Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Walter E. Klippel

Committee Members

David W. Tandy, Charles W. Faulkner, Jan Simek


The assemblage of animal bones recovered from the excavation area of Field I at the site of Tel Miqne-Ekron, located in Israel, is the subject of this dissertation. This site has been identified as the ancient city of Ekron, one of the Philistine cities. The faunal remains from Ekron can be divided into three main parts, bones recovered from the Late Bronze Age, Iron Age I, or Iron Age II strata of the site. Research questions relevant to these three time periods were formulated for each corpus of animal bones. The theme which ties these subdivisions together is world systems theory, such that the animal economy of Ekron is framed in terms of the development and evolution of a Mediterranean world economy.

The Late Bronze Age in the southern Levant is notable for the presence there of an Egyptian administration. Faunal remains from Tel Miqne-Ekron's Late Bronze Age levels were analyzed to examine the extent of Egyptian influence on the economy of Canaan. That is to say, was the Egyptian administration of Canaan pervasive enough to affect the staple goods economy of the region during this period? Examination of the faunal data produced no evidence that the town's economy was anything but provincial, an agricultural strategy aimed at providing for only local needs, and not external demands for trade and tribute.

The Iron Age I was the historical period in which the Philistines emerged as a powerful military and political entity in Canaan. Animal bones derived from Iron Age I deposits were identified and analyzed for the degree to which the Philistine diet reflected an ethnically distinct foodway related to Aegean dietary preferences. In addition, the data was examined in terms of how the animal economy fit into the larger picture of trans-Mediterranean trade. Although there are unique components to the faunal assemblage of Iron Age I Ekron, most notably an abundance of pig bones, the diet was not definitively Aegean in character. These results do not negate the possibility of a Philistine migration from the Aegean or elsewhere, but do argue that abundant pig bones should not be used as ethnic markers. Swine agriculture in the Ancient Near East may have been affected by a variety of circumstances, among them the degree to which local Levantine city economies were governed by foreign imperial polities. In eras of foreign rule over the Levant, pig use was generally low, while the opposite is true for times of independence, as was characteristic of the Iron Age I.

The Iron Age II was a time of expanding territorial states, and Ekron in that period came under the political control of a series of foreign powers, most notably the Neo-Assyrian Empire. As with the Late Bronze Age, the primary research agenda for this portion of the faunal assemblage was to determine the extent to which these imperial states penetrated and developed a Mediterranean world economy. In contrast to the Egyptian administration in the Late Bronze Age, the succession of states and especially the Neo-Assyrian Empire did penetrate the staple economy of Ekron such that animal production strategies were changed. Among other economic changes correlated with the advent of the Neo-Assyrian Empire's expansion into Philistia, sheep were favored over goats, cattle were heavily employed in traction activities, and pigs nearly disappeared from the diets of Ekron's population.

Using the diachronic changes visible in the faunal assemblage excavated at Tel Miqne-Ekron as an example, it is possible to trace the non-linear development of a Mediterranean world system from the Late Bronze Age to the Iron Age II. Although Egypt was already a territorial state and an empire by the Late Bronze Age, the faunal remains from Ekron demonstrate that the Egyptians were either incapable or uninterested in altering the Levantine subsistence economy. The Iron Age I animal economy of Ekron demonstrates a prosperous but insular city economy, seemingly untied to regional exchange in staple goods. Finally, the Iron Age II faunal displays in a variety of ways an astonishing degree of regional interconnectedness which affected not only the production of prestige goods, but also the orientation of animal production.

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