The Metal Assemblage of Early Iron Age el-Aḥwat: Trade and Metalworking in the Margins of the Southern Levantine Central Highlands

Tzilla Eshel, Ofir Tirosh, Yoav Bornstein, Shay Bar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The large metal assemblage of the unique site of el-Aḥwat, a short-lived Iron I settlement, is presented here for the first time. It mainly comprises local tools, jewellery and evidence of bronzeworking, typical of Iron Age I urban settlements in the lowlands, mostly continuing Late Bronze Age traditions. Spatial distribution of the metal finds shows that metals were abundant across the site. Lead isotope analysis reveals that the copper at the site is local, originating from the Arabah, and that the silver is from the Aegaean-Anatolian sphere. Copper spills and ingot suggest that copper and bronze were worked on the site. As metals are rare in the central hill country during this period, the results suggest that el-Aḥwat should be reconsidered as an exceptional site, not only in its large size, unique architecture and marginal location between the highlands and lowlands, but even more so as its inhabitants maintained commercial connections with the lowlands, coast and beyond, and were probably engaged in metalworking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-74
Number of pages31
JournalTel Aviv
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Alexander Iermolin of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa, for the cleaning and conservation of the artefacts, Sapir Haad for the photography and graphics, John Tresman for editing this manuscript, and the editor and anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments. Figs. 3–5 are courtesy of the Samaria and Jordan Valley Survey Association.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Central hill country
  • El-Aḥwat
  • Iron Age I
  • Lead Isotope Analysis
  • Metalworking
  • Trade

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Archaeology


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