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Book: Mediterranean Resilience

Chapter: The Early Bronze I Coastal Settlements of Israel: A New Phenomenon or Part of a Long-Lived Settlement Tradition?

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.41500


Settlement patterns along Israel’s Mediterranean coast during the Chalcolithic period and Early Bronze Age (EB) I have been heavily debated over the years. The collapse that ended the Chalcolithic period is evidenced by the abandonment of settlements in the central Coastal Plain, followed by resettlement of the southern coast during EB I. The new settlement pattern was largely attributed to the rise of Predynastic Egypt that emerged during this time. This work examines a contrasting hypothesis, that settlement patterns along the entire Israeli coast from the Early Chalcolithic to EB IB represent a long-lasting phenomenon of resilient coastal villages. In order to examine this hypothesis, we created a database documenting every site within 10 km inland from the coast, from the Gaza Strip in the south to Rosh Ha-Niqra in the north, that was surveyed and/or excavated (between 1972 and 2020), looking into presence (or lack thereof) of Chalcolithic and EB I phases, occupation intensity (where possible), and types of remains. The results reveal a continuous settlement along the entire Coastal Plain rather than a breakage and a subsequent new pattern. They portray a long-lasting coastal village tradition rather than the emergence of new coastal settlements in EB I, testifying to the resilience of coastal villages and their ability to adapt to changes in the region.

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