MIDDLE BRONZE AGE (2200 - 1570 B.C.E.)


The Middle Bronze Age is contemporary with the First Intermediate Period, Middle Kingdom and Second Intermediate Period in Egypt. United Egypt of the Old Kingdom disintegrated into individual kingdoms (nomarchs) after the Sixth Dynasty. This period of disunity, possibly described in the Admonitions of Ipuwer (ANET, pp.441-444), lasted some three hundred years and is generally contemporary with Middle Bronze I.

Under kings of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Dynasty, Middle Kingdom Egypt reached a cultural pinnacle. Politically Middle Kingdom monarchs extended their influence southward into Nubia as far as the fortress of Semnah. Egypt's hegemony in Asia, however, is more problematic, although there is evidence of early contact with Asiatic peoples. The Tale of Sinuhe (ANET, pp. 18-22) describes the adventures of an Egyptian royal tutor who fled to Syria and lived among the Asiatic tribes. Other evidence of contact include Egyptian execration texts(ANET, pp. 328-329 and ANEP, 593 -Sakkarah figurine), lists of Asiatics living in Egyptian households(ANET, pp. 553-554), extensive gifts and statuary from Byblos and other sites (e.g. Megiddo), and Egyptian tomb inscriptions and depictions (e.g. Beni Hasan painting of 37 Asiatics ANEP, No. 3 - Tomb of Khnum-hotep III).

NOTE: D.B. Redford has a good review and discussion of evidence for contact between Egypt and Canaan during the 12th-13th Dynasties. See, Egypt, Canaan and Israel in Ancient Times., pp.76-82 .

Asiatics gained control of the delta region of Egypt in the Second Intermediate Period. Known as the Hyksos {=hk3 hs(wt)}, Rulers of Foreign Lands, these Asiatic princes may have extended control beyond the delta and as far south as Abydos(ANET, pp. 230-234). Certainly many of the major Hyksos cities are located in the eastern Delta: Tell el-Yahudiyeh, Heliopolis, Tell el-Maskhuta and Tell ed-Dab'a. Manfred Bietak's excavation at Tell ed-Dab'a clearly demonstrates the presence of an Asiatic culture at this site that some consider the ancient capital of Avaris. Large migdol temples, family cemeteries on the tell, unusual donkey burials, weapons, types of grave goods, common Middle Bronze IIA-C pottery and other small finds are comparable and almost identical to the kind of cultural remains from contemporary sites in Palestine and Syria.

A number of key battles were fought by Egyptian kings of the Seventeenth Dynasty against the Hyksos (ANET, pp.230- 233), but it wasn't until the reign of Amosis, the first king of the Eighteenth Dynasty (circa 1570 B.C.E.), that the Hyksos were expelled. The important text describing the expulsion of the Hyksos from Egypt comes from the tomb walls of one Ahmose of El Kab(ANET, pp. 233-234). His autobiographical inscriptions describes the conquest of Avaris, the Hyksos capital, the city of Sharuhen (Tell el Farah S) in Palestine and the conquest of all Retenu during the reign of Thothmosis I.

M. Bietak, "Egypt and Canaan During the Middle Bronze Age," 
    BASOR 281 (1991) 27-72.
Bietak, M. Avaris and PirRamesse. (London, 1979).
Dever, William G. "Relations between Syria-Palestine and Egypt
    in the "Hyksos' Period' Palestine in the Bronze and 
    Iron Ages. ed. by Jonathan Tubb. London, 1985., pp. 69-87.
Gardiner, Alan. Egypt of the Pharaohs (Oxford, 1961).
Holladay, John S.  Cities of the Delta, Part III. Tell el-Maskhuta.
     Malibu, 1982.
Posener, G. "Syria and Palestine c. 2160-1780 B.C," CAH 2.
Redford, D.B. Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times
    (Princeton 1996), pp. 64-122.
Wilson, John A. The Culture of Ancient Egypt. (Chicago, 
    1951), pp. 125-165. 

ORIGIN OF THE CANAANITES (ANEP, 3 - Tomb of Khnum-hotep III)

The biblical term, Canaanite, identifies the people who lived in the land of Israel before the Israelites. Torah and the historical books present the idea that the Canaanites were not one ethnic group, but composed of a variety of different groups: the Perizzites, the Hittites, the Hivites. Generally archaeologists and biblical scholars mean the Bronze culture of Palestine when they use the term Canaanite. This culture of the Middle and Late Bronze Ages is viewed as stratified with individual city-states ruled by a monarch and warrior class who governed a large free serf class. Most scholars conclude, on some minimal evidence, that the upper classes were Hurrian, an Indo-European culture which invaded in Middle Bronze II. The lower classes are thought to be Amorite, an earlier invader in the Middle Bronze I.

Many renowned biblical scholars, W. F. Albright, Nelson Glueck and E. A. Speiser, have linked the Patriarchs to the end of Middle Bronze I and beginning of Middle Bronze II based on three points: personal names, mode of life, and customs. Other scholars, however, have suggested later dates for the Patriarchal Age including the Late Bronze Age (Cyrus Gordon) and Iron Age (John Van Seters). Last, some scholars (particularly, Martin Noth and his students) find it difficult to determine any period for the Patriarchs. They suggest that the importance of the biblical texts are not necessarily their historicity, but how they function within the Israelite society of the Iron Age.

Thompson, Thomas The Historicity of the Patriarchal 
   Narrative. (Berlin, 1974).



The Middle Bronze I period corresponds roughly to the First Intermediate Period in Ancient Egypt, a time of general disintegration of the Old Kingdom.

Archaeologists generally disagree on the terminology for this period: EB-MB (Kathleen Kenyon), MB I (William Foxwell Albright), Middle Canaanite I (Yohanan Aharoni), Early Bronze IV (William Dever and Eliezer Oren). Although consensus may be lacking on terminology, most archaeologists agree that there is a culture break with the earlier Early Bronze culture, and that this period represents a transition to a more urbanized material culture characteristic of the Middle Bronze II, Late Bronze and Iron Age.

Aharoni, Yohanan. The Archaeology of the Land of Israel.
   (Philadelphia, 1978), pp. 80-89.

Kenyon, Kathleen M and Moorey, P.R.S.  The Bible and Recent
   Archaeology, (Atlanta, 1987), pp. 19-26.

Mazar, Amihai. Archaeology of the Land of the Bible
   (New York, 1985), pp. 151-173.

Redford, Donald B. Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times
   (Princeton, 1993), pp. 63-70, 82-83.

Most of the following material was exhumed in the Bronze Age cemetery at Gibeon (el Jib) and the northern cemetery Beth Shan. Both cemeteries still remain extremely important in any discussion of the culture of this period.


There is limited evidence of urban or village life throughout the region. Temporary structures, more like sheds than houses, have been uncovered on the sides of some tells (e.g. Jericho [Tell es-Sultan]) and other hillsides. In the Negev, village sites had circular huts with stone pillar in the center. At most sites there is no sedentary evidence of this culture except for the numerous tombs.


This is a period of prolific tomb construction. Round or square-shaped vertical shafts lead through a very narrow opening into a single circular chamber at the bottom of the shaft. Multiple chambers do occur (Northern Cemetery Beth Shan, pp. 19-60), but are less common than single shaft tombs. The burial chambers tend to be hemispherical in shape. Surprisingly the chambers also seem rather spacious: [add: give dimensions here]. A number of these tombs may be equipped with lamp niches.

Middle Bronze I burials contain one or two primary burials more often than not in a fetal, fully-flexed position. Burials often lie opposite the narrow tomb entrance. Many Skeletons may be somewhat disarticulated perhaps by design. (See Tombs 50 Gibeon [el Jib] and 89 Beth Shan.) Grave goods are meager in comparison to later periods, and often consist of a piece of pottery or sometimes a copper javelin point. Tombs at Jericho also contained additional grave goods including animal bones usually found in the center of the tomb, occasionally paste and stone beads, and bronze or copper decorative studs that Kathleen Kenyon thought were attached to hilts and staffs (Jericho II., pp. 555-556).

Another type of burial chamber, a dolmen, may date to Middle Bronze I although other dolmens date to the Chalcolithic and other periods. Tumuli burials in the Negev contain Middle Bronze I remains usually a single burial with one or two pottery pieces.

Kenyon, Kathleen. Excavations at Jericho. Vol. I. (Jerusalem,
     1960), pp. 186-262.
Kenyon, Kathleen. Excavations at Jericho. Vol. II. (Jerusalem,
     1965), pp. 92-166.
Oren, Eliezer. The Northern Cemetery of Beth Shan.
     (Leiden, 1973).  Following tombs have Middle Bronze 1 (EBIV)
     material: 26, 27, 57, 59, 74, 87, 88, 89, 96, 
     104,108, 108A,110, 202A, 203, 215, 219, 227, 262, 269, 
     296, 300A, 301B, 303.
Pritchard, James B. The Bronze Age Cemetery at Gibeon.
     (Philadelphia, 1963). Following tombs have just Middle Bronze
     I material: 32, 33, 37, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 54, 56, 
     59, 62.

POTTERY (ANEP, 147-148 - pottery corpus)

Middle Bronze I pottery continues the flat-base tradition of the Early Bronze Age. Some vessels, particularly north of Shechem, have the wavy ledge handles characteristic of the Early Bronze (example of Early Bronze Jar with handle). Four-spouted lamps with round or flat bases are perhaps the most identifiable form. The single-spouted lamp, the characteristic form of the Bronze Age onward, appears at the end of Middle Bronze I and continues into the Roman period changing and improving over the centuries in logical and functional ways.

Other characteristic pieces include teapots, goblets and small amphoriskoi.

Little treatment (that is, slips, etched designs or paint) is applied to most vessels. On an occasional vessel there may occur horizontal bands of incision or single or double line of punches just below the base of the rim. A few vessels may have one to two knobs applied to the shoulder. In the northern group, vessels may have incised designs as well as raised rope- like patterns around the shoulders. A few vessels are coated with a dull, unburnished red slip.

There is regional variation in pottery style. A cup-like vessel, commonly called a toothbrush holder, is a common form among the southern group (Gibeon [el Jib]). Large globular vessels with wavy handles are identifiable forms of the northern group (Beth Shan). The northern group also seems to have a wider variety of ceramic forms than tombs belonging to the southern group (Gibeon [El Jib]).


Copper and not bronze weapons occur in a few tombs. The most common form, the curled-tangled javelin point, probably attached to a wooden pole by bending the curled tail into a wooden slot on the pole. Other types of weapons, such as a riveted dagger with a slight mid-rib for added strength and the crescentic axehead, are rare. Such types of weapons do not continue into the Middle Bronze II.

Maxwell-Hyslop, R. "Daggers and Swords in West Asia," IRAQ 
     8 (1946): 1-65.
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. "Western Asiatic Shaft-Hole Axes," Iraq 11.
     (1949) 90-129.
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.
Tufnell, Olga. Lachish IV: The Bronze Age. (London, 1958),
     Pls. 21:6-9; 22-24.
Yadin, Yigael. The Art of Warfare in Biblical Lands. Jerusalem,


BEADS: No examples of MB I beads were able to be located in the University's collection though records indicate MB I beads were collected from Tomb 32 Gibeon (El Jib). A fine collection of barrel-shaped and spherical beads were uncovered at Jericho (Tell es-Sultan).

TOGGLE PINS: Elongated copper toggle pins do occur in a few Middle Bronze I burials in Syria and northern Palestine. Such pins are narrow and much longer than examples from later perods. The tie hole is located quite close to the pin's head. No examples of this type of pin can be cited from Beth Shan and Gibeon (el Jib).


The 'Ain Samiya Goblet is a unique piece with depiction which many interpret to be a mythical scene from the Enuma Elis. A two headed figure appears to be teasing one and perhaps two serpents. Two other individuals dressed in a sumerian-style skirts holds a rope design above a serpent and below a sun-like rosette.

Yeivin IEJ 21 (1971) 78-81. M. H. Gates Levant 18 (1986) 75-82.

MIDDLE BRONZE II A-C (circa 2000-1570 B.C.E.)


SITES               MBIIA                   MBIIB                   MBIIC

Beth Shan                                     Stratum Xb             Stratum Xa
                    Tomb 92

Beth Shemesh                                                             Stratum V
(Ain Shems)                                  Tomb 3

Gibeon              Tomb 58               Tombs 11,12,
(el Jib)                                          13, 14, 15, 18,
                                                    19, 20, 21, 22,
                                                    30, 31, 35, 36,
                                                    37, 38, 40, 41,
                                                    42, 44, 45, 57,

Aharoni, Yohanan. The Archaeology of the Land of Israel.
   (Philadelphia, 1978), pp. ??.

Kenyon, Kathleen M and Moorey, P.R.S.  The Bible and Recent
   Archaeology, pp. 27-37.

Mazar, Amihai. Archaeology of the Land of the Bible
   (New York, 1985), pp. ??.

Artifacts illustrating this archaeological period are drawn mostly from the Bronze Age cemetery at Gibeon (el Jib), particularly the undisturbed Tomb 15. Some additional material is taken from Tomb 3 at Beth Shemesh (Ain Shems) and Beth Shan cemetery. A few published artifacts, mostly pottery, are taken from stratum XI-IX Beth Shan.


Albrecht Alt was one of the first scholars to note the increase in settlements in Middle Bronze Palestine. Using the Execration texts, Alt, a historical geographer, noticed that many more sites are mentioned in the later than earlier Execration texts. Alt suggestion that this was due to increase in settlements has since been confirmed by numerous archaeological expeditions. This period is well-noted for the founding of many of the major cities in the Bible. Occupied sites occur throughout the region (except for a few sites in the Transjordan) and are not confined to the coastal plain.

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

FORTIFICATION SYSTEMS (ANEP, 712 -MBIIA gate (Megiddo St. XIII), 713 - MBIIB-C gate (Shechem), 866-867 - MB II gate (Shechem))

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

The earliest fortification lines in Middle Bronze IIA (circa 1950 B.C.E.) were massive brick walls built on top of a stone foundation: Aphek (2.5 m thick), Megiddo (1.8 m), Tell Beit Mirsim Stratum G-F (3.25 m), Tell Poleg (2.7 m), Tel Dan (2.0 m) and Tell Zeror (4.0 m).

In the Middle Bronze IIB period, the fortifications became even more massive and complex. Earthen ramparts with glacis, plastered slopes, dry moats (=fosse) and other features surrounded the site. Such fortifications are found in Syria, Palestine and the Egyptian delta (see Tell el-Yahudiyeh and Qantir). Hazor, in particular, has massive fortifications around a large Middle Bronze city. This elaborate fortification system is clearly visible from aerial shots of the site that show the elongated mounds surrounding the Middle Bronze city.

GATES: Gates are one of the weakest points in the fortification lines, so special measures were taken (multiple doors, guard rooms and towers) to strengthen the defense in the gate area as these later gates demonstrate.

The earliest gates in Middle Bronze IIA were 90 degree angular gates often with a large tower giving added protection to the gate area. See: Megiddo Stratum XIII, Tell Beit Mirsim Stratum E, Tell Dan and Tell Poleg. The gate at Tell Dan is particularly instructive. The triple arched gate, constructed of mud-brick, has towers on both sides. The general superstructure of the gate was preserved.

The earlier angular gates were replaced in Middle Bronze IIB by the straight entrance gate: Hazor, Megiddo, Shechem, Gezer, Beth-shemesh, Yavneh-yam and Tell el-Farah (S). On each side of the gate, there were three piers which restricted access to the city. The earlier form of this gate may have been more compact if the successive gates at Hazor can be used to indicate the evolution of this structure.

Direct-entrance gates continue to be used in later periods and might be compared with tenth century gates at Ashdod, Gezer, Hazor, Lachish and Megiddo that are often labeled Solomonic.

HOUSES AND OTHER RELATED BUILDINGS (ANEP, 724- MB II patrician house at Tell Beit Mirsim St. G)

LARGE HOUSE STRUCTURES: Large buildings, or palaces, have a central courtyard surrounded by small rooms (e.g. Megiddo Stratum XII). The palaces of the Middle Bronze and later Late Bronze tend to have thick walls, suggestive of a secondary story, and rooms off courtyards: Megiddo Stratum XII, Stratum IX; Tell el-Ajjul, Shechem, Tell Aphek and Tell Sera'. Some, like the massive complex at Tell el-Ajjul, have indoor plumbing and beautifully designed floors with embedded seashells.

Smaller houses (e.g.Tell Beit Mirsim, Stratum D) have an inner court with a row of rooms with thick walls at one side. The thickness of the walls suggests a second story. It could be instructive to compare the house design at Tell Beit Mirsim with house models from Middle Kingdom Egypt . Such models have the rooms at one end of an open court.

Other houses of this period do not as defining characteristics as the palaces or so-designated patrician houses.

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

TEMPLES AND RELIGIOUS STRUCTURES (ANEP, 734, (Megiddo St. XV-XIII), 867-868 - Shechem)

Large single room structures with thick walls and an fortified entrance appear in Middle Bronze IIB and continue to be used throughout the Late Bronze. Uncovered at a number of sites in Palestine, Syria and Egypt (Megiddo XI, Shechem, Tell Mardikh, Ras Shamra, Alalakh Stratum III, Tell el-Yahudiyeh and Tell ed Dab'a Stratum E), the identification of these structures as temples is based on the discovery of mythological texts near two such structures at Ras Shamra (ancient Ugarit), the types of artifacts found in the structures themselves, and on a biblical reference perhaps to the temple at Shechem.

A different structure, often identified as a bamah or high place (Gezer), consists of ten standing stones with a large rectangular stone base that may have served for libations or as a base for inscribed stela.

BURIAL PRACTICES (ANEP, 778 - Tomb H 18, Jericho)

Unlike later periods when the dead are buried in cemeteries on the slopes of the tell or in rock-cut tombs some distance away from the city itself, Middle Bronze burials may be deposited within the city itself (e.g. unpublished level of Beth Shan). Infant burials in jars and even some rather wealthy burials in constructed crypts are found under houses and palaces (e.g. Megiddo and Tel Dan). Early tombs cut in the Middle Bronze I period are reused in this period as well.

Burials at Gibeon (el Jib) and Jericho (Tell es-Sultan) provide excellent examples of secondary burial (ANEP, 778 - Tomb H18 at Jericho). The last burial may lie on a bed of wood, stone or woven mat usually in the center of the tomb. At Jericho, many tombs had a wooden table next to the last interment. Food offerings (mutton?) and other artifacts appear to have been placed on the table for the deceased. As for earlier burials and their accompanying artifacts, they were swept to the rear of the tomb. Many times only the long bones and skull are kept. Generally Middle Bronze tombs contain the remains of ten to as many as fifty individuals. (For a more complete discussion of burial practices, see: Jericho II., pp.550, 566-579.)

Besides pottery, Egyptian and egyptianized scarabs, wooden combs, bronze toggle pins, bone/ivory inlays for wooden boxes, alabaster vases, bronze weapons and wooden tables (see, Jericho), one may also find food offerings in the tomb (see, Jericho [Tell es-Sultan] and Megiddo) including pomegranates, dates, and animal joints. Offerings of liquid also seem possible given some evidence of remains in large storage jars Jericho. Fragments of textiles from Jericho and other sites as well as the high number of toggle pins for fastening garments indicate that the deceased was clothed and may have worn a headdress. Rush mats lying under the deceased and baskets were also uncovered at Jericho.

Kenyon, Kathleen. Excavations at Jericho. Vol. I. (Jerusalem,
     1960), pp. 263-536.
Kenyon, Kathleen. Excavations at Jericho. Vol. II. (Jerusalem,
     1965), pp. 167-478.
Pritchard, James B. The Bronze Age Cemetery at Gibeon.
     (Philadelphia, 1963). Following tombs have  Middle Bronze I-
     II material: 12, 13, 14, 21, 22, 22A, 30 31-31A, 39, 42, 57, 58
     59.  These tombs have MBII only: 10A, 10B, 11, 15, 21E, 36,
     45, 64, 64A. 
Schumacher G. Tell el-Mutesellim I. Pl. 5.

Several unique burials at Tell el-Ajjul, dated to the end of the Middle Bronze Age, contain horse or donkey burials and perhaps riders. In the center of a circular tomb is the skeletal remains of a horse. In cut shelves or beds along the perimeter Flinders Petrie found primary burials. More recently, similar burials of humans and donkeys together were uncovered at Tell ed-Dab'a (perhaps also, Tell el-Maskhuta) in Egypt and in a Late Bronze Age tomb at Gezer and Baq'ah valley. Tell ed-Dab'a, perhaps part of the ancient Hyksos capital of Avaris, was dotted with crypts and cist burials similar but not identical to burial practices at Gibeon (el Jib). Similar mud-brick crypts were uncovered at Tell el-Maskhuta (possibly, ancient Pithom).

On Middle Bronze I Pottery

  • On Late Bronze Pottery
  • On Iron Age Pottery

    Flat-based ware of the Early Bronze and Middle Bronze I period is replaced by the round-base ware of Middle Bronze II. Characteristics ceramic forms, such as lamps, dipper juglets and storage jars, first appear in the Middle Bronze II and continue in the Late Bronze and Iron Age with gradual modifications over the centuries.

    A thick red slip coats the surface of many vessels. This slip is burnished, thus giving the appearance of metal. In fact, imitation of metal pieces seems to be a desired artistic goal for this pottery style. We even find clay-like rivets on jar handles near the rims as would be expected on the actual metal jugs and juglets. Some other pottery pieces may imitate fine objects in wood or alabaster.

    A pottery treatment of special note, Tell Yahudiyeh ware, has incised, pricked decoration with filled white paint. Towards the end of this period, bichrome pottery and Chocolate-on-White ware appear. Both forms of painted pottery herald the beginning of the decorative tradition of the Late Bronze, painted ware.


    Bronze replaces copper beginning in Middle Bronze IIA. The "duck- bill" axehead with two elliptical holes is an identifiable form of Middle Bronze IIA (see excellent example from Tel Dan) and may have its origin in earlier forms of the Middle Bronze I and even Early Bronze Age axes (crescentic axes). The narrow chisel-shaped axehead occurs in Middle Bronze IIB-C contexts. Spear points with long or short sockets replace the curled-tang spearpoint of Middle Bronze I. In Middle Bronze II swords are broad with added midribs to increase durability of the form. Handles are made of wood and limestone pommels form the top part of the dagger. Shorter swords, or daggers, seem to become more common in the latter half of Middle Bronze II. All of these technological changes seem driven by the desire to produce weapons with better piercing power.

    *Maxwell-Hyslop, R. "Daggers and Swords in West Asia," IRAQ 
    Maxwell-Hyslop, R. "Western Asiatic Shaft-Hole Axes," Iraq 11.
         (1949) 90-129.
    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.

    Guy, P.L.O. Megiddo Tombs (Chicago, 1938), Pl.163:8. Tufnell, Olga. Lachish IV: The Bronze Age. (London, 1958), Pls. 21:6-9; 22-24.

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


    K.R. Maxwell-Hyslop, Western Asiatic Jewellery c. 3000-612 B.C.
        (London, 1971), pp. 106-127.

    SCARABS: Scarabs become the signet item of choice in the second millennium replacing the cylinder seal. The earliest types of scarabs tend to be slightly smaller than most later examples; less detailed designs; and have. smooth, undecorated backs. Rapidly in the 12th Dynasty, the scarab designed developed as this mostly amuletic charm became more common in tombs and on tells. For details on proposed classification, see Tufnell's work cited below (particularly, Table 34).

    Ben-Tor, Daphna.  The Scarab: A Reflection of Ancient Egypt.  
       Jerusalem, 1989
    Giveon, Raphael. Egyptian Scarabs from Western Asia.
        Switzerland, 1985.
    Kenyon, Kathleen Mary.  Excavations at Jericho II: The Tombs 
       Excavated in 1955-1956. Jerusalem, 1960.
    Niccacci, Alviero.  Hyksos Scarabs.  Jerusalem, 1980.
    Pritchard, James Bennett.  The Bronze Age Cemetery at Gibeon.  
       Philadelphia, 1963.
    Rowe, Alan. A Catalogue of Egyptian Scarabs. Cairo, 1936.
    Tufnell, Olga. Studies on Scarab Seals. Vol. II. London, 1984.

    A particular style of scarab, often called Hyksos, is easily identifiable by designs on the front, or face. The border around the scarab's face may have geometric design, such as concentric circles, swirls, cross-hatching and volutes. Hieroglyphics tend to be gibberish, non-sensical or simplistic expressions wishing health for the wearer or a god. Such wishes seem to indicate that the scarab was also considered to be a talisman, a function that seems a characteristic use of later scarabs. Scarabs with pharonic titles are extremely rare in the Middle Bronze Age. An pharonic scarab of Sesostris III was found in Stratum IX, Beth Shan (Late Bronze IIA).

    Scarabs in this period are generally found near the neck or fingers in the few undisturbed burials. Occasionally scarabs are found suspended, it appears, from toggle pins. The location of the scarabs tend to suggest that even very early they functioned more as amuletic charms than signet items.

    CYLINDER SEALS (ANEP, 240 - collection of cylinder seals): Cylinder seals continue to be used by Bronze Age society despite the increase in the number of scarabs. In this part of the Levant, a new style of Glyptic Art, which we designate as Syrian, develops. Some the characteristic features are the mixture of Mesopotamian and Egyptian motifs, animal motifs (e.g. combat scenes), and depictions of human-like figures we interpret as deities.

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

    TOGGLE PINS: The typical garment fastener of the Bronze Age is often found in tombs. Various types of toggle pins are known, and the tombs at Gibeon (el Jib) generally illustrate the types used in MBIIB rather than MBIIC. Almost all toggle pins of this period are cast in bronze rather than precious metals as is more common in Late Bronze II. They also lack knob or nail heads as well as etched designs, features of Late Bronze pins.

    Tufnell, Olga. Lachish IV: The Bronze Age. (London, 1958),
         Pl. 24:1,2,9,10,16,23,28,31 (Type 3); 24:11,12,14 (Type 7);
         24:3,7,8 (Type 8a); 24:21,25,30 (Type 8b); 24:4,15,18,19,20,
         22,24,26,27,29,32 (Type 8c); 24:17 (Type 9a); 24:6,13 (Type 9b).

    METAL FOIL SHEET: Gold sheet pendants, bands and even dagger-shaped sheets depicting goddesses (?), are part of the high art of this period. Many pieces appear to be adornment items especially the pendants and bands. Use of gold foil sown into headdresses seems evident from a number of burials at Megiddo dated to the beginning of the Late Bronze Age. The finest collection of such forms occurs in the courtyard cemetery and hoards at Tell el-Ajjul, ancient Gaza. Only scattered examples from contemporary remains can be cited from other excavations, and it is not until the Late Bronze Age that one finds such quality work throughout the region. Petrie's discovery at Ajjul, thus, remains one of the great discoveries in the high art of this region.

    • [NOTE: Photograph foil pieces in vault.]


    Bone inlays appear in Middle Bronze IIB and continue to be used as decoration on jewelry/cosmetic boxes into Late Bronze Age. Small, flat bone inlays can be cited from many Palestinian sites (Tell Beit Mirsim, Tell el-Ajjul, Tell ed-Duweir, Tell el-Fa'rah (S), Hazor, Jericho (Tell es-Sultan), Gezer, Tel Dan, Gibeon (el Jib) as well as Egyptian tombs. A large corpus of inlays comes from the Jericho Tombs (see Kenyon, Excavations at Jericho, Vols. I-II). Concentric Circles, guilloche, chevrons, zig-zag lines, herringbone pattern, and other incised line designs are common treatments on rectangular and sometimes triangular strips. Excavators occasionally find carved birds, lions, antelopes, humans and hieroglyphic symbols (e.g. djed=pillar).

    More intricate ivory boxes may appear in the Middle Bronze II though they are more commonly found in the Late Bronze and early Iron Age. A duck-shaped cosmetic box (Megiddo Tombs, Pl. 104) is clearly from Middle Bronze II burial.

    Albright, W.F. The Excavations at Tell Beit Mirsim, Vol II:
         The Bronze Age, AASOR, Vol. 17, New Haven, 1938, 56-58.
    Guy, P.L.O. Megiddo Tombs. Chicago, 1938.
         pp. 48-50, 186, Pls. 104, 108-109, 145:2.
    Kenyon, Kathleen Mary.  Excavations at Jericho II: The Tombs 
         Excavated in 1955-1956. (Jerusalem, 1960).
    Liebowitz, H. IEJ (1977) 89-97.
    Pritchard, James Bennett.  The Bronze Age Cemetery at 
         Gibeon.  Philadelphia, 1963.
    Tufnell, Olga. Lachish IV: The Bronze Age. London, 1958.
         pp. 86-87, Pls. 28:1-4.

    Use of ivory, and not bone in boxes, is extremely rare in this period. One fine piece from Megiddo illustrates a typical artistic motif of this region, animal combat.


    Wooden single-teeth combs with scalloped tops were uncovered in numerous tombs at Jericho (Tell es-Sultan). These combs are found among the remains of woven baskets or wooden cosmetic boxes. Occasionally combs are found in the vicinity of the skull (especially infant and child burials), thus suggesting that they were worn as decoration at least in death.

    Kenyon, Kathleen. Excavations at Jericho. Vol. I. (Jerusalem,
         1960), pp. 263-536.
    Kenyon, Kathleen. Excavations at Jericho. Vol. II. (Jerusalem,
         1965), pp. 167-478.


    Egyptian and egyptianized alabaster vases become common particularly in burials. Forms such as the juglet, baggy-shaped vessels, small jars and ovoid flasks may have contained ointments used in the funerary rites or offerings for the next world. Generally one distinguishes between Egypt imports and locally-made vessels by the color and manufacture of a piece. Egyptian pieces are usually translucent in color and are carved with a drill that leaves horizontal lines on the stone. Locally-made vases are white in color and are carved by a chisel that produces vertical marks on the vase.

    I. Ben-Dor," Palestinian Alabaster Vases."
       QDAP (1944) 93-111.


    Faience vessels first appear towards the end of the Middle Bronze Age. Generally two forms dominate in this period: a bottle with rosette design and a juglet with leaf design.

    C. Sagona, "Middle Bronze Faience Vessels from Palestine,"
       ZDPV 96 (1980) 101-120.

    GAME BOARDS: (ANEP, 214 -gameboard, Tell Beit Mirsim St. D)

    Most examples of game boards and gaming pieces in the Museum's collection date to Late Bronze and Iron Age and consist of 58 holes drilled into a fiddle-shaped ivory piece. Two 20 square game boards were uncovered at Beth Shemesh [Ain Shems], one in Stratum V and the other in Stratum V-IV. The best parallel for such game boards in this region comes from Albright's excavation at Tell Beit Mirsim (TBM II, No. 55).


    Bronze statuary, more prevalent in later sites, can be cited from a few Middle Bronze II level at Megiddo and Nahariyah. Such statues of mostly male deities (?) are common from important sites in Syria, Byblos and Ras Shamra (ancient Ugarit). Gold sheets are thought to depict goddesses.

    No examples of such statuary dated to the Middle Bronze Age occur in the colllection of the University of Pennsylvania Museum.

    WOODEN BOXES, BOWLS AND FURNITURE (ANEP, 780 -Tomb H6 at Jericho, 781 - Tomb G46 at Jericho)

    Numerous examples of wooden boxes with bone inlay do occur at arid sites like Jericho (Tell es-Sultan) or the delta region of Egypt. In addition to the wooden boxes, wood bowls with rams and lion(?) heads on the bowl's rim are common and sometimes duplicated in clay as is the case from Gibeon (el Jib). Wooden combs, when preserved, occur in the wooden cosmetic boxes or in reed baskets. At Jericho, Kenyon uncovered fine collection of wooden tables and stools.


    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 occur less frequently. One finds a wide variety of remains from other animals: 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 contexts 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.