Supra-regional trade networks and the economic potential of Iron Age II sites in the southern Levant

Simone Riehl, Itzhaq Shai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Palaeoclimate proxy data from different locations in Israel indicate relatively dry conditions with environmental collapse at the end of the Bronze Age and during the subsequent Iron Age. The historical and archaeological evidence, however, supports the existence of a flourishing economy in the Levant and involvement in supra-regional trade networks, which were heavily based on agricultural production. Local environmental data may help to clarify how these seemingly contradictory patterns can be explained.We investigate Iron Age II plant remains from Tel Burna for their stable carbon isotope signatures. Our data indicate extremely favorable conditions for crop growth during the Iron Age II and, in particular, high soil moisture availability, which would have allowed surplus production of a large number of crop species, including olives, grapes and flax.Besides contributing to our knowledge of the economic preconditions at a time of supra-regional trade networks, our results demonstrate the necessity of using independent tools such as stable carbon isotope analysis on archaeobotanical remains at the site-individual level for understanding the layout of complex economic systems in geographically and politically diversified landscapes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-533
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2015


  • Agricultural systems
  • Archaeobotany
  • Environmental preconditions
  • Israel
  • Southern Levant
  • Stable carbon isotopes


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