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Social change in ‘Phoenicia’ in the late Bronze/early Iron Age transition

  • Boyes, Philip
Publication Date
Feb 05, 2013
Apollo - University of Cambridge Repository
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This dissertation explores social, cultural and political changes in the region later known as ‘Phoenicia’ during the period of approximately 1300-900 BC. By applying modern approaches to theoretical questions such as the nature of social change, identity, migration and how such phenomena are represented in the archaeological record, this dissertation aims to provide a discussion of Late Bronze/Early Iron Age Phoenicia based on a more solid methodological foundation than has often been the case previously. As well as better illuminating social change occurring within Phoenicia itself, it is hoped that the methodological observations and comparative value of the case-study presented here will prove useful for discussions of the wider social changes occurring in the East Mediterranean at this time. A key observation of this research is that past narratives have placed too much emphasis on the role of external powers such as the Egyptian ‘empire’ or ‘Sea People’ invaders in driving Levantine social change in this period. This dissertation stresses the critical importance of local responses to foreign influence and charts the balance between active choice and constraint by circumstances in shaping the development of the Phoenician polities. It is argued that the most important forms of change which can be identified in the archaeological and written records relate to the construction of identities, especially those of the Phoenician élites. These take the form of a move away from legitimation and identity-negotiation based on foreign contacts, towards greater emphasis on more local, Levantine features. The consequences of this change, it is argued, are felt within social, political, economic, religious and other spheres of life.

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