Industrial Furnishings at Khirbet al-‐Mudayna ath-Thamad: Clues from Egyptian Culture
P. M. Michele Daviau [+]
Wilfrid Laurier University
In our attempts to understand the economic and political relations between peoples and kingdoms in the ancient world, the location of ancient sites and the study of the evidence for their crafts and industries offer numerous insights. Excavation of town and industrial sites yields numerous tools, installations, and refuse related to specific stages of complex procedures in the processing of natural resources and manufacture of finished products. Well-preserved Egyptian tomb paintings and Assyrian wall reliefs illustrate a wide variety of tools and equipment used by ancient men and women in their daily lives. But in both of these resources, there are gaps in the kinds of activities that are represented and the full spectrum of related tools and equipment. The result is that the archaeologist may find items for which there are no known parallels from sites in their region and little correlation with neighboring cultures. Thirteen seasons of excavations at Khirbat al-Mudayna ath-Thamad have produced a number of mystery items. This paper is a study of low stone “tables” and stone supports recovered from several Iron Age buildings at the site. Such furnishings are rare at contemporary sites in the Levant and their functions have not yet been defined. A study of their distribution and the objects with which they were associated is a first step in understanding these features. Clues from Egyptian tomb paintings and finds from Egyptian houses suggest that comparable objects were furnishings used in the production of textiles. While this is a starting point, the Egyptian finds are also a challenge to our understanding of certain crafts, the status of craft specialists, and the economic implications of the products manufactured for local consumption, trade and tribute.