Aram and Israel: Cultural Interaction, Political Borders and Construction of Identity during the Early Iron Age (12th–8th centuries BCE)

The Kingdom of Israel, throughout its history, was related to the Aramaeans kingdom to its north, and especially to Aram-Damascus. Constantly changing relations–from rivalry and military conflicts to alliances and military cooperation–affected the history of the whole Levant and left their marks on both Biblical and extra-Biblical sources.

Most scholars tend to view Israel within its Canaanite–Judahite context of the southern Levant, probably since the most detailed account about the Kingdom of Israel (in the Book of Kings) was composed and redacted in Jerusalem, no less than 100 years after the demise of the kingdom. However, as the extra-Biblical sources demonstrate the history of Israel was much more depended on its relations with the Aramaic world. The aim of this conference, therefore, is to discuss the place of the Kingdom of Israel within the Aramaic world, in an attempt to better understand its material culture, its history and its historical memory.

The northern Jordan valley (and its extension to the valley of Lebanon) was a border zone constantly changing. Until the Assyrian occupation in the late 8th century BCE it was mainly the border between Israel and Aram-Damascus, but earlier in the Iron Age (10th–9th centuries) at least two more Aramaean kingdoms existed there (Beth-Rehov, Geshur). The cities and towns in this region switched hands (like Dan and Hazor) and political affiliation, all the while, demonstrating different material culture in spite of their geographical vicinity (Beth-Saida compared with Hazor, Tel Kinnrot).

This conference will bring together scholars who belong to the best experts on different fields of research relating to the subject at hand. The history of Israel within the Aramaic world will be discussed in three main aspects:

  1. Archaeology and Material Culture–The main focus will be on the northern Jordan valley as a political and cultural border zone, a region of interaction between the Canaanite-Israelite world and the Aramaic world. The material culture of the region will be analyzed on spatial as well as chronological aspects in order to discuss cultural traits as against political affiliation.
  2. History of the Aramaean kingdoms –an attempt to discuss the history of Israel in its Aramaic context, specifically the formation of territorial kingdoms in the Levant.
  3. Historical Memory and Biblical Traditions–the place of the Aramaeans in the Biblical literature will be discussed as a mean to clarify the construction of Israelite and Aramaic identity in a fluid cultural region.


Prof. Manfred Oeming
Universität Heidelberg 
Wissenschaftlich-Theologisches Seminar
Kisselgasse 1
69117 Heidelberg

Tel.: +49 (0) 6221 543305



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Letzte Änderung: 23.05.2018
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