Rethinking canaanite palaces? The palatial economy of Tel Kabri during the middle Bronze Age

Assaf Yasur-Landau, Eric H. Cline, Andrew J. Koh, David Ben-Shlomo, Nimrod Marom, Alexandra Ratzlaff, Inbal Samet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Here we explore aspects of Canaanite palatial economy through an analysis of finds from the Middle Bronze Age palace at Tel Kabri, a 34 ha site located in the western Galilee of modern day Israel. The palace was founded in the middle part of the MBA I period, and continued without interruption until an advanced part of the MBA II period. Despite the fact that the Kabri palace was vast (perhaps up to 6000 sq m), functioned as the center of a polity, and could commission wall and floor paintings in an Aegean style, there are no signs of literate administration, or even administrative use of sealings. Patterns of animal husbandry, textile production, pottery manufacture and consumption, and storage within the palace all provide evidence that the palace behaved economically much more like an estate than a redistributive center. Our hypothesis is that the palace had aspects of an Oikos economy, i.e., that it functioned as a large household—richer and more populous than other households of the period, but with minimal involvement in the economy of the private sector. This contrasts with the contemporary polities in Syria, such as Alalakh and Ebla, as well as possibly its neighbor to the east, Tel Hazor, which had literate administrations and redistributive economies during this same period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)607-625
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Field Archaeology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2015


  • Canaan/canaanite
  • Economy
  • Middle bronze age
  • Palace/palatial
  • Tel kabri


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