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Chicken bones and snail shells help archaeologists date the destruction of the ancient city

Spring 107 BC. destruction layer of the Seleucid settlement Tell Izṭ abba. Credit: German-Israeli Tell Izṭabba Excavation Project

According to new research, the combined analysis of animal and plant remains, as well as documentary evidence, leads to more accurate dating of archaeological finds. “We can now often determine not only the year, but also the season. This allows us to reconstruct the events that led to the finds much more accurately,” say archaeologists Prof. Dr. Achim Lichtenberger of the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics” at the University of Münster and his colleague Prof. Oren Tal from Tel Aviv University.

“The destruction of the Greek city of Tell Iẓṭabba in present-day Israel by a military campaign waged by the Hasmoneans, a Judean dynasty in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, has so far been dated to between 111 and 107 BC,” says Lichtenberger. and Tal. “More recent research dates it to 108/107 BC, based on coin finds and the siege of the city of Samaria at the same time. Now, using our multi-proxy approach that uses several analytical methods, we can for the first time the events definitely date to the spring of 107 BC.”

“We found chicken leg bones in the homes destroyed by the Hasmoneans. Analysis of them revealed residues with medullary bone deposits in the marrow that served to produce eggshells during the spring laying season, indicating that the chickens were hatched in the spring. gender,” explains Achim Lichtenberger and Oren Tal. “We also discovered the shells of snails, which were commonly eaten at this time of year.” Botanical research of the flower remains on the floors of the houses shows that these plants bloomed in the spring.

Analysis of the objects is always accompanied by analysis of written evidence: “Megillat Ta’anit’s contemporary Hebrew scroll on the Hasmonean conquest, also known as the fasting scroll, reports the expulsion of the inhabitants in the Hebrew month of Sivan, which corresponds to our May/June.”

‘Only the multitude of analysis methods makes accurate statements possible’

“From an archaeological point of view, this makes spring the season of destruction,” say Lichtenberger and Tal, underscoring previous findings on Hellenistic warfare, as military offensives usually took place in the spring and early summer.

“The individual data alone would not justify establishing such a clear chronology,” emphasizes Lichtenberger, who, together with his colleague Oren Tal and an interdisciplinary team of natural scientists, is leading a research project into the archeology of the Hellenistic settlement Tell Iẓṭabba, in the ancient Nysa-Scythopolis, a Greek city in the ancient Near East. “Only by getting a general overview of the results of all analytical methods can we provide more accurate information about the time of the destruction of Tell Iẓṭabba, and thus the course of the Hasmonean campaign.” The finds must therefore be interpreted in the light of the seasons.

The research was published in antiquity.

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More information:
Oz Rittner et al, There is a season for everything: over a year of destruction at Seleucid Tell Izṭ abba (Israel), antiquity (2022). doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2022.92

Offered by Antiquity

Quote: Chicken bones and snail shells help archaeologists date ancient city’s destruction (2022, August 16) recovered August 16, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-08-chicken-bones-snail-shells-archaeologists .html

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