Contacts and Trade at Late Bronze Age Hazor Aspects of Intercultural Relationships and Identity in the Eastern Mediterranean

University dissertation from Umeå : Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, Umeå University

Abstract: Hazor’s role in an international Late Bronze Age context has long been indicated but never thoroughly investigated. This role, I believe, was more crucial than previously stressed. My assumption is based on the very large size of this flourishing city which, according to documents, possessed ancient traditions of diplomatic connections and trade with Mesopotamia in the Middle Bronze Age. Its strategic position along the most important N-S and E-W main trade routes, which connected Egypt with Syria-Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean Sea with the city and beyond, promoted contacts. Hazor was a city-state in Canaan, a province under Egyptian domination and exploitation during this period, a position that also influenced the city’s international relations.Methodologically the thesis examines areas of the earlier and the renewed excavations at Hazor, with the aim of discussing the city’s interregional relations and cultural belonging based on external influences in architectural structures (mainly temples), imported pottery and artistic expressions in small finds, supported by written evidence. Cultic influences are also considered.Various origin and find contexts of the imported and culturally influenced material can be recognized, which imply three concepts in the field of interaction studies found within the framework of a modified World Systems Theory and also according to C. Renfrew’s Peer Polity Interaction model:1) The northern influenced material at Hazor should be understood in the context of cultural identity. It continues from earlier periods and is maintained through external trade and the regional interaction between Canaanite city-states in the north, resulting in certain cultural homogeneity.2) A core-periphery approach is used to explain the special unequal relation between Canaan and Egypt, in which Hazor might have possessed an integrating semi-peripheral role, a kind of diplomatic position between Egypt and its northern enemies. The city’s loyalty to Egypt is hinted at in documents and in the increasing evidences of emulation in elite contexts appearing on the site.3) A model of ‘interregional interaction networks’ describes the organization of the trade which provided certain consumers at Hazor with the Aegean and Cypriote pottery and its desirable content. The cargo of the Ulu Burun and Cape Gelidonya ships and documents show that luxury items were transited from afar through Canaan. Such long-distance trade / exchange require professional traders that established networks along the main trade routes. The thesis suggests that Hazor possessed a node position in such a network.