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The appearance of rock-cut bench tombs in Iron Age Judah as a reflection of state formation

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses several factors that agree with the archaeological record and which may also be interpreted as reliable signs of statehood in Iron Age Judah. It concentrates on the appearance of burial practices connected with the use of so-called bench tombs in Iron Age Judah. The consensus among most scholars is that rock-cut bench tombs are a Judahite phenomenon, characterizing both the United Monarchy and the Kingdom of Judah. The affiliation of 8th-7th-century Judahite bench tombs with urban elites is of particular significance, though the importance of this fact is not always clearly acknowledged. The lack of burials in the central highlands of Palestine during the Iron Age I has recently been addressed by Kletter (2002). It has been emphasized that bench tombs can serve as a reliable indicator in attempting to reconstruct the boundaries of the Kingdom of Judah near the end of the Iron Age (Yezerski 1999).

Keywords: Iron Age Judah; Judahite phenomenon; Kingdom of Judah; Palestine; rock-cut bench tombs; United Monarchy



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