The socioeconomic status of Iron Age metalworkers: Animal economy in the 'Slaves' Hill', Timna, Israel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The popular image of metalworking sites in desert settings envisages armies of slaves engaged in back-breaking labour. This is in conflict with ethnographic evidence indicating that skilled specialist metalworkers are often accorded high social status. This study approaches that contradiction directly by studying the remains of domesticated food animals fromdomestic and industrial contexts at Timna in southern Israel. The authors demonstrate that the higher-value meat cuts come from industrial contexts, where theywere associated with the specialist metalworkers, rather than the 'domestic' contexts occupied by lower status workers engaged in support roles. It is suggested that the pattern documented here could also have been a feature of early metalworking sites in other times and places.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)775-790
Number of pages16
JournalAntiquity
Volume88
Issue number341
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2014

Keywords

  • Copper smelting
  • Craft specialists
  • Egyptians
  • Faunal analysis
  • Social status
  • Timna
  • Wadi Arabah

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