BAR 34:06, Nov/Dec 2008
Israel’s Ethnogenesis: Settlement, Interaction, Expansion and Resistance
(Great Britain: Equinox, 2006), 289 pp. $125 (hardcover), $45 (paperback)
One of the most heated controversies in worldwide archaeology today is the question of “ethnicity,” particularly whether it can be recognized and identified in material culture remains. Even where we have texts, many scholars—heavily influenced by postmodernist claims that ethnicity is “only a social construct” (i.e., a fiction)—are skeptical.
Avraham Faust, a rapidly rising archaeological star at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, goes unabashedly against the current “politically correct” view. His stated goal is not to reconstruct the origins of the ancient Israel peoples (as I recently attempted in Who Were the Early Israelites?1), but rather to investigate the long, complex process of their “ethnogenesis,” the evolution of self-identity, using what can be called “ethnic markers.”