Levantine archaeology is the study of the Levant, which is a large area of land in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Levant includes all of the land and islands spanning from Greece to Cyrenaica. Levantine archaeology is also known as Syro-Palestinian archeology or Palestinian Archaeology. The name Levant comes from the Italian Levante which means “rising” and is applied to this area of the world because of the rising sun in the east. Levantine archaeology is important because it helps shape what we know about the humanity dating all the way back to the stone-age. Modern Levantine Archaeologists look for artifacts in countries such as Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Cyprus, Turkey, and Israel.
Since the Levant has such a long rich history, archeologists have divided up history into different periods. Some of these periods include the Paleolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Babylonian Period, Persian Period, Hellenistic Period, Roman Period, Byzantine Period, and Islamic Period. Artifacts that are found in the Levant are traced back to a particular period of history.
Levantine Archaeology originated as a study of Biblical archeology where Biblical narratives where the main focus. Some archeologists criticized the focus on Biblical texts and encouraged a more secular view of the artifacts found in the area. Much debate has gone on between Biblical archeologist and Levantine Archeologist and Classical archeologists. In fact the two groups disagreed so much that there was a clear split in the 1970. The Biblical histories are very important to the study of Levantine archeology because the events take place in the Levant. Biblical archaeologists believe in the importance of the artifacts and the documents that have been found in the area In contrast, Classical archaeologists argue that some of the artifacts and evidence that has been found does not align with Biblical histories. The division still continues today.
Levantine Archaeologists come from all over the globe including Israel, North America, Britain, France, Italy, the Arab States, and Palestine. Americans make the second largest group of archeologists in the area behind Israel.
Some of the most frequently sought after artifacts in Levantine archeology are ceramics. Archaeologists rarely find ornate pots, but are able to find small pieces of ceramic material. They are able to use this ceramic to help identify time periods.