Understanding the four-room house

Four-Room House IllustrationDuring the late 1920s, an expedition by the Pacific School of Religion discovered three houses of strikingly similar design at Tell en-Nasbeh, Biblical Mizpah. When the first of these was unearthed in 1927, excavators thought it was a temple, and Professor William F. Badè, the excavation director, held a church service in its ruins.1 Today, hundreds of these buildings have been found, and are now referred to by a generic name, the four-room house. Sometimes they are also called the “Israelite house,” and whether that is an acceptable designation is among the questions we will consider.

The four-room house has three parallel long rooms separated by two walls or rows of columns, plus a broad room across one end. Subsidiary rooms may be added and rooms may be subdivided, but the basic plan is always the same. Some scholars think that one of the long rooms, usually the center one, was unroofed, creating a kind of courtyard. Most of these buildings also seem to have had a second story, although only sparse evidence of this has survived.

This kind of house is found throughout the country. It is the predominant type of domestic building in Iron Age Israel (1200–586 B.C.E.). It first appeared in about 1200 B.C.E.—just as the Israelites were beginning to coalesce as a people in Canaan—and reached its mature form toward the end of Iron Age I (sometime before 1000 B.C.E.), roughly when the processes that led to the establishment of the Israelite monarchy were beginning. It dominated the architecture of Iron Age II (1000–586 B.C.E.) and completely disappeared after the Babylonian destruction of 586 B.C.E., which ended the monarchy and started the Babylonian Exile.2

Some scholars have suggested that the four-room house evolved from the earlier nomad’s tent,3 while others seek its roots in Late Bronze Age Canaanite architecture, especially in the region of the Shephelah.4 Most often, however, the popularity of the four-room house has been explained in terms of its close association with the Israelites as a people. The idea of the four-room house as the Israelite house was expressed by the late Yigal Shiloh, of Hebrew University- “In the light of the connection between the distribution of this type and the borders of Israelite settlement, and in the light of its period of use and architectural characteristics, it would seem that the four-room house is an original Israelite concept.”5

But neither Shiloh nor any other early proponent of the association between the four-room house and the Israelites suggested a satisfactory answer to the basic question- Why was this type of building so popular among the Israelites? Only recently has an answer been offered—an explanation that stresses the house’s function. In the view of Harvard’s Lawrence Stager, “The pillared [four-room] house takes its form not from some desert nostalgia monumentalized in stone and mudbrick, but from a living tradition. It was first and foremost a successful adaptation to farm life- the ground floor had space allocated for food processing, small craft production, stabling, and storage; the second floor was suitable for dining, sleeping, and other activities … Its longevity attests to its continuing suitability not only to the environment … but also for the socio-economic unit housed in it—for the most part, rural families who farmed and raised livestock.”6 John S. Holladay of the University of Toronto echoes Stager- “From the time of its emergence in force until its demise at the end of Iron Age II, the economic function of the ‘Israelite [Four-Room] House’ seems to have been centered upon requirements for storage and stabling, functions for which it was ideally suited … Furthermore, its durability as preferred house type, lasting over 600 years throughout all the diverse environmental regions of Israel and Judah, even stretching down into the wilderness settlements in the central Negev, testifies that it was an extremely successful design for the common—probably landowning—peasant.”7

While this functional explanation seems compelling, however, it fails to convey the full story of the four-room house as a cultural phenomenon.

More than 30 years ago, Shiloh himself noticed that the four-room plan appears in a wide variety of Iron Age II buildings—from common private dwellings to monumental buildings such as the citadel at Hazor in the north or the Negev forts. He reasonably concluded that “The four-room plan was thus used as a standard plan for buildings of very different function within the Israelite city.”8 Today we can expand Shiloh’s conclusion to include many more examples, from isolated farms and hamlets to main urban centers. Even though all these buildings haven’t been fully analyzed, it is clear from their contents that they served a great variety of functions—as residences for single soldiers,9 as dwellings for nuclear and extended families,10 as administrative buildings11 and so on. All these diverse functions were served by the same basic architectural plan—a plan that was used even in tombs.12 This “astonishing rigidity in concept,” as Volkmar Fritz aptly phrases it,13 also had astonishing durability—it lasted almost 600 years.

Is there more to the popularity and durability of the four-room house design than its functionality? And if the raison d’être of this structure lies only in its functional suitability for peasant life, why did the peasants in ancient Israel not continue to use it following the Babylonian destruction and exile, through the Persian period and thereafter? And why did they use it for other than domestic purposes before the Babylonian exile?

We believe that the four-room house was a symbolic expression of the Israelite mind—that is, their ethos or world-view. At the same time, this style of domestic architecture in turn helped to structure that mind.

Our approach to the four-room house issue concurs with the idea of a “new Biblical Archaeology” promoted recently by William G. Dever. He calls for a renewed, balanced dialogue between archaeologists of the Biblical period and the Biblical texts that provide an indespensable “window” into the thought-world of ancient Israel. According to Dever- “an explanation of what really took place in ancient Israel in the Iron Age must look not only at the material remains of that culture, but also at those ideals, spiritual and secular … that motivated those who were the bearers of that culture.”14 In light of current theoretical development in archaeology, it is obvious that an explanation of “what happened in history” cannot be reduced merely to adaptation—to materialist or determinist schemes that only take into account factors like environment, technology and subsistence and ignore the role of symbols, ideology and even religion in the shaping of society and in culture change.

At the start, we may dispel the argument made by some scholars that the four-room house is not really an Israelite house due to the fact that examples can be found outside Israelite territory.15 Most of the examples often cited, such as ‘Afula, Tel Qiri and Tell Keisan in the northern valleys of Israel, are not really four-room houses; while they may have four rooms, their configuration is completely different—comprising broad rooms and front courts or a mixture of rooms and courts.16

In other cases (for example, Sahab in Transjordan) there seems to be some confusion between four-room houses and pillared buildings.17 True four-room houses found outside Israelite territory mainly date to the early Iron Age,18 prior to the final consolidation of ethnic groups in the region. And some of these houses may actually have been located within a temporarily expanded Israelite territory.19 The remaining examples outside ancient Israel are very few indeed, and may be explained as representing ephemeral use by non-Israelites or by Israelites living in non-Israelite regions. Both temporally and geographically, the four-room house may safely be called the Israelite house.

The first scholar to suggest that the four-room house might be explained as a symbolic expression of the uniquely Israelite mentality and worldview was Moshe Weinfeld of Hebrew University.20 More than a decade ago, Weinfeld insightfully suggested that the house plan might have facilitated the separation between ritual purity and impurity—such as men’s avoidance of women during menstruation—that was so important to the Israelite way of life. Indeed, on examining the four-room plan one can immediately recognize its greatest merit, which is maximum privacy- Once you entered the central space of the building (whether an open or roofed courtyard), you could enter any room directly without passing through adjacent rooms. Other dwelling structures in ancient Israel during the Bronze and Iron Ages seem to lack this special quality.

In the last couple of decades, cultural anthropologists have written about what they call “the social logic of space.”21 The way people organize the spaces they inhabit reveals such matters as social hierarchies and cultural codes. Building layouts can be analyzed and compared for their “space syntax”- How, for example, does a particular building plan affect the way a visitor or inhabitant may have access to its different rooms? Which rooms must be passed through first? What parts of the house are most out of reach? The social meaning of space syntax derives from the possible contact of a building’s inhabitants with strangers as well as each other. Different space syntaxes, therefore, hint at different systems of social and cultural relations.

For example, if matters of purity were crucial in the conduct of Israelite daily life, then the unique plan of the four-room house facilitated it. Many societies segregate or restrict the movement of women who are menstruating; unlike the laws of other ancient Near Eastern societies, most of the Biblical purity injunctions22 do not require menstruating women to leave the house,23 but given other restrictions imposed on them, it is reasonable to assume that if some of these rules were kept, Israelite women spent some of their time separate from the house’s other inhabitants. The plan of the four-room house seems eminently suited to such a practice- Because each room could be entered directly from the central space without passing through other rooms, purity could be strictly maintained even if a ritually impure person resided in the dwelling.

Examples like this hint at a possible connection between the four-room layout and specific cultural behavior (like men avoiding menstruating women). The layout may have been developed to accommodate that specific behavior—or, perhaps, the behavior may have grown out of the house plan. That is, while the plan may have developed for other (perhaps functional) reasons, it might have also enabled (or even encouraged) the development of a certain “purity behavior” and discouraged other behavior that could not be accommodated within the house. Indeed, it could well be that the house plan and the behavior evolved together and shaped each other.

The four-room house also expresses the “democratic” or egalitarian ethos of Israelite society. In this respect, the space syntax of the four-room house is conspicuously different from that of other contemporaneous house types, such as the houses at Tell Keisan, Tel Qiri and Tel Hadar in northern Israel as well as Bronze Age houses. The latter have a more linear form—a visitor must pass through each room in sequence—which expresses hierarchy and restricts access or movement within the dwelling.24 The four-room house does the opposite- Its shallow, “tree-like” shape allows easy and direct access to each room from the central courtyard.

A recent study has demonstrated that large households with more families have a more complex and hierarchically structured arrangement of living and sleeping spaces, reflecting their complex social structure. People of lower status—whether because of age or gender or marital status—are more accessible in terms of the structural “depth” of space within the house than are those of higher status. For instance, in these houses, special living or sleeping areas are frequently set aside for married children as opposed to unmarried children; this is in contrast to the ad hoc sleeping arrangements or shared sleeping spaces often seen in societies with simpler, more egalitarian dwellings. We would expect to see some degree of hierarchical structuring of the domestic space in Israelite houses- In rural and elite, well-to-do four-room houses, rooms are often subdivided, enabling them to be divided hierarchically. But the potential for that is limited because of the inherent simplicity of the layout—the house, again, lacks depth. The four-room house plan therefore expresses the egalitarian ethos of the Israelites.

But was Israelite society actually egalitarian? Biblical scholars have long emphasized its democratic and egalitarian character as portrayed by the Biblical narratives, and many passages contain information about the egalitarian character of the Israelite society.25 But social ideology—the way a society represents itself—often differs from social reality. Indeed, anthropology teaches us that “equality is a social impossibility.”26 Niels Lemche has suggested that “instead of speaking of egalitarian societies it would be more appropriate to speak of societies which are dominated by an egalitarian ideology … A society whose ideology is egalitarian need not in fact be egalitarian.”27 So although the Bible reflects an egalitarian ethos, the reality was undoubtedly somewhat different. The “egalitarian” four-room house plan seems to have been more consonant with the Israelites’ ideology than other house plans, even though as a matter of social reality there were small and large houses, poor and rich ones.

The four-room house was really a kind of symbol—communicating the Israelites’ value system nonverbally to both its occupants and to the surrounding community.28 The house’s internal structure communicated to its residents the mutually-held concepts of a common cultural system, by creating an environment that reinforces existing social divisions based on gender, generation and rank, which are linked to cosmological schemes—that is, the people’s view of how the world is ordered. Just by living in the house, occupants are constantly reminded of these values and principles, which are thus inculcated in each new generation.

The house also conveyed a message to the outside community about the economic and social status of the household, sending signals about matters of social difference like affluence and taste. At the same time, it also seems to bear a message essential in supporting the egalitarian ideals of Israelite society as a whole. Building a house according to the traditional code of a society communicates the important message that “we’re part of the community,” thereby enhancing the cohesion of that community.

But how do we explain why the four-room house is so ubiquitous, even in nonresidential buildings? No matter how persuasive, the functional argument falls far short of explaining why this layout was applied not only to family dwellings but also to public buildings.

The anthropologist Mary Douglas has developed the idea that many of the Biblical laws are actually about order.29 Only in wholeness and completeness may holiness reside. Many of these laws, covering all aspects of life—from war to sexual behavior and from social conduct to dietary rules—are based on precepts that are rooted in that basic principle. All of these precepts embrace the idea that holiness comes from order and sin from chaos. Holiness requires completeness in a social context—an important enterprise, once begun, must not be left incomplete. To be holy, individuals must conform to the category to which they belong, and different categories of things must not be mixed together. To be holy is to be whole, to be one; holiness is unity, integrity, purity, perfection of the individual and of the kind. Hybrids and other mixtures are abominations.30 For example, garments of mixed wool and flax are forbidden and an ass may not be yoked with an ox (Deuteronomy 22-10–11).

The Israelites’ ideology of purity and order helps make sense of the astonishing dominance of the four-room plan at almost all levels of Israelite architectural design. To the Israelites, this conformity of design communicated unity and order and negated separateness and chaos. These strongly-held concepts must have percolated through all spheres of daily life, including material culture. We can imagine that once the four-room house took shape and was formalized as the container and embodiment of the Israelite lifestyle and symbolic order, it became the “right” house type—hence its great popularity. Building according to other architectural schemes must have been considered a deviation from the norm and possibly a violation of the holy order.

For these reasons, the four-room house became the Israelite house. The two are synonymous. At the dawn of the Iron Age, the embryonic versions of the four-room house and its more humble subtypes were options among a variety of house plans. The limited popularity of the house at this stage barely hinted at its eventual universality. Function may have played a role in the evolution of the layout, but one should not forget that for many generations Canaanite peasants seem to have managed quite well with other types of dwellings. In any event, during the later part of Iron Age I, the well-known form of the house crystallized and became dominant, mainly in the central hill country where archaeology and the Bible tell us that early Israelites settled. The few examples of the four-room house outside this region did not outlast Iron Age I.

Apparently, in this very phase of the Israelites’ emergence as a distinct, unique people, the Israelites’ ideology and mindset shaped (and were shaped by) the form of their domestic architecture. At this point, the house began to reflect Israelite cultural behavior—their egalitarian ethos, their need for privacy, the seclusion of the ritually impure and so on—and perhaps even became an ethnic marker—that is, a distinctive feature of the Israelites as an ethnic group unto themselves (see “Israelites and Canaanites- You Can Tell Them Apart,” in this issue).

Material culture should not be equated too directly with ethnicity,31 but when ethnic groups express their identity as different from other groups, they may deliberately use certain distinctive aspects of their material culture to communicate that difference. This can be done in several ways. People could adopt certain traits that identify them as belonging to group X and not Y (in many cases a certain item of clothing is used). These symbols, however, are arbitrary (that is, ethnic distinctions can make use of any material item), and are, therefore, sometimes hard to identify archaeologically.

Another way ethnicity is reflected in the archaeological record is through “ethnically specific behavior.”32 We have seen how, internally, the four-room house successfully expressed and reinforced Israelite values and way of life, as demonstrated by its growing popularity. And because of the importance of order and unity to the Israelites’ perception of holiness, the four-room layout soon became the dominant building plan throughout Israelite territory, and stayed that way for more than half a millennium. Whether it was deliberately chosen at the end of Iron Age I as an ethnic marker or only gradually, unconsciously took on this role (that is, as a result of “ethnically specific behavior”) we cannot say. Yet evidently, during the later part of Iron Age I and throughout Iron Age II, the four-room plan must be considered as predominantly Israelite, although others may have sporadically used this type of dwelling.

The Assyrian invasion of the late eighth century B.C.E. ended the northern kingdom of Israel. The Babylonian invasion of the early sixth century B.C.E. ended the southern kingdom of Judah. Thus was ended also the omnipresent ethnic symbol that was the four-room house. It exited the historical stage, leaving us with only hints of its symbolic meaning for ancient Israelite society.

a. On Badè’s excavation at Tell en-Nasbeh, see Jeffrey R. Zorn, “Mizpah- Newly Discovered Stratum Reveals Judah’s Other Capital,” BAR 23-05.

1. George Ernest Wright, “A Characteristic North Israelite House,” in Archaeology in the Levant- Essays for Kathleen Kenyon, Roger Moorey and Peter Parr, eds., (Warminister- Aris & Phillips, 1978), p. 149.

2. The origins and architecture of the four-room house and its subtypes—the three- and the five-room house—have been the subject of numerous studies, as has the ethnicity of the inhabitants. See Yigal Shiloh, “The Four-Room House- Its Situation and Function in the Israelite City,” Israel Exploration Journal (IEJ) 20 (1970), pp. 180–190 and “The Four-Room House—The Israelite Type-House?” Eretz-Israel 11 (1973), pp. 277–285 (in Hebrew); also Wright, “A Characteristic North Israelite House,” pp. 149–154; François Braemer, L’architecture domestique du Levant à l’åge du Fer (Paris- éditions Recherches sur les civilizations, 1982); Lawrence E. Stager, “The Archaeology of the Family in Ancient Israel,” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (BASOR) 260 (1985) pp. 1–35; John S. Holladay, Jr., “House, Israelite,” in David Noel Freedman, ed., The Anchor Bible Dictionary vol. 3 (New York- Doubleday, 1992), pp. 308–318; John S. Holladay, Jr., “The Four-Room House,” in Eric M. Meyers, ed., The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East vol. 2 (New York- Oxford Univ. Press, 1997), pp. 337–341; Ehud Netzer, “Domestic Architecture in the Iron Age,” in Aharon Kempinski and Ronny Reich, eds., The Architecture of Ancient Israel from the Prehistoric to the Persian Period (Jerusalem- Israel Exploration Society, 1992), pp. 193–201.

3. Volkmar Fritz, “Bestimmung und Herkunft des Pfeinlerhauses in Israel,” Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 93 (1977), pp. 30–45; Volkmar Fritz, Tempel und Zelt (Neukirchen-Vluyn- Neukirchen, 1977); Aharon Kempinski, “Tel Masos,” Expedition 20-4 (1978), pp. 29–37; Ze’ev Herzog, Beer-Sheba II- The Early Iron Age Settlements (Tel Aviv- Tel Aviv Univ., 1984), pp. 75–77.

4. Amihai Mazar, “The Israelite Settlement in Canaan in the Light of Archaeological Excavations,” in Janet Amitai, ed., Biblical Archaeology Today- Proceedings of the International Congress on Biblical Archaeology, Jerusalem, April 1984 (Jerusalem- Israel Exploration Society, 1985), pp. 66–68; Joseph A. Callaway, “Ai (et-Tell)- Problem Site for Biblical Archaeologists,” in Leo G. Perdue, Lawrence E. Toombs and Gary L. Johnson, eds., Archaeology and Biblical Interpretation. Essays in Memory of D. Glenn Rose (Atlanta- John Knox, 1987), pp. 87–99; and Shmuel Givon, “The Three-Roomed House from Tel Harassim, Israel,” Levant 31 (1999), pp. 173–77. There are two problems with this idea- The supposed Canaanite “prototypes” lack the broad room, which is essential for the definition of the four-room house type; more importantly, even if some Late Bronze Age architectural ideas were adopted during the Iron Age I period it does not say anything about the meaning of the houses during these periods. People can, and do, adopt cultural elements from other periods and cultures but vest them new and different meaning. See, for example, Abner Cohen, Two Dimensional Man- An essay on the Anthropology of Power and Symbolism in Complex Society (London- Routledge & Kegan Paul), p. 3; Ian Hodder, The Present Past, (London- Batsford, 1982), pp. 204–207.

5. Shiloh, “Four-Room House,” IEJ 20 (1970), p. 180.

6. Stager, “Archaeology of the Family,” p. 17.

7. Holladay, Jr., “House, Israelite,” The Anchor Bible Dictionary (1992), p. 316.

8. Yigal Shiloh, “Four-Room House,” IEJ 20 (1970), p. 190 (emphasis added).

9. Lily Singer-Avitz, “Household Activities at Beersheba,” Eretz-Israel 25 (1996), pp. 166–174 (in Hebrew).

10. Stager, “Archaeology of the Family”; Avraham Faust, “Differences in Family Structure between Cities and Villages in Iron Age II,” Tel-Aviv 26 (1999), pp. 233–252. See also Avraham Faust, “The Rural Community in Ancient Israel during the Iron Age II,” BASOR 318 (2000), p. 17–39.

11. Keith Branigan, “The Four Room Buildings of Tell en-Nasbeh,” IEJ 16 (1966), pp. 206–209. See also Shiloh, “Four-Room House” and “The Four-Room House-The Israelite Type House?”

12. Amihai Mazar, “Iron Age Burial Caves North of the Damascus Gate, Jerusalem,” IEJ 26 (1976), p. 4, n. 9; Gabriel Barkai, “Burial Caves and Burial Practices in Judah in the Iron Age,” in Itamar Singer, ed., Graves and Burial Practices in Israel in the Ancient Period (Jerusalem- Yad Izhak Ben Zvi, 1994), p. 149 (in Hebrew); and Gabriel Barkai, “Burial Caves and Dwellings in Judah during Iron Age II- Sociological Aspects,” in Avraham Faust and Aren Meir, eds., Material Culture, Society and Ideology- New Directions in the Archaeology of the Land of Israel (Ramat-Gan- Bar-Ilan University, Department of Land of Israel Studies, 1999), pp. 96–102 (in Hebrew with English abstract).

13. Volkmar Fritz, The City in Ancient Israel (Sheffield- Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), p. 142.

14. William G. Dever, “Biblical Archaeology- Death and Rebirth,” in Avraham Biran and Joseph Aviram, eds., Biblical Archaeology Today, 1990. Proceedings of the Second International Congress on Biblical Archaeology, Jerusalem, June-July 1990 (Jerusalem- Israel Exploration Society, 1993), pp. 706–722.

15. Mohammad M. Ibrahim, “Third Season of Excavation at Sahab” (Preliminary Report), Annual of the Department of Antiquities of Jordan 20 (1975), pp. 69–82; Gusta W. Ahlström, The History of Ancient Palestine from the Palaeolithic Period to Alexander’s Conquest (Sheffield- Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), pp. 339–340; Israel Finkelstein, “Ethnicity and the Origin of the Iron Age I Settlers in the Highlands of Canaan- Can the Real Israel Stand Up?” Biblical Archaeologist 59 (1996), pp. 198–212.

16. See Avraham Faust, “Ethnic Complexity in Northern Israel during Iron Age II,” PEQ 132 (2000), pp. 2–27. This research demonstrates that the houses were most probably built by Canaanite-Phoenician population.

17. See, for example, Ibrahim, “Third Season of Excavations at Sahab.”

18. James R. Kautz, “Tracking the Ancient Moabites,” Biblical Archaeologist 44 (1981), pp. 27–35; P.M. Michèle Daviau, “Domestic Architecture in Iron Age Ammon- Building Materials, Construction Techniques and Room Arrangement,” in Burton MacDonald and Randall W. Younker, eds., Ancient Ammon (Leiden- Brill, 1999), pp. 113–136.

19. Chang-Ho C. Ji, “The Iron I in Central and Northern Transjordan- An Interim Summary of Archaeological Data,” Palestine Exploration Quarterly 127 (1995), pp. 122–140; and “A Note on the Iron Age Four-Room House in Palestine,” Orientalia 66 (1997), pp. 387–413; Larry G. Herr, “The Settlement and Fortification of Tell al-’Umayri in Jordan during the LB/Iron I Transition,” in Lawrence E. Stager and Michael D. Coogan, eds., The Archaeology of Jordan and Beyond, Essays in Honor of James A. Sauer (Winona Lake, Indiana- Eisenbrauns, 2000), pp. 167–179.

20. Ehud Netzer, “Domestic Architecture in the Iron Age,” 1992, p. 199, n. 24.

21. Bill Hillier and Julienne Hanson, The Social Logic of Space (Cambridge- Cambridge Univ., 1984). See also Edward Bruce Banning and Brian F. Byrd, “Alternative Approaches for Exploring Levantine Neolithic Architecture,” Paléorient 15 (1989), pp. 154–160; Sally M. Foster, “Analysis of Spatial Patterns in Buildings (Access Analysis) as an Insight into Social Structure- Examples from the Scottish Atlantic Iron Age,” Antiquity 63 (1989), pp. 40–50; Richard E. Blanton, Houses and Households- A Comparative Study (New York- Plenum, 1994), pp. 24–37.

22. There is almost a consensus regarding the dating of some of the Biblical laws (including purity laws) to the Iron Age. Many of the laws that are attributed to the Deuteronomist (“D”) are thought to have been written during the late part of that period. The dating of other laws, including the majority of the purity laws, however, is debatable. Most purity laws are attributed to the Priestly source (“P”), and while most scholars have dated P to the Persian period (e.g., Otto Eissfeldt, The Old Testament—An Introduction [Oxford- Blackwell, 1965], pp. 207–208; Alexander Rofe, Introduction to the Composition of the Pentateuch, [Jerusalem- Academon, 1994] [Hebrew]; see also Gordon J. Wenham, The Book of Leviticus, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament [London- Hodder and Stoughton, 1979], pp. 9–11), there is a recent tendency to date it to the Exilic period and to date some, or even most, of its content even earlier (e.g., David J.A. Clines, “Pentateuch,” in The Oxford Companion to the Bible, eds. Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan [Oxford- Oxford Univ., 1993], p. 580). Moreover, a growing number of influential scholars date P on various grounds to the Iron Age (e.g., Avi Hurvitz, “The Evidence of Language in Dating the Priestly Code,” Revue Biblique 81 (1974), pp. 24–56; Moshe Weinfeld, “Literary Creativity,” in The World History of the Jewish People, The Age of the Monarchies- Culture and Society, ed. Avraham Malamat (Jerusalem- Massada, 1979), pp. 28–33; Wenham, The Book of Leviticus, p. 13; Richard E. Friedman, Who Wrote the Bible (New York- Summit, 1987); Jacob Milgrom, Leviticus 1–16- A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, vol. 3 of the Anchor Bible Series (New York- Doubleday, 1991), pp. 12–13; Baruch J. Schwartz, The Holiness Legislation, Studies in the Priestly Code (Jerusalem- Magnes, 1999) pp. 32–33 (in Hebrew).

23. Milgrom, Leviticus 1–16, pp. 952–953.

24. In this regard, see also Banning and Byrd, “Alternative Approaches for Exploring Levantine Neolithic Architecture,” p. 156; and Frank E. Brown, “Comment on Chapman- Some Cautionary Notes on the Application of Spatial Measures to Prehistoric Settlements,” in Ross Samson, ed., The Social Archaeology of Houses (Edinburgh- Edinburgh Univ., 1990), pp. 103. For the examples, see Avraham Faust, “Ethnic Complexity in Northern Israel during Iron Age II”, PEQ 132 (2000), pp. 2–27.

25. C. Umhau Wolf, “Traces of Primitive Democracy in Ancient Israel,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 6 (1947), pp. 98–108; Robert Gordis, “Primitive Democracy in Ancient Israel,” in Poets and Prophets and Sages, Essays in Biblical Interpretation (Bloomington- Indiana Univ., 1971), pp. 45–60; Ephraim Speiser, “The Manner of Kings,” in The World History of the Jewish People, Judges (1971), p. 284; George E. Mendenhall, “The Hebrew Conquest of Palestine,” Biblical Archaeologist 25 (1962), pp. 66–87; and Norman K. Gottwald, The Tribes of Yahweh (New York- Orbis Books, 1979).

26. Morton H. Fried, The Evolution of Political Society (New York- Random House, 1967), pp. 27–28.

27. Niels Peter Lemche, Early Israel (Leiden- Brill, 1985), p. 223.

28. Richard Blanton, a leading scholar who has developed this concept of nonverbal communication, divides this phenomenon into two types—canonical and indexical nonverbal communication; see his Houses and Households, pp. 8ff.

29. Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger. An Analysis of the Concept of Pollution and Taboo (London- Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966).

30. Douglas subsequently changed her opinion, suggesting other considerations in the classification of pure and impure creatures (e.g., “The Forbidden Animals in Leviticus,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 59 [1993], p. 17). This is part of a broader transformation in her views (Richard Fardon, Mary Douglas- An Intellectual Biography [London- Routledge, 1999], pp. 185–205). It is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss in detail Douglas’s ideas, but her initial interpretation seems to be more in line with the reality of ancient Israelite society (see also Milgrom, Leviticus 1–16, p. 728). In any event, it should be noted that she still stresses the importance of “order.”

31. See Fredrik Barth, ed., Ethnic Groups and Boundaries (Boston- Little, Brown and Co. 1969); Kathryn Kamp and Norman Yoffee, “Ethnicity in Western Asia during the Early Second Millennium B.C.- Archaeological Assemblages and Ethnoarchaeological Prospectives,” BASOR 237 (1980), pp. 85–104; Ian Hodder, Symbols in Action (Cambridge- Cambridge Univ., 1982a); Randall H. McGuire, “The Study of Ethnicity in Historical Archaeology,” Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 1 (1982), p. 160; Geoff Emberling, “Ethnicity in Complex Societies- Archaeological Perspectives,” Journal of Archaeological Research 5 (1997), p. 299 ; and Siân Jones, The Archaeology of Ethnicity (London- Routledge, 1997), p. 113.

32. Randall H. McGuire, “The Study of Ethnicity in Historical Archaeology,” Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 1 (1982), p. 160.