J.P. Dessel is the Steinfeld Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology in the Department of History, and an affiliated member of the Fern and Manfred Steinfeld Program in Judaic Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He is also the president of the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem. He earned his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Arizona in 1991. He has over 40 seasons in the field working in Israel, Egypt, Turkey, and North America, and co-directed the excavations at Tell el-Wawiyat and Tell ‘Ein Zippori in the Lower Galilee. His research interests include Egypto-Canaanite relations in the fourth millennium, rural complexity in the Late Bronze and Iron Ages, and ceramic technology. Currently he is a senior staff member on the Tayinat Excavation Project in Turkey, and the Tell Abel Beit Ma’acah Excavations. When Dr. Dessel isn’t in the field, he can be found in his kitchen trying to perfect a recipe for red lentil soup, he is very close.
Spring Bible & Archaeology Fest 2022, April 2 – 3, 2022
The Village Elders of ‘Ein Zippori: The Hinterland of Milk and Honey in Text and Artifact
Our understanding of the rural hinterland in the Late Bronze and Iron Ages of Israel is poorly understood. It is assumed that rural villages are closely tied to nearby urban city-states and had little impact on events like the emergence of ancient Israel. Recent excavations at village sites like Tell ‘Ein Zippori in the Lower Galilee, however, offer compelling new evidence for a deeply rooted rural population with its own potentially independent social and political organization. In particular, Tell ‘Ein Zippori displays a complexity that suggests the presence of rural elites, a group known from textual sources such as the Hebrew Bible and Ugaritic texts. Unfortunately, due to the limited excavation of village sites, archaeological traces of rural elites have been very elusive. This presentation will discuss the evidence for rural elites in the Iron Age I (1200–1000 B.C.E.) and the implications that has for understanding the emergence of the Israelites.