- The Collaborative Numismatics Project
  Welcome Guest. Please login or register. The column on the left includes the "Best of NumisWiki" menu. If you are new to collecting, start with Ancient Coin Collecting 101. All blue text is linked. Keep clicking to endlessly explore. Welcome Guest. Please login or register. The column on the left includes the "Best of NumisWiki" menu. All blue text is linked. Keep clicking to endlessly explore. If you have written a numismatic article, please add it to NumisWiki.

Resources Home
Home
New Articles
Most Popular
Recent Changes
Current Projects
Admin Discussions
Guidelines
How to

Index Of All Titles


BEST OF

AEQVITI
Aes Grave
Aes Rude
The Age of Gallienus
Alexander Tetradrachms
Ancient Coin Collecting 101
Ancient Coin Prices 101
Ancient Coin Dates
Ancient Coin Lesson Plans
Ancient Coins & Modern Fakes
Ancient Counterfeits
Ancient Glass
Ancient Oil Lamps
Ancient Weapons
Ancient Wages and Prices
Ancient Weights and Scales
Anonymous Folles
Anonymous Follis
Anonymous Class A Folles
Antioch Officinae
Aphlaston
Armenian Numismatics Page
Brockage
Byzantine
Byzantine Denominations
A Cabinet of Greek Coins
Caesarean and Actian Eras
Campgates of Constantine
Carausius
A Case of Counterfeits
Byzantine Christian Themes
Clashed Dies
Codewords
Coins of Pontius Pilate
Conditions of Manufacture
Corinth Coins and Cults
Countermarked in Late Antiquity
Danubian Celts
Damnatio Coinage
Damnatio Memoriae
Denomination
Denarii of Otho
Diameter 101
Die Alignment 101
Dictionary of Roman Coins
Doug Smith's Ancient Coins
Draco
Edict on Prices
ERIC
ERIC - Rarity Tables
Etruscan Alphabet
The Evolving Ancient Coin Market
EQVITI
Facing Portrait of Augustus
Fel Temp Reparatio
Fertility Pregnancy and Childbirth
Fibula
Flavian
Fourree
Friend or Foe
The Gallic Empire
Gallienus Zoo
Greek Alphabet
Greek Coins
Greek Dates
Greek Coin Denominations
Greek Mythology Link
Greek Numismatic Dictionary
Hellenistic Names & their Meanings
Hasmoneans
Hasmonean Dynasty
Helvetica's ID Help Page
The Hexastyle Temple of Caligula
Historia Numorum
Horse Harnesses
Identifying Ancient Metal Arrowheads
Illustrated Ancient Coin Glossary
Important Collection Auctions
Islamic Rulers and Dynasties
Julian II: The Beard and the Bull
Koson
Kushan Coins
People in the Bible Who Issued Coins
Imperial Mints of Philip the Arab
Later Roman Coinage
Latin Plurals
Latin Pronunciation
Library of Ancient Coinage
Life in Ancient Rome
List of Kings of Judea
Malloy Weapons
Maps of the Ancient World
Military Belts
Mint Marks
Monogram
Museum Collections Available Online
Nabataean Alphabet
Nabataean Numerals
The [Not] Cuirassed Elephant
Not in RIC
Numismatic Bulgarian
Numismatic Excellence Award
Numismatic French
Numismatic German
Numismatic Italian
Numismatic Spanish
Parthian Coins
Patina 101
Paleo-Hebrew Alphabet
Phoenician Alphabet
Pi-Style Athens Tetradrachms
Pricing and Grading Roman Coins
Reading Judean Coins
Representations of Alexander the Great
Roman Coin Attribution 101
Roman Militaria
Roman Mints
Roman Names
romancoin.info
Rome and China
Satyrs and Nymphs
Scarabs
Serdi Celts
Serrated
Siglos
The Sign that Changed the World
Silver Content of Parthian Drachms
Star of Bethlehem Coins
Statuary Coins
Sylloge Nummorum Graecorum
Syracusian Folles
Taras Drachms with Owl Left
The Temple Tax
The Temple Tax Hoard
Test Cut
Travels of Paul
Tribute Penny
Tribute Penny Debate Continued (2015)
Tribute Penny Debate Revisited (2006)
Tyrian Shekels
Uncleaned Ancient Coins 101
Vabalathus
Venus Cloacina
What I Like About Ancient Coins
Who was Trajan Decius
Widow's Mite
XXI

   View Menu
 

ANCIENT HOLY LAND

Based on "Artifacts of Ancient Civilizations" by Alex G. Malloy, used with his permission.

The term “Holy Land” has been used rather loosely by scholars and laymen alike. It is often to refer to the modern state of Israel, e.g., “visit the Holy Land on El Al airlines.” In addition to this usage, the area of Syria and Palestine known in Biblical times as the land of Canaan is sometimes called by Biblical scholars “the Holy Land.” For this reason in Jewish and Christian popular usage, this land of Canaan is also known as the Holy Land or the Promised Land. In the art world today the term Holy Land most often today refers to an area which encompasses in whole or in part the modern countries of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the Sinai area of Egypt, and Israel. This area is referred to as the Holy Land by students of ancient art because most of the major events of the Judaeo-Christian Bible occurred within its borders and it is thus the focus of Biblical archaeology. For example, the Kingdom of Israel under David and Solomon when it reached its greatest extent included most of this area.

As we noted above the Bible sometimes refers to the area or various parts of it as the land of Canaan. In Biblical times, Canaan was usually defined as the part of Syria and Palestine lying between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River where Israel arose c. 1200 B.C. The name is probably derived from a term meaning “maker or dealer in purple-dyed goods.” In the Bible, Canaanite sometimes has the technical meaning of “merchant” (see Isaiah 23:8 for example). It was inhabited by a number of different peoples and tribes mostly of Semitic origin. The Bible mentions the Jebusites, Hivites, Amorites, and Hittites, among others. The culture of these “Canaanites” extended back to at least the Neolithic period as excavations have shown. Important Biblical sites such as Beersheba were established as early as the Chalcolithic period. Canaanite culture was, by no means, as uniform as Egyptian culture. Canaanite are was eclectic in nature. Although many of the ornaments are Egyptian, the figures wear Asiatic dress, and the many depictions of lions found are a feature of Assyrian or Hittite art. The famed Megiddo ivories dating from the 13th century B.C. are a good example. They reflect the same mixture of styles, plus a strong Aegean influence as well. Canaanite civilization for the most part did not produce great monuments like those found in Egypt and Mesopotamia, but its physical remains, pottery, bronzes, jewelry, etc., shed much illumination on the life of its people. It reached its height in the Bronze Age when the mythic epics of the Canaanite deities such as Baal, Astarte, and local deities such as Melqarth formed the basis of the synchristic religion of the people throughout the area. Political power was for a new cultural identity, although much of the materials artifacts showed little change. This was probably because Canaanite culture, including the material culture and art forms, its Semitic language, and literary forms, as well as some religious ideas and practices, were shared by the concurring Israelites. Other aspects of the Canaanite culture were anathema, such as sacred prostitution and human sacrifice. For this reason the Bible tells us that the Lord commanded the Israelites to destroy the Canaanites. According to the Biblical narrative, following the conquest the great Canaanite city states lay in ruins and the belief in monotheism, which was at the core of the Hebrew religion, gradually took a firm hold on the people. Soon after Israel’s emergence in Canaan, three new terms tended to replace Canaan in general usage: Israel for the interior highlands, the stronghold of the Israelites; Phoenicia for the northern coast which maintained its “Canaanite” character; and Philistia for the southern coast which had been conquered by the “Sea Peoples,” the Philistines of the Bible.

The Kingdom of Israel was the name both of the United Kingdom of the Israelites under Kings Saul, David, and Solomon (c. 1020-c. 922 B.C.) and of the political unit formed by the ten northernmost Israelite tribes (Asher, Dan, Ephraim, Gad, Issachar, Manasseh, Naphtali, Ruben, Simeon, and Zebulun) when they revolted against the Davidic dynasty after the death of Solomon. The territory of the latter included what was left of the Davidic dynasty’s holdings east of the Jordan River and extended south to a few kilometers north of Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, where the Davidic dynasty still held power. The Northern Kingdom’s own capital moved several times until King Omri finally established it permanently at Samaria c. 875 B.C.

The first king of Israel, the Northern Kingdom, was Jeroboam but he failed to establish a firm dynasty. Throughout its short history Israel was continually rocked by bloody dynastic changes. The small nation was constantly harassed by strong enemies and experienced only two brief periods of expansion in the 9th and 8th centuries before it was destroyed by Assyria in 722-721 B.C.

When King Solomon died in 922 B.C., ancient Israel was divided into the Southern Kingdom of Judah and the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Comprising the tribes of Benjamin and Judah, the Southern Kingdom outlasted its Northern rival, perhaps because of the strength of its capital, Jerusalem. Judah collapsed in 587 B.C. when it was overrun by the Babylonians remains of Solomon’s temple, for example), their cultural and religious legacy was great.

Phoenicia was the ancient Greek name for the area extending from Mount Carmel north to the Eleutherus River in Syria. The Phoenicians were linguistically and culturally related to the Canaanites.

Already inhabited in Paleolithic times, Phoenicia developed into a manufacturing and trading center early in Near Eastern history. Cedars from its mountainous hinterland were imported by the Old Kingdom Egyptians c. 2800-c. 2200 B.C. By the 2nd millennium B.C. a number of Phoenician and Syrian cities achieved preeminence as seaports and vigorously traded in purple dyes and dye-stuffs, glass, cedar wood, wine, weapons, and metal and ivory artifacts.

Divided by the Lebanon Mountains into small, loosely leagued city-states, Phoenicia was never politically strong. During Phoenicia’s period of independence, individual Phoenician cities interacted with the rising state of Israel. In the 10th century B.C., King Solomon employed men and materials supplied by Hiram of Tyre to build his temple at Jerusalem. He joined with Hiram in sending sailing expeditions into the Red Sea and possibly also into the Mediterranean. The Bible also records personal and political contacts between the kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and Phoenician rulers.

During the early years of the 1st millennium B.C., Phoenicians explored the Mediterranean and perhaps even farther. During this period the Phoenician culture reached its peak. The Phoenician alphabet, devised in the 2nd millennium B.C. and adapted by the Greeks about 800 B.C. or earlier, was subsequently transmitted to Western Europe through Rome.

Phoenician art represents a direct extension of pre-existing Canaanite traditions and, as such, displays much eclecticism, drawing forms and motifs from the art of contemporary civilizations. This blending of motifs of diverse origins to create original and aesthetically unified art objects is a basic characteristic of all Phoenician art. The art of the Phoenicians in the west shows a similar blending, with an admixture of local ideas. Skilled in most media, Phoenician artist excelled in glass making, ivory carving, metal engraving, ornamental sculpture, and gold jewelry, as well as pottery and terracotta sculpture. Much material finds its way into the art market from modern Lebanon, and Phoenician art is sought after by many astute collectors today.

In the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods the art of the Holy Land reflected the tastes generally prevalent in the times. As a somewhat provincial area, however, they are often not in the highest style. The crafts were, however, highly developed; for example, some of the finest glass in the Roman Empire has been found in the Holy Land.

As can readily be see, the art of the Holy Land, both in the pre-Biblical and Biblical periods, and even in the post-Biblical periods, often does not exhibit the technical sophistication and grander of the art of other ancient cultures. It does, however, have a special historical and cultural significance. Many of the “great” finds of Biblical archaeology, like the Dead Sea Scrolls, are noted more for their historic value than their artistic merit. The material remains which do survive, however, particularly those of the common people of the Holy Land, provide endless fascination for the scholar and collector alike.

AMULETS, SEALS AND SCARABS 

Seals, scarabs and other small amulets are some of the most interesting items frequently found in the Holy Land excavations. Most amulets are of stone and often represent various animals. They are often highly stylized but realistic types are found as well. Amulets in other materials such as faience are found with some regularity. Seals are usually of the stamp variety often in steatite or other soft stones, but other stones and materials are also found. Cylinder seals in various materials are found with some frequency as well. Many of the scaraboids from the Holy Land date, not surprisingly, to the Hyksos period and are usually made of steatite; in fact, some of the finest Hyksos scarabs known were found in the Holy Land. Scarabs and scaraboids of other periods, some of which exhibit local peculiarities in various materials, are also fairly common.

TOOLS AND WEAPONS

Stone tools and weapons, such as arrow and mace heads, weights and the like, were in use from the Neolithic period onward. Metal arrowheads and other weapons are found in large numbers from the Bronze Age onward and can be easily dated by style and workmanship.

POTTERY

Pottery finds in all periods from the Chalcolithic on are usually extensive, and pottery is the tool archaeologists use most in the Holly Land to date finds. Much work was done by archaeologists to establish the dating of Holy Land pottery and it is now very well established. Although the pottery was often rather simply decorated, sometimes with a nice slip or incised geometric pattern, some periods, such as the bichrome period in the Bronze Age, saw the production of beautifully painted pottery.

TERRACOTTA

Terracotta sculpture, although not as varied as in other areas, was quiet popular in the Holy Land, particularly in the Bronze Age and Greco-Roman Periods. The Bronze Age sculptures are usually rather stylized but the later sculptures are realistic in the Greco-Roman manner. Most represent various deities as usual.

STONE AND GLASS

Stone objects are many and varied from Holy Land excavations, ranging from beautifully decorated ossuaries and sarcophagi to finely modeled stone vessels. Stone sculpture was also common in many periods. Softer stones such as limestone and alabaster seem to have been preferred and local volcanic stones were also in use. Some of the finest glass from Greco-Roman period comes from the Holy Land. Some of the glass makers were so famous they signed their works much as painters do today.

LAMPS

The use of oil lamps in the funerary ritual was an important part of funerary practice in the Holy Land from very early times. Thus literally tens of thousands of lamps were preserved in sealed tombs and graves. For this reason we have a better record of the development of the oil lamp from the Holy Land than we do from many other areas. Lamps were usually of clay, the early ones were in the shape of shallow dishes or shells. By the Greek period, lamps became closed vessels, and in Roman times they were highly decorated with molded scenes. We can learn much about religious beliefs, both pagan and Judaeo-Christian, from the decoration on these lamps. Holy Land oil lamps are much in demand, both by lamp collectors and collectors of antiquities in general.

WRITING

Some of the most important antiquities found in the Holy Land were these written records. This is because any written records from the area might shed some light on the Bible. This is true of a name found on a seal as much as it is of a Dead Sea Biblical scroll. Many different languages and forms of writing were in use during various periods and in various parts of the Holy Land. Texts have been found written on leather, papyrus, and other materials including various metals in a number of languages and scripts, written on clay tablets in cuneiform script, inscribed in ink on pottery shreds (ostraca), stamped as seal impressions (bulae), or inscribed on the seals themselves, inscribed on objects of various materials particularly metal and glass, carved on stone monuments, and painted on walls and other objects. Since the Holy Land was one of the major crossroads of trade and travel in antiquity, almost every type of writing in use in the Mediterranean area at one time or another is found languages such as Greek and Latin. Needless to say, any written objects is highly desirable to most collectors.

JEWELRY

Jewelry, made both of precious metals and based metals, is often found in Holy Land excavations, particularly graves, since it was the custom to bury the deceased with his or her finery. Grave robbing was not the millennia-long industry it was in Egypt, perhaps because there was no centralized burial ground for royalty like the Valley of the Kings to constantly inspire tomb robbers with visions of untold wealth. Many intact and relatively intact burials have been found, albeit mostly of ordinary people rather than nobility, but even common people had some form of personal adornment in most periods of antiquity.

DATING OF HOLY LAND ANTIQUITIES

Bronze Age 3300 - 1200 BCE

The Bronze Age is the period 3300–1200 BCE when objects made of bronze were in use. Many writers have linked the history of the Levant from the Bronze Age onwards to events described in the Bible. The Bronze Age and Iron Age together are sometimes called the "Biblical period". The periods of the Bronze Age include the following:

3150-2900 - Early Bronze Age I
2900-2600 - Early Bronze Age II
2600-2300 - Early Bronze Age III
2200-1950 - Middle Bronze Age I
1950-1550 - Middle Bronze Age II
1550-1400 - Late Bronze Age I
1400-1300 - Late Bronze Age IIA
1300-1200 - Late Bronze Age IIB

The Late Bronze Age is characterized by individual city-states, which from time to time were dominated by Egypt until the last invasion by Merneptah in 1207 BCE. The Amarna Letters are an example of a specific period during the Late Bronze Age when the vassal kings of the Levant corresponded with their overlords in Egypt.

Iron Age 1200 - 539 BCE

The Iron Age in the Levant begins in about 1200 BCE, following the Late Bronze Age Collapse, when iron tools came into use. It is also known as the Israelite period. In this period both the archaeological evidence and the narrative evidence from the Bible become richer and much writing has attempted to make links between them. A chronology includes:

Iron Age I 1200 - 1000 BCE
Iron Age IIA 1000 - 925 BCE
Iron Age IIB-C 925 - 700 BCE
Iron Age IIC 700 - 586 BCE
Iron Age III 586 - 539 BCE (Neo-Babylonian period)

Persian Period (Yehud Medinata) 597/538 - 333 BCE

Yehud Medinata (Aramaic for the State of Judah), or simply Yehud, was an autonomous state of the Persian Achaemenid Empire, roughly equivalent to the older kingdom of Judah but covering a smaller area, within the satrapy of Eber-Nari. The area of Yehud Medinata corresponded to the previous Babylonian province of Yehud, which was formed after the fall of the kingdom of Judah to the Neo-Babylonian Empire (c. 597 after its conquest of the Mediterranean east coast, and again in 585/6 BCE after suppressing an unsuccessful Judean revolt). Yehud Medinata continued to exist for two centuries, until being incorporated into the Hellenistic empires following the conquests of Alexander the Great.

587 BCE     Conquest of Jerusalem by Babylonians; second deportation (first deportation in 597); Gedaliah installed as governor in Mizpah
582 BCE     Assassination of Gedaliah; refugees flee to Egypt; third deportation to Babylon
562 BCE     Jeconiah, king of Judah deported and imprisoned in Babylon in 597, released; remains in Babylon
539 BCE     Cyrus the Great (Cyrus II, ruled c.550-530 BCE) conquers Babylon
538 BCE     "Declaration of Cyrus" allowing Jews to return to Jerusalem
530 BCE     Cambyses II (ruled 530-522 BCE) succeeds Cyrus
525 BCE     Cambyses conquers Egypt
522 BCE     Darius I (ruled 522-486 BCE) succeeds Cambyses
521 BCE     Negotiations in Babylon between Darius and the exiled Jews
520 BCE     Return to Jerusalem of Zerubbabel as governor of Yehud and Joshua as High Priest
520-515 BCE  Rebuilding of the Temple (Second Temple)
458 BCE     Arrival in Jerusalem of Ezra (7th year of the reign of Artaxerxes I, king 465-424 BCE)
444 BCE     Arrival in Jerusalem of Nehemiah (20th year of the reign of Artaxerxes I)
397 BCE     Arrival in Jerusalem of Ezra (7th year of the reign of Artaxerxes II, king 404-358 BCE)
332 BCE     Alexander the Great conquers the Mediterranean provinces of Persian Empire; beginning of Hellenistic age

Hellenistic Period 332 - 64 BCE


Roman Period 63 BCE - 330 CE

The Roman period covers the dates 63 BCE to 330 CE, from Pompey the Great's incorporation of the region into the Roman Republic until Rome's adoption of Christianity as the imperial religion. The Roman period itself features several stages:

    Early Roman period (including the Herodian period) 63 BCE to 70 CE
    Middle Roman period: 70–135 CE (Jewish-Roman wars period); 135–200 CE (Mishnaic period)
    Late Roman period 200–330 CE (Talmudic period)

The end of the middle Roman period marks the end of the predominantly Jewish culture of Judea, but also the beginning of Rabbinic Judaism through Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakai in the city of Yavne. Therefore, the late Roman period is also called the Yavne Period.[citation needed]

Byzantine Period 330 - 638 CE

The Byzantine period is dated 330–638 CE, from Rome's adoption of Christianity to the Muslim conquest of Palestine. The transition from the Roman to Byzantine period coincided with the growth of extensive imperial funding to construct Christian religious institutions in the area, often by transforming the older pagan buildings. A third of the 40,000 objects recovered annually from archaeological digs in Israel attest to the ancient Christian presence in the area.