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A Reevaluation of Iron Age Fortified Sites on the Eastern Kerak Plateau

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Brown, Stephanie Hope. “A Reevaluation of Iron Age Fortified Sites on the Eastern Kerak Plateau.” (Under the direction of Dr. S. Thomas Parker.)

This thesis is concerned with the nature of ten Moabite fortified sites on the eastern Kerak Plateau in central Jordan. Based largely upon an attempted synthesis between the archaeological record of the eastern Kerak Plateau and the Hebrew Bible, scholars believed for many years that there existed a fortified Moabite frontier, made up of contemporary fortified sites that ran north/south along the eastern edge of the Kerak Plateau as part of a larger system of defense against a threat from the eastern desert. During the past thirty years some scholars have begun to doubt the validity of this idea. However, if the original interpretation is incorrect, what then is the nature and function of these Iron Age fortified sites on the eastern Kerak Plateau? This thesis attempts to answer that question.

In comparison to other regions in Jordan the Kerak Plateau has seen little archaeological research. Several surveys have recorded many sites but few have been excavated. The ten sites examined in this study were surveyed and published by S. Thomas Parker in his Limes Arabicus Project. However, this survey was conducted over twenty years ago when there were very few sites that could offer stratified sequences of Iron Age ceramics to aide in the initial dating of the sites. Since then several Moabite sites have been or are being excavated, mostly north of the Kerak Plateau, and several regional surveys have reported Iron Age ceramic evidence at various sites in the region, providing more evidence of Moabite ceramic typology. Therefore, in light of this more recent research, this thesis focuses on the reexamination of ten Iron Age fortified sites surveyed by the Limes Arabicus Project and their associated ceramics. Being able to date these fortified sites more closely makes it possible to address important questions relevant to the nature and function of these sites, the rise and fall of Moab as a state, and Moab’s relationship with Assyria.

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