Sites & cities that bear the name of Shechem


Today in : Palestine, State of
First trace of activity : ca. 3,500 B.C.E
Last trace of activity : 67 C.E
Recorded names : Sakama?, Συχέμ, Šeḵem, Šəḵem, שְׁכָם‎, Sichem, Tell Balata, تل بلاطة, Flavia Neapolis

Description : Shechem , also spelled Sichem (; Hebrew: שְׁכָם / שְׁכֶם Standard Šəḵem Tiberian Šeḵem, "shoulder"), was a Canaanite city mentioned in the Amarna letters, and is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as an Israelite city of the tribe of Manasseh and the first capital of the Kingdom of Israel. Traditionally associated with Nablus, it is now identified with the nearby site of Tell Balata in Balata al-Balad in the West Bank. Shechem was a very ancient commercial center due to its position in the middle of vital trade routes through the region. A very old "Way of the Patriarchs" trade route runs in the north-south direction. The oldest settlement in Shechem goes back to about six thousand years ago, during the Chalcolithic period (4000-3500 BC). At that time agriculture was already practiced. Subsequently, during the Early Bronze Age, activity seems to have moved to the nearby area of Khirbet Makhneh el-Fauqa. Some publications claim that Shechem is mentioned in the third-millennium Ebla tablets, but this has been denied by competent archaeologists. The first substantial building activity at Shechem dates from the Middle Bronze Age IIA (c. 1900 BC). It became a very substantial Canaanite settlement, and was attacked by Egypt, as mentioned in the Sebek-khu Stele, an Egyptian stele of a noble at the court of Senusret III (c. 1880–1840 BC). In the Amarna Letters of about 1350 BC, Šakmu (i.e., Shechem) was the center of a kingdom carved out by Labaya (or Labayu), a Canaanite warlord who recruited mercenaries from among the Habiru. Labaya was the author of three Amarna letters (EA 252, EA 253, and EA 254), and his name appears in 11 of the other 382 letters, referred to 28 times, with the basic topic of the letter, being Labaya himself, and his relationship with the rebelling, countryside Habiru. Shechem may be identical to the Sakama mentioned in an account dated to the Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt (around 1200 BC). (See Papyrus Anastasi I).

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