A matter of interpretation

on methodology and the archaeology of the United Monarchy

Zachary Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper re-examines the methodological framework for archaeological interpretation that has been commonly used by the major voices in the debate concerning the archaeological record of the Iron Age IIA period and the related historicity of the biblical United Monarchy. It is contended here that this framework suffers from critical problems that undermine its applicability to an ancient Near Eastern polity, primarily in its anachronistic sociological assumptions concerning how authority was legitimated in the native social context of ancient Israel, and how power was therefore conceived of and understood by such a polity’s constituents. It is argued, therefore, that this is an undesirable framework to use in understanding the archaeological record of the tenth century B.C.E. Rather, this paper seeks to both describe a different understanding of authority more appropriate to ancient Israel and the wider Near East, and to demonstrate the significant impact such an understanding has on the archaeological evaluation of the Iron Age IIA and historicity of the United Monarchy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-51
Number of pages27
JournalArchaeology and Text
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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