What is it about?

The construction of the Iron Age Mediterranean chronology began in the Levant, in the early 20th century, based on historical evidence, and has been additionally supported in recent decades by means of radiocarbon analysis, although with variable precision and ratification. It is only very recently that new evidence in the Aegean and the western Mediterranean has opened discussion towards its further acceptance as an appositely authoritative i.e. highly reliable, and widely applicable historiographic network. Altogether, the Mediterranean Iron Age chronology has only undergone minor changes during the last hundred years. The Phoenician metropolis of Sidon in southern Lebanon now provides a new, large and robust dataset obtained through a combination of archaeological and 14C-radiometric analysis of materials from stratified contexts that allow their statistical assessment. The appearance of substantial amounts of pottery of Greek, Cypriot and Egyptian origin together with Phoenician local wares in a long stratigraphy is a benefit for the synchronisation of regional pottery styles and allows wider geographic correlation of relative chronological systems. The close association of the archaeological data with a long series of AMS-14C-dates on short-lived samples provides new evidence for the absolute dating of many of the regional pottery styles that are represented in the stratigraphy of Sidon, and contributes towards a considerable improvement of the Mediterranean chronology.

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Why is it important?

Our archaeological and radiometric studies at Sidon challenge the conventional chronological system in Iron Age Mediterranean. The results have major implications on the reconstruction of grand historical narratives such as the Greek and Phoenician migration, the dissemination of knowledge, technology, ideology, and philosophy between the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean (e.g. alphabet, iron technology, symposion, cosmology), as well as the conceptualization of the Homeric epics and the Bible.


We hope that our analytical results will be taken as a welcome challenge to previous studies in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean, and will motivate further interdisciplinary research towards our joint understanding of Mediterranean history during the first half of the first millennium BCE, a most formative period for the world history.

Dr. Stefanos Gimatzidis
Austrian Archaeological Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences

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This page is a summary of: An interdisciplinary approach to Iron Age Mediterranean chronology through combined archaeological and 14C-radiometric evidence from Sidon, Lebanon, PLoS ONE, March 2023, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0274979.
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