UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Kingdom of Edom Danielson, Andrew


Edom appears to have had two major phases of activity during the Iron Age (1200–550 BCE). Early in the Iron Age activity and social complexity was focused in the lowland regions of the Arabah and centered in large part on the industrial exploitation of copper resources in the region. This period was marked by primarily mobile non-sedentary communities, and as such, lacks substantial textual or settlement data. This entry focusses on the second major phase of Edom, dated to the late Iron Age (ca. 750–550 BCE), where there is substantially more robust data. At this time Edom was centered in the highlands of southern Transjordan around a series of small settlements and agricultural villages, dominated by its foremost city of Busayra. The region yet retained a large mobile pastoral component. Substantial textual sources for this region are lacking, so much of the relevant data derives from short inscriptions and archaeological data. Similarities in lifeways, social structures, etc., between Edom and its neighbors to the north and west (Moab, Ammon, Judah), allows for relevant comparisons and extrapolations to be made, particularly concerning religious practices. Similar to the other Iron Age polities of the southern Levant, many gods are attested in Edom, though the deity Qos (Qaus/Qws) appears to have served as the foremost deity of the land, its populace, and of the ruling elite of Edom. Qos appears to have functioned as a local variant of the “storm god” and/or “divine warrior” type. Knowledge of Qos is primarily restricted to short inscriptions and names. Evidence for religious practices (to Qos and other deities) can be found in individual homes, at poorly understood regional ritual sites, at several shrines (Horvat Qitmit and En Hazeva) and in a large temple complex at Busayra that likely centered on the worship of Qos and presumably a consort.

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