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Book: Transitions, Urbanism, and Collapse in the Bronze Age

Chapter: 10. The Political Economy of Early Bronze Age Copper Production at Khirbat Hamra Ifdan (Jordan): Implications for Southern Levantine Urbanism

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.37727


This paper examines the political economy of the terminal phase (2600 ¬– 2000 BCE) of the southern Levantine Early Bronze Age through a study of characteristic bar-shaped ingots. The focus of the analysis is at the site Khirbat Hamra Ifdan (KHI), which is the best-preserved metal production facility dating to the Early Bronze Age in the southern Levant (Levy et al. 2002). KHI offers a detailed picture of the organization of ingot production during the Early Bronze Age and is used to contextualize bar-shaped ingots found in other locations. Comparing the metrology of the ingots from KHI to ingots found at sites in the Negev Highlands offers important details on the copper trade network. In conjunction, the two datasets highlight a non-centralized political economy that nevertheless was able to develop a long-distance exchange network marketing copper as a commodity intensively for the first time in the region. The analysis highlights that the ingots share a consistent design, but lack metrological consistency associated with currency.

Chapter Contributors

  • Aaron Gidding ( - agidding) 'Independent Scholar'
  • Thomas Levy ( - thomaslevy) 'University of California, San Diego'