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The Early Iron Age Cemetery of Ḥorvat Tevet: Life and Death in a Rural Community in the Jezreel Valley

Recent salvage excavations at Ḥorvat Tevet in northern Israel revealed a cemetery consisting of at least 25 burials dated to the Iron I period (11th–10th centuries BCE). In this article, the burial practices employed in this cemetery are analyzed in order to shed light on the social complexity, economy, and funerary rituals of a rural community in the Jezreel Valley in the period between the collapse of Egyptian rule in Canaan and the formation of early monarchic Israel. Based on the finds in the graves and variations between graves, it is concluded that the site was home to a community characterized by minimal wealth accumulation, limited social division, and few long-distance trade contacts, though there are implications that the site had connections with the Beth-Shean Valley. This evidence is then contextualized in light of mortuary data from the Late Bronze II–Iron IIA Jezreel Valley in order to define aspects of continuity and change during the transition from Canaanite city-states to territorial polities.1

Content warning: Readers are advised that this article contains photographs of human remains.