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On the Fringe of Society: Archaeological and Ethnoarchaeological Perspectives on Pastoral and Agricultural Societies

Eveline J. van der Steen and Benjamin A. Saidel


The papers collected here are the precAitation of a seminar which was held at the Albright institute, Jerusalem, on June 3rd, 2004, bringing together a group of ethnographic and archaeological researchers working in Israel and Jordan. The seminar focused on the interaction between all aspects of pastoralism and agriculture in the southern Levant, from the Bronze Age to the present. Given the importance of ethnographic research for the understanding of social organization, a number of papers focused on recent and subrecent pastoral and agricultural societies. Other papers approached specific historical periods, such as the Early Bronze IV, the Iron Age and the Roman and Byzantine period, from the perspective of an economically flexible society, where agriculture and pastoralism (or agro-pastoralism) were readily accessible economic alternatives. In these case studies changes in subsistence patterns depended on economic circumstances rather than on a fixed ideal or lifestyle.