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Book: Levantine Entanglements

Chapter: 5. Drivers of Accumulative Cultural Production in the Southern Levant: The View from Tall Hisban, Jordan

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.38444


In this chapter, our goal is to lay open for criticism and discussion an approach to interpretation of Tall Hisban’s past that foregrounds the role of various drivers or agencies in shaping cultural production and change over the long-term at this important Jordanian archaeological site. Our approach thus departs from more conventional approaches to such interpretations that typically focus on prevailing discourses about particular historical periods and transitions. Inspired by the research agenda of the LDG collaboration, our focus is instead on Tall Hisban (or simply Hisban) as a window on long-term, local cultural production as impacted by various local and global agencies of cultural persistence and change. To carry out this analysis we deploy the analytical tools or lenses of the Accumulative Cultural Production model (ACP) introduced in Part I of this volume. The primary focus of our analysis using these tools are the well-documented cycles of intensification and abatement that characterize Hisban’s multi-millennial history. Our goal with this analysis is to distinguish empirical instances of Fernand Braudel’s tri-part schema of history in the archaeological record of Tall Hisban.By means of this line of analysis our research enabled us to bring to light ten key drivers of accumulative cultural production and change at Tall Hisban: the ecology of local food systems; the leveling effect of endemic polycentrism; the flourishing of variously anti-imperial social and Scriptural canons; the hard and soft cultural legacies of dynastic and imperial powers; local-level resistance and resilience strategies; accumulative world system economic expansions and pulsations; incidents of extreme events such as earthquakes, famines, and epidemics; cycles of environmental regeneration and degradation; cultural transformations occasioned by the Great Acceleration and the Anthropocene; and accumulative patterns of entrapment and entanglement. The chapter concludes by noting certain limitations of the proposed collection of drivers and by positing a way forward for further refinement of both the ACP model and the proposed drivers.

Chapter Contributors

  • Øystein LaBianca ( - oslabianca) 'Andrews University'
  • Jeffrey Hudon ( - jhudon) 'Andrews University and Bethel College'