The Negev "fortresses" in context: Reexamining the "fortress" phenomenon in light of general settlement processes of the eleventh-tenth centuries B.C.E

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Following a process that began in the eleventh century, a state was formed in the northern parts of the country, during the tenth century. Once established, this state initiated a policy of resettlement, or forced settlement, in various regions. Many sites were destroyed or abandoned, and their population transferred to other locations. The Beersheba-'Arad valley was no exception. Following the incorporation of this area within the Israelite state, many sites were abandoned. At the same time, dozens of small sites were established in the Negev highlands. This was not a coincidence: Population transferred from one place was resettled in another. Indeed, we cannot know if all the displaced inhabitants of the Beersheba-'Arad valley were resettled in the Negev highlands, nor whether this was the only source for the new settlers. It is likely, however, that at least some of those forced to leave the Beersheba valley sites were transported to the Negev, and that they were probably accompanied by an unknown number of state officials, and probably by some of the more nomadic population which had undoubtedly inhabited the Beersheba valley prior to its annexation. It is possible that population from other sources (perhaps Edom) also arrived in the Negev highlands, perhaps due to other reasons, and perhaps even voluntarily. While the situation was complex, most of the population was settled in order to build a dense web of settlements ensuring that all caravans crossing the Negev would have to pay taxes. These fortified settlements therefore reached as far as Kadesh Barnea. Their distribution within the Negev highlands was of little importance, as long as they covered the entire region. This scenario therefore accounts for the contradictory features of the location, distribution and form of the sites, as well as for the objects found in them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-160
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of the American Oriental Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • General Arts and Humanities


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