Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religion & Culture / Religious Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Not applicable

Advisor Role

Not applicable


From the Biblical accounts relating the activities of prophets such as Elijah, Elisha, Amos and Hosea, it has long been known that the period after the death of Solomon (ca. 922 B.C.) was one of the great political, social, economic and ideational upheaval in Palestine. This situation was especially true within the Northern Kingdom of Israel. In conjunction with an following the accession of the Omride dynasty (ca. 876-842/841 B.C.), a number of phenomena occurred which caused a profound transformation of the situation that existed there. The first of these involved the consolidation of the royal power base so that the monarchy became a virtually autocratic institution which was independent of traditional sources of authority (e.g. the Amphictyonic Council at Schehem). The second involved the rise of the “royal interest group” (a social group consisting of those households which benefitted mostly from royal power) and the development of a hierarchical social order. The third involved the emergence of an economic structure that integrated much of northern Palestine. The fourth involved the formation of a pluralistic ideational pattern which caused considerable alienation amongst the traditional sectors of the Israelite population.

One of the aspects of Israelite life that was greatly affected by these developments was the urban system. Throughout the north, a host of centres representing a variety of orders were incorporated into a new, more integrated system which encompassed the entire realm and which was designed to serve the needs of the monarchy and its interest group. Under this new arrangement, urban units were given specialized functions so that some became chariot-cities, while others served as store-cities or administrative centers.

The present enquiry will focus upon the urban system that prevailed within the seat of North Israelite power, namely the Samaria region. With the aid of a model that accounts for six factors, it will attempt to show that during the ca. 870-722/721 B.C. period, the dynamics of the cities, towns and villages of this area were governed largely by the above-mentioned political, social, economic and ideational phenomena as well as the technological and physiographical resources that were available. Specifically, it will elucidate the process by which the new city of Samaria became the dominant center of the region and by which the old cities of Sechem and Tirzah became integrated into the northern urban systems as centers of secondary importance.

Convocation Year