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Levantine Entanglements

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This volume represents the final output of a long-standing collaboration by an international and cross-disciplinary team sponsored by the Center for Advanced Study at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. It aims to tell the history of human cultural production in the Eastern Mediterranean rather than the history of specific states or religions. Simultaneously, the volume argues that the agency of local communities is a key to understand the history of long-term change and cultural production in the Levant. It narrates the story of the crystallization of a type of sub-imperial power, illustrated by the canonical discourses associated with Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Published: Nov 8, 2021

Section Chapter Authors
List of Illustrations Terje Stordalen, Øystein LaBianca
Preface Terje Stordalen, Øystein LaBianca
Abbreviations Terje Stordalen, Øystein LaBianca
A New Format for Writing the History of the Levant: Introduction to the Volume Terje Stordalen, Øystein LaBianca
Part I: Levantine Localities and Long-term Change
1. The Region of the Levant and the Importance of the Local Perspective Terje Stordalen, Øystein LaBianca
2. Cultural Production in the Iron Age Southern Levant Terje Stordalen
3. Lenses on Accumulative Cultural Production in the Southern Levant: Toward a Middle-Range Interpretive Methodology Øystein LaBianca
4. Local Power and Social Discourse: Villages in Early Globalizations of the Southern Levant Terje Stordalen
Part II: The Levant through Time: Case Studies
Panel A: Places and Ideologies Øystein LaBianca
5. Drivers of Accumulative Cultural Production in the Southern Levant: The View from Tall Hisban, Jordan Øystein LaBianca, Jeffrey Hudon
6. Heshbon in the Biblical Record: A History of Remembering Terje Stordalen
7. Place-Making in the Jordanian Madaba Plains: The Contested Space of Tall Ḥesbān and Its Village Surroundings Frode Jacobsen
8. Local Dynamics of Globalization in the Roman Near East: The Case of Palmyra Eivind Seland
Panel B: Scriptures - Ideology, Practices and Community Terje Stordalen
9. Early Forms of Judaism as a Mixture of Strategies of Cultural Heterogeneity and the Re-embedding of Local Culture in Archaic Globalization Diana Edelman
10. Dynamics of Power and the Re-Invention of “Israel” in Persian Empire Judah Kåre Berge
11. The Production of Authority in Levantine Scriptural Ecologies: An Example of Accumulative Cultural Production Terje Stordalen
Panel C: Pilgrimage- Localities and Global Discourse Terje Stordalen
12. The Production of the Constantinian Holy Land Øyvind Norderval
13. The Agency of Women in Curating the Christian Holy Land Jill E. Marshall
14. Local Cult, Transforming Miracles, and Global Discourses: Saint George in Lydda Christine Amadou
15. The Infrastructure of Shared Sacred Sites in Hatay, Turkey: Interreligious Dynamics of Saint Veneration in the Northern Levant Jens Kreinath
Panel D: Polycentrism - Local Communities and Trans-local Formations Øystein LaBianca, Terje Stordalen
16. Itinerancy in Manichaean Networks of the Levant and Egypt Håkon Teigen
17. Reconstructing Homeland at a Time of Globalizing Change: Peasant Migration in Late Medieval Syria Bethany Walker
18. Honor, Shame and Hospitality: The Distribution of Power in the Premodern Levant Eveline van der Steen
Concluding Reflections: On a Way Forward for Understanding the Levant Terje Stordalen, Øystein LaBianca
End Matter
Index Terje Stordalen, Øystein LaBianca


This volume will change the way we write our histories of Palestine and the Levant well beyond the next decade. It is a very important contribution to anyone working on the history of the Levant or Palestine.
Thomas L. Thompson, Professor emeritus, University of Copenhagen

This volume is a very important and a very fine piece of scholarship on the Levant. Its publication will without doubt enrich current historical, archaeological, anthropological and biblical approaches to the past of the region. I cannot wait to see the impact it will have on the field of ancient Levant studies.
Emanuel Pfoh, Researcher at the National Research Council, CONICET-Argentina, and Assistant Professor of History of Asia & Africa, National University of La Plata

This is an enormously ambitious project. It has set itself the very hard task of interweaving physical, social, and conceptual topographies which are all at least in some senses spatial, with cultural traditionality, the formation and vicissitudes of memory and record, and the everchanging behaviours of what we think of as ‘religion’. The volume sheds a good deal of often very exciting illumination on this quintessentially entangled zone.
Nicholas Purcell, Camden Professor of Ancient History, Oxford University