Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Iron Age Pigs: New Evidence on Their Origin and Role in Forming Identity Boundaries

  • Lidar Sapir-Hen (a1), Meirav Meiri (a2) and Israel Finkelstein (a3)

Abstract

This article reviews recent studies of pigs in the Iron Age in the southern Levant. The studies were carried out as part of the European Research Council-funded Ancient Israel project, with the aim of examining questions of identity and ethnic boundaries, with special emphasis on Philistia and ancient Israel. On the Philistine side, the results show a dichotomy in pork consumption between urban centers and the rural sector, and suggest that European domestic pigs were brought to the Levant by the Sea Peoples, most probably to secure the supply of meat. Reviewed with previous evidence, we suggest that economic motivation was the driving force for pork consumption and abandonment. Regarding ancient Israel, new studies show that avoiding pork was a widespread phenomenon of much of the Iron Age in both the highland and the lowlands outside of Philistia. They also point to a rise in pork consumption in lowlands sites of the Northern Kingdom in the Iron IIB and suggest a link between this phenomenon and the early consolidation of the taboo on pigs in Judah in late-monarchic times.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Corresponding author. Email: lidarsap@post.tau.ac.il.

References

Hide All
Bunimovitz, S, Faust, A. 2003. Building identity: the fourroom house and the Israelite mind. In: Dever, WG, Gitin, S, editors. Symbiosis, Symbolism and the Power of the Past. Canaan, Ancient Israel, and Their Neighbors from the Late Bronze Age through Roman Palaestina. Proceedings of the Centennial Symposium, W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, Jerusalem, May 29–31, 2000. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns. p 411–23.
Bunimovitz, S, Lederman, Z. 2011. Canaanite resistance: the Philistines and Beth-Shemesh – a case study from the Iron Age I. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 364:3751.
Faust, A. 2006. Israel's Ethnogenesis: Settlement, Interaction, Expansion and Resistance. London: Equinox.
Faust, A, Lev-Tov, J. 2011. The constitution of Philistine identity: ethnic dynamics in twelfth to tenth century Philistia. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 30(1):1331.
Faust, A, Lev-Tov, J. 2014. Philistia and the Philistines in the Iron Age I: interaction, ethnic dynamics and boundary maintenance. HIPHIL Novum 1:124.
Finkelstein, I. 1997. Pots and people revisited: ethnic boundaries in the Iron Age I. In: Silverman, N, Small, D, editors. The Archaeology of Israel: Constructing the Past, Interpreting the Present. London: Academic Press. p 216–37.
Gadot, Y. 2008. Continuity and change in the Late Bronze to Iron Age transition in Israel's coastal plain: a long term perspective. In: Fantalkin, A, Yasur-Landau, A, editors. Bene Israel: Studies in the Archaeology of Israel and the Levant during the Bronze and Iron Ages in Honour of Israel Finkelstein. Boston: Brill. p 5573.
Grigson, C. 2007. Culture, ecology and pigs from the 5th to 3rd millennium BC around the Fertile Crescent. In: Albarella, U, Dobney, K, Ervynck, A, Rowley, P, editors. Pigs and Humans. 10 000 Years of Interaction. Oxford: Oxford University. p 83108.
Harris, M. 1987. The Sacred Cow and the Abominable Pig: Riddles of Food and Culture. New York: Touchstone.
Herzog, Z, Singer-Avitz, L. 2004. Redefining the centre: the emergence of state in Judah. Tel Aviv 31(2):209–44.
Herzog, Z, Singer-Avitz, L. 2006. Sub-dividing the Iron Age IIA in northern Israel: a suggested solution to the chronological debate. Tel Aviv 33(2):163–95.
Hesse, B. 1990. Pig lovers and pig haters: patterns of Palestinian pork production. Journal of Ethnobiology 10(2):195225.
Hesse, B, Wapnish, P. 1997. Can pig remains be used for ethnic diagnosis in the ancient near east? In: Silberman, NA, Small, D, editors. The Archaeology of Israel: Contructing the Past, Interpreting the Present. Sheffield: Academic Press. p 238–70.
Hesse, B, Wapnish, P. 1998. Pig use and abuse in the ancient Levant: ethnoreligious boundary-building with swine. In: Nelson, SM, editor. Ancestors for the Pigs: Pigs in Prehistory. MASCA Research Papers in Science and Archaeology 15. Philadelphia: University Museum. p 123–35.
Hesse, B, Fulton, DN, Wapnish, P. 2012. Animal remains. In: Stager, LE, Schloen, D, Master, D, editors. Ashkelon III: The Seventh Century B.C. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns. p 615–43.
Kheati, R. 2009. The faunal assemblage. In: Garfinkel, Y, Ganor, S, editors. Khirbet Qeiyafa: Excavation Report 2007–2008. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society & Institute of Archaeology. p 201–8.
Killebrew, AE, Lev-Tov, J. 2008. Early Iron Age feasting and cuisine: an indicator of Philistine-Aegean connectivity? In: Hitchcock, LA, Laffineur, R, editors. Dais: The Aegean Feast. Proceedings of the 12th International Aegean Conference, University of Melbourne, Centre for Classics and Archaeology, 25–29 March 2008. Liege: University of Liege. p 339–46.
Lev-Tov, JSE. 2000. Pigs, Philistines, and the ancient animal economy of Ekron from the Late Bronze Age to the Iron Age II (Israel) [PhD dissertation]. Knoxville: University of Tennessee.
Lev-Tov, JSE. 2006. The faunal remains: animal economy in the Iron Age I. In: Meehl, MW, Dothan, T, Gitin, S, editors. Tel Miqne-Ekron Excavations 1995–1996: Field INE East Slope Iron Age I (Early Philistine Period). Tel Miqne-Ekron Final Report Series 8. Jerusalem: W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research and Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University. p 207–34.
Lev-Tov, JSE. 2010. A plebeian perspective on empire economies: faunal remains from Tel Miqne-Ekron, Israel. In: Campana, D, Choyke, A, Crabtree, P, deFrance, SD, Lev-Tov, J, editors. Anthropological Approaches to Zooarchaeology: Colonialism, Complexity and Animal Transformations. Oxford: Oxbow Books. p 90104.
Lev-Tov, JSE. 2012. A preliminary report on the Late Bronze and Iron Age faunal assemblages from Tell es-Safi/Gath. In: Maeir, AM, editor. Tell es-Safi/Gath I: Report on the 1996–2005 Seasons. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. p 589612.
Lev-Tov, JSE, Porter, BW, Routledge, BE. 2011. Measuring local diversity in early Iron Age animal economies: a view from Khirbat al-Mudayna al-'Aliya (Jordan). Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 361:6793.
Maeir, AM, Hitchcock, LA, Horwitz, LK. 2013. On the constitution and transformation of Philistine identity. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 32(1):138.
Meiri, M, Huchon, D, Bar-Oz, G, Boaretto, E, Kolska Horwitz, L, Maeir, AM, Sapir-Hen, L, Larson, G, Weiner, S, Finkelstein, I. 2013. Ancient DNA and population turnover in Southern Levantine pigs: signature of the Sea Peoples migration? Scientific Reports 3:3035.
Ottoni, C, Flink, LG, Evin, A, Georg, C, De Cupere, B, Van Neer, W, Bartosiewicz, L, Linderholm, A, Barnett, R, Peters, J, Decorte, R, Waelkens, M, Vanderheyden, N, Ricaut, FX, Rus Hoelzel, A, Mashkour, M, Karimlu, AF, Seno, SS, Daujat, J, Brock, F, Pinhasi, R, Hongo, H, Perez-Enciso, M, Rasmussen, M, Frantz, L, Megens, HJ, Crooijmans, R, Groenen, M, Arbuckle, B, Benecke, N, Vidarsdottir, US, Burger, J, Cucchi, T, Dobney, K, Larson, G. 2013. Pig domestication and human-mediated dispersal in western Eurasia revealed through ancient DNA and geometric morphometrics. Molecular Biology and Evolution 30(4):824–32.
Owen, J. 2005. The rise and fall of the Philistine pig: an investigation of a pig assemblage from Tel Miqne-Ekron . Durham: University of Durham.
Peters, J, Pöllath, N, von den Driesch, A. 2002. Early and Late Bronze Age transitional subsistence at Tall al-'Umayri. In: Herr, LG, Clark, D, Geraty, LW, Younker, R, LaBianca, ØS, editors. Madaba Plains Project: The 1994 Season at Tall al-'Umayri and Subsequent Studies. Berrien Springs: Andrews University. p 305–47.
Raban-Gerstel, N, Bar-Oz, G, Zohar, I, Sharon, I, Gilboa, A. 2008. Early Iron Age Dor (Israel): a faunal perspective. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 349:2559.
Sapir-Hen, L, Bar-Oz, G, Gadot, Y, Finkelstein, I. 2013. Pig husbandry in Iron Age Israel and Judah: new insights regarding the origin of the “taboo.” Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 129:120.
Sapir-Hen, L, Gadot, Y, Finkelstein, I. 2014. Environmental and historical impacts on long term animal economy: the Southern Levant in the Late Bronze and Iron Ages. Journal of Economic and Social History of the Orient 57(5):703–44.
Sapir-Hen, L, Sasson, A, Kleiman, A, Finkelstein, I. In press. Social stratification in the Late Bronze and early Iron Ages: an intra-site investigation at Megiddo. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 35(1).
Sasson, A. 2010. Animal Husbandry in Ancient Israel: A Zooarchaeological Perspective on Livestock Exploitation, Herd Management and Economic Strategies. London: Equinox.
Shapiro, B, Hofreiter, H. 2012. Ancient DNA: Methods and Protocols. New York: Humana Press.
Stager, LE. 1995. The impact of the Sea People in Canaan (1185–1050 BCE). In: Levy, TE, editor. The Archaeology of Society in the Holy Land. London: Leicester University Press. p 332–48.
Tamar, K, Bar-Oz, G, Bunimovitz, S, Lederman, Z, Dayan, T. 2013. Geography and economic preferences as cultural markers in a border town: the faunal remains from Tel Beth-Shemesh, Israel. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology. doi:10.1002/oa.2309.
Tamar, K, Marom, N, Raban-Gerstel, N. Forthcoming. The faunal remains from Tel-Rehov: 1997–2008 excavation seasons. In: Mazar, A, editor. Tel Rehov, Volume 1. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society and Hebrew University.
Uziel, J. 2007. The development process of Philistine material culture: assimilation, acculturation and everything in between. Levant 39(1):165–73.
von den Driesch, A, Boessneck, J. 1995. Final report on the zooarchaeological investigation of animal bone finds from Tell Hesban, Jordan. In: LaBianca, ØS, von den Driesch, A, editors. Hesban 13. Faunal Remains: Taphonomical and Zooarchaeological Studies of the Animal Remains from Tell Hesban and Vicinity. Berrien Springs: Andrews University. p 65108.
Yasur-Landau, A. 2010. The Philistines and Aegean Migration at the End of the Late Bronze Age. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Zeder, MA. 1996. The role of pigs in Near Eastern subsistence. A view from the Southern Levant. In: Seger, JD, editor. Retrieving the Past. Essays on Archaeological Research and Methodology in Honor of Gus W. Van Beek. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns. p 297312.
Zeder, MA. 1998. Pigs and emergent complexity in the Near East. MASCA Research Papers in Science and Archaeology 15. Philadelphia: University Museum. p 109–22.
Zimhoni, O. 1997. Studies in the Iron Age Pottery of Israel: Typological, Archaeological and Chronological Aspects. Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University.

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed