead).
Tufnell, Olga. Lachish IV: The Bronze Age. London, 1958.  p. 83, 
     87 Pls. 27:3, 28:5,6 (bead spacers); pp. 74-76, Pls. 35:8, 36:91,
     103 (lily-shaped pendant).

Strings of beads were worn by some adult females and children either around the neck or on the wrist.

EARRINGS: The earliest type of earrings, the mulberry earring (see, Western Asiatic Jewelry., Pl.77a), has one or three cluster balls attached to a loop; it appears at the end of Middle Bronze IIC or the beginning of the Late Bronze and may continue to the end of the period. Later open and smaller circular earrings dominate the first part of Late Bronze II. Towards the end of Late Bronze II, the lunate earring with its swelling base becomes the most common form: Deir el-Balah Tomb 118, Tell el-Farah S Tombs 922, 934, Beth Shan Tomb ?, Megiddo Tombs 912B (Late Bronze) and 39 (Iron I). It continues to be the more common type of earring in Iron I. A fruit-shaped (pomegrante?) earring is much rarer and restricted, it appears, the the Late Bronze Age: Deir el-Balah Tombs 116,118, Tell el-Farah S Tomb 934, and Beth Shemesh St. IV.

*Wilkinson, A. Ancient Egyptian Jewellery. (London, 1971).

Dothan, T. Excavations at the Cemetery of Deir el-Balah. Qedem 20. (Jerusalem, 1979), pp. 73-74 (lunate earrings), 73-77 (fruit-shaped earring). Tufnell, Olga. Lachish IV: The Bronze Age. (London, 1958), Pl. 25:15 (mulberry earring), 25:44 (tab earring).

METAL FOIL SHEETS:Thin gold, occasionally silver and rarely bronze sheets with looped ends either function as earrings or are sown into clothing. Fine collections of these delicate appliques with their floral designs or etched female heads were uncovered at Tell el-Ajjul (ancient Gaza), Lachish, Megiddo and Beth Shan. Most examples from Beth Shan date to Late Bronze IIB and are rosettes, a common floral design common on other artifacts, ivory lids, pottery, and statuary.

Foil sheets also were sown into headdresses or worn as bands around the head (see Egyptian depictions of Asiatics). Some excavators identify these frontlets as mouthpieces which were occasionally employed in an Aegean practices for sealing the lips. No known examples in Palestine proper have been found over the mouth of a deceased; however, several skeletons (Megiddo II., p.?.) have foil strips on the forehead.

K.R. Maxwell-Hyslop, Western Asiatic Jewellery c. 3000-612 B.C.
    (London, 1971), pp. 132-157.
Guy, P.L.O. Megiddo Tombs. (Chicago, 1938), Pls 120:6,
     128:9-11, 165:12, 16-18 (with sow holes).
Tufnell, Olga. Lachish IV: The Bronze Age. (London, 1958), p.82,
     Pl.25:13 (with looped band).

SCARABS: Continuity to the Middle Bronze Age can be seen in scarabs in Late Bronze I, for unlike Egypt, scarab design in Palestine does not change significantly at the beginning of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Hyksos-like scarabs continue to be produced locally in Late Bronze I and even into Late Bronze II. By the end of Late Bronze I, a more typical style of scarab appears and usually has the royal cartouche of an Egyptian pharaoh, more likely Thothmosis III (Mn- hpr-R').

In addition to royal scarabs, many other scarabs of the Late Bronze have expression of luck and goodwill for the bearer, thus suggesting that scarabs were becoming more amuletic in this period than in the previous Middle Bronze Age. Animal scarabs also become quite common in Late Bronze II.

Giveon, Raphael. Egyptian Scarabs from Western Asia.
     Switzerland, 1985.
Tufnell, Olga. Lachish IV: The Bronze Age. (London, 1958),
     pp. 92-111; Pls. 30-41.

A special type of scarab, the large commemorative scarab reporting special events during the pharaoh's reign (e.g. Amunhotep III), are occasionally discovered.

OTHER FINGER RINGS: Small finger rings are occasionally uncovered. Several faience rings from Beth Shan had a molded wadjet, or sacred eye symbol. Small and generally non-descript looped copper rings complete the corpus.

CYLINDER SEALS (ANEP, 338 - Beth Shan St. V): Cylinder seals in Syrian style continue to be found in Late Bronze levels, though many archaeologists feel that they may be heirlooms from the Middle Bronze II. A new type of cylinder seal, of which there are hundreds of examples, is called Mitanni style. This seal has friezes of animals and men or gods. A common motif, the sacred tree surrounded usually by antelopes or goats, occurs on these seals as well as other artifacts (e.g. pottery). The tree motif varies greatly in detail from just simple rendering of a tree or just a branch to a complete scene of tree, processional characters, animals and mythic griffins.

Towards the end of the Bronze Age, designs on cylinder seals become more and more influenced by the nature of other signet items like the scarab. These later cylinder seals become more like a stamp plaque and are divided into panels with short phrases in hieroglyphic or designs in one panel and animal(s) or figure(s) in the other.

*Parker, B. "Cylinder Seals from Palestine," IRAQ 11 (1949) 1 -42.

McGovern, Patrick E. The Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages of Central Transjordan: The Baq'ah Valley Project, 1977-1981 (Philadelphia, 1986), pp. 291-294. Tufnell, Olga. Lachish IV: The Bronze Age. (London, 1958), pp. 111-112. Pl. 34.

STAMP SEALS AND PLAQUES (ANEP, 468 - depiction of Astart, Bethel):Towards the end of the Bronze Age, stamp seals and plaques begin to appear. Such plaques and seals might be consider degenerative forms of cylinder seals and scarabs respectively. Seals, in particular, will become a more preferred signet item in the Iron Age.

TOGGLE PINS: Late Bronze Toggle pins are squat in comparison to Middle Bronze examples. Pins may have more elaborate heads (nail, knob head, twisted design or incised design) as well as being made from gold, electrum and, of course, bronze.

BANGLES: Towards the end of the Bronze Age, bronze anklets are found on some adult female skeletons. The location of such anklets and armlets on figurines also confirm the decorative use of these larger bronze rings. In fact, it might be pejorative to identify some of these bangles as bracelets given that they are rarely found around the wrist and more often occur on the upper arm.


Egyptian and egyptianize stone vessels become common in the Late Bronze Age particularly as the local industry develops at sites like Beth Shan. Forms in Late Bronze I reflect the imported bag-shaped vessels of the Middle Bronze period.

By Late Bronze II, the pyxis and tazza become the dominant pieces. The tazza, the most identifiable form of this period, is an exquisite vessel that is usually represented in tribute by Asiatics. Earliest examples of the tazza have two pieces, a foot and bowl. The two-ribbed tazza dates earlier than the three- ribbed example as Flinders Petrie first noted. The last forms of tazza are one piece unlike the earlier foot and bowl example.

Other shapes from the end of the Bronze Age include bowls, imitation of imported Aegean forms, lentoid flask (LB tomb at Beth Shemesh, Fosse Temple III Lachish) or amphoriskos, and small ceramic forms including goblets (Deir el-Balah Tombs 114, 118) or juglets. Although most known examples from Palestine of the swimming girl cosmetic spoon are carved in ivory (Megiddo St. VIIA, Beth Shan Tomb 90, Tell es-Sa'idiyeh Tomb 101), a fine alabastron example was discovered in Tomb 118 at Deir el-Balah.

*Ben-Dor, I. " Palestinian Alabaster Vases."   
   QDAP (1944) 93-111.
*Clamer, Christa.  "Alabaster Vessels." Gezer V.
   (Jerusalem, 1988), pp. 108-111.

Dothan, T. Excavations at the Cemetery of Deir el-Balah. Qedem 10. (Jerusalem, 1979), pp. 61-65 (swimming girl and goblet). Tufnell, Olga. Lachish IV: The Bronze Age. (London, 1958), p.86, Pl. 26:32, 39.


Imported faience vessels appear in some of the richest burials and in large palaces and temples. The delicate pieces often mimic imported Aegean vessels: the lentoid flask, pyxis, Syrian flask, amphoriskoi. Other forms, kohl pots and bowls with floral pattern and handles shaped in the head of a female, are common egyptian forms.

BRONZE VESSELS AND OTHER BRONZE OBJECTS (ANEP, 784 - wine set from Tell es-Sa'idiyeh Tomb 101, 840 - Tripod from Tell es-Sa'idiyeh Tomb 101)

Bronze bowls, jars and sometimes even strainers appear in the richer primary burials: Deir el-Balah Tomb 114, northern cemetery at Beth Shan, Governor's tomb at Tell el-Ajjul, Tell el-Farah (S), Baq'ah Valley B3. James B. Pritchard in his study of a fine collection from Tell es-Sa'idiyeh concluded that pieces are parts of wine sets. This conclusion fits well with some other artifacts, large Canaanite storage jar used in viticulture, as well as references to Canaanite burial offerings of wine and bread.

Bronze mirrors are occasionally found in some of the richest tombs: Deir el-Balah Tombs 114, 118, Tell el-Ajjul, Beth Shan Tomb 90?, Tell es-Sa'idiyeh ??. A exquisite bronze mirror with a bronze handle in the scpae of a woman comes from Acco.

Dothan, T. Excavations at the Cemetery of Deir el-Balah.
     Qedem 10. (Jerusalem, 1979), pp. 20-22, 66-71, 98  (wine sets 
     and bronze vessels), 23, 72 (mirrors).
Guy, P.L.O. Megiddo Tombs (Chicago, 1938), 
     Pls. 90:5 (Tomb 217A:1 trefoil jug),
     119:3-5, 120:4 (Tomb 911B: bowls and 1 Egyptian-style vase), 
     123:19, 124:20-22 (Tomb 912 A1: bowls),
     133:19, 168:17 (Tomb 62: bowl: Iron Age).
Tufnell, Olga. Lachish IV: The Bronze Age. (London, 1958),
     Pl. 25:51 (vase)
Oren [add]
Pritchard [add]

The considerable presence of bronze objects at Beth Shan, Tell es- Sa'idiyeh (possibly ancient Zarethan) and also the nearby site of Deir Alla (ancient Succoth) may be referenced in 1 Kings 7:46, a passage that mentions the smelting of bronze vessels in this region.

BONE OR IVORY INLAYS, PANELS AND OBJECTS (ANEP, 67 - comb (Megiddo), 69 - carved tusk (Lachish Fosse Temple), 70 - ointment spoon (Megiddo), 125 - plaque (Megiddo), 126 - female figurine (Megiddo), 128 - ivory box (Megiddo), 215 - game board (Megiddo), 332 - panel with victory and feast scene (Megiddo), 820 - panel with feast scene (Tell el-Farah S))

Bone and ivory inlays for cosmetic boxes continue to be found in contexts dating to Late Bronze I. Click here to review bone inlays of the Middle Bronze II.

Larger and more intricate ivory pieces become common place in Late Bronze II (ANEP, 820 - Tell el Farah (S)): complete ivory boxes, handles in animal shapes (cat, bull, ibex), cosmetic bowls with birds head (in most cases, a duck) or in the shape of a fish, cosmetic spoons designed in the shape of a swimming girl (ANEP, 70) , combs with single or double set of teeth, wands some with pomegrante tops (?) but most with incised designs, stoppers, chalices, floral pattern lids for chalices or boxes, and game boards. An exquisite piece from Lachish Fosse Temple (ANEP, 69), a uniquely carved ivory tusk with spoon and woman's head, is a well-known object of tribute in Eighteenth Dynasty tomb reliefs and, we could imagine that it may have contained scented oil. Another ivory box from Pella with its depiction of lions is an outstanding example of the high art of the Bronze Age.

Guy, P.L.O. Megiddo Tombs. (Chicago, 1938), pp; 48-50, Pls.
    104 (MB example?), 142:1 (duck-shaped boxes), 156:13 (spindle),166:22
    (comb), 168:13 (fish-shaped dish),168:15 (comb).
Liebowitz, H.A. "Bone and Ivory Inlay from Syria and Palestine," 
    IEJ 22 (1977) 89-102.
Loud, Gordon. The Megiddo Ivories. (Chicago, 1939).
Tufnell, Olga. Lachish IV: The Bronze Age. London, 1958.  pp. 87,
     88 Pls. 28:16 (comb), 48:6 (duck-shaped box). 

Perhaps the most important collection of ivories yet uncovered is from the large palace complex at Megiddo. The 320 pieces, dated the thirteenth and twelfth centuries, include furniture panels and rungs, cosmetic boxes, gameboards and pieces, combs, wands, pen cases, shallow bowls, kohl box lids, ointment spoons, decorated unguent horns (see example from Lachish Fosse Temple), and numerous fragments. Depictions of hunts, animal combat, animals at rest, feasts, processions, offerings, deities, and various palmette and rosette designs abound. The collection is useful far beyond documenting just the use of ivory in the Bronze Age. At the very least, it illustrates the cosmopolitan nature of this culture with its mixed Egyptian and Mesopotamian motifs.

At the end of the Bronze Age, long bone spindles and wands associated with bone whorls are found at a few sites: Lachish Fosse Temple III, Megiddo Tombs. Such conical whorls may have been used in spinning though one cannot rule out that they may have had other functions (e.g. buttons).

Tufnell, Olga. Lachish II: Fosse Temple. (London, 1940), 
    pp. 59-62. Pls. 25-31.

CLAY FIGURINES, MASKS AND OTHER MODELS (ANEP, 469 - corpus of clay figurines, 595 - liver model, Megiddo St. VII, 844 - liver model, Hazor, Area A, St. 2)

FIGURINES: Although clay figurines appear first in Middle Bronze II, they main generally rare until towards the end of the Late Bronze Age. Earliest examples from Late Bronze I are nudes with hands on breasts and incised designs (Megiddo Tombs., Pl. 139:25). In Late Bronze II, oval-shaped plaquest Figurines are with depiction of nude female usually holding two lotus blossoms or stalks or snakes become quite common. The nude's coiffure may have ringlets like the Egyptian goddess Hathor or just long flowing hair. She may or may not be wearing anklets. Her feet may even be pigeon-toed. The design on the clay plaques seem to mimic similar depictions of a female form, often identified as Astarte, that first appears on gold foil in the Middle Bronze Age. Such renderings, however, are not limited to gold foil appliques and occur also on cylinder seals as well as statuary where this goddess stands on the back of a lion.

Guy, P.L.O. Megiddo Tombs. (Chicago, 1938), Pls. 89 (Tomb 35),
     99:1,2 (Tomb 989 B1), 139:25 (Tomb 38), 155:8-9 (Tomb 26B).
Tufnell, Olga. Lachish IV: The Bronze Age. (London, 1958), 
     p. 90, Pls. 47-49. 

Clay figurines, shawabtis, are part of Egyptian burial rites and serve the deceased in the next world. Such clay figurines occur only in the richest burials at sites where Egyptian presence is well documented. Another, more unique figure has no clear parallels in Palestine.

Animal models prove rarer in the Bronze than in the Iron Age. A unique piece from Beth Shan, a cobra, is worth mentioning here not only because of its rarity, but also because the snake, a symbol of immortality, seems to be such a predominant image on incense burners or house models at this and other sites. Other zoomorphic fragments from Beth Shan are identified as bulls.

Other types of clay models include cone and dumbbell-shaped models of bread (?) for offerings (Beth Shan), models of the liver for divination (Megiddo and Hazor) using animal entrails, model of a human ear (Gezer and Shiloh) and miniature pottery (Hazor and Beth Shan). A small clay mask (ANEP, 843 - Hazor Area C St. IB), thought to be for a statue, from one of the Hazor temples as well as a more fragmentary example from Beth Shan and Tel Dan demonstrate that this form occurs in the Bronze Age as well as being characteristic of coastal sites in the so-designated Phoenician spheres in the Iron Age (See, Sarepta and Tel Dor).

In stratum VII Beth Shan a unique anthropoid jar supposedly of the Egyptian deity Bes was uncovered. Bes' hands are across his middle forming a circle around a spout. There are now a growing corpus of such so-designated libation jars including one from Lachish (male?, Late Bronze) and others from Tell Qasile (female?, Iron I).

Mazar, Amihai. Excavations at Tell Qasile. Qedem 12.
    (Jerusalem, 1980), pp. 78-82 (anthropomorphic jars), 
    84-86 (clay masks).

INCENSE BURNERS (ANEP, 582 - Megiddo St. VI, 583 - Megiddo St. VI, 584 - Ai, 585 - Beth Shan St. V, 586 - Megiddo St. IV, 590 - Beth Shan St. V)

Incense burners from Beth Shan are tall, slender structures with specialized iconography: birds or people at windows, snakes crawling up the sides, and animals. Although most of the Beth Shan examples date to Iron I, fragments of a large incense burner from this sites as well as parallels at other sites (e.g. Hazor) show that this form appears in the thirteenth century as well.

A different type of incense burner, a lamp with pedestal, is found in Bronze Age level and may be depicted in the hands of an Asiatic on the walls of the Temple of Medinet Habu (ANEP, 346).

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS (ANEP, 206-209, 211, 331, 332)

A few objects are identified as musical instruments: bronze cymbals, jug-shaped clay rattles, ivory castenets. Small single-handled clay rattles first appear in the Late Bronze II, probably just thirteenth century. The rattles are much smaller than later Iron II rattles.

An ivory boomerang or perhaps castanet was uncovered at Beth Shan. Egyptian depictions show two dancers holding similar objects to the Beth Shan example and striking them together. Professional Egyptian musicians in Djahi are, of course, known: see, the Tale of Wenamun (ANET, pp. 25-28) and inscriptions on three ivory pieces form Megiddo that mention a female (?) singer, one Kerker who is associated with the Temple of Ptah at Ashkelon.

James, Frances & McGovern, Patrick, The Late Bronze
    Egyptian Garrison at Beth Shan (Philadelphia, 1993),
    pp. 180.
Tufnell, Olga. Lachish IV: Bronze Age. (London, 1958),
    p.90, Pl. 28:24-26.


Several examples of 58 hole game board, identified as Egyptian game Hare and Hounds, as well as faience gaming pieces occur in stratigraphic and tomb contexts. A set of dice was discovered in Beth Shan Tomb 42.

Tufnell, Olga. Lachish IV: The Bronze Age. (London, 1958),
     Pl. 54:6 (gaming pieces).

STATUES AND STELAE (ANEP, 470- 497, 856 - Lion orthostat, Hazor Area H, Loc 2140)

Large stone stela of Ramesis II and Seti I from Beth Shan commemorate their victories over local cities. Votive stela from Beth Shan and Balau' show worship of Canaanite and Egyptian pantheon.

Metal statuettes (ANEP 494 - Megiddo St. VB, 495 - Megiddo St. IX-VII, 496 - Megiddo Tomb 4, 497 - Megiddo St. VII-VI, 825 - Shechem) indicates the mixing of Egyptian and Canaanite pantheons (e.g. Statue of Hathor from Beth Shan). Bronze statues from Megiddo of a seated individual (courtesy: The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago) and another individual with cudgel striding forward (Megiddo Tombs., Pl 153:8) are often identified with the two main deities of the Canaanite pantheon, El and Baal respectively. Two small statuettes with dowels, probably of the Reshef(?) wearing a conical cap, was uncovered at Lachish (Lachish IV., pp. 82-83, Pl. 25:69). Other evidence supporting these identification include iconography from cylinder seals (ANEP, 468), Middle Bronze statuary from Ras Shamra (ancient Ugarit) in northern Syria, and later Iron Age votive stela from Syria (ANEP, 825 - bronze figurine, Shechem Field VII, 831 - seated bronze figurine, Hazor, Area A, Loc 230d, A 5456, 832 - figurine of bull with dowels, Hazor, H58, Loc 2113, St IA, 836 - seated bronze figurine, Hazor H127, Loc 2113, St. IA).

FURNITURE (ANEP, 332 - throne on ivory panel (Megiddo St. VII))

The stone throne from Beth Shan Temple VII, other examples from Hazor,and also the depiction of a throne on the Megiddo ivory or the Ahiram sarcophagus form a useful corpus for describing chairs of royalty and perhaps deities. The Beth Shan throne, like the one etched on one of the Megiddo ivories, has griffins, or cherubs, depicted on its sides. On the back of the throne is a tree and the depictions together reminds one of the typical motifs of animals surrounding the tree of life that occur on cylinder seals and some pottery pieces. The common phrase when referring to Yahweh as king in association with the ark, he who sits/enthrone on cherubs (add passages here), might have been visualized by the ancient Israelites in these terms.

James, Frances & McGovern, Patrick, The Late Bronze
    Egyptian Garrison at Beth Shan (Philadelphia, 1993),
    p. 179.


To date, the largest collection of Late Bronze inscriptional material uncovered in Palestine was unearthed at Beth Shan. Two almost complete stelae, one of Ramesis II and the other of Seti I, describe campaigns in the regions east of Beth Shan. Other fragmentary stelae were also found. Votive stelae dedicated to gods by their worshippers form the next largest group of inscriptions. Some of these texts do date to Iron I, yet are included here since culturally they seem to reflect to Bronze rather than Iron Age. A third group of inscriptions, inscribed door lintels, were uncovered in Strata VI, now dated to very beginning of Iron I.


Although there is a wide variety of animal bones in archaeological contexts, the vast majority are from the primary herd animals, sheep and goats. Cattle, which require more pasture land and demand abundant water, were a secondary herd animal throughout the period, and their bones, though common, occur less frequently. One finds a wide variety of remains from other animals in ancient sites: pigs, horses, donkeys, oxen, camels, dogs, fallow deer, hippopotami, birds, fish, etc.

Animal bones are found in domestic and other contexts. Swine astragali, surprisingly, appear in tombs in the Iron Age. Right Forelegs or astragali of immature goats and sheep are common in pits near sites interpreted as bamot or temples. At the end of Middle Bronze, complete skeleton of donkeys appear in a few communal burials. More common in Middle Bronze Age tombs, though, are joints from goats, sheep and cattle.