Israel Finkelstein and Zvi Lederman
The archaeological survey of Southern Samaria was initiated as one component
in a comprehensive regional project, which also included excavations at
the site of biblical Shiloh (Finkelstein, Bunimovitz and Lederman 1993).
The Survey aimed at a reconstruction of the settlement history of the
region as a tool for the study of the settlement mechanisms in the hill
country. The excavations' goal was to reveal the material culture and
occupational history of a central Bronze and Iron Age mound in the heart
of the area. The two projects were interrelated and complementary in their
research objectives, research methods and analysis of the results.
The Survey began in October 1980 and lasted until December 1987. Growing
political tensions prevented the conclusion of the work in the field.
The Survey was carried out on behalf of the Department for the Land of
Israel Studies at Bar-Ilan University, the Archaeological Staff Officer
for Judaea and Samaria and the Archaeological Survey of Israel, with assistance
from the National Council for Research and Development and the Cherna
and Dr. Irving Moskovitz Chair for the Land of Israel Studies, Bar-Ilan
University. The publication project was generously supported by the Israel
Science Foundation and the Dorot Foundation (USA).
In the first year (1980/81) field work, which concentrated around the
site of Shiloh, was headed by Israel Finkelstein and David Eitam. The
main phase of the survey (1981-1987) was directed by Israel Finkelstein,
with the assistance of Zvi Lederman (1981/82-1982/83) and Shlomo Bunimovitz
(1981/82-1984/85). The Survey team included students from the Department
for the Land of Israel Studies at Bar-Ilan University. Pnina Ben Hanania,
Shmuel Yosef, Ori Rei and Yuval Gadot (the latter from Tel Aviv University)
registered the finds. Miriam Waldman, Sheila Varon, Ada Peri and Kira
Trabokov drew the pottery, Ada Peri prepared the pottery plates and Ora
Paran drew the maps. Nikolai Adani-Tarkhanov and Israel Finkelstein took
the aerial photographs.
The goal of the publication of survey material should be twofold: a detailed
description of all data collected in the field and a sophisticated treatment
of the information in order to achieve historical synthesis. Surprisingly,
in the Middle East, as well as in the eastern Mediterranean, this goal
has not been fulfilled so far. On one hand, most survey publications from
Israel and Jordan provided only partial description of the data and did
not attempt any synthesis (e.g. the series of reports by the Archaeological
Survey of Israel; Ibach 1987; Macdonald 1988; Miller 1991; for evaluation
of the surveys in Jordan see Finkelstein forthcoming). On the other hand,
the impressive syntheses of survey data from Mesopotamia (e.g. Adams 1981)
and the Mediterranean (MacDonald and Rapp 1972; Renfrew and Wagstaff 1982;
Cherry, Davis and Mantzourani 1991) were not accompanied by a full presentation
of the data retrieved in the field.
The present publication project aims at bridging this shortcoming in survey
publication. The core of the first two volumes is the presentation of
the data collected in the field. A synthesis of the archaeological data
with historical, economic and demographic information on the area under
investigation will be published in the third volume.
A preliminary report on the Southern Samaria Survey was published several
years ago (Finkelstein 1988-89) and data from the Survey have appeared
in other published works (e.g. Finkelstein 1988; Finkelstein and Magen
1993; Finkelstein and Gophna 1993). The data and numbers presented in
this book should be considered the last and final report on this project.
The area designated
for the Southern Samaria Survey covers ca. 1050 sq.km. in the heart of
the central hill country, between Ramallah and Shechem (Fig. 1.1). Southern
Samaria is one of four distinct geographic units of the central highlands,
the other being Northern Samaria (between Shechem and the Jezreel Valley),
the plateau between Jerusalem and Ramallah and the Judaean Hills south
of Jerusalem. The territory of southern Samaria broadly corresponds to
the biblical description of the inheritance of the tribe of Ephraim (Josh.
16; Kallai 1986:142-166). During most periods - from the Bronze Age through
the Hellenistic-Byzantine period to medieval times - it was divided into
the territories, or the districts, of Shechem/Neapolis/Nablus and Jerusalem
(e.g. Avi-Yonah 1977; Finkelstein 1993).
The borders of the Survey were fixed along the following lines (Fig. 1.2):
The Modiin - Beth Horon ascent - Ramallah - Deir Dibwan road in the south;
Wadi Qanah, the western margins of Sahl Makhna and the northern margins
of the valley of Beit Dajan in the north; a line beyond the outermost
permanent settlements (both in antiquity and recent generations) facing
the desert in the east; Grid Reference 150, which roughly corresponds
to the Green Line (the pre-1967 border between Israel and Jordan) in the
Thorough archaeological surveys have been conducted in areas adjoining
southern Samaria. The territory immediately to the south was surveyed
by teams under the authority of the Archaeological Staff Officer for Judaea
and Samaria (Finkelstein and Magen 1993); the region to the north (northern
Samaria), with the exception of the area between Wadi Qanah and the Shechem-Tulkarm
road, was surveyed in the course of Zertal's comprehensive project in
the hill country of Manasseh (Zertal 1988; 1992); the foothills to the
west were combed in the 1970s by teams from the Institute of Archaeology
of Tel Aviv University (Kochavi and Beit-Arieh 1994) and by Shavit (1992);
the area to the east is under investigation by Shpanier on behalf of the
Archaeological Staff Officer for Judaea and Samaria (Shpanier 1992; 1994).