Ancient technology and punctuated change: Detecting the emergence of the Edomite Kingdom in the Southern Levant

Erez Ben-Yosef, Brady Liss, Omri A. Yagel, Ofir Tirosh, Mohammad Najjar, Thomas E. Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

While the punctuated equilibrium model has been employed in paleontological and archaeological research, it has rarely been applied for technological and social evolution in the Holocene. Using metallurgical technologies from the Wadi Arabah (Jordan/Israel) as a case study, we demonstrate a gradual technological development (13th-10th c. BCE) followed by a human agency-triggered punctuated “leap” (late-10th c. BCE) simultaneously across the entire region (an area of ~2000 km2). Here, we present an unparalleled, diachronic archaeometallurgical dataset focusing on elemental analysis of dozens of well-dated slag samples. Based on the results, we suggest punctuated equilibrium provides an innovative theoretical model for exploring ancient technological changes in relation to larger sociopolitical conditions—in the case at hand the emergence of biblical Edom–, exemplifying its potential for more general cross-cultural applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0221967
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume14
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2019

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