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The Origin of the JewsThe Quest for Roots in a Rootless Age$
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Steven Weitzman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780691174600

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691174600.001.0001

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A Thrice-Told Tel

A Thrice-Told Tel

The Archaeology of Ethnogenesis

(p.139) Chapter Four A Thrice-Told Tel
The Origin of the Jews

Steven Weitzman

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the use of archaeology to shed light on the history of the Israelites from whom the Jews emerged—a process of “ethnogenesis”—by focusing on an archaeological expedition currently underway at the site of Tel Beth Shemesh in Israel. In its nineteenth-century context, ethnogenesis involved variations of what Charles Darwin termed “descent with modification”: humans were originally divided into a much smaller number of races or primitive social groups that evolved into a larger number of races or nations over time. The chapter first considers the work of Israeli archaeologists Zvi Lederman and Shlomo Bunimovitz, with emphasis on their proposed conception of Israelite ethnogenesis, before discussing ethnogenesis as racial evolution, the decline of racial ethnogenesis, and the emergence of a new ethnogenesis from the first to the second and third archaeological excavations to Beth Shemesh.

Keywords:   archaeology, Israelites, Jews, archaeological expedition, Tel Beth Shemesh, Israel, ethnogenesis, Zvi Lederman, Shlomo Bunimovitz, archaeological excavation

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