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Atlas of Jordan

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Myriam Ababsa

Chapter two - From the First Men’s Steps to the Hellenistic Age (-1.5 mya – 323 BC)

The Period of Small Cities. The Middle Bronze Age (ca 2000-1500 BC)

Stephen Bourke

Texte intégral

1The Middle Bronze Age (MBA) marks the beginning of the second urban phase in Jordan. During the Middle Bronze Age I period, between 2000-1800 BCE, initially small (less than one hectare) village settlements spread south down the Jordan Valley to the Zarqa fan, and along the north Jordan uplands as far south as Amman.

2In areas where reliable water, good agricultural land and strategic position promoted settlement expansion, villages grew rapidly into 5-10 hectare townships between 1800-1650 BCE. Many centres in the Jordan Valley (Pella, Deir Alla and Tell Nimrin) and on the plateau (Irbid, Salt, Amman and perhaps Madaba) were equipped with thick stone and mud brick fortifications, multi-storey palatial residences, monumental temples and extensive extra-mural cemeteries (fig. II.16).

Figure II.16 — Main sites during the Middle Bronze Age in North Jordan.

Figure II.16 — Main sites during the Middle Bronze Age in North Jordan.

3Culturally, Middle Bronze Age Jordan may be said to progress through three distinct stages, those of import, imitation and innovation. In the earliest MBA (2000-1800 BCE), most major arts and crafts were directly imported from Egypt or Syria, while in the second MBA phase (1800-1650 BCE) good local copies of foreign goods begin to appear. In the third phase (1650-1500 BCE) mature products of vibrant local Jordanian industries, such as gypsum stone working and the superb Chocolate on White ware ceramic, appear in quantity.

4Politically, early MBA Jordan was made up of a loose affiliation of small city-states. As the MBA progressed, the larger townships came to dominate their smaller neighbours. If settlement size is related to political power, then a handful of settlements (Pella, Deir Alla, Irbid, Salt, Amman and Madaba) came to dominate MBA Jordan (fig. II.17).

Figure II.17  — Plan of MBA City Walls - Pella.

Figure II.17  — Plan of MBA City Walls - Pella.

5The sharp rise in militaria (border fortifications and weaponry) in Jordan towards the end of the MBA (1600-1500 BCE), suggests the increasingly violent Egyptian civil wars between the Hyksos and Theban dynasties brought to an end the long period of economic growth and settlement expansion that characterised the MBA (Plate II.13). However, there is no direct evidence that Jordan formed part of the early New Kingdom Levantine conquests of Ahmose and Amenhotep I (ca. 1550-1500 BCE).

Plate II.13 — MBA Copper Dagger and Gypsum Pommel - Pella.

Plate II.13 — MBA Copper Dagger and Gypsum Pommel - Pella.

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure II.16 — Main sites during the Middle Bronze Age in North Jordan.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/4890/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 132k
Titre Figure II.17  — Plan of MBA City Walls - Pella.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/4890/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 36k
Titre Plate II.13 — MBA Copper Dagger and Gypsum Pommel - Pella.
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/4890/img-3.png
Fichier image/png, 80k

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