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After Sodom: The Sons of Ammon in the Iron Age





The biblical texts that mention the Ammonites were compiled or written in the seventh century or later, during periods of intense challenges to Judean sociopolitical and religious identity from imperial power. It is not surprising that the texts highlight similarities and differences between Judah and the people of the Transjordan. The similarities and differences helped to define Judean identity.



See Also: The Ammonites (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2014).



By Craig W. Tyson
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
D’Youville College, Buffalo, NY
May 2014


The small, tribally organized group known as “the sons of Ammon” or Ammonites inhabited the region around the modern city of Amman, Jordan. They flourished from the eighth to sixth centuries BCE, especially during the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian periods. Until the nineteenth century CE, they were known only from the Bible and texts that repeated biblical stories such as Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews. On the other hand, the decipherment of Akkadian inscriptions, and more recently unearthed archaeological and epigraphic material have steadily given us evidence for a more distinctly Ammonite voice, which can now be brought into dialogue with the biblical tradition.

Archaeological Evidence

By its nature, the archaeological material from the Amman Plateau cannot be easily identified as Ammonite. I will try to show some of the trends in the archaeology of the region over time without implying that all the material I refer to is somehow Ammonite. The Amman Plateau has yielded meager evidence from the Iron Age I–IIA (ca. 1200–900 BCE). The period did see growth in the number of sites from the preceding Late Bronze Age, suggesting a slow process of settlement drawn from a local, non-sedentary population (LaBianca and Younker 1995: 406; Younker 1999: 206). The Raghdan Royal Palace Tomb near the Amman Citadel, and Sahab Tomb A, both yielded anthropoid coffins that might date to the tenth century and highlight elite burial traditions (Albright 1932; Yassine 1975).

The early part of the Iron Age IIB (ca. 900–750 BCE) provides modest evidence for change from the preceding period. Unfortunately, surveys do not clearly distinguish the Iron IIB from the Iron IIA, so its impossible to determine the number of new sites during this period The Amman Citadel, Tall Jalul, Tall Jawa, and Safut have evidence for fortifications. Clear domestic structures have been found at Jawa and ‘Umayri. Seven stone sculptures might date to 800–730 BCE (Abou Assaf 1980: 21–5) and highlight an eclectic artistic tradition that includes Syrian and Assyrian influences (Dornemann 1983: 156–9, 162; Zayadine 1991: 49–51). A small number of imported objects point to a modicum of long-distance overland trade (Tyson 2014: 31–3).

The archaeological record becomes larger and more diverse at the end of the Iron Age IIB and continuing into the following Iron Age IIC (ca. 700–500 BCE). Surveys record close to three hundred sites of various sizes during this period (Ray 2001: 128–30), compared to ninety-seven in the preceding Iron Age IIA–IIB (Younker 2001: 155, Table 1). The large majority of these sites are small agricultural facilities or farmsteads that dot the landscape and seem to date late in the period, but there are other developments as well. Portions of two large buildings have been excavated on the Amman Citadel, one of which appears to follow Assyrian open-court architectural form (Humbert and Zayadine 1992: 249–54). At Tall Jawa, the settlement continued from the previous period and had two large domestic buildings (B700 and B800) that also seem to adapt open-court architecture (Daviau 2001: 218–22). The settlement at Safut reached its largest extent during this period, while Sahab became smaller, but better planned. ‘Umayri had a small settlement with large buildings that have been interpreted as an administrative site in the sixth and fifth centuries. Other tells in the region were also occupied. Thirteen tombs in the area contain a variety of metal objects (blades, fibulae, etc.), seals, pottery and metal vessels emulating imperial forms, as well as imported objects including small glass containers apparently originating in the Aegean (Tyson 2014: 39–45, 58–63).

Unique to Ammon are twenty sculptures that date to the Iron IIC (Abou-Assaf 1980: 31–34, 76; ‘Amr 1990: 114–116). This diverse set of sculptures displays a variety of artistic influences from Egypt, Syria, and probably Phoenicia (‘Amr 1990: 116–17; Dornemann 1983: 156–60; Prag 1987; Zayadine 1991: 49–51). Two volute capitals that were found in secondary contexts on the Amman Citadel probably date to this period and have parallels with the volute tradition in Israel and Judah (Drinkard n.d.; Lipschits 2011)

Neo-Assyrian Inscriptions

The earliest possible reference to the Ammonites is in Shalmaneser III’s Kurkh Monolith Inscription (Grayson 1996: 11–24, A.0.102.2), which describes a force of Levantine kings that met and stopped him at the Battle of Qarqar in 853 BCE. Problems with the inscription preclude certainty, but the balance of evidence favors the presence of an Ammonite contingent under an unnamed king (for discussion see Hübner 1992: 183; Tyson 2014: 72–75; Yamada 2000: 159–61). In the hundred and twenty years following the Battle of Qarqar, the Assyrians did not penetrate in any lasting way into the Levant. As a result, there are no references to the Ammonites until the aggressive expansion of Tiglath-pileser III (744–722 BCE). In 734 BCE, he subdued the Levant, taking tribute from many of the petty kings including “Shanip of the House of Ammon” (Tadmor and Yamada 2011: 122–23, no. 47:rev. 10’). Throughout the remainder of the Neo-Assyrian Period, the Ammonites appear in royal inscriptions and administrative texts as loyal vassals, regularly paying tribute (Tyson 2014: 75–79). No record of rebellion is extant.

Ammonite Inscriptions1

In addition to the Neo-Assyrian inscriptions, a small but growing corpus of Ammonite inscriptions provides glimpses into the development of local elite traditions. The earliest of these is the Amman Citadel Inscription (late ninth–early eighth c. BCE), which probably commemorated a building project (CAI, no. 59; Horn 1969). It preserves eight partial lines of text in Aramaic script and includes a possible reference to the Ammonite god Milkom.

The number and type of Ammonite inscriptions increases in the seventh and sixth centuries BCE. Most are seals, but there are a few inscriptions on stone and metal, as well as ostraca. The statue of Yarh‘azar (late eight–early seventh c. BCE) has a partially preserved inscription on the base that includes two names (CAI, no. 43). The second of the two preserved names is šnb or šnp and likely refers to the “Shanip” who paid tribute to Tiglath-pileser III in 734 BCE. Other inscriptions of interest are the Tall Siran Bottle (ca. 600 BCE), which mentions three generations of Ammonite kings (CAI, no. 78). The small collection of ostraca date mostly to the sixth century and provide late evidence for administrative practices. Most of the seals and bullae date to the seventh and sixth centuries BCE, bringing to light a small cadre of officials and other individuals of standing. An important find from ‘Umayri is a set of Persian Period jar-handles stamped with a name and ‘mn, “Ammon” (CAI, nos. 171, 172, 236, 237, 241). These stamps seem to parallel the Yehud provincial stamps in Judah, suggesting that Ammon was a province in the Persian Period (Herr 1999: 233–34).

As a corpus, the Ammonite inscriptions participate in the broader trends of textual production in the Iron Age Levant and Anatolia. The trend begins with monumental display inscriptions in the ninth and eighth centuries (e.g., the Amman Citadel, Tell Fahkariyeh, Bar-Hadad, Zakkur, Kilamuwa, Tel Dan, and Moabite inscriptions) that represent the attempts of local elite to legitimate and extend their power (Na’aman 2000: 93–95; Routledge 2000; Sanders 2008: 107). It continues with an increase in the number and type of inscriptions in the seventh and sixth centuries that is seen across the petty kingdoms of the Iron Age Levant.

Biblical Portrait

The biblical texts that mention the Ammonites were compiled or written in the seventh century or later, during periods of intense challenges to Judean sociopolitical and religious identity from imperial power. It is not surprising that the texts highlight similarities and differences between Judah and the people of the Transjordan. The similarities and differences helped to define Judean identity.

In the aftermath of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction (Gen 19), the Ammonites are presented as the product of incestuous relations between Abraham’s nephew Lot and his second daughter. Like the Table of Nations (Gen 10) or Israel’s assertion to David that “we are your bone and flesh” (2 Sam 5:1), the story of Lot and his daughters maps sociopolitical relations through genealogical means. Other negative evaluations in Deut 23:3–6, Ezra 9–10, and Neh 13:1–3, 23 tell us more about the efforts of the golah community (returning exiles) to build a strict understanding of “Israelite” identity than they do about Ammonite history. Another text, Deut 2:8–24, provides Ammon and Moab with a foundation story. In it, God commands the Israelites not to bother Moab or Ammon because Yahweh destroyed the Rephaim and granted them land just like he would do for Israel. Together, these portraits distinguish ‘Us’ from ‘Them’ in a context of relative sameness.

The Ammonites appear as enemies of Israel in several texts. Judges 10:6–12:7, 1 Sam 11:1–11, along with several encounters between David and the Ammonites (2 Sam 8:12; 10:1–14; 11:1; 12:26–31), suggest an Ammonite monarchy in the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age I–IIA. Attempts to extract historical data from these texts remain problematic, however, because they are incorporated into the Deuteronomistic History (hereafter DtrH) in a way that is difficult to disentangle possible earlier literary strands from the work of the deuteronomistic author(s). There may have been a locally ascendant tribe around Amman in the Late Bronze Age that had a leader claiming the title melek, ‘king,’ but it is unlikely that the deuteronomistic author(s) would have any reliable information about him.

After David, the Ammonites appear in the discussion of Solomon’s foreign wives and the high places he built for their gods (1 Kgs 11:1–8), including Milkom (on whom see Burnett 2009). They appear again in the account of Josiah’s reform, in which those high places were torn down (2 Kgs 23). The literary scheme by which Josiah “undoes” the evil that Solomon first initiated makes the Solomonic origin of such worship suspect. The story legitimizes Josiah’s actions by showing that he is like David, who was a dedicated Yahwist.

The DtrH says nothing of the Ammonites between Solomon and Josiah, but the Chronicler places them in several stories as military opponents. The Ammonites appear as an independent polity during the reigns of the Judean kings Jehoshaphat (2 Chr 20:1–30) and Joash (2 Chr 24:23–25), and then as Judah’s vassal under Uzziah (2 Chr 26:8) and Jotham (2 Chr 27:5). Literarily, the Ammonites play a role in the reward and punishment of Judean kings for their adherence or departure from Yahweh. This literary function comports well with the Chronicler’s reward and punishment scheme (Japhet 1993: 44–45; 2000: 164), making it difficult to know whether they appear because of the need to show reward and punishment or because the Chronicler had access to records in addition to the DtrH.

Other biblical texts highlight the turbulent nature of cooperation and rebellion among the small polities of the southern Levant in the face of the Babylonian onslaught. In 2 Kgs 24:2, the Ammonites appear with others as raiding Judah after Jehoiakim rebelled against Babylon. They also appear in Jer 27:1–15, which narrates a meeting in Jerusalem of envoys from surrounding polities. While not explicitly stated in the text, it appears that the meeting was convened to consider coordinated action against the Babylonians around 594 BCE. The timing and motivation behind this meeting suggests a real event. In a similar vein, Jer 40:13–41:18 tells of the assassination of Gedaliah—the Babylonian appointed governor of Judah—with the aid of the Ammonite king Baalis. While the event itself is not corroborated by extra-biblical evidence, the Ammonite king Baalis is now widely identified with Baalyasha, a king known from a bulla found at Tall al-‘Umayri (CAI, no. 129; Becking 1993; Herr 1985). If the story is reliable, it underscores Ammonite resistance to Babylonian control of the area.

The Ammonites also appear in the Oracles Against the Nations or OAN (Amos 1:13–15; Ezek 25:1–11; Jer 49:1–6; Zeph 2:8–11; and possibly Ezek 21:33–37 [ET 21:28–32]). The language of the OAN is highly stylized, making it difficult to pin down the few potential historical references to any particular event. The style of writing is connected to the rhetorical function of the OAN in asserting Yahweh’s universal authority in the wake of national defeat in 586 BCE (Crouch 2011: 478–79, 487).

Conclusion

This overview of evidence for Ammonite history points to a distinct trajectory of change and growth that blossomed during the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian periods and continued into the early Persian Period. In the Iron Age I and Iron Age IIA there was a small number of towns and outlying sites, little evidence for international contact, and a few indications of class or status difference. As Ammon became integrated into the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian empires, it developed an elite culture with regional and international connections.

The main force for these changes can be located in the synergy created by imperial interests and the interests of the local elite. The Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian empires faced the task of extracting the wealth and produce of a vast and diverse geography through a variety of means. In places like Ammon that could serve as a buffer against Egypt and the nomads of the Arabian Desert, and where the main natural resource was caravan routes, these empires co-opted the local elite as an efficient means of maintaining their interests with minimal investment. These relationships were nurtured through treaties, threat of force, reciprocal gift giving, and by including the local elite in the international elite culture. Thus, the Ammonite elite had responsibilities to the imperial overlord, but that position enabled them to capitalize on the order that the empire brought. The growing sedentary population and concomitant growth in food production capacity, though not completely controlled by the elite, provided a stable food supply and a more easily controlled population. The development of a local writing tradition provided an important administrative tool and opportunities for displaying status. The growth of trade networks provided access to high-value items from abroad and revenue from taxation of caravans. Exposure to and adoption of imperial and international elite styles enhanced prestige and encouraged processes of social differentiation. The empires built a context that posed opportunities for local elite, who capitalized on those opportunities and brought much of the change in the local culture; changes that would ultimately make Ammonite society and culture visible for us today.



Works Cited

Albright, William F. 1932. An Anthropoid Clay Coffin from Saḥâb in Transjordan. American Journal of Archaeology 36:295–306.

‘Amr, Abdel-Jalil. 1990. Four Ammonite Sculptures from Jordan. ZDPV 106:114–118, Tafeln 7–8.

Aufrecht, Walter E. 1989. A Corpus of Ammonite Inscriptions. Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press.

———. 1999. Ammonite Texts and Language. Pages 163–188 in Ancient Ammon. Edited by B. MacDonald and R. W. Younker. Leiden: Brill.

Becking, Bob. 1993. Baalis, the King of the Ammonites: An Epigraphical Note on Jeremiah 40:14. JSS 38:15–24.

Burnett, Joel S. 2009. Iron Age Deities in Word, Image, and Name: Correlating Epigraphic, Iconographic, and Onomastic Evidence for the Ammonite God. Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan 10:153–164.

Crouch, C. L. 2011. Ezekiel's Oracles against the Nations in Light of a Royal Ideology of Warfare. JBL 130:473–492.

Daviau, P. M. Michèle. 2001. Assyrian Influence and Changing Technologies at Tall Jawa, Jordan. Pages 214–238 in The Land that I Will Show You: Essays on the History and Archaeology of the Ancient Near East in Honour of J. Maxwell Miller. Edited by J. A. Dearman and M. P. Graham. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.

Dornemann, Rudolph H. 1983. The Archaeology of the Transjordan in the Bronze and Iron Ages. Milwaukee: Milwaukee Public Museum.

Drinkard, Joel Jr. n.d. The Volute Capitals of Israel and Jordan: A New Look at an Ancient Architectural Feature [accessed 12 February 2008]. Available from http://www.vkrp.org/studies/historical/capitals/.

Eggler, Jürg, and Othmar Keel. 2006. Corpus der Siegel-Amulette aus Jordanien: Vom Neolithikum bis zur Perserzeit. OBO.SA 25. Fribourg: Academic Press.

Grayson, A. Kirk. 1996. Assyrian Rulers of the Early First Millenium BC II (858–745 BC). RIMA 3. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Herr, Larry G. 1985. The Servant of Baalis. BA 48 (3):169–172.

———. 1999. The Ammonites in the Late Iron Age and Persian Period. Pages 219–237 in Ancient Ammon. Edited by B. MacDonald and R. W. Younker. Leiden: Brill.

Horn, Siegfried H. 1969. The Amman Citadel Inscription. BASOR 193:2–13.

Hübner, Ulrich. 1992. Die Ammoniter: Untersuchungen zur Geschichte, Kultur und Religion eines transjordanischen Volkes im 1 Jahrtausend v. Chr. ADPV 16. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.

Humbert, Jean-Baptiste, and Fawzi Zayadine. 1992. Trois Campagnes de Fouilles à Ammân (1988-1991): Troisième Terrasse de la Citadelle (Mission Franco-Jordanienne). RB 1992:214–60.

Japhet, Sara. 1993. I & II Chronicles: A Commentary. OTL. London: SCM Press.

———. 2000. Postexilic Historiography: How and Why? Pages 144–173 in Israel Constructs its History: Deuteronomistic Historiography in Recent Research. Edited by A. d. Pury, T. Römer and J.-D. Macchi. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.

LaBianca, Øystein S., and Randall W. Younker. 1995. The Kingdoms of Ammon, Moab and Edom: The Archaeology of Society in the Late Bronze/Iron Age Transjordan (ca. 1400–500 BCE). Pages 399–415 in The Archaeology of Society in the Holy Land. Edited by T. E. Levy. New York: Facts on File.

Lipschits, Oded. 2011. The Origin and Date of the Volute Capitals from the Levant. Pages 203–225 in The Fire Signals of Lachish: Studies in the Archaeology and History of Israel in the Late Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Persian Period in Honor of David Ussishkin. Edited by I. Finkelstein and N. Na’aman. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns.

Na’aman, Nadav. 2000. Three Notes on the Aramaic Inscription from Tel Dan. IEJ 50:92–104.

Prag, Kay. 1987. Decorative Architecture in Ammon, Moab, and Judah. Levant 19:121–127.

Ray, Paul J., Jr. 2001. Tell Hesban and Vicinity in the Iron Age. Hesban 6. Berrein Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.

Routledge, Bruce. 2000. The Politics of Mesha: Segmented Identities and State Formation in Iron Age Moab. Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 43:221–256.

Sanders, Seth L. 2008. Writing and Early Iron Age Israel: Before National Scripts, Beyond Nations and States. Pages 97–112 in Literate Culture and Tenth-Century Canaan: The Tel Zayit Abecedary in Context. Edited by R. E. Tappy and P. K. McCarter. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns.

Tadmor, Hayim, and Shigeo Yamada. 2011. The Royal Inscriptions of Tiglath-Pileser II (744–727 BC) and Shalmaneser V (726–722 BC), Kings of Assyria. RINAP 1. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns.

Tyson, Craig W. 2014. The Ammonites: Elites, Empires, and Sociopolitical Change (1000–500 BCE) LHB/OTS 585. London: T & T Clark.

Yamada, Shigeo. 2000. The Construction of the Assyrian Empire: A Historical Study of the Inscriptions of Shalmaneser III (859–824 B.C.) Relating to His Campaigns to the West. CHANE 3. Leiden: Brill.

Yassine, Khair. 1975. Anthropoid Coffins from Raghdan Royal Palace Tomb in Amman. Annaul of the Department of Antiquites Jordan 20:57–68.

Younker, Randall W. 1999. The Emergence of the Ammonites. Pages 189–218 in Ancient Ammon. Edited by B. MacDonald and R. W. Younker. Leiden: Brill.

———. 2003. The Emergence of Ammon: A View of the Rise of Iron Age Polities from the Other Side of the Jordan. Pages 153–176 in The Near East in the Southwest: Essays in Honor of William G. Dever. Edited by B. A. Nakhai. Boston: American Schools of Oriental Research.

Zayadine, Fawzi. 1991. Sculpture in Ancient Jordan. Pages 31–61 in Treasures from an Ancient Land: The Art of Jordan. Edited by P. Bienkowski. Phoenix Mill, UK: Alan Suttone.



Notes

1 Aufrecht 1989 (=CAI) is the most exhaustive catalog of Ammonite inscriptions and a second edition is planned. A preliminary list updating the 1989 publication is in Aufrecht 1999. Hübner 1992: 15–129 provides an in-depth discussion of Ammonite epigraphic evidence. Eggler and Keel 2006 is the most recent collection of provenanced seals from Jordan.





Comments (4)


Is there a problem in reconciling Ammonites raiding Judah after rebellion against Babylon (ie seeming to punish anti-Babylonian rebels) and then assassinating the pro-Babylonian Gedaliah? Can we really make sense of very slight information?
#1 - Martin Hughes - 05/08/2014 - 12:09



Hi Martin,

Thanks for the question. No, there is not necessarily a problem in reconciling the two. The political situation on the ground in the southern Levant (and other places as well) was very fluid in the Neo-Babylonian Period. The small polities of the southern Levant were always weighing their options whether to rebel or submit and there were, no doubt, different voices within each polity that made the argument for submission or resistance. Judah’s tumultuous history illustrates this point perfectly, especially if one considers Jeremiah’s message of surrender and the negative response to it.

As for the Ammonites, as far as we know, they became vassals to Babylon in 605/4 BCE along with most of the rest of the Levant. Vassal responsibilities included military support along with tribute and taxes. The note in 2 Kgs 24:2, which states that YHWH sent Chaldeans, Arameans, Moabites, and Ammonites because Judah rebelled again Babylon, refers to the reign of Jehoiakim (ca. 598 BCE). The involvement of the Ammonites in this action is consistent with their role as a vassal. The assassination of Gedaliah occurs sometime after 586 BCE. There is ample time there for a change in political and military calculations on the part of the Ammonites. The narrative in Jer 27:1–15 describes a meeting of southern Levantine polities in Jerusalem, which was probably convened to consider coordinated action against Babylon. The date of that meeting is difficult to pin down because of the state of the text of Jeremiah, but was probably around 594 BCE. If that is correct, then only three years latter, the Ammonites were considering a different approach to Babylon.

To your second question, we do need to be mindful of the weight we place on the meager amount of evidence we have available to us. The report in 2 Kgs 24:2 might simply include the Ammonites as a traditional enemy as they seem to be elsewhere and I would be open to that argument. It is also possible that the account of Gedaliah’s assassination is also flawed and the Ammonites were not involved. However, the broader pattern that is visible through the history of the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian periods shows that the vassal polities of the Levant regularly flip-flopped on their stances toward the empires. Sometimes they were loyal vassals fulfilling their duties. Sometimes the time and circumstances seemed right to throw off their obligations. In this case, even if one deems the biblical texts unreliable witnesses to Ammonite political posturing during the Neo-Babylonian Period, they still appear to have become vassals to Nebuchadnezzar, and only later (when exactly we do not know) to have rebelled.

All the best,
Craig
#2 - Craig Tyson - 05/20/2014 - 14:17



Hi Craig. So I just finished reading your book and was very impressed. My only issue is to why you didn't continue on to the information we have about the Ammonites in the Achaemenid period. This is not so much a specific criticism as a general observation-we tend to privilege the periods of nominal "independence" in this region over the periods of provincial semi-autonomy in the later periods. Personally I think this has to do with the "special relationship" that Near Eastern archaeology has traditionally had with romantic nationalism.

In terms of material culture, it can be hard to distinguish between Iron IIC and Early Achaemenid material, and we know that Ammonite identity in some form continued into the Achaemenid period (perhaps even the Hellenistic), so a good way to break away from a lot of these artificial frameworks may be to not end in 525 BC but instead try and see what life was like in these communities when they lost their independence. I would've loved to see you engage more with Bruce Routledge's study on Moab for example, in which he concludes that the salience of "Moabite" identity was dependent on the ideology of the state, and so disappeared with the state. With Ammon this seems not to have been the case, and some reflections on why some of these South Levantine identities survived the death of the statelets they were based around, while others did not would have been very interesting.

That aside though, I really enjoyed the book. Transjordan in general hasn't gotten enough detailed archaeological attention until recently, so it's good to see it becoming more popular.
#3 - Robert M. Jennings - 06/11/2014 - 21:32



Thanks for the comments Robert. You are right that there is a further story there, one that may provide a nice comparison, for example, with what is happening in Yehud. There are a couple of intertwining reasons why I stopped where I did. I was looking for the places that the archaeological remains, inscriptions, and Bible converged. That pointed to the Iron Age and largely to the Iron IIB-IIC/Persian. I could have spent more time on the LBA and Iron I, but there we have archaeology alone. There is of course, nothing wrong with archaeology alone, but I am wary of attributing ethnicity/identity to archaeological remains in the absence of textual material that specifies who the people are. There were obviously people there for a long time before the Iron IIB, and there were probably sons of Ammon, but when exactly we can't say. I erred on the side of caution. The same basic problem applies to the late side of the spectrum. The Ammonites did not vanish from existence at the end of the Babylonian Period, but other than the Persian Period "Ammon" stamps, some ostraca, and the Ezra-Nehemiah texts about "Tobiah, the Ammonite servant" (which are not at all straight forward), it is an archaeological story. In retrospect, I probably should have had a separate brief section discussing the Persian and Hellenistic periods. That brings me to another reason, which is pragmatic: I needed a place to stop and the evidence gets sketchier at the end of the Iron IIC, so it made a reasonable place to end.

On your comment about the connection between Near Eastern Archaeology and nationalism, I agree, there is a connection there. In part, I tried to avoid the problems inherent in speaking of "nations" and even "states" by sticking with the somewhat more generic "polity." Even then, as you say, I have favored the period of greater complexity and visibility over other periods. Why not study the underrepresented Persian and Hellenistic periods? Again, for me it was the lack of converging lines of evidence from which I could write a narrative. Perhaps though it means that there is another essay or chapter for me to write!

Thanks again!
#4 - Craig Tyson - 07/14/2014 - 13:26






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