About Aaron Brody

Aaron Brody

Brody has worked on excavations at Bronze and Iron Age sites on the Mediterranean coast of Israel, with participation in projects in the Negev, Akko Plain, and in northern California. His primary research interests include archaeological interpretations of the society, religion, and economy of ancient Canaan, Phoenicia, and Israel; materiality of religions; “race,” ethnicity, gender, and sexuality in archaeology and the biblical world; Postcolonial Persian period; and maritime/underwater archaeology. He has held research posts at both the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, in Jerusalem, and the American Center for Oriental Research, in Amman. Recently his research has focused on household archaeology, household religion, metallurgy, and interregional trade at Tell en-Nasbeh, the site that forms the principal holdings of the Badè Museum at Pacific School of Religion.

Presenter at

February Bible & Archaeology Fest 2024
Women’s Religious Rituals and the Sea: Evidence from Coastal Phoenicia

Recent research into underwater finds from the northern coast of Israel and the southern coast of Lebanon defines these assemblages as ritual deposits. Hundreds of ceramic figurines were discovered submerged near Shavei Zion and Tyre. Geographically and culturally, these sites fall within regions of the ancient Phoenician homeland. Despite early interpretations of both as shipwreck sites, no hull remains or cargo was discovered at either. Date ranges of finds from both locations indicate gradual deposition of artifacts over centuries, rather than wreck incidents at either site. Differences between the Shavei Zion and Tyre deposits remain in terms of the gender of the figurines. The approximately 250-300 figurines from Shavei Zion are all female. The finds from nearby Tyre, numbering over 300, are dominated by female figurines but include male statuettes. I propose that these gendered differences represent variances in ritual performances at either site. While it is not possible to link female figurines solely with use by women, or male figurines by men; the status of many female figurines, depicted as pregnant or holding a baby, represents aspects of women’s profane and ritual concerns involving the prenatal period, perinatal phase, and care for very young children. These figurines portray uniquely female traits. While it is likely that women’s rituals were conducted at both sites, Shavei Zion is distinct in that it was solely a locale associated with women’s religious culture and rites conducted at the sea.