Ethno-History and 'Reverse Chronology' at Ti'innik, a Palestinian Village

By Ziadeh, Ghada | Antiquity, December 1995 | Go to article overview

Ethno-History and 'Reverse Chronology' at Ti'innik, a Palestinian Village


Ziadeh, Ghada, Antiquity


Archaeological attention in Palestine, as the Holy Land, has focused on research related to the biblical story. The overlooked Ottoman period offers a special opportunity to look back from contemporary knowledge into the archaelogical past, explored here in a single village settlement whose full story spans five millennia.

Reverse chronology

`Reverse chronology' is a variant of the direct historical approach combined with ethnoarchaeology and developed in relation to the cultural history of Palestine. The direct historical approach traces historically or ethnographically observed relations back through time into the archaeological record of the same or related cultural traditions (South 1977: 17; Trigger 1989: 395). In studying the dynamics of cultural development of pre-industrial societies, it contrasts with synchronic ethnoarchaeological studies where there may be no relation between the present-day study and the archaeological issues of concern. Starting with the ethnographic present, gradually moving into the past requires the integration of historic, ethnographic and archaeological data.

Ti'innik: the place and its history

Ti'innik, a small village along the northern border of the West Bank (Figure 1), is situated on the east slopes of tell Taanach. The tell itself has attracted archaeologists since the turn of the century, with its commanding appearance and biblical connections (Glock 1978: 1138). Taanach, referred to several times in the Bible (e.g. Joshua 12:21; 17:11 and Judges 1: 27), was first targeted for excavation in 1902-4 by the German Old Testament scholar Ernest Sellin (1904; 1905). An expedition sponsored by the American Schools of Oriental Research and Concordia Seminary, excavated for three seasons, 1963, 1966 and 1968, under the direction of Paul Lapp (1964; 1966; 1969); materials from this excavation are only partly published (Rast 1978). Albert Glock's last excavation of the site, in 1985-7, atypically in Palestine aimed at locating and studying the remains of the Ottoman settlement. And, for the first time in Pale archaeology, this excavation was staffed with Palestinian archaeologists and students, rather than Palestinians providing only the labouring force.

The excavations of the tell revealed that the site has been intermittently occupied for c. 500 years. Evidence from the 1963-8 excavations indicates a first occupation in the Early Bronze II period, c. 2800 BC, with a massive defence system (Lapp 1969:5-14; Glock 1972:12-13). After the second occupation began modestly in the Middle Bronze IIB period, c. 1700 BC, the site experienced considerable development c, 1650 BC, with a substantial glacis to shore up the Early Bronze II defences (Lapp 1969: 16-22; Glock 1972:17-18). The settlement of a transitional period, Middle Bronze IIC-Late Bronze I, 1700-1460 BC, suffered a massive destruction, believed to have been caused by Thutmose III, in 1468 BC during the `Battle of Megiddo' (Lapp- 1969:25-6; Glock 1972:23). Post-destruction debris yielded the largest Akkadian cuneiform archive known from Palestine, 13 documents in all, with namelists and letters betraying a poly-ethnic community (Hrozny 1904:113-22; 1905:36041; Glock 1971; 1963a). A destruction layer marked the end of the 12th-century BC occupation (Hillers 1964), with a gap extending to the end of the 11th century BC. Between the end of the 11th and the 9th century BC, Taanach seems to have experienced vigorous growth. Very little can be said about either the Iron II, 900-600 BC, or the following Persian period, 600-300 BC. Like all Roman settlements in Palestine, Roman Ti'innik, a BC-AD 325, was located not on the tell itself, but on the lower slopes, as was the, Byzantine and early Islamic settlement, AD 325-700. The latest occupation of the tell itself dates to the Abbasid-Crusader period, between the 11th and 12th centuries.

Evidence from the 1985-7 excavation indicates that the Mamluk-Ottoman village was established over parts of the Byzantine site, historical evidence demonstrating its occupation in the 16th century AD (Hutteroth & Abdulfattah 1977; Bakhit & al-Hmud 1989a, 1989b; Ziadeh 1991), and the early Ottoman occupation is believed to have ended in the middle of the 18th century. …

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