11th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East

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Workshop Kreimermann/Shahack-Gross

Reconstructing Destruction: New Trajectories in the Macro- and Micro-Archaeological Research of Destruction Layers in the Ancient Near East

Organizers: Igor Kreimerman (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)/ Ruth Shahack-Gross (University of Haifa)


This workshop aims at presenting new perspectives in the study of destruction layers and the destruction process of structures in the Near East. The destruction of a building or a city is one of the most visible events in the archaeological record, usually characterized by floors covered by a thick layer of ash, charcoal, broken pottery and artifacts, thick accumulations of mud brick collapse and sometimes skeletal remains of trapped victims. Due to the wealth of finds, and the assumed rapidity of the process, these layers play a prominent role in establishing chronologies, in the study of household and daily life, and in attempting to correlate events known from literary sources such as natural disasters and military campaigns with the archaeological evidence. Furthermore, when the destruction of a city was premeditated, the destruction layer may allow a glimpse into the decision-making processes of the destroyers.
In recent years more studies concentrate on the examination of the spread and duration of fire, the collapse of structures, intentional (or unintentional) breakage of pottery and other artifacts and the identification of crisis that took place before the destruction. These are complex processes that require a multidisciplinary approach. One of the greatest stimulants of this wave of studies is the advancement in the field of archaeological sciences that offers new lines of evidence related to the identification of materials, the temperatures they were exposed to and the understanding of formation processes.
In this workshop, we wish to bring together scholars who explore various topics related to destruction events in the ancient Near East. This will enable to critically review and discuss new results and techniques and their potential implications to the study of the topic. Hopefully, this will facilitate a fruitful dialogue that will boost the study of these terminal events.


Amotz Agnon (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Amit Dagan (Bar Ilan University)
Yael Ebert (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Israel Finkelstein (Tel Aviv University)
Mathilde Forget (Weizmann Institute)
Yuval Gadot (Tel Aviv University)
Yosef Garfinkel (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Erez Hassul (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Tobias Helms (Johannes Gutenberg Universität, Mainz)
Robert Homsher (Center for Geographic Analysis, Harvard University)
Sabine Kleiman (Tel Aviv University)
Igor Kreimerman (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Oded Lipschits (Tel Aviv University)
Shmuel Marco (Tel Aviv University)
Norbert Nowaczyk (Potsdam)
Steven Ortiz (Tandy Institute for Archaeology, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary)
Ron Shaar (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Dèbora Sandhaus (Tel Aviv University)
Ruth Shahack-Gross (University of Haifa)


9:55 Igor Kreimerman/Ruth Shahack-Gross: Introduction
10:00 Steven Ortiz: Gezer Destructions: A Case Study of a Border City
10:30 Tobias Helms: Killing in the Name of – the destruction of Tell Chuera’s main ceremonial complex in the EJ 3a-period
11:00 Coffee break
11:30 Dèbora Sandhaus: Nysa-Scythopolis: Test Case for Destruction and Abandonment Processes
12:00 Sabine Kleiman/Yuval Gadot/Oded Lipschits: Disaster in context – investigating a Late Bronze destruction layer at Tel Azekah
12:30 Amit Dagan: At the foot of the mound and along the river bank ... preservation of the destruction layer of the lower city of Biblical Gath
13:00 Lunch break
14:00 Igor Kreimermna/Ruth Shahack-Gross/Yosef Garfinkel: Understanding Conflagration of Mud-Brick Structures at Tel Lachish: Integrating Macro- and Micro-Archaeology
14:30 Ruth Shahack-Gross, Mathilde Forget, Ron Shaar, Robert Homsher, Erez Hassul, Yael Ebert, Shmuel Marco, Norbert Nowaczyk, Israel Finkelstein, Amotz Agnon: Destruction by Fire: The Importance of Understanding Construction Methods and the Effect of Heat on Mud Bricks
15:00 Discussion