About Aaron A. Burke

Aaron A. Burke

Aaron A. Burke is Professor of the Archaeology of Ancient Israel and the Levant, and the Kershaw Chair in the Archaeology of the Ancient Eastern Mediterranean in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is a member of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA, and editor-in-chief of its press. He received his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Archaeology from The Oriental Institute at The University of Chicago in 2004. He has written extensively on warfare and society in the Bronze and Iron ages, and has co-edited three volumes resulting from directing archaeological work in Jaffa, Israel. His interests include the archaeology of Ancient Israel, warfare, and identity negotiations and cultural transformations in the Bronze and Iron Ages in the ancient Eastern Mediterranean with particular attention to the archaeology of forced migration and the identification of ensuing cultural changes. His first monograph, “Walled Up to Heaven”: The Evolution of Middle Bronze Age Fortification Strategies in the Levant, addressed warfare during the age of Amorite dynasties. His most recent book The Amorites and the Bronze Age Near East (Cambridge 2021) combines archaeological, textual and iconographic evidence to reconstruct a social history of Amorites from 2500 to 1500 BC.

Presenter at

Bible & Archaeology Fest XXIV
The Amorites and the Bible: Identity and Cultural Memory in Judean Tradition

The Hebrew Bible by and large preserves a late Iron Age Judean cultural memory of Canaan’s inhabitants before Israel’s appearance in the thirteenth century B.C. For this reason, questions persist concerning the cultural or historical accuracy of biblical portrayals of groups like the Amorites and Canaanites, and how these relate to wider ancient Near Eastern traditions. Various lines of evidence point to the use of the frequently used term Canaanite in the Hebrew Bible as a demonym, referencing Canaan’s population as a whole, thus exposing its limited utility as a term for a particular group and their customs. Alternatively, the term Amorite, like Hittite, was employed more specifically to reference one group among several that inhabited Canaan before Israel. The persistence of a number of cultural traditions associated with Amorites in Mesopotamia during the first millennium suggest a wider prevalence of traditions in the Near East concerning Amorites that offer one way by which biblical traditions involving them may have been shaped. Alongside this is increasing evidence of the cultural influence of second millennium Amorite traditions upon the formation of first millennium Levantine traditions as evidenced among Israel, Judah, and their neighbors.

Selected Articles by Aaron A. Burke

  • “Walled Up to Heaven”: The Evolution of Middle Bronze Age Fortification Strategies in the Levant. Studies in the Archaeology and History of the Levant 4. Harvard Semitic Museum Publications. Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake, Indiana [PDF]
  • Introduction to the Levant during the Middle Bronze Age. In Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Levant (ca. 8000–332 BCE), eds. M. L. Steiner and A. E. Killebrew, pp. 397‒407. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [PDF]
  • The Amorites and the Bronze Age Near East: The Making of a Regional Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [CUPress].