Jezreel Valley Regional Project Archaeology and History of a Regional Landscape

Metrology of an Early Bronze Age Settlement in the Jezreel Valley

Andrew W. Monthey

Gettysburg College


Andy’s project focuses on the role and evolution of architectural specialization in the development of complex society in the Early Bronze Age Southern Levant (modern Israel). He will be studying and cataloguing architectural data concerning standards of measurement and changes over time in private and public structures at the site of Tel Megiddo East in the Jezreel Valley. The purpose of this student research project is to examine standards of architectural design (metrology) in order to understand better the social and political organization of the settlement and to draw conclusions regarding the social, political, and religious influences of Megiddo at sites throughout the Jezreel Valley and adjacent regions.

Metrology is used as an archaeological method for determining changes in architectural style over time. Pierre de Miroschedji, an archaeologist working at Tel Yarmuth, has argued for the extensive use of metrology for urbanization studies from the Bronze Age onward (de Miroschedji 2001). In archaeology, a metrological approach urges measurement of wall segments in order to deduce standardized unit(s) of measurement employed by the builders. A basic unit of measurement used extensively throughout construction methods in the southern Levant, Egypt, and Mesopotamia during the Bronze Age was the “cubit” (de Miroschedji 2001: 467-470). Andy’s hypothesis is that more rigid and comprehensive use of the cubit system, particularly when deployed in multi-unit modules, dictates that the walls were designed by a specialist (the architect), which in turn is indicative of complex social and political organization. Furthermore, the cubit was needed for monumental architecture, such as the Great Temple built on the Tel Megiddo acropolis (Adams et. al. forthcoming). This sort of monumental architecture has been cited as a clear, characteristic sign of an urbanized society (Childe 1950).


Research Design

During this summer’s Jezreel Valley Regional Project field season at Tel Megiddo East, a large amount of time will be dedicated to excavation of structural features. As the JVRP team continues to excavate this EB I settlement just east of Tel Megiddo, Andy will be spearheading our metrological data collection.

Measurements will be taken by hand once the features of the site have been defined by the excavation team, as well as documented using a Total Station so as to reduce inconsistencies within the data and to correlate this data with photographic documentation. Andy will then be analyzing this data in order to determine whether or not the architecture fits the criteria of specialized methods similar to those used for the construction of the Great Temple on Tel Megiddo. The temple has been determined to have been built with a cubit of .54 m using a complex six-unit module system (Adams et al. forthcoming). If a similar cubit is used at the settlement, it would indicate a social and political connection between the two sites. Conclusions will be drawn from the data in order to compare this settlement’s standardization features with those of Megiddo. The presence of such standardization should tell a great deal about the political and social organization of the population involved in the construction of the Great Temple, including the religious and political influence of Megiddo on the settlement in question, the people’s social statuses as related to those living at Megiddo, and the proliferation of architectural specialization in non-monumental architecture.

The second major part of this research is an archaeological comparison between Tel Megiddo East and other sites in the region that have already been published in journals, books, and articles. Specialists, who were trained to use a particular cubit standard for both monumental and settlement architecture around Megiddo, would have used the cubit elsewhere. One may reasonably assume that if the same cubit has been attested at other sites in the Jezreel Valley, the social and political influence of Megiddo may have been extensive. A comparative study between the architecture of the Early Bronze Age site excavated by the JVRP and Megiddo will also be a major part of Andy’s study.



This research will expand our knowledge of the diachronic formation of state societies in the southern Levant, particularly as that formation is represented by the change in concepts of architectural planning and implementation of building projects. Data collected using a metrological approach will help Near Eastern archaeologists better understand the urbanization and politics of Early Bronze Age societies in the Jezreel Valley. The use of a cubit signifies exact and educated measurements, a sign that the structures were built by architects with significant professional training. Furthermore, the original excavators recently have suggested that the cubit was used to increase the importance of the Tel Megiddo structure (Adams et. al forthcoming). De Miroschedji agreed with this point in general, and has pointed out that the cubit in particular would have been related to the human form, being the distance from one’s elbow to one’s knuckle, and thus in concept to the divine form (de Miroschedji 2001: 487). Andy’s study of metrology at this Early Bronze Age site near Megiddo will help to inform our knowledge of early urbanization generally as well as urbanization in the southern Levant in particular.


Select Bibliography

Adams, Matthew. 2012. “Area J (The 2004-2008 Seasons). Part III: The Early Bronze Age, Stratigraphy and Architecture.” In Megiddo V: The 2004-2008 Seasons, eds. I. Finkelstein, D. Ussishkin, E. Cline, M. Adams, E. Arie, N. Franklin, and M. Martin (Tel Aviv: Institute of Archaeology, in press) 43-92.

Adams, Matthew, Israel Finkelstein, and David Ussishkin. 2012. “The Great Temple of Early Bronze Age I Megiddo,” (forthcoming).

Braun, Eliot, and Shimon Gibson. 1984. “En-shadud: An Early Bronze I Farming Community in the Jezreel Valley.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research No. 253: 29-40.

Childe, Gordon. 1950. “The Urban Revolution.” The Town Planning Review 21: 3-17.

de Miroschedji, Pierre. 2001. “Notes on Early Bronze Age Metrology and the Birth of Architecture in Ancient Palestine.” In Studies in the Archaeology of Israel and Neighboring Lands in Memory of Douglas L. Esse. Ed. Samuel R. Wolff. Chicago: The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago: 465-91.

Finkelstein, I. and D. Ussishkin. 2000. “Area J.” In Megiddo III: The 1992–1996 Seasons, edited by I. Finkelstein, D. Ussishkin, and B. Halpern, 25–74. Monograph Series of the Institute of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University 18. Tel Aviv: Institute of Archaeology.

Finkelstein, I., D. Ussishkin, and J. Peersmann. 2006. “Area J (The 1998–2000 seasons).” In Megiddo IV: The 1998–2002 Seasons, edited by I. Finkelstein, D. Ussishkin, and B. Halpern, 29–53.


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