The Dawn of the Bronze Age: The Pattern of Settlement in the Lower Jordan Valley and the Desert Fringes of Samaria during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age I. By Shay Bar. Culture and History of the Ancient Near East, vol. 72. Leiden: Brill Pp. vi + 607, 178 illus. $250.
Shay Bar is an enthusiastic field archaeologist working in the Jordanian River valley, a few kilometers north of Jericho. After years of work and the completion of his PhD (2008), Bar has published his first volume in English, which is the object of this review. In fifteen chapters Bar seeks to describe the end of the Chalcolithic period and the beginning of the Early Bronze Age (EB) in this particular part of what the author calls the "Lower Jordan Valley." Not only are the results of the excavations at five sites in Ein Hilu, Fazael, and Sheikh Diab presented, but also the survey conducted during the last decades by Adam Zertal (1996, 2005) and the author of the volume. This survey was organized after the occupation by the state of Israel of the West Bank and the lower Jordan valley. That region, like the entire Jordan valley, is a key part of the southern Levant, the corridor in which the movement of populations and the exchange of goods and ideas occurred in pre- and proto-historic times.
Chapters 1 and 2 constitute a general introduction to the research and to the geography and environmental data of the studied region. In chapters 3 and 4, Bar presents an updated overview of the study of the Chalcolithic and the EB in the examined region and the methodology he has adapted to present the data. Chapters 5 to 8 discuss the settlement patterns during both periods and their ceramic types, and a comparison is made between them intended to make sense of the dawn of the Early Bronze Age in this region. Chapters 9-13 present the results of the excavations conducted at five sites. Finally, chapter 15 is a catalogue of sites, 123 in number, a sort of gazetteer complemented with data, plans, and pictures.
The results of the excavations are fully detailed, including pictures, plans, pottery, flints, stones, and fauna. Unfortunately some of the figures are not of good quality, and in the illustrations finds are not always provided with information about their archaeological contexts (baskets, loci, strata).
An old discussion comes up again in chapter 10 (pp. 303-5): do the Canaanite blades and cores, a hallmark of the EB in the southern Levant, found at the site belong to the...