Animal economy in a temple city and its countryside: Iron Age Jerusalem as a case study

Lidar Sapir-Hen, Yuval Gadot, Israel Finkelstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The dramatic growth of Jerusalem in the Iron Age IIB-C raises questions regarding subsistence and relations with the city's rural hinterland. Studies of animal economy can shed light on these questions. Here, we present results from the zooarchaeological investigation of two sites: the Western Wall Plaza in Jerusalem and Tel Moza, located a few kilometers to the west of the capital. We also compare our finds to previous results from several locations within Jerusalem. We find that while the Western Wall Plaza's inhabitants focused on meat consumption and did not engage in actual herding, the inhabitants of Tel Moza focused on agriculture and producing caprines' secondary products, probably supplying sheep and cattle to Jerusalem. Within Jerusalem, people living close to the Temple Mount showed a higher economic standing than those in a neighborhood on the southeastern slope of the "City of David" ridge. The higher-status neighborhoods seem to have received meat through a redistribution mechanism from the temple. These results enable us to gain several insights into rural-urban relationships and sociopolitical mechanisms in the Iron Age Levant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-118
Number of pages16
JournalBulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research
StatePublished - May 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Schools of Oriental Research.


  • Ancient Jerusalem
  • Animal economy
  • Complex societies
  • Iron age
  • Temple

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Archaeology


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