Margreet L. Steiner, Ann E. Killebrew (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Levant c. 8000-332 BCE. Oxford handbooks in archaeology. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. Pp. xxi, 885. ISBN 9780199212972. $175.00.Excerpt:
Reviewed by Thomas Kiely, British Museum (TKiely@britishmuseum.org
So, cui bono? It is unfortunate to conclude that this is not really a handbook in any meaningful sense, that the uneven and at times neglectful treatment of material culture in some sections is disappointing, and that the volume is more of a vast and at times somewhat unprincipled compendium (though of often very good scholarship). This is regrettable because, apart from the qualities of the individual contributions in the diachronic or thematic sections, such as Gzella on peoples and languages (chapter 2) and Sharon on the complexities of chronology (chapter 4), some of the period clusters fit at least together quite nicely, even if the authors do not explicitly cross-reference their neighbours. Likewise, the commentators on the individual sections generally do an excellent job in making overall sense of the theme. Perhaps had the publishers invested more in the basic presentation of the book and given the authors—and perhaps editors—far more scope for better visualizing the masses of data cited, they would have provided a better investment for the punter.