Until now problems of social complexity and the capability to move man-power in the Middle Bronze Age have been mainly discussed in the context of the enormous earthen ramparts of the large tells, in the works of scholars such as Finkelstein (1992), Bunimovitz (1992) and Burke (2004). Regional works, like those of Greenberg and Maeir, have revealed a settlement hierarchy at the top of which are the large cities. Subordinate to these were the secondary settlements, some of which were enclosed by less sophisticated fortifications, and open settlements (Greenberg 2002:81-8). The involvement of the government in the kingdom’s agricultural hinterland and in the secondary settlements was thought to be unidirectional – mainly via direct taxation, or by way of building secondary temples that were also used to conscript resources (Maeir 2003).
Small sites built on 10 dunams or less that are heavily fortified, such as Tel Poleg and nearby Ein Zuriqiya, Tel Mevorakh, Tel Qasis, Qiryat Shmona and the stronghold at Ein Tamir, raise questions regarding the extent of the central government’s control. Which of them are fortified agricultural settlements and which are fortresses that have soldiers garrisoned in them, dispatched by the rulers of the large cities? A new analysis of the finds from these settlements makes it possible to evaluate their function and reveals a picture of political and social complexity in the beginning of the second millennium BCE.