Taygete Atlantis: Excavation Blogs (Antiquity)

http://planet.atlantides.org/taygete

Tom Elliott (tom.elliott@nyu.edu)

This feed aggregator is part of the Planet Atlantides constellation. Its current content is available in multiple webfeed formats, including Atom, RSS/RDF and RSS 1.0. The subscription list is also available in OPML and as a FOAF Roll. All content is assumed to be the intellectual property of the originators unless they indicate otherwise.

November 19, 2018

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Worldwide Premiere of Bruno’s “Tel Burna – Day on a Dig”

Check out Bruno’s excellent video (with narration by Eric Cline) that he filmed, produced, wrote, etc. related to the 2018 season at Tel Burna for this year’s ASOR conference. Well done Bruno! You can also subscribe to his channel here. As we are hoping that Bruno will continue to add more to his growing “assemblage” of films – we have a new tab for videos related to the site. 

November 16, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

MOOC on Biblical Archaeology – registration is open!

As previously noted, a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) by Aren entitled: “Biblical Archaeology: The Archaeology of Ancient Israel and Judah” is about to go online thru the EdX platform. The course is planned to start on December 5th, 2018.

As of this week, the registration for the course has opened! So those interested in taking this course (for free if one audits it), you can register for the course right now! Here is the link.

Try it out!

Aren

November 08, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

It’s out!

Thanks to the editors – who worked very hard on this, and to all the contributors, for putting together this beautiful volume – the festschrift in honor of my 60th birthday!

Check out the TOC – very impressive!!! WOW :-)

AeAT-90-FS-Maeir-Cover-fuer-Homepage-NEU_ml

Workshop on Palace-Clan relations in the ancient near east – 12-13 December 2018

The Minerva Center for the Relations between Israel and Aram in Biblical Times will conduct a research colloquium on “Palace-Clan Relations in their Ancient Near Eastern Context” will be held on the 12–13 November 2018, at the Universität Leipzig, Campus Augustusplatz in the Neues Seminargebäude, Room S 203

Here is the schedule:

Monday, November 12th

14.00 Gathering, Coffee and Refreshments

14.30 Greetings and Introduction, Angelika Berlejung, Aren Maeir, Omer Sergi.

15.00 First Session: Palace-Clan Relations in Second and First Millennium BCE Mesopotamia

Brit Kärger, Universität Göttingen, Threats, Manslaughter and Gifts: Some Aspects of Political Control in the Kingdom of Mari in 2nd Millennium B.C.

Jacob Jan de-Ridder, Universität Leipzig, Family Companies and the Palace in Kültepe

16.30 Coffee Break

17.00 First Session – Continuation

Aaron Schmitt, Universität Mainz, Kinship and Palace-Clan Relations in Assyria during the Middle and Neo-Assyrian Periods: The Stela Site at Assur as a Case Study

19.00 Dinner

Tuesday, November 13th

08.45 Gathering

09.00 Second Session: Palace-Clan Relations in Judah and in Israel

Aren Maeir, Bar-Ilan University, Palace-Clan Relations in Iron Age Judah: What do we know? What can we assume?

Hannes Bezzel, Universität Jena, Beth Saul–Beth David–Beth Judah–Beth Israel: A Bipolar, Triangular or Quadrangular Relationship?

10.30 Coffee Break

11.00 Second Session – Continuation

Henrik Pfeifer, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, The Story of Ehud and the ‘Book of Saviors’

Assaf Kleiman, Tel Aviv University, Storage Jars, Inscriptions and Stamp Impressions: An Archaeological Perspective on Palace-Clan Relations in the Kingdom of Israel.

12.30 Lunch Break

14.00 Third Session: Archaeological and Historical Test Case in the Jezreel Valley, Israel

Karen Covallo-Paran, Israel Antiquities Authority, Ḥorvat Tevet in the Jezreel Valley as a Test Case for Palace-Clan Relations in Omride Israel.

Omer Sergi, Tel Aviv University, Palace Clan Relations in the Kingdom of Israel and the Case of the Tribe of Issachar.

15.30 Coffee Break

16.00 Concluding Discussion

Workshop on votive offering in the Bronze and Iron Ages – Dec. 19, 2018

On December 19, 2018, the Minerva Center for the Relations between Israel and Aram in Biblical Times will conduct a workshop on votive objects in the the Late Bronze and Iron Age Levant.

Here are the details of the workshop:

“Votive offerings in Ancient Israel, Aram and Surrounding Cultures”

The workshop will be held on Wednesday, December 19, 2018, at the Laboratory of the Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project and the RIAB Minerva Center, located in the basement of the Judaic Studies Faculty Building (#410), Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan.

Schedule:

8:00-8:30           Gathering and refreshments

8:30-9:15           Angelika Berlejung (Leipzig) – “Gifts for life”: Votive offerings in Ancient Israel

9:15-10:00         Itzik Shai (Ariel) – Canaanite Votive Gifts and their Importance within their context at Tel Burna

10:00-10:30       Refreshments

10:30-11:15       Shua Kisilevitz (IAA and TAU) – What’s the Cache? Cultic Vessels and Figurines from the Temple at Moẓa

11:15-12:00       Maria Eniukhina (BIU) – Votive objects from the Iron Age I/IIA Temple in Area D, in the lower city of Tell es-Safi/Gath.

12:00-13:00       Lunch for presenters

November 07, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Behind the Scenes of the OT volume

Two days ago, I received a nice surprise in the mail – my copy of:

Greer, J. S., Hilber, J. W., and Walton, J. H., eds. 2018. Behind the Scenes of the Old Testament: Cultural, Social and Historical Contexts. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

The volume has a large collection of chapters on a broad range of issues relating to the study of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, by a very long and impressive list of scholars.

It will take quite a while to read through the contributions, but it looks like a very nice volume! Thanks to the editors for putting this together!

My contribution was on the archaeology of the Iron I:

Maeir, A. M. 2018. The Archaeology of the Iron Age I. Pp. 54–61 in Behind the Scenes of the Old Testament: Cultural, Social and Historical Contexts, eds. J. S. Greer, J. W. Hilber and J. H. Walton. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Here’s a picture of the cover:

November 04, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

The beginning of the end of an era – covering over areas on Tell es-Safi/Gath!

I guess you can look at this as the beginning of the end of an era – close to a quarter of a century of the Bar-Ilan University excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath!

While (have no fear!) we do have a few more years to go on the project (both in the field and working on research and publications) – today, a serious step towards wrapping up the project officially began!

In coordination with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Israel Antiquities Authority, several of the excavation areas on the tell, areas that we have finished excavating and will not be conserved and developed for visitors – are going to be covered over.

This includes, as of now: the western part of Area D West in the lower city; Area J with a section of the EB fortifications on the eastern slope of the upper tell; Area E with the EB neighborhood on the eastern side of the upper tell; and Area P with EB and LB finds.

In the future, additional areas will be covered over as well. The main reason for this is to protect the remains – and protect the site from excessive erosion. The method of covering over is rather simple: Excavation areas are covered with “geotech” tarpaulins; then, you spread a few plastic bottles in each square – something that we more or less stay for ever; and then you fill in the squares, up to surface, using a tractor, with sediments – taken from the excavation dumps that we made during the excavations.

This way, if someone will ever decide to re-excavate these areas, it will be easy to identify the squares already excavated – and the levels at which the excavations has stopped.

Here’s a couple of pictures from the first day of work in Area D West:

 

 

 

 

 

November 03, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

New article by Itzik and Aren on the Administrative structure of the Judahite Kingdom

A new article, by Itzik Shai and me, has just been published.

This in fact is an updated and slightly expanded version, in Hebrew (but with an English abstract), of a previously published study, which appeared in the Festschrift in honor of Yossi Garfinkel (see: Maeir, A. M., and Shai, I. 2016. Reassessing the Character of the Judahite Kingdom: Archaeological Evidence for Non-Centralized, Kinship-Based Components. Pp. 323–40 in From Sha‘Ar Hagolan to Shaaraim: Essays in Honor of Prof. Yosef Garfinkel, eds. S. Ganor, I. Kreimerman, K. Streit and M. Mumcouglu. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society – a PDF of this can be found here).

The full title of the new article is:

Shai, I., and Maeir. A. 2018 Reassessing the Character of the Judahite Centralized Kingdom: An Updated Archaeological View (In Hebrew with English abstract). In the Highlands Depth 8: 29–45, 45* (once again, the link to this just-published article can be found here).

 

November 01, 2018

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Lecture by Itzick at South Florida Bible College on Nov. 13th

Come check out Itzick’s lecture at South Florida Bible College on Nov. 13th.

Reliving Bible Times: A View from Tel Burna Where Past and Present Meet

We are happy also to announce that registration for the 2019 season is officially open!

The registration form can be accessed here. The online application can be accessed here.

October 26, 2018

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Promotion for Prof. Ladislav Šmejda

Kudos to Ladislav for his promotion to Professor! Well-deserved!

 

October 25, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Preparing 3D models of objects from the IMJ – for the biblical archaeology MOOC

As part of the preparations for the MOOC on Biblical Archaeology, yesterday, Maria, Vanessa and Aren went to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem to take photos of objects in the museum. These photos will be used to create 3D models of these objects.

These and other 3D models of archaeological objects will be used in the MOOC course. Since many students of this online course can’t physically touch the actual objects, these 3D models will enable them to virtually touch the objects, and get a feeling of what they look like from all sides!

Should be really nice!

Here are some pictures of the work at the Museum. Thanks to Maria and Vanessa for the photography and creating the models, and the museum staff for being so helpful!

Here are some pictures that I took yesterday of the work in progress:

 

October 21, 2018

Lapis Gabinus: official blog of the Gabii Project

A Season Well Excavated



This past summer the Gabii Project was happy to welcome 77 team members, representing 20 schools and 7 countries. After ten years of excavation we are still gaining new insights to ancient Gabii and are dedicated to sharing the results of our season with the academic community through our publications and the general public through more informal posts, like our blog.

Photo model of an auxiliary room in Area I
Area I continued to excavate the same building from 2017, attempting to finish work in the eastern section of the structure and extending the trench further west to investigate new walls. The building was standing by the early Imperial period, with some evidence for earlier walls and floors. Mosaic pavements were found in multiple rooms, but the best preserved examples come from two room in the north east of the complex which remain almost entirely intact. Both rooms were paved at the same time and feature black and white geometric designs with circular and rhomboid patterns. This floor decoration was also present, albeit more fragmentarily, in the large central courtyard of the building. Sparse patches of mosaic are present in multiple corners of the room, indicating that it was all paved at one point. At the center of this courtyard there is a chalky, waterproof feature, possibly an impluvium. To the north of the courtyard is another large room with evidence of revetment and a few fragments of decorative marble attached to the socle. The wide entrance into this room, the evidence for decoration, and position of importance relative to the rest of the building indicates that this may have served as an entertainment space.
After the third century BC there is evidence of reorganization. Spaces within the building are blocked off, doorways are closed, and new walls were built to further separate spaces. Most of the rooms contained heavy deposits of post abandonment fill. One long hallway, at the northernmost point of the structure, held fragments of figural wall plaster, pieces of marble, and a small lead and bronze figurine head. It is unclear if these waste materials were taken from the Area I structure and deposited in this out of the way space, or if they belonged to some other building nearby.

Audrey Pierce (U Michigan) reveals beautiful basalt pavers.
In Areas G and H the Gabii team further investigated the road networks of Gabii. Area G focused on a side road extending north from the Via Gabina. Over the course of the season, multiple levels of paving were uncovered: a late Republican basalt paving, an Imperial basalt road, and at least five gravel roads all dating to after the mid to late fifth century C.E. The longevity of this road shows that this route remained an important connector for Gabii even as the functions for different sectors of the town changed. The earliest roads were probably related to accessing the quarries located to the north of the Via Gabina. Later iterations of the road connected southern parts of Gabii with the imperial cemetery in Area B. While none of the Imperial Via Gabina was removed, a large cut feature just to the south of the road allowed us to see a cross-section of the road’s construction including an earlier paving of the road – perhaps form the Republican period –  that may be further examined in future seasons.

Field Assistant Emily Sharp excavating
one of the many post holes in Area C
The excavation’s third trench, Area C, contain the oldest material excavated this summer by the Gabii Project. More of the Latial hut complex was uncovered, including a feature built of stone, wattle and daub that possibly served as a boundary wall around the elite hut complex. Towards the end of the season, two infant burials were discovered within the limits of the compound. Both tombs included remains of an individual under two years in age and an assortment of ceramic and metal grave goods. These graves are suggest that the inhabitants associated with them were of elite status; previous graves from Area C were much less elaborate and modest. Area C hopes to expand their excavation area next year in order to continue delimiting the boundary of this early Gabine hut complex.

Outside of the field, our finds team processed a lot of material (stay tuned for numbers). Storage continues to be a perennial issue, as with all sites that practice comprehensive collection, and the finds team consolidated and more closely examined previous excavation material to free up space. The environmental team continued their blanket sampling of Area C material and also got exciting radiocarbon dates for some of the Area D features. Our topography team dutifully responded to numerous calls to shoot in stratigraphic units, created photo models, and made sure that all of our equipment functioned smoothly, even in the difficult conditions they were exposed to in the field. Paperless recording continues to be a success, allowing for all members of the excavation team to have access to updated data both in the field and back in Rome for after-site work.
Finds
Enviro



Over the weekends our Project members got to adventure throughout the Italian peninsula, visiting major cities, many archaeological sites, and even making it to San Marino (sadly no passports were stamped on that visit). Pompeii offered a major photo op for our students, although we question just how tired they were when the decided to spell out Gabii, at another, slightly more famous, archaeological site. Within the city of Rome, staff
Weekend visit to the Villa Giulia
members Andrew Johnston, Laura Banducci, and Troy Samuels offered special guided tours of the Roman Forum and Villa Giulia Museum. One of the final summer highlights was the Capitoline Museum’s special exhibit “The Rome of King’s” featuring material excavated by one of the University of Michigan’s other projects from Sant’Omobono. Students also had a good time getting to live in Rome and explore their summer neighborhood of Trastevere. Evening musical performances in Piazza Trulissa, the quest for the best spritz, and frequent visits to the newly opened gelataria down the block from the apartments (Giuffre) were some of the highlights of daily life in Rome. While we were sad to close the books on another season in the field, there is still much work to be done back in the states by the excavation team in preparation for 2019.

October 19, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Great one day mini-season in Area M!

Yesterday (Oct. 18, 2018) we were out for a one day mini-season in Area M – and it was great! Part of the Safi lab staff and a bunch of BIU students went out for a day of excavations in Area M, in the lower city (Maria’s area), to take down a balk filled with pottery, that was left standing after the season. We were afraid that if it was left open until the summer, people might poke at it and destroy it.

It was a great day! Not only did we have great weather, the team was excellent, and there were some really nice finds! This includes a whole bunch of restorable vessels, and always fun – 3 whole juglets (including one Black-on-Red, “Cypro-Phoenician” juglet)!

In addition, I walked around a looked at the other areas in the lower city – and they look happy!

Here are some pictures from the day, both of the work in Area M, views of the other areas, a view of the tell from the north, and of course, a group photo of the team at the end of the day!

 

October 17, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

New article by Daniel Pioske on Philistine Gath in the Book of Samuel

Daniel Pioske (Georgia Southern University), has been kind enough to pass on to me a very interesting article that he just published on the Gath of the Philistines in the Book of Samuel. Well worth reading!

The details of the article are:

Pioske, D. 2018. Material Culture and Making Visible: On the Portrayal of Philistine Gath in the Book of Samuel. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 43(1): 3–27.

Check it out!

New paper on all the donkey burials in the EB in Area E at Tell es-Safi/Gath

A new – and very interesting – paper has just appeared that deals with the very impressive collection of donkey burials/sacrifices that were found below domestic floors in the EB levels in Area E at Tell es-Safi/Gath.

Here are the full details of the paper:

Greenfield, H. J., Greenfield, T. L., Shai, I., Albaz, S., and Maeir, A. M. 2018. Household Rituals and Sacrificial Donkeys: Why Are There So Many Domestic Donkeys Buried in an Early Bronze Age Neighborhood at Tell eṣ-Ṣâfi/Gath? Near Eastern Archaeology 81(3): 202–11.

Check it out here!

Aren

October 12, 2018

Calixtlahuaca Archaeological Project

House Abandonment and Destruction


We’ve previously talked about the amount of burned daub we found at Calixtlahuaca, and how it was probably related to the intentional destruction of houses there. Based on experimental work, it’s unlikely to get that much of a house burning at a high enough temperature to fire the clay of the walls without an intentional effort (Karabowicz 2009). However, that still leaves several different options for why the houses at Calixtlahuaca burned, and who did the burning.

Our first thought was that the houses had been burned during the Aztec conquest of the site. The standard Mesoamerican glyph for the conquest of a town is a drawing of a burning temple. Later, when we realized that some of the burned structures were from excavations that also included Colonial period figurines, I thought that they might have been burned when the residents of Calixtlahuaca were moved into Toluca as part of the process of congregación. People were sometimes required to burn their houses behind them when they were moved, to prevent them from going back to their old village. Another option is that people regularly burned their own houses, either through accidental kitchen fires, or intentionally, as a way to control insects and rodents. 

The depiction of the Aztec conquest of Toluca in the Codex Mendoza, showing the burning-temple glyph

A couple of ways of separating these hypotheses are to look at the timing of the burning, and the degree of primary refuse left behind (Cameron and Tomka 1993; Inomata and Webb 2003). First, do all of the burned structures date to a single phase? If they do, this would suggest that they were burned as part of an event affecting the whole site, such as the Aztec conquest or the Spanish congregación policy. In fact, the three most severely burned structures at the site (in Units 315, 316, and 317) each dates to a different phase, which means that house burning was an ongoing activity throughout the site’s history. Second, how cleaned out were the houses before they burned? If burning is a planned, scheduled activity (such as for pest control, or congregación), people have time to remove all of their things from the house beforehand and there won’t be many artifacts left on the floor. In contrast, if the burning is unexpected (such as for conquest, or an accidental fire), the contents of the house are likely to burn with it and many of them may not be salvageable after the fire. One of the things we noticed during excavation at Calixtlahuaca was how few artifacts were found on floors, or in other primary contexts. Compared to many other projects, we found few whole or reconstructable pots (only 32), and only one of those, Vessel 2, was found on a floor, rather than in a burial or broken in a trash pit. Taken together, these two lines of evidence would suggest intentional, regular, planning burning, likely by the occupants of the houses themselves.

Vessel 2, a locally-produced version of Aztec Orangeware, found on the floor of the house in Unit 309


References:

Cameron, Catherine M. and Steve A. Tomka (editors)
                1993       Abandonment of Settlement and Regions: Ethnoarchaeological and Archaeological Approaches. Cambridge University Press, New York.

Inomata, Takeshi and Ronald W. Webb
                2003       Archaeological Studies of Abandonment in Middle America. . In The Archaeology of Settlement Abandonment in Middle America, edited by T. Inomata and R. W. Webb, pp. 1-12. Foundations in Archaeological Inquiry, J. M. Skibo, general editor. The University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.

Karabowicz, Amy
                2009       Wattle and Daub Architecture at Calixtlahuaca, Mexico: Experimental Analyses and a Comparative Study with Europe. Senior Honors Thesis, Barrett Honor's College, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ.


October 11, 2018

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Newly Restored Vessels – from early 10th century BCE

Check out these newly restored vessels (by Leah – way to go) – a storage jar and a one-handled jug from the destruction layer in Area B2 (supervisor – Aharon Tavger). We had lots of these come out this summer – it is great to see the fruit of so many labors 🙂 And this is only the beginning – much more to come in the B2 assemblage.

October 09, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Long-range trade with the Levant – another perspective

I’m just finishing a fascinating trip to Singapore, where I gave several lectures on archaeology (including to the Singapore Bible College and the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society). During my stay, I managed to tour around many of the beautiful sites in this small state – which is highly recommended for a very interesting visit.

Among other places, I visited the superb Asian Civilizations Museum (highly recommended!). One of the star exhibits at the museum are the finds from a shipwreck, dating to the 9th century CE – known as the Tang Shipwreck. This is the wreck of a ship that first set sail from the Persian Gulf, during the time of Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad, en route to Tang Period China, and then, on the way back, after loading up a cargo of mainly Chinese ceramics, made its way back towards the Persian Gulf. But when it was passing thru the Java Sea, east of Sumatra, it sank.

Excavations of the wreck produced an extraordinary collection of well-preserved finds, the vast majority being Chinese ceramics of various kinds, including 60,000 (!!!) identical bowls that were tightly packed in larger ceramic jars  (see pictures below).

Among the various finds there was also evidence of the multi-ethnic character of the crew, which included sailors from the Levant as well as from Eastern and South-Eastern Asia.

I purchased a copy of the very nice catalogue (see a picture of the cover below), beautifully illustrated with many very interesting chapters of a broad range of topics relating to the ship, the related cultures and the period.

While dealing with periods and cultures that are not often discussed on this blog, the uniqueness of the finds, the very nice evidence of long-term trade, and very attractive exhibit, warrant their mention!

And while in early periods there is no evidence of such extensive finds from the east in the Levant, the possible evidence of the trade in Cinnamon, found in Iron Age contexts, indicates that long-range trade of such distances, did already exist in earlier periods as well.

Aren

 

October 08, 2018

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Jane C. Waldbaum Archaeological Field School Scholarship

Here is the announcement for the Jane C. Waldbaum Archaeological Field School Scholarship for undergraduates. The deadline is March 1 – never too early to start thinking of excavating an Iron Age Gate, a 10th-century destruction layer, and an 8th-century house from the Kingdom of Judah… 🙂

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The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Online registration for the 2019 season is open!

Great news. All of you who are waiting, breathlessly, to register for the 2019 season at Tell es-Safi/Gath (June 23-July 19, 2019) – the online registration is open!

Go here to sign up – first comes, first served. Places are limited, so do try and sign up as soon as possible.

Looking forward to seeing this summer at Tell es-Safi/Gath – for an exciting, fulfilling and enriching season of excavations!

Aren

October 03, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Safi staff dinner at the end of the 2018 season

Jeff Chadwick was kind enough to pass on to me a great picture of the very nice dinner that the staff (or at least most of them…) of the 2018 season at Tell es-Safi/Gath had, towards the end of the season, at the sushi restaurant near the “Kastina Junction” right next to the town of Kiryat Malakhi.

The food was good – the company even better! :-)

September 20, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Chris Jones writes about his experiences at Safi

Christopher (Chris) Jones has written a great piece (for an ASOR Fellowship report) on his experiences at Safi, first in 2015-2016 as a student volunteer (in Area A), and then in 2017 as a square supervisor (in Area K).

Very nice – check it out!

Way to go Chris!

Here’s a picture of Chris holding a bulla that was found in the 2016 season:

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Funding Opportunity

Recently, a couple of funding opportunities were announced that may be of interest.

Lewis and Clark Fund

Franklin Research Grants

September 16, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Updated trailer for Biblical Archaeology MOOC

A slightly updated version of the trailer for the Biblical Archaeology MOOC (massive open online course) has been put online. Check it out.

Do note – registration for the course will commence in a few weeks, once the course website is online on the EdX platform. The course itself will commence in early December 2018.

September 14, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Trailer for MOOC on the archaeology of Iron Age Israel and Judah

Check out the absolutely fantastic trailer for my MOOC (massive open online course) “Biblical Archaeology: The archaeology of Ancient Israel and Judah,” which will be online from early December 2018 on the EdX platform.

Check it out – and pass the word on to friends, colleagues and students – to sign up for the course as soon as registration is open!

September 07, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Safi excavations on program about Rosh Hashana

This summer, we had the pleasure of hosting a visit to the dig of a film crew, led by Shaanan Street (see here) in which they interviewed me about archaeology, and in particular, as the show’s theme was the new year (for Rosh Hashana), about what archaeology means today for us, and how we see ourselves being created through the meaning of what we find in archaeology.

So the show is now online (in Hebrew…) and it came out very nice. The section on Safi starts at minute 5:00.

September 06, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Upcoming meeting on ancient Jerusalem

The 12th annual conference “New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and its Vicinity” will be held on Wednesday-Thursday, October 10-11, 2018, at the Israel Museum and the Hebrew University.

See below the program in English (in JPG and PDF form) although note that most lectures will be in Hebrew.

I’ll be serving as a chair and respondent of one of the sessions on Thursday.

Aren

New Studies Jerusalem 2018 program English

September 03, 2018

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

FREE SEMINAR ON FRIDAY, SEPT. 14 “Recent Evidence for Israel’s United Kingdom” LANIER THEOLOGICAL LIBRARY

Next week, I will be participating in a conference dealing with the United Monarchy (Dr. Steve Ortiz is also a presenter) at the Lanier Theological Library in Houston Texas.

You can read more about the conference and register here (it’s free).

August 30, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

First Summary – 2018 season

The 2018 Season of Excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath: A First Summary

Aren M. Maeir

Bar-Ilan University

 

Introduction:

This year’s season of excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath was conducted from June 26 to July 20, 2018. It was the 22nd season of the project and the 21st season of excavation. The team was comprised of archaeologists, students and volunteers from all over the world, including groups from Bar-Ilan University, Brigham Young University, Colorado Christian University, University of Melbourne, University of Northern Colorado and Yeshiva University. The excavation staff included: Aren Maeir (director), Jeff Chadwick (field director, Area D East), Jill Katz (field director, Area Y), Maria Enukhina (field director, Area M; photographer), Vanessa Workman (field director, Area D West), Bracha Soibelman (registrar and team coordinator), Rotem Liran (logistics), Ron Lev and Liora Horwitz (archaeozoology), Sue Frumin (archaeobotany), Andrew Creekmore (Remote Sensing), Adi Eliyahu (materials science) and (in alphabetical order) Michael Aeschlimann, Brent Davis, David Kotter, Gemma Lee, Alice McInnes, Eitan Meir, Seth Rodriquez, Shemtov Sasson, Nohar Shahar, Nati Orbach (area supervisors and assistant supervisors). The team stayed at the Zafit Regional School at Kibbutz Kfar Menahem.

In contrast to previous seasons of excavation in which we had always excavated in various areas in the “upper city” (and areas in the “lower city”), this season was the first season in which we only excavated in the lower city. As the project is now nearing its 25th anniversary, and is close to completion of field work, for the next few years, we will concentrate most of our efforts on the study of the lower city. While clearly, there is still much potential for the study of the archaeological remains in the upper city, we believe that what we have revealed over the last 2 decades provides a nice cross section of the cultural history of the upper city throughout its major phases of occupation. In depth, further study of the upper city will have to await new projects on the site, sometime in the future.

The reason that we have chosen to focus on the lower city is the fact that over the last decade, in the extensive excavations in Area D, and more recently in Areas K and K2, well-preserved remains of the Iron Age were discovered, immediately below surface, in various parts of the lower city. In addition to this, based on aerial and terrestrial photos from the first half of the 20th cent CE, as well as from the archaeological evidence from the survey and excavations, it appears that the lower city was hardly settled in modern times, and apparently, for the most part, was never substantially settled after the Iron Age IIA destruction of the city by Hazael, King of Aram Damascus, ca. 830 BCE.

This picture was further strengthened through remote sensing conducted in the lower city during the 2017 season. Following an extensive magnetometry survey conducted by Andrew Creekmore and his team, it was quite clear that there were many potential areas for further excavation (most likely of Iron Age dating based on their orientation) in various parts of the lower city.

All this indicated the very high potential, that a combination of excavations and remote sensing of various kinds, might enable us to understand the urban plan of and extensive portion of the lower city of Gath during the Iron Age, something that is rarely available in other large Iron Age cities in the Southern Levant.

With this backdrop, the objectives of the 2018 season were set as follows:

  • Define two new areas of excavation in the eastern portions of the lower city, based on several promising “anomalies” that could be seen in the magnetometry survey, to “ground truth” a sampling of the remote sensing survey.
  • Continue excavation in Area D East, to further define and understand the fortifications and apparent gate found in previous seasons in this area. Particular focus would be placed on confirming that in fact there was a gate, understand how it functioned, and more clearly define the architectural and stratigraphic sequence in this area.
  • Conduct small scale stratigraphic probes in Area D West, in the portion of this area where a metallurgical production zone was located in previous seasons. The aim was to define the borders of the metallurgical activity, and better define the stratigraphic and contextual sequence below it.

Results of the 2018 Season:

Area D West (supervisor V. Workman): Excavations in this area were limited to several small stratigraphic probes that were conducted in and around the metallurgical production zone that had been discovered in previous seasons. In addition to defining the phasing of several of the architectural features in this area, the stratigraphic phasing in this location was rechecked. A very interesting result relates to the dating of the metallurgical activities. Up until now, all evidence of these activities came from Stratum D3, the stratum destroyed in the “Hazael destruction” of ca. 830 BCE. And in fact, for the most part, this was the stratigraphic picture this season as well. But in one of the probes, portions of a crucible was found in stratigraphic layer below Stratum D3, most probably Stratum D4. This may very well indicate that the metallurgical activities commenced earlier. This in fact makes sense as it seems likely that the Stratum D3 metallurgical activities are connected to the cultic activities and temple situation to the west. As these cultic activities are seen in the earlier Strata D4 and D5, earlier metallurgical activities would fit in very well with this.

Area D East (supervisor J. Chadwick):

Excavations in Area D-East in 2016 and 2017 suggested that a gateway existed in the gully running from the tell to the stream bed. In 2018, the gate area was defined and identified. Additionally, the stone foundation of the Iron Age city wall was identified, as well as several rooms inside the wall line. Dramatic evidence of defensive actions taken by the inhabitants of Gath during the Aramean siege of the 9th century BCE was also discovered.

 

The segment of the Iron Age city wall excavated was some 14 meters long, and evidently continues eastward into unexcavated squares. Ceramics recovered from surviving portions of the brick superstructure of the wall suggest that it was built during the 10th century BCE, during early Iron Age IIA. At the west end of the excavated city wall length, a protruding gate pier foundation was identified. This northern gate pier was oriented on a slightly inward angle from the line of the city wall, and was built atop the foundation of an earlier north-south fortification wall which has not yet been securely dated. Access into the city through this gateway apparently involved walking up from the streambed, up the gully southward, along the earlier fortification line, and then turning sharply left (south-eastward) to enter the gateway opening. A small court or plaza seems to have existed inside the gateway, flanked by domestic structures which abutted the city wall’s inner face line. This gateway does not seem to have been the main gateway into the lower city, and probably served as the “water gate.”

 

A fortification tower with two interior rooms was built against the outside of the Iron Age city wall, just east of the north gate pier, sometime after the city wall itself had been initially erected. That this two-room tower was a later addition to the fortifications seems clear since its stone foundation extended higher than the outside line of the city wall foundation, and its stonework was not integrated into the stonework of the city wall foundation itself. The tower’s construction is dated to later Iron Age IIA, in the 9th century BCE. The tower seems to have been built to enhance the protection of the city wall and gateway at this vulnerable location where the gateway gully met the streambed. An earlier north-south stretch of fortifications, built of very large stones, over which the northern gate pier was erected, is provisionally dated to Iron Age I. The Iron Age I/II (or early Iron Age IIA) city wall system seems to have been built to enhance and strengthen the earlier fortification system in this area along the stream bed. It may be that the gateway in this area was previously in use as an entry in the earlier fortification scheme.

 

During later Iron Age IIA, presumably during the late 9th century BCE Aramean siege of Gath, the gateway was closed in from the inside. Rooms south and east of the gateway, along the inside of the city wall line, were also filled with grey, ashy soil containing great amounts of LB and Iron I pottery sherds. These deep fills, which may have utilized soil from old LB/Iron I garbage dumps in the lower city, appear to have been a desperate effort to buffer and fortify the inside of the city wall line against siege breach efforts of the Aramean attackers.

 

Area M (supervisor M. Enuikhina):

The excavations in this area, situated in the eastern side of the lower city, were commenced this season, based on a series of linear anomalies, oriented east-west, north-south, seemingly looking like structures and roads, which were seen in the magnetometry conducted in the 2017 season. The excavations were aimed to “ground truth” the remote sensing.

Four squares were opened in this area with fantastic results. Mere centimeters below surface, rich remains of the “Hazael Destruction layer” were discovered. In all four squares, architectural remains of rooms filled with more than a half meter thick deposit of this destruction level, with scores of ceramic vessels (mostly smashed, but quite a few still whole). These vessels included a broad range of types, including small and large storage vessels, cooking and serving vessels, cultic related vessels (chalices), as well as vessels relating to various other functions.

Of particular interest were the two rounded stone basins discovered in two of the squares, very similar to stone basins previously found in Areas A and K. Most likely, these installations are olive presses, and perhaps serve as evidence of the importance of olive oil production in Iron IIA Gath. This is of importance as previously, some have suggested that olive oil production only commenced in Philistia in the 8th and 7th century BCE, centered at Philistine Ekron, and connected to the Neo-Assyrian Empire. If we are correct in the identification of these installations, it appears that olive oil production in Philistia was already important, at least as early as the Iron IIA (and perhaps earlier as well). It may very well be that the production and trade in olive oil was one of the economic strengths of Iron IIA Gath. And just as it has been suggested that Gath had a major role in the copper trade during this period, perhaps olive oil should be figured in as well.

Among the special finds from this season in Area M, several can be noted: a large jar that most of its body was covered in drilled holes – similar to several other jars found in Areas D and K in previous seasons; a chalice bowl with an application of an animal on its rim; and a complete, unbroken jar that was found in the last hour of the last day of excavation.

Further work in Area M will aim, inter alia, to expand excavations to understand the architectural contexts of these rooms, and to understand the function of the stone basins. In addition, we hope to be able to see whether additional features can be detected in the remote sensing, to enable to define more of these stone basins and related features, whether through excavation or only through remote sensing.

Area Y (supervisor J. Katz):

The excavations in this area, situated in the eastern side of the lower city, were likewise commenced this season, based on a series of five square shaped anomalies seen in the magnetometry, oriented NE-SW, seemingly looking like rooms or installations that had been exposed to high temperatures. As in Area M, the excavations here were aimed to “ground truth” the remote sensing.

To a large extent, the results in Area Y were quite surprising. As opposed to all other areas that so far have been excavated in the lower city (Areas D West, D East, K, K2 and M) where the Iron IIA remains were immediately below surface, in Area Y, Iron Age I remains were discovered immediately below the mixed upper sediments containing finds from modern through the Iron Age.

In fact, a large structure, built of thick brick walls were discovered in all the five squares that were excavated. In addition to this, three of anomalies seen in the remote sensing were excavated as well, and they were concentrations of burnt bricks. One these concentrations, on the NE excavated square was of particular interest. Here, a built installation with a seemingly gabled roof made of burnt bricks was discovered. This installation’s function is not clear. While reminiscent of pottery kilns, the finds associated with this structure have so far not provided a clear indication of its function. Whatever its function was, large concentrations of burnt bricks were found in its vicinity as well, including in a pit dug on its SE side. Extensive samples were taken from this feature and its surroundings, and hopefully, the results of their analyses (by A. Behar) will help clarify this installation’s functions.

On the southern side of Area Y, another interesting feature was discovered. Here, an extensive area (major portions of two squares) with layers of chalky material was discovered, seemingly laid out in purposeful manner. These chalk layers, apparently deriving from the nearby chalk cliffs of the upper tell, might have been part of a production process of building materials. In other areas of the excavation, and in many periods, building materials made from this chalk material have been discovered, including used as a plaster like material, within roofing and mudbricks and other features. Perhaps, these or similar construction-related materials were produced at this location.

An important characteristic of Area Y was the very poor preservation of artifacts in general. While there was sufficient pottery to date the features, in general, there was very little pottery, bones and other materials.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of Area Y is the Iron I dating of the features that were discovered very close to surface. This is quite different from all other excavation areas in the lower city, including Areas K and M which are only a few score meters away (to the east and south). In addition, the orientation of the architecture in Area Y is completely different from the Iron II architecture in other parts of the lower city. The finds in Area Y indicate that already during the Iron I, the lower city of Gath was quite extensive. Previously found to the west in Areas D West and D East, we now know for sure that eastern parts of the lower city were settled as well during the early Iron Age.

An additional point is that of the relevance of the finds from Area Y, from a methodological point of view, as an example of the possible pit falls of insufficient sampling strategies in the study of a large scale site. If the study of the lower city of Gath would have been limited to only a small sample of excavation areas, very different results might have arisen. Based on a limited sampling from few excavation areas, one might have assumed that the lower city was only settled in the Iron I (as seen in Area Y), or, based on other areas, mainly in Iron IIA, with some earlier evidence below this. Clearly then, this stresses the need for large scale sampling, using survey, excavation and remote sensing, to be able to truly understand the character and history of a large site, such as Tell es-Safi/Gath.

Remote Sensing (A. Creekmore):

The original plan for this year was to continue and expand the remote sensing in the lower city, and to supplement the magnetometric analyses conducted last year with a Ground Penetrating Radar survey of the lower city. It was hoped that this would provide additional, supplementary information to the already very exciting results of last year’s remote sensing. Unfortunately, Andrew Creekmore’s GPR equipment was not released by the Israeli customs during his entire stay in Israel, so this equipment could not be used. Despite this, thanks for Prof. Amotz Agnon of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, we did manage to survey a limited portion of the lower city, with a GPR instrument that was provided by Prof. Agnon. Hopefully, this will serve as the first stage for an extensive GPR survey at a later date.

 

 

 

August 15, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Middle Bronze Age “Red, White and Blue Ware” from Tell es-Safi/Gath

The Middle Bronze Age (MB; ca. 1950-1550) is a very interesting period in general, one that at an earlier stage of my career I had dealt with extensively (see here).

At Tell es-Safi/Gath, there is evidence of the MB, but only in the upper city. Apparently, during this period (and in particular the MB IIB), the upper part of the tell was fortified (resuing the EB fortifications in this part of the tell).

While this period is not mentioned often in the blog, we do have some great finds from this period. In fact, Maria just took a great picture of a very special type of pottery from the MB – the so-called “Red, White and Blue Ware” (RWB ware). This pottery is typical mainly of southern Canaan, but here and there does appear in the north as well. It is particularly common in the mid/late MB, and usually is earlier than another iconic pottery group of the late MB and early LB – the “Chocolate on White Ware” (for a discussion of this group, see here).

Here is the very nice picture that Maria took of several beautiful RWB ware sherds that were found in Area F (excavated under the supervision of Jeff Chadwick):

August 14, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Kudos to Brent Davis!

Congratulations are in order to Dr. Brent Davis, long term staff member of the Safi team, who was just promoted to a “Level B lecturer” (equivalent to an Ass. Prof. in the USA) at the Department of Historical and Philosophical Studies of the University of Melbourne.

Way to go Brent!

August 09, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

re: New paper on pirates in the Mediterranean in the LB/Iron Age

A new paper, by Louise Hitchcock and Aren Maeir, on pirates and piracy in the Bronze and Iron Age Mediterranean, the most recent in a series of papers on this topic.

The full title is:
Hitchcock, L. A., and Maeir, A. M. 2018. Pirates of the Crete-Aegean: Migration, Mobility, and Post-Palatial Realities at the End of the Bronze Age. In Proceedings of the 12th International Conference of Cretan Studies, Heraklion, 21–25 September 2016. Heraklion: Cretan Historical Society.

Here’s the link

Aargh! Enjoy!

August 05, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Dates for the 2019 season: June 23-July 19

For all past, present and future Safiites: We now have the dates for the 2019 season – June 23rd to July 19th.

We will, once again, be staying the Zafit Regional School in Kfar Menahem.

I hope that the online registration for next year will be up and running sometime in September.

See you next summer!

Aren

August 01, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Shalva, Aryeh and Chava from YU blog about the dig!

Shalva Eisenberg, Aryeh Laufer and Chava Baum, who were part of the YU team led by Jill Katz, have contributed to a very nice blog about the experiences during the 2018 season.

Check it out!

Aren

July 31, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

New book on sacred trees by Caroline Tully

Caroline Tully, who for several years was part of the University of Melbourne team at Safi, led by Louise Hitchcock, has just published a very interesting new book:

The Cultic Life of Trees in the Prehistoric Aegean, Levant, Egypt and Cyprus (Aegaeum 72; Peeters: Leuven; 2018).

Way to go Caroline!

Aren

July 20, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Great clip of drone video views of Tell es-Safi/Gath by John Delancey

John Delancey, who was on the Safi team this year (and worked in Area F), put together a a very nice video comprised of clips that he took while he was on site.

Check it out!

 

Thanks John!

July 19, 2018

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Week 4 – Day 4

Today was the last day of the season – we took all of the finds to the lab in Ariel. While there – the staff gave a brief presentation of the ongoing pottery restoration and past finds from the excavation.

After a very nice hummus lunch – we drove over to Mount Gerizim above modern Nablus/ancient Shechem – the geographical background to a sizable section of the biblical narrative.

On the way back to the kibbutz – we also stopped off at Izbet Sartah – commonly identified with Ebenezer (1 Samuel 4) – to examine Finkelstein’s excavations of the site back in the 1970s.

All told – this was a fantastic season with very important and interesting discoveries. Each area – accomplished well beyond what we set out to accomplish at the beginning of the season – and on account of this we would like to thank our amazing team for all of their hard work and great attitudes.

In a few days or so – I will put together a season summary which will include some nice visuals of the tell/different areas of excavation.

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Intact jar on the last hour of the last day – and Murphy’s Law in archaeology

As in the books, regarding Murphy’s Law in archaeology (see details below), today, as we finished final photographs and were about to cover over the areas, an intact jar was found in Area M. Due to the fact that it stuck out quite clearly from the balk, we had to quickly excavate it and remove it – along with a large amount of broken pottery from other vessels from its vicinity.

See below some pictures of the “baby” – some of us got a little emotional about this…

And in general, today we finished all the final photos, removed some finds (…), covered over the excavations areas, and packed up and brought back things to BIU.

It was a great season!

As to Murphy’s Law in archaeology, here are some examples:

  1. A wall that goes into a balk from one side, won’t come out from the other side.
  2. Major finds will be discovered in the last hour of the last day of the excavation.
  3. Just when you are sure that you fully understand a long-standing problem, a new find will completely contradict this viewpoint.

July 18, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Aren and Maria on the cherry picker for photos!

Jeff was kind enough to take a few pictures and videos of me and Maria taking photos from the cherry picker. While a bit dicey if you have a fear of heights – it was quite a lot of fun – and we got some GREAT pictures of the areas.

Here they are:

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July 17, 2018

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Week 4 – Day 2

Today was our last day digging at the site. Despite soaring temperatures, we managed to remove almost all of the equipment, the shades, etc. and pack it all up for next year.

Despite closing down all areas – we had a couple nice developments.

In Area B2 – the vessels continue – two complete vessels – a jug and a juglet were uncovered by Elizabeth (and her square B7 counterpart – Jane) – who must have set the Tel Burna record for most complete vessels excavated in a single season! They also have a great context with a very nice accumulation of seeds and other organic material. We look forward to excavating this destruction layer more in the future as well as a studying the abundant remains uncovered in the last two seasons.

In G – we finally found the other face of a very large wall that may be a Persian or Iron IIC structure built in connection with the fortifications. We will know more about this next season.

This afternoon – we have been packing up, finishing pottery washing/reading/registering and tying up loose ends – which will continue for the next couple of days. A couple of us went on a brief excursion to nearby Lachish – to look at the very large and impressive site to which Tel Burna has lots of parallels albeit in a much smaller package. The majority of the group also heard an interesting lecture by Prof. Michal Hejcman dealing with ancient environments, agricultural developments, etc. across many different landscapes.

Tomorrow – we will head to the tell even earlier in the morning to give a final sweep of the areas before the final drone photos.

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Supporting the Safi project

Now that the 2018 season is almost over, with the great finds that we have had (I will post a short summary of the season in the coming days), the Safi team will go back to their regular activities throughout the year. Volunteers, students and staff from abroad return home, BIU students go on vacation (and have tests) and the Israeli Safi staff prepare to work on the finds throughout the year.

Needless to say, the project has many expenses, and even though we just received a grant to work on some aspects of the project, there are many other research related costs to cover.

For those of you who have participated in the project, in the past or present, as well as those who follow our activities on a regular basis, we would be most grateful for support to continue doing the great work that we have been doing for more than two decades.

If you would like to support the project, donations would be greatly appreciated and very helpful. If you are interested in contributing to the project please get in touch with me (arenmaeir@gmail.com) for details how this can be done, including tax deductible options.

Thanks,

Aren

And here’s a nice picture of the Safi team, taken last week by the drone

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Last day of digging and the shades are off (Tuesday, July 17, 2018)

Today was the last day of digging in Areas M and Y, and then, towards the end of the day, the shades came off.

In Area Y, Jill and her team did a little more digging and mainly cleaned. Adi Eliyahu came and did some sampling for microarchaeological analyses of the enigmatic mud brick structure/feature.

In Area M, Maria and her team worked on finishing the last things to dig – including a whole slew of complete and/or restorable vessels.

In Area D East, we did the final aerials.

As always, on the day the shades come off – its unbearably hot – but that’s life…

Quite a few people stayed back in the office to finish up processing of the finds – and we are doing well with all our “finishing up” tasks.

Here’s the daily clip and a nice aerial view of Areas D east and D west, looking eastward above the western side of the lower city, taken today:

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Tuesday July 17 2018

July 16, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Update for Monday, July 16, 2018

First day of excavation of the last week, with some nice results and quite a few visits!

Area D East finished cleaning up and is ready for aerial photos tomorrow morning – looking good!

Area Y was working on cleaning, section drawing and trying to understand the large baked brick feature – and associated pit with tons of burnt brick fragments. Quite hard to understand what is going on there – making it all that more interesting and challenging. Tomorrow, Adi will be on site to try and help us make headway with some in-depth microarchaeological analyses.

Area M continues to produce oodles and oodles of finds. This included today several many broken vessels of all kinds, but also several intact vessels such as cooking pots, jugs, juglets and platters of various types. Very cool!

Andy Creekmore and his team have joined in the fun, both excavation and discussing the results of the remote sensing from last year and how they match our finds so well!

We had quite a few visitors today, including: Ami Mazar (HU), Baruch Brandl and Sam Wolff (IAA), Ido Koch and Lidar Sapri-Hen (TAU), and a large group from Brazil led by Prof. Ademar Kaefer (Methodist University of Sao Paulo).

And here is the daily clip with some great shots:

 

Monday July 16 2018

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Week 4 – Day 1

This weekend – much of the team toured in either Galilee or Jerusalem. My small tour group visited Herodium, Mount of Olives, the Israel Museum, the Temple Mount, and the City of David. In the City of David – Yiftah Shalev (co-director with Yuval Gadot) gave us a very interesting tour of the Givati Parking excavations in the Central Valley, and we also received a very nice tour of the amazing stepped street built during he rule of Pontius Pilate (built exactly between 26-33 CE!). Very interesting to see these discoveries in the context of an excavation before they will be visited by tourists.

Yesterday afternoon – I gave a general lecture on the archaeological and geographical background of the Shephelah.

Today – we were excavating in all areas and working towards shutting down each area for the season.

In A2 – a very nice LMLK Hebron deal impression was uncovered by Kevin and Sheila (who visited us for the day – it was great to see them!) Matt was particularly excited about this find as he scrutinizes every similar handle looking for impressions 🙂 Also – Debi and co. began closing down the area – as they removed the shades.

In B2 – much of the area has also been closed down except for the destruction layer which continues to be fantastic and quite labor intensive for both those digging it (Jane, Elizabeth and Elijah) and those trying to register the myriad of finds (Aharon, Sam and Matt).

In G – we are also working towards closing out the area for the end of the season. However, we have come down on the face of a very large wall which is pretty clearly the outer fortification wall – Ira and Gil (as well as Yarden and Shira) have now have exposed a substantial face of this massive wall which will hopefully allow us to better understand this area in the future and maybe provide clues to exposing the gatehouse. Bruno, Christian L, Marcella, and Ian also were working hard exposing both sides of what might be another piece of the fortification wall – although that remains to be seen.

We also had a number of visitors today including Ami Mazar, Baruch Brandl, Sam Wolff, Laura Mazow, Ido Koch, and Lidar Sapir-Hen.

This afternoon – Prof. Steve Ortiz led the team on a tour of Gezer – where they have worked the last decade.

July 15, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Israel Science Foundation Grant to the Safi Project!

Today I was notified that the Israel Science Foundation (ISF) awarded a very nice 4 year grant to the Safi Project for the study of the Iron Age remains in the lower city.

Thanks to all past and present team members, scientific collaborators and staff, for ongoing contributions to the project, which laid the groundwork and foundations for this research grant. I am convinced that future work on this and related topics will produce more excellent research!

Aren

Group photo of the Area Y team

Here’s a great photo of the Area Y team for 2018, led by Jill Katz:

John Stringer continues to blog about the dig!

John Stringer, our kiwi representative this year, continues to blog about this experiences. See here and here.

Hopefully, John will attract a larger group of kiwis to join us next year!

 

Update for Friday, July 13, 2018

Quite a few nice finds on the last day of the 3rd week! And we are about to start the 4th and final week.

Area M was overflowing with finds from the Hazael destruction, including a complete Late Philistine Decorated Ware small jar/large amphoriskos and a totally beautiful bowl with an applique of an animal (lizard?) situated as if it’s climbing into the vessel, over the rim.

In Area Y, for the time being, the architectural features can be defined as questions, wrapped in enigmas, covered in uncertainties… Clearly, something fascinating was going on here, but so far, we can only guess what. On Tuesday, Adi Eliyahu (microarchaeologist from Ariel University) will be on site to sample for analyses – and hopefully this will eventually provide some answers.

In Area D, the team was cleaning for final photos and drawing sections.

We had a few visitors as well: Elisabetta Boaretto and Xin Yan (WIS), who had some good suggestions on various analytic issues (and to plan a possible mini-season in the coming spring), and Oren Ackermann (Ariel) and Yaakov Schreibman (TUA) who came to sample from bricks from various periods on the tell.

Here’s a picture of some finds, a nice shot of the 3rd week team –

and the daily clip.

Friday July 13 2018

July 13, 2018

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Week 3 – Day 5

Today – we had a lot of families (many familiar and friendly faces 🙂 join us for an abbreviated excavation day at the tell. We remain very much committed to the ideal of “community archaeology” and exposing people of all ages to the joys of archaeological discovery.

We also said goodbye (until next season) – to a few team members – here is a pic of Benjamin Yang beside Benjamin Gruber – Benjamin square 🙂 It was also the last day for Dr. Tina Greenfield and Dr. Andrea Orendi – see you next time!

We had good progress in all of the areas.

In A2 – the Persian pit continues and continues – it will be very interesting to reach the end – maybe we will find ourselves in a much earlier period at the bottom.

In B2 – Matt, Sam, Elijah, and Aharon have been furiously trying to keep up the recording/registration of the dozens of pottery baskets, complete vessels, crucibles, grinding stones, flotation samples, etc., etc. while Jane, Ben, Elizabeth and others continue to expose the Qeiyafa horizon destruction with immaculate precision.

In G – massive architecture continues to appear – Bruno, Seth, Christian L, and Marcella removed two balks and it seems very clear that we have a large well built building with a couple of phases. Ira, Gil, and Nimrod and Ochad Shai worked on exposing the outer face of yet another massive wall that seems to be connected with the fortifications. Gal Avraham and his family (and a few friends) also helped dig through the collapse of the fortification wall. We are all set for a great final week and we are excited to share some 3D models of the areas!

This afternoon – around 10 people from the team went up to Herodium near Bethlehem. Myself and Terry gave a tour of the fantastic palace-fortress of Herod the Great. Tomorrow – our weekend group will be hitting a few Jerusalem sites in he morning and then heading over to the Israel Museum.

July 12, 2018

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Week 3 – Day 4

Today was a great day at the tell – it was relatively cool and the finds keep on piling up.

We had several visitors to the site – including Dr. Hillel Geva (Israel Exploration Society) and Dr. Tsvika Tsuk (Israel National Parks) – and Itzick was interviewed by a Czech tv crew about Tel Burna.

In Area A2 – Jerry’s pit is getting deeper and deeper and there is no end in site. The pavement is continuing to appear and the architecture is slowly beginning to be more clear.

In B2 – what can we say – there is an enormous amount of vessels in this destruction – over four full weeks of excavation Aharon’s crew has excavated over 80 cm (c 3 ft) deep of destruction debris filled with burnt mudbrick and dozens of vessels! There is no end in sight – it seems that the destruction is two stories high as Jane and Elizabeth have been finding roofing/floor debris between the vessels. Needless to say – this will continue to be a main area of interest/research for this season and seasons to come – particularly in light of its possible parallels with Khirbet Qeiyafa and Khirbet el Arai (both excavated by Prof Yossi Garfinkel).

In G – we removed a couple of balks and – as usual – the architecture has become much more clear. We have something very massive on top of something even more massive. The problem is that we have very little ceramic finds in a good context (sometimes in situ) – which means that it is difficult to date. Our working hypothesis is that the latest phase was during the Persian period when the massive tower(?) was constructed. Tomorrow we will continue to expose some more of the large walls – that appear to be related to the city’s fortifications.

Yesterday evening – Dr. Tina Greenfield lectured on various aspects of Mesopotamian cities with a particular emphasis on her work there. Today – Dr. Oren Ackerman presented on paleo-anthropocene – which deals with geological changes in the environment related to human activity.

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Update for Thursday, July 12, 2018

Yup, another great day! As we near the end of the 3rd week, we have quite a few nice results.

As it is the last day with a full sized team (the CCU team is leaving early tomorrow morning) first thing this morning we did aerial and ground group photos of the team – which came out very nice!

Then, we divided into teams and went to work in the various areas.

In Area D, they took off the tarps and cleaned, since the main part of the Area D team is leaving (CCU and others). All told, this was a great season in Area D East and we think that we are finally moving towards a very good understanding of the gate, its stages and some of the features associated with it. Still what to do and what to explain – but we are quite happy with the results!

In Area Y, Jill and her team are cutting into the burnt brick structure. We still don’t understand it – but it is getting very interesting. Similarly, the squares with the chalk layers are puzzling us!

Maria and her team in Area M continue to recover tons of finds. In one of the stone tubs (we believe mainly used for olive crushing) several vessels and a collection of loomweights were found. The large jar with holes was finally removed – and this jar served as the motif of the group picture!

We also had quite a few visitors, including Ron Shaar from HU, Rafi Greenberg (TAU), Chani Greenberg (BGU), Gideon Suleimani, and Zvika Zuk (RATAG).

Tomorrow is the last day of the week – and next week we scale down towards the end of the season.

Here are some pictures and the daily clip:

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Thursday July 12 2018

July 11, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Update for Wednesday, July 11, 2018

We had a great day on site today, with great finds, and some nice visits.

In Area D East, Jeff and his team are finishing up defining the gate area, as tomorrow is the last day of the CCU team, and next week, the area will be working with skeleton crew. It looks like we have a really nice understanding of at least some of the stages of the gate area – even if we have more work to do in future years.

In Area Y, Jill and her team continue to expose the various brick and stone walls, and the very interesting chalk covered features. The architecture in this area appears, more and more, to be of an Iron I date, based on the identifiable pottery coming from the various contexts. This, and the fact that the orientation of the architecture is very different from the Iron IIA architecture in Areas K and M, seems to indicate that there is some extensive activity in the eastern part of the lower city, already in the Iron I.

In Area M, Maria and her team continue pulling out great stuff, with many vessels of various types and other nice finds. In one of the stone vats, most probably used for olive oil production, a collection of vessels and loomweights were found. Perhaps, during the final days of Gath, they had been stored in this location.

We had quite a few visits today, including Dr. Iossi Bordowic from the Nature and Parks Authority, Prof. David Ben-Shlomo from Ariel University, Vladimir, from the IAA, and Amanda Borschel-Dan (and her son, Yair), the archaeology correspondent of the Times of Israel, who spent more or less the entire day on site.

Here are some nice fotos and the daily clip – in fact both from yesterday and today.

Wednesday July 11 2018

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Week 3 – Day 3

We are coming into the home stretch… we have our final plans/goals in place to end the season and it seems that we are on target so far.

We had quite a few visitors today including a group from the Israel Antiquities Authority (Pablo Beser and Vladik), Dr. Iosi Bordowicz (Parks and Nature Authority), Prof. David Ben Shlomo (Ariel University), and Prof. Erez Ben Yosef (Tel Aviv University), as well as Omri and Yoav Vaknik (who is working on a very interesting project/dissertation related to the use of paleo magnetism as a dating tool in the Iron Age).

In A2 – Jerry is digging a very deep pit through the presumably Late Iron IIA pavement. Terry continues to define a surface from the Iron IIB and Christian Prater, Sarah, Nichole, etc. are continuing to work across the Iron II layers.

In B2 – the vessels are endless in the Iron I/II destruction as Elizabeth and Jane have been digging through around a half meter of complete vessels – which probably indicates that we have two stories of collapse. In the adjacent square – Elijah found a very nice mortar and a collection of burnt olive pits – which are great specimens for 14C analysis. In the squares near the fortification – Benjamin squared 🙂 (Yang and Gruber) are exposing the lower surface of the Iron II building that is built into the fortifications. Michal, Martin and Mike are also working throughout B2 – taking XRF samples – but also exposing the top of the outer fortification wall.

In G – Ian and Ira removed a couple of balks today – which seemed to have clarified a few matters. It seems that we have a very large tower that was constructed in either the Iron IIC or Persian period. However, beneath this tower we still have a lot of architecture that is very massive and as of yet we do not understand. Marcella and Christian exposed a surface layer – and it now seems that we have a nice room or building beneath he collapse of the fortification wall. Seth and Bruno began exposing the inside of this wall – but as of yet we have yet to locate it. Gil, besides filling lots of different roles in the area, got a shot to work through our registration system and play with the PlanGrid app (see pictured).

Most everyday we are treated to some type of aerial acrobatics from the Israeli military – usually this is helicopter training (yesterday one buzzed Area G! Came within about 80 meters). Today, it was fun to watch a few planes practice fire control tactics with retardant and water – interestingly enough the hill that they were practicing on was Tel Goded – which some identify with Moresheth Gath (home of Micah the prophet) or (in my opinion) possibly Ashan of Joshua 15:42. In any event, check out the picture of the plane in action 🙂

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

John Stringer blogs about his time at the dig

John Stringer, from New Zealand, who participated in the first two weeks of this season, is already back home and has started blogging about his experiences.

Check out his first installment here.

Aren

July 10, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Update for Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Today was a totally busy day, running from one thing to the other. The film crew that is working with me on a MOOC on biblical archaeology was on site all day, so in between everything, I was filming all day.

We also had a few visits, including a large group of YU students who came to dig for half a day, and Ronen Hazan and Zemah Ouzirat from HU.

In Area M, Maria and her team found tons of stuff. This included a complete juglet, loomweights, a bronze arrowhead, and TONS of pottery.

Jill and her team are working on understanding the fascinating brick and chalk features – and finally are starting to get some pottery!

Jeff and his team are really making great headway in understanding the gate and related features – and the stratigraphy related to it. Cool stuff.

And Vanessa and her team found some additional levels below the Iron IIA metallurgy – including possible evidence of earlier bronze related metal production in the Iron I/II!

Unfortunately, no clip for today, but here’s a couple of great aerial shots of the site from the east – one of the upper city and one of the lower, taken by the drone this morning:

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The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Week 3 – Day 2

We had a number of visitors today including groups from Ariel University and South Florida Bible College.

We also made some good progress in the excavation areas.

In Area A2 – things are getting interesting as Debi, Terry, Nichole, etc are exposing a large pavement that might date to the 9th century BCE. Pottery reading of the later phases in this area was also promising as it looks like we will have several complete vessels related to the end of the Iron IIB.

In B2 – progress continues on the destruction debris (11th/10th centuries BCE) and it now seems that we have some architecture on the balk which might be related to to the destruction layer.

In C – Ian and Benjamin closed up the excavation there and it is now clear that this area was used from the Early Bronze through at least the Persian period.

In G – things are slowly becoming more clear as we continue to “slog through” a very large collapse. Marcella and Christian found a surface today beneath the collapse – but with no pottery in situ – hopefully the context will be clear enough to assign it a date. Ira also found around 15 casings and live rounds of ammunition leftover from the 1948 war in a foxhole right above the presumed gate.

Bruno Soltic has also been using the drone to record various features of the tel.

This afternoon we will hear a lecture by Dr. Tina Greenfield on the zooarchaeology of Mesopotamia.

July 09, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Great day!

Today was really a great day on the dig!

We had a ton of cool finds and several interesting visits.

In Area M, Maria and her team are funding tons of stuff!!! :-) Oodles of pottery vessels of various kinds and other finds, including a complete juglet, two hematite beads, some faience objects, and other stuff – all part of the impressive Iron IIA destruction.

In Area Y, Jill and her team have more and more impressive architecture and it’s looking more and more that the concentration of chalk maybe connected to some production aspect.

In Area D East, Jeff and his team are exposing more and more very impressive aspects of the city gate area, and it seems that we are beginning to understand that is going on here. So far, it looks like that this is a bent axis gate, with only one built side (!!!), and a winding stepped path going into the city. Quite cool – and very unusual! As far as finds, the team found a nice copper pin – and a couple of modern bullets – perhaps evidence of what happened on site exactly 70 years ago, on July 9th, 1948, when the Arab village of Tell es-Safi was captured by the Israeli army!

In Area D West, Vanessa and her team were working mainly on defining various stratigraphic aspects, but also found a very nice complete juglet in an Iron I level.

We also had some visits today, including Mati, the head of the local regional council, some representatives of one of the nearby power plants who will be funding a bike path leading to the tell, Dr. Oren Ackermann, our geomorphologist, and Prof. Michael Hasel, co-director of the 4th Lachish Expedition.

In previous posts I put up some pictures, and here is the daily clip:

Monday July 9 2018

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Week 3 – Day 1

As we noted – several of us were in the Galilee this weekend and we were able to catch a few of the other many archaeological projects in action. We visited the very interesting second temple (and later) site of el-Araj – which they suggest (and I am inclined to agree) is a much better candidate for the New Testament site of Bethsaida. Dr. Steven Notley gave us a very interesting talk on the various things that they have uncovered there including a Byzantine church and an Early Roman bathhouse. They also have a lot interesting evidence related to the level of the Sea of Galilee at various points.

After visiting el-Araj, we went to Megiddo just in time to catch a tour led by Dr. Matt Adams (one of the directors of the project) that covered various topics including the so-called Iron II stables, the unbelievable Early Bronze I temple, and many other topics – this was also a fascinating lecture that engaged a number of other historical periods in the Jezreel Valley. It was also very cool to see the Megiddo expedition renew the excavation of the very controversial (so-called) Solomonic six-chambered gate – needless to say there will be much discussion on this in the coming months and years.

Today – at the tel we were joined by a number of new participants and work continued in all areas.

In A2 – there is more and more evidence of at least two Iron IIB/8th century BCE phases and Debi is beginning to get down to the 9th century level where there is a very large pavement. They also had a very nice mini juglet come up as a complete vessel.

In B2 – the work continues in the 11th/early 10th century destruction – more vessels, lots of charcoal, and a very nice chalice. At the top of the section – Aharon is beginning to move down through the floor of the casemate wall/room to get down to earlier layers that should run up next to the inside of the fortification wall – this will hopefully allow us to provide a date of construction for the fortification wall – which up until now we can say was clearly used in the 9th and 8th centuries BCE. Here is a look at the area from this afternoon’s tour of the site by the Tell es-Safi/Gath team led by Profs. Aren Maeir, Jeff Chadwick and Brent Davis.

In C – Ian and Benjamin are almost finished with a square near the agricultural installations – interestingly in this area the pottery indicates that it was used during e Early Bronze and Middle Bronze – as well as in the Late Bronze and Iron II (the two dominant periods at the site).

In G – we are progressing through a very large collapse of stones – hopefully we will be able to get through it and have some clarity with regards to the Iron II casemate wall which seems to have joined the presumed gate in this area – we are removing a balk or two tomorrow – so we might find out more.

We also were visited today by Prof. Michael Hasel of Southern Adventists University and co-director of the Lachish Excavation (finished last season).

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Kudos to Liora on article in Science on ancient goat genomes

Kudos to Liora Horwitz, project zooarchaeologist, for the just appeared article in Science on the genomic background of the domestication of goats in the near east. Among the many sites that provided materials for this study, we are very proud that Tell es-Safi/Gath was included!

The title of the study is:

Daly et al., 2018. Ancient goat genomes reveal mosaic domestication in the Fertile Crescent. Science 361: 85–88.

Way to go Liora!

July 07, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Group picture of the Safi team for week 2, 2018

Here’s a great picture (taken by Maria) of the excellent team of week 2 of the 2018 season at Tell es-Safi/Gath. Way to go team!

Update for Friday, July 6, 2018

Here is a quick update for the last day of excavations in the 2nd week, which all told, was a great week.

In Area D West, Vanessa and her team continued the stratigraphic probes in and around the metallurgy area. Of particular note are the earlier Iron Age contexts that they found below the Iron IIA metallurgy area – all of which show that the metallurgical activities commenced only in the late Iron IIA – in the phase destroyed by Hazael.

In Area D East, Jeff and his team continue to work in the gate area. This complex is getting more and more interesting – and more and more unusual. Currently, our understanding is that there is a bent axis approach in the gate. That said, if our interpretation is correct – we don’t have any good parallels for this.

In Area Y, Jill and her team continue to work on the very interesting architectural elements in the area. This includes several large concentrations of bricks, some rather large wall, and a context covered in pulverized chalk. Interestingly, there is relatively very small amounts of pottery and other small finds, perhaps indicating a special type of activity in this area.

In Area M, Maria and her team are digging in the midst of very impressive remains of the Hazael destruction level, with an enormous collection of vessels of various types. In some of the squares it is hard to work – due to the fact that all the square is covered in finds!

We now have down pat the procedures of taking aerial photographs with the drone first thing in the morning – which provide excellent documentation in the midst of the season for our progress.

We also had quite a lot of visitors this Friday, including Prof. Moshe Bar, head of the Gonda Interdisciplinary Brain Research Center at BIU, Prof. Lilach Rosenberg, chair of my department at BIU, and group of potential students in the department, as well as various family and friends of team members. In addition to this, we celebrated two birthdays of team members in the field. It was quite an exciting day!

We are all looking forward to the 3rd week – which will be the last full week of the excavation season. I’m sure we will have some great finds this coming week!

Here’s couple of pictures and the daily clip:

Here’s an aerial view of the lower city (with Areas K, Y, M and D) looking west

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And here’s a nice aerial view of the upper tell – looking west

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And here is our daily clip:

 

 

 

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Week 2 – Day 5

Friday was the last day for a number of team members – we thank them for their hard work and really hope to see them again! See below for group photo.

Thursday evening we heard an excellent lecture by Ian and their (along with Sam and Jane) implementation of photogrammetry and 3D modeling for daily top plans, architectural plans, etc – the discussion was lively.

Myself and a few others did not dig this Friday and went up to the north where among touring other sites – we had a very interesting tour of Abel Beth-Maacah by Bob Mullins (see pictured). We also toured around the Sea of Galilee today at Mount Arbel, the Horns of Hattin (very impressive remains on top!), Magdala, Nof Ginosar, and Capernaum.

Back at the tel where work was actually being done 🙂 – work continued in all areas.

In A2 – several more vessels and a surface/pavement are beginning to appear – although we will have to see if this relates to an earlier Iron IIB phase or the Iron IIA.

In B2 – we are really in he destruction now! We should have lots of very nice finds next week.

In G – we are short on finds – but lots of very large architecture that we will hopefully understand by the end of the season.

Finally – we were visited by a group of kibbutz members from nearby Beit Nir – who came in honor of our mutual friend and fellow laborer – Ido Ginton – who unfortunately passed away a couple of years ago. We really miss him, his hard work, his jokes, his coffee, and his personality!

July 06, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Just something for the weekend…

Here’s a little something for the weekend…: -)

A July 4th picture

Since July 4th was celebrated this week (as we mentioned on our Tuesday blog entry), here’s another related picture, taken by Shem Tov. Happy US independence day!

July 05, 2018

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Week 2 – Day 4

After a nice cool morning – it became quite warm on the tell, and we were all dragging a bit – but we persevered 🙂

In Area A2 – Debi’s crew is getting down to the 9th century layers – lots of restorable vessels are appearing.

In Area B2 – Aharon is clearly in the Iron I/IIA destruction in both squares and lots of complete vessels are being excavated under a very thick layer of ash. They also have some very large pieces of architecture beginning to appear.

In Area C – Ian and Benjamin have been chipping away at a new square in the agricultural area – today they found sherds from the Middle Bronze IIA, and a nice Early Bronze metallic ware sherd (c. 2800 BCE) was noticed in pottery reading. This is very interesting as it appears that more and more this area was used for agricultural production for millennia.

In Area G – things are becoming more complex. In the new squares that were just opened we have a large collapse that is probably related to the Iron II casemate wall and perhaps some later rebuilding – but in the squares with the supposed gate we have a lot of architecture that we do not yet understand. Next week we hope to remove a couple of balks to be able to understand it better. As it now stands we either have a very large and well built tower with a later Persian or Iron IIC structure on top – or a gate chamber with later rebuild – we will see… stay tuned.

Today – we also were visited by Drs. Jimmy Harden and Jeff Blakely from Tell el-Hesi/Kh. Summeily – see photos below.

Yesterday afternoon – Jane gave a lecture on animal bones in relation to human activity – excellent and useful as always. This evening Ian will be explaining to the crew what he, Sam, and Jane have been doing with photogrammetry and 3D modeling – very cool! And a special thanks to all three – as they faithfully stay up into the wee hours of the night to make sure we have a fantastic and accurate top plan to excavate with.

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Update for July 5th, 2018

We had quite a few nice finds today!

Here’s a quick review:

Area D West: Vanessa and her team are working on various sub-phases in the metallurgy area. They exposed a very nice cobble surface and other features, dating to Iron IIA and earlier

Area D East: Jeff and his team are exposing more parts of the gate area, with more and more interesting and impressive architectural features, as well as some nice domestic contexts.

Area Y: The architecture is getting more and more impressive. Somewhat surprisingly, the amount of pottery and other finds is rather limited. This is making our understanding of the function of this area somewhat challenging!

Area M: More and more concentrations of vessels and other finds are appearing in the area, along with various installations. Among other finds, a very nice so-called votive juglet was found, along with many other vessels.

Here`s the daily clip:

Thursday July 5 2018

July 04, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

A couple of aerials from our new drone!

Here are two aerial photos from our new DJI Mavic Pro Platinum drone

One is a view of Areas K (excavated in previous seasons) and M and Y (new areas) looking north, and other is a view of Area D East looking NW.

Really nice!

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Update for Wednesday, July 4th, 2018

Great day! Not only was it the US independence day, we also had some nice finds!

In Area M, Maria and her team found two (!!) stone vats for olive pressing – similar to ones that were found in Area A years ago, and in Area K, two years ago. It’s looking like we have an olive oil production center in the lower city. And, if I may add, this seems to be the official demise of theories that suggested that olives were not grown in Philistia and the Shephelah until the late Iron Age, when Ekron became a center for olive oil production!! :-)

Who knows – maybe part of the economic strength of Iron IIA Gath came from it’s olive oil??? The olive oil capital of the 9th cent BCE???…:-)

Below is a picture of one of the stone basin – most likely olive presses.

In Area Y, Jill and her team are working on several very interesting features, comprised of mudbrick, stones and chalk surfaces. So far, the architectural finds are quite interesting – even though other finds are surprisingly somewhat lacking.

In Area D West, Vanessa and her team found additional remains of the metallurgical activity area – and remains of earlier phases below the metallurgy.

In Area D East, Jeff and his team are working away on exposing the massive architecture of the various stages of the gate – and still we don’t have a clear cut explanation of these features.

Today we also had a very interesting visit from a film crew from the Israeli Channel 1, who filmed at the site as part of a series of connecting present, past and future in relation to the various Jewish holidays, and talked to me about archaeology in the context of the new year! Particularly interesting was that the host of the program is the well-known Israeli musician Shaanan Street, the lead musician in the very well-known Israeli band – Hadag Nahash. That was a lot of fun!

Needless to say, today was July 4th, and this was marked in the field by various people wearing US regalia – and playing US music! Happy US independence day!

See below a picture of one of the vats – and our daily clip

 

Wednesday July 4th 2018

Lapis Gabinus: official blog of the Gabii Project

These are a few of our favorite things

Halfway through the season we have learned a lot about archaeology and are now settled into the daily routine of coming to site. Two and a half weeks is surely enough time to develop some strong feels and here are a few of the Gabii Project's favorite things!

Our favorite archaeological terms

The only entry that didn't make the word cloud was "Oh look it's a body!" courtesy of Sarah Gilmer. Luckily, there has been no reason to exclaim that yet this season, but she is ever at the ready. 

Favorite Archaeological Tool
Now tools are an even more contentious subject. There are only so many picks, bags, and other equipment to go around, here is what our team most loves using.

The pickaxe won by a firm margin, it seems like everyone occasionally needs to just blow off some steam. There are a few downsides though, like "when you carefully are troweling back a layer and think that you've found the margin, but then they tell you to just pickaxe it all away" Neda Bowden "imagines."

Our other favorite take away comes from Sadie Sisk, "no one loves to sweep, that would be a lie." Do we have two liars?

 Favorite Pottery Vessel or Finish
As a part of their time all the Gabii students rotate through finds where they learn to identify and draw our ceramics. Now none of what we find at Gabii come close to these images, but they do represent some of the fabrics we can see. Make sure to ask a Gabine which was their favorite when they get home!

One errant entry proposed by Emily Sharp was "cute wear" aka all miniature vessels. While it isn't a pottery type, Kelly Miklas wanted to make sure that we knew she was "all about that base." Of course, our finds supervisor Allison Ritterhaus has the most enthusiastic response as she just starts rubbing bucchero lovingly against her cheek.

Coming to Rome is nothing without sampling the local cuisine. Here are our favorite Roman pasta types! There are plenty more Italian pastas, like the Genoan pesto pictured, ragu Bolognese, tortellini, pasta alla Norma, just to name a few of the non-Roman options out there. Perhaps personal sentiment is best captured by Kyra Webb, for whom "cacio e pepe is life."

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Week 2 – Day 3

We had a lot of good progress today. We are in the full swing of things now – and the days seem to fly by quickly in the field.

In Area A2 – several complete vessels are appearing and the remains of a cow were excavated.

In Area B2 – Aharon’s group is right on top of the Iron I/II destruction after removing an enormous amount of rubble. Lots of vessels are appearing with ash and other finds. Special shout out to Jared, Caroline, Stahlie, and Luke for getting through a lot of fill in a very short time! We wish they were staying for two more weeks 🙂

In Area G – it is very clear now that we have at least two phases in the area of the presumed gate – the earlier phase is beginning to appear and it looks quite impressive. Gil also showed off his skills as a juggler! (See video below)

Yesterday afternoon – Aren Maeir gave an interesting lecture on the always impressive finds from Tell es-Safi/Gath and this afternoon – Jane will be lecturing on animal bones and archaeology this afternoon.

We also had a very special visitor during pottery reading – who employed a special technique of a taste test for dating the pottery (see pictured below).

第二周  第三天

今天我们有很棒的进度!一切都正如火如荼的进行中,以至于让我们觉得在现场的时间过得飞快。

A2区:
几件完整的陶器已经露出,另外团队发现牛的骨骸,并已挖掘出土。

B2区:
在移除大量的落石、瓦砾后,Aharon的团队已经接触到铁器一期/二期的破坏层,许多伴随着灰碳的陶器与其他的发现已经露出。特别为团队成员喝采,分别是:Jared,Caroline,Stahlie与Luke,他们在短短的时间内,就已经移除堆积层!真希望他们可以再多待两周。

G区:
现在在本区,我们已经很清楚地知道在假定的城门位置上,至少有两个不同时期的建筑构造堆叠在一起。而较早期的建筑构造已经开始露出,并看起来相当巨大。附带一提,团队成员:Gil也在挖掘过程中,展现了他的杂耍技巧(请见下方影片)。

昨天下午,Prof. Seen Maeir带来一场非常有趣的课程,是关于来自tel es-Safi/Gath令人印象深刻的发现。今天下午,团队成员:Jane将向我们介绍动物考古学。

第二週  第三天

今天我們有很棒的進度!一切都正如火如荼的進行中,以至於讓我們覺得在現場的時間過得飛快。

A2區:
幾件完整的陶器已經露出,另外團隊發現牛的骨骸,並已挖掘出土。

B2區:
在移除大量的落石、瓦礫後,Aharon的團隊已經接觸到鐵器一期/二期的破壞層,許多伴隨著灰碳的陶器與其他的發現已經露出。特別為團隊成員喝采,分別是:Jared,Caroline,Stahlie與Luke,他們在短短的時間內,就已經移除堆積層!真希望他們可以再多待兩週。

G區:
現在在本區,我們已經很清楚地知道在假定的城門位置上,至少有兩個不同時期的建築構造堆疊在一起。而較早期的建築構造已經開始露出,並看起來相當巨大。附帶一提,團隊成員:Gil也在挖掘過程中,展現了他的雜耍技巧(請見下方影片)。

昨天下午,Prof. Aren Maeir帶來一場非常有趣的課程,是關於來自tel es-Safi/Gath令人印象深刻的發現。今天下午,團隊成員:Jane將向我們介紹動物考古學。

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The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Update for Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

Excavations today were went very well, with some nice finds in the various areas.

Area D West: Vanessa and her team are working in the metallurgy area and are defining some important aspects. This includes the definition of what may be an additional sub-phase in this area.

Area D East: Jeff and his team are working away, exposing more and more impressive elements in the gate area. They had some nice finds today, including a very nice metal object.

Area M: Maria and her team are busy exposing more and more vessels of the 9th cent destruction level – so much so that it’s getting hard to stand in some of the squares! Among the various finds was a very interesting square object made of faience, perhaps an Egyptian style votive statue base.

Area Y: Jill and her team are working on exposing what appears to be several installations. While we don’t yet know what they are – they are getting more and impress impressive!

Today was also the first time we pulled off the tarps first thing in the morning to take aerial photos with the drone – and it looks like this is working out well. Hopefully, we’ll post some pictures soon.

We also had a few visits today – including Karin Sowada from Macquarie University.

Here’s are daily clip!

Day 1 week 2 JULY 2

July 03, 2018

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Week 2 – Day 2

Today – we began uncovering several architectural elements in all of the areas.

In A2 – the balks have been remade (some 1.5 meters below the top of the summit) and they are beginning to penetrate into early Iron II layers.

In B2 – we have lots of charcoal and a few olive pits – which will hopefully helpful for providing a 14C date for the Iron I/II destruction. Aharon and his team also located what appears to be a massive tower or fortification that may prove to be earlier than the Iron II fortifications that mark the top of the summit.

In G – more and more courses of walls from previous days area appearing. We have lots of restorable pottery from what appears to be a Persian layer. We also are getting several indicates of very large architectural phases – perhaps a large pavement (maybe the pavements in and around the gate like at other sites – eg Lachish, Dan, etc) – we will have to wait and see. Dr. Steve Sanchez and Macy from Moody excavated a very deep silo (Iron IIC?) – which is now around 1.70 m deep and we are still not to the bottom! Amazing work considering they only started digging yesterday in the silo.

Here are some pics from today’s excavation.

July 02, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Great 1st day of 2nd week!

Today, Monday 2nd of July, 2018, was the first day of excavation of the 2nd week – and it’s a great start to what will be a great week!

Several things are going on:

Area D West has opened again for a brief, week long season, led by Vanessa. Vanessa and her team will be checking some stratigraphic issues relating to the metal working area discovered in previous seasons.

In Area D East, Jeff and his team are working away at various things connected to the gate. This includes taking down several large balks, exposing several new wall lines, excavating some Iron I and Iron IIA living surfaces, etc. A very nice find from today was a beautiful little scarab (see previous post on this)!

In Area M, Maria and her team of BIU students continued excavating a large amount of vessels, installations and other finds from the 9th cent. BCE destruction level that they found right below surface. Among the finds that were found today was a very nice, polished basalt pounding stone.

Jill and her Area Y team continued working on the very interesting brick built installation (a kiln? some sort of industrial installation?). In the other squares they continued digging and found some architecture and perhaps hints to other brick features.

We also had a nice visit today at the site, by Prof. Oded Lipschits of Tel Aviv University, co-director of the Azekah excavation team.

In the afternoon, I took the team for a visit to the very interesting site of Khirbet Qeiyafa.

And here’s our daily clip!

Day 1 week 2 JULY 2

And now for something funny…

Here’s something funny, courtesy of Will Krieger.

Hope this is not relevant for the Safi team…

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Week 2 – Day 1

After an eventful weekend for much of the group (touring Jerusalem, Dead Sea, etc.) – we resumed excavating today. We had some interesting developments in all of the areas.

In Area A2 – three complete vessels were found – probably from the Iron IIB/8th century BC. These included a nice juglet (see photo below).

In B2 – the team made excellent progress in exposing the building in the fortifications (probably in use in the Iron IIC and perhaps Persian periods). They are very nearly at the same level that was reached last season in the adjoining square – which means that they can excavate the both squares at the same time to understand the horizontal context of the structure. Further down the slope – more and more pottery and ash is coming out – which indicates that we are just on top of the Iron I/II destruction – there should be lots of nice finds over the next couple of weeks.

In G – today was marked by the opening of another square, digging c. 70 cm into a large Iron II silo (probably 7th century based on past seasons), and the discovery of an in situ smashed Persian storage jar with many of its seeds still intact (thanks to Ira’s keen eye for noticing!)

Yesterday afternoon we heard an engaging lecture by Dr. Steve Ortiz on archaeological theory and methodology. This afternoon we will tour Tel Azekah – which is only a few miles from our accommodations in the Elah Valley.

We also were joined by longtime team member Kay Fountain – who presented each coauthor (of a Tel Burna paper) a copy of the book published in her honor.

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Emily finds a scarab!

Emily Wardyn finds a beautiful scarab in an Iron I context!

The BIU aerial arm!

One of several drones flying the BIU flag!

July 01, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Visit and lecture by Prof. Marc Brettler

Today, at the very beginning of the 2nd week, we had a visit from Prof. Marc Brettler, the well-known biblical scholar from Duke University. Marc, who is a good friend, visited the site and then presented an excellent lecture to the team, dealing with the complex textual analysis of the David and Goliath story in I Samuel 17 (and parallels texts).

As usual, Marc’s talk was excellent!

Here is Marc at the site and with Jeff at the Kibbutz.

June 30, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Some photographs from last week

Here are a few photographs from last week, courtesy of Maria and John Stringer. Notice the group photo of the great team of the first week (save for a few that missed the photo). Next week we add on about another 30 participants!

Here they are:

June 29, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Day 5 – last day of first week (June 29, 2018)

Great ending to a great week! The finds are starting to pop – and they are a good indication of some really interesting things that will be coming up in this season.

In Area D, Jeff and his team uncovered more architectural elements in the suggested gate area. The working hypotheses is that things are looking more and more “gate-like” and more and more like we may have an inner and outer gate with a bent approach between them. That said, we need further definite proof of this. There are also some nice contexts with the various stages in the gate area, from Iron IIA, Iron I/II and Iron IB. In addition to this, some apparent domestic contexts are being excavated in the gate vicinity.

Maria and her team in Area M are nicely exposing a great spread of the late Iron IIA “Hazael” destruction. This includes concentrations of vessels, installations, and the beginning of some nice mudbrick architecture.

The Area Y team, led by Jill, continues to expose some very interesting brick features and related contexts, which are located exactly where the remote sensing suggested. And here, our current working hypothesis, once again requiring serious confirmation, is that this might be related to pottery production. But we’ll know more next week…

All told, a great week with great finds, carried by a super team!

And here is our daily clip:

Day 5 June 29

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Week 1 – Day 5

We finished the week strong with a flurry of finds in all of the areas.

In A2 – Debi’s team found the head of an Iron II figurine with a pinched face. They also have begun excavating a large complete bowl from the Iron II.

In B2 – Aharon has begun to excavate the Iron I/II destruction layer and has lots of restorable pottery. They also are slowly digging through fills from different periods to establish the full stratigraphic sequence of the site.

In G – we have more architecture and it now appears that we have a later (probably Persian) building that is in the lowest part of the summit. Our current theory/hope is that this large structure is sitting on the gate. We will have to wait and see – we will know more next week.

第一周  第五天

我们在所有的区域以许多令人兴奋的发现来结束第一周的挖掘工作。

A2区:Debi的团队在今天挖掘出来自铁器二期的雕塑品,并且在其脸部有着捏制的痕迹。同时,团队也已经着手挖掘一相当完整、大型的碗器。

B2区:Aharon的团队开始挖掘铁器一期与二期的破坏层,而且发现大量可修复的陶片。与此同时,团队也正缓慢地往下挖掘,深度已超过不同时期的堆积层。我们期待透过B2区的挖掘,来建立本遗迹完整的地层层序。

G区:越来越多建筑结构!我们发现在遗迹卫城的最底部有着较晚期的建筑(大约是波斯时期)。我们的理论推测是这乃是一座落在城门口的大型结构。目前,我们仍需要时间来验证此推测,在下一周我们将会有更进一步的了解。

第一週  第五天

我們在所有的區域以許多令人興奮的發現來結束第一週的挖掘工作。

A2區:Debi的團隊在今天挖掘出來自鐵器二期的雕塑品,並且在其臉部有著捏製的痕跡。同時,團隊也已經著手挖掘一相當完整、大型的碗器。

B2區:Aharon的團隊開始挖掘鐵器一期與二期的破壞層,而且發現大量可修復的陶片。與此同時,團隊也正緩慢地往下挖掘,深度已超過不同時期的堆積層。我們期待透過B2區的挖掘,來建立本遺跡完整的地層層序。

G區:越來越多建築結構!我們發現在遺跡衛城的最底部有著較晚期的建築(大約是波斯時期)。我們的理論推測是這乃是一座落在城門口的大型結構。目前,我們仍需要時間來驗證此推測,在下一週我們將會有更進一步的了解。

June 28, 2018

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Week 1 – Day 4 in Mandarin

Over the next few weeks – Benjamin Yang (long time Burna staff member) will translate the blog into Mandarin. Enjoy!

又是一个在遗迹上的美好一天-虽然早晨湿度较高,但之后气温非常凉爽。到目前为止,我们还未挖掘到大量的出土文物,但我们相信出土时刻就在眼前了。不过,我们在每个区域却有相当程度的进展。

A2区:几段相异的结構墙正渐渐显露。

B2区:我们持续发现本段的古城墙有崩塌的现像,也开始找到较大的陶片。希望在下一週将有来自铁器一期与二期A之破坏层的出土文物,如同2017年一般。

G区:我们在本区开启了四个挖掘方格,并发现在表土层下,存在著巨大的建築结構。让本区看起来越来越有趣了。

最後,在今天下午,本计画的陶器修复师:Leah Treamer给每位参与者一个关于如果修复陶片的精采课程,也向我们分享製作陶器的经验谈。

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Thursday, June 28, 4th excavation day

We had a very nice day at the site today, with quite a few nice finds.

In Area D, Jeff and his team are working on some very nice architecture, relating to the massive architecture (our gate we hope…). This includes pottery from the Iron I and II.

In Area M, Maria and her team are exposing the very top of what seems to be yet additional contexts of the Iron IIA destruction.

In Area Y, Jill and her team have started exposing a rather impressive brick structure/feature, comprised of burnt bricks. What quite nice is that this feature comes out exactly where Andy’s remote sensing from last year indicates some anomalies, most likely something that had been exposed to high temperatures. We don’t know yet what this is – but it’s definitely looking cool!

Here is today’s clip:

 

Safi 2018 July 28 clip

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Week 1 – Day 4

We had another great day at the tel – it was cooler – although very humid in the morning. As of yet – we do not have a lot of major artifacts (but those will come shortly!), however, we have had fantastic progress in all of the areas.

In A2 – several different wall lines are appearing.

In B2 – they are progressing through a massive collapse and beginning to find very large pieces of pottery – hopefully this time next week we will be in the Iron I/IIA destruction found last season.

In G – very large sections of architecture are appearing in three of the four squares directly beneath the surface – it is looking more and more tantalizing…

This afternoon – Leah Treamer (Burna’s pottery restorer) gave a very nice lecture on how to prepare and restore pottery – as well as her experiences as a potter.

June 27, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Day 3 – Wednesday, June 27

The third day of excavation went very well! All fields are fully excavating and already, we have some nice finds.

In Area D, Jeff and his team were working on Iron Age remains, and found some very nice decorated Philistine pottery.

Jill and her team, in Area Y, have removed upper surface layer in 4 squares and have come onto what looks like a brick debris.

In Area M, Maria and her team are also below surface – and very nice – they already have several concentrations of pottery that might indicate that they are on the late 9th cent. Hazael destruction!

In other words, it looks like that there is good chances that the remote sensing “hit the nail on the head”! :-)

And here is our daily clip:

Day 3 Safi 2018 June 27

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Week 1 – Day 3

It was really hot today – but we had some very nice developments in all of the excavation areas.

In A2 – the last balk has been almost completely removed and the 9th century awaits Debi and co.’s trowels.

In B2 – Aaron, Sam, and team are progressing and much more of the architecture is beginning to appear. We also have yet another crucible from just outside of the fortification – and we still do not understand if this is in primary or secondary deposition. Hopefully we will have some answers to this question later on in the season.

In C – Ian and Benjamin worked in the hot sun until breakfast – excavating another agricultural installation.

In G – we have a lot of new and quite substantial architecture directly beneath the surface – and while it is too early to say that it is the gate – things are starting to get very interesting. We also found the top half of what appears to be a dog tag (soldier ID worn around a chain) from the 1948 Israel War for independence. As always – it is quite amazing to consider that the fortifications that defended the ancient Judahite town against Sennacherib (quite unsuccessfully) – were also reused some 2500 years later by the Givati Brigade.

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Kudos to Vanessa!

Hearty congratulations are in order to Vanessa Workman, who is a core team member of the Safi staff, and doing her PhD at Bar-Ilan University on the Iron Age metal industry at Tell es-Safi/Gath and Megiddo (supervised by Aren Maeir and Adi Eliyahu-Behar).

Vanessa has been informed that she has been awarded the prestigious Azrieli Foundation “Azrieli Fellowship” for doctoral students.

Way to go Vanessa!

Aren

Day 2 in the field – June 26, 2018

Today was the 2nd day in the field and it was great – all fields were in full excavation! Despite the fact that yesterday it looked like we have a lot of work yet to do, just to get things set up, by breakfast, all the three fields were doing full fledged archaeology! We have a truly super team – doing super work!

First finds were coming up in all areas! In fact, in the new areas, Areas M and Y, it appears that we may already be getting to Iron Age architecture! Not bad.

Here’s the daily clip:

Safi 2018 day 2

June 26, 2018

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Week 1 – Day 2

We had a very nice day in the field – all of the excavation areas are up and running and new architectural features are popping up.

In A2 – much of (two years worth of) the winter wash was removed and we are getting close to beginning to start excavations below the 8th century BCE building that was presumably destroyed in 701 BCE in the campaign of Sennacherib.

In B2 – students from Southwestern and Moody are very efficiently removing a large collapse that is sitting on top of an Iron I/IIA destruction. They are also beginning to excavate the continuation of a nicely built Iron IIC/7th cent BCE building.

In G – we already have architecture beneath the surface. As of yet, it is unclear what these structures are – but it is possible that we have the beginnings of a couple Iron II features – one of which is perhaps a silo. We will have to wait and see…

Finally – this afternoon we had our first (very short) pottery washing session and listened to a lecture by myself on archaeological recording/PlanGrid adaption at Tel Burna and another by Tina Greenfield on Bioarchaeology.

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

The 2018 season is off to a great start!

And we are off! The 2018 season is off to a great start. On Sunday, the team members arrived at Kibbutz Kfar Menahem for the beginning of the 2018 season. Most of the day was spent moving equipment and setting up things, but we got just about everything done. We even managed to get out for a tour of the site.

Early Monday morning, we all went out to the site, for the first day on site. The teams in Areas D (led by Jeff), M (led by Maria) and Y (led by Jill) were busy cleaning up the surface of the areas, finishing marking squares and putting up the tarps. While we didn’t do any actual excavating, but it looks like all areas will be in full excavating early Tuesday morning.

And to finish off the day – there was a tour of Tel Azekah.

Pictures and clips will be posted soon!

Aren

P.S. Sorry for the delay in posting – it’s been quite a few busy days…

June 25, 2018

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Week 1 – Day 1

Today, after many truck runs from the container to the tel, lots of equipment prep, removing the winter growth, etc., we actually managed to begin excavating!

This season, we are joined by a number of students from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (led by Prof. Steve Ortiz – co-director of Tel Gezer) and Moody Bible Institute (led by Prof. Steve Sanchez). We also have volunteers/team members from China, Taiwan, USA and Canada. All told – it is already apparent that we have a very good team this year with a lot of potential for some excellent discoveries.

We are excavating in at least four areas this season – A2 (center of the tell – Iron 2 large building), B2 (section on the western slope of the tell), B3 (continuation of large cultic 13th century BC building), C (agricultural installations), and G (presumably the Iron II city gate).

In A2 – Debi and her team are returning after taking a year off – they hope to work in previously opened squares and get down below the 8th century BCE layers to the 9th century (and perhaps earlier) layers.

In B2 – Aharon and co. will be working on a number of different issues including exposing a new square to the north to excavate more of the very nice Iron IIC structure that was excavated last season beside the casemate fortifications. He also hopes to open a new square just north of the very impressive destruction layer that we began excavating only on the last week of the season. This is a very interesting destruction layer that until now has only been exposed in a very narrow section – however – it appears to date sometime in the Iron I or perhaps in the early Iron IIA. One of our main goals in B2 is to get more samples for radiometric/14C dating.

In B3 – Marcella will continue the work done in last seasons in the adjacent Area B1 in which we excavated a large cultic structure from the 13th century BCE. One of the main goals is to locate the southern wall of this building and perhaps also begin work on what appears to be another very large structure on the western lower platform.

In C – Ian and Benjamin will hopefully expose more agricultural installations that will continue to give us further insights into the daily life, agriculture, food processing, etc of the ancient site.

In G – my team has begun the effort to locate the city gate. Either prophetically or presumptively we have called this new area – G – in hopes that we will be able to locate it. Time will tell if our hypothesis is right or wrong… stay tuned.

June 17, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Information for team members

About 10 days ago, I sent out various files and info to the 2018 team members at Safi.

If you are a team member and did not receive these materials (meaning that somehow your email did not receive the materials) – please write an email and I’ll make sure to send them to you.

Aren

June 16, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Sneak peak: Objectives of the 2018 season

With just a week to go before the 2018 season starts, here is a short overview of the objectives of the upcoming season.

To start with, this will be first season, since the very beginning of the project (in 1996), where our excavations will focus solely on the lower city. For now, all the excavation areas in the upper city have been closed. That said, there is a good chance that we will return for a short season in Area F during the spring of 2019, to check out a very specific issue that is remains unanswered.

We will have a nice sized team this year, and in the 2nd and 3rd weeks we will be close to 100 team members working on site. This includes participants from all over the world – archaeologists, students and volunteers. Go team!

In the lower city, we will be excavating in three areas:

Area D East: We will continue excavating in the eastern part of Area D, where we believe that we have found the city gate. Jeff Chadwick will be taking over as field director of the area, following several years that this area was expertly directed by Amit Dagan.

Two new areas will be opened in the lower city, based on the results of the magnetometry survey that Andy Creekmore and his team conducted last year. And in fact, this survey showed some very interesting anomalies in the parts of the lower city between Area D in the west and Area K in the east.

Area M: Will be directed by Maria Eniukhina, and will focus on a location in which the remote sensing indicates that there may be buildings and/or streets.

Area Y: Will be directed by Jill Katz, and will focus on what looks like, based on the remote sensing, a large building with several rooms, with apparent evidence of high temperature fires.

It must be stressed that these assessments are based on the remote sensing – and clearly, only after we start excavating, will we be able to say what in fact will be found in these new areas. I believe this will be VERY interesting, and based on the the stratigraphy in other parts of the lower city, there are good chances that the Iron Age remains are very close to surface!

In addition to this, there are three other things that are planned:

* Additional remote sensing (Ground Penetrating Radar [GPR] and perhaps magnetometry) in the lower city, that will be carried out by Andy and his team in the last week of the season. This will supplement and expand on the remote sensing conducted last season, and in particular, compare between two remote sensing methods (GPR and magnetometry).

* Some very specific probes will be conducted in Area D West by Vanessa Workma, to check out some details relating to the Iron IIA metal production zone.

* Check out and plan for the possible small-scale spring season to be carried out in Area F, to conduct a limited probe into the MB and EB levels.

To this we can add that we will be trying out some new equipment (toys…) this season, including our new drones, a GoPro camera, and related hardware and software.

All told – I believe we going to have a great season – with lots of finds and LOTS of fun.

No less important – I will continually update throughout the season.

Aren

 

June 15, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Newspaper article about one of the volunteer team members!

John Stringer, a team member for the 2018 season, who is joining us from New Zealand, sent me a newspaper article that appeared down under, which tells of his upcoming participation in the dig!

Nice article – even if a little inaccurate in some of the details (e.g. – we DID NOT find Goliath’s tomb…), but they did spell John’s name correctly! :-)

June 13, 2018

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

New Paper Published – Trade and Exchange in the Southern Levant in the 13th Century BCE – Shai et al.

We are pleased to announce the publication of a paper entitled:

Trade and Exchange in the Southern Levant in the 13th Century BCE: A View from Tel Burna, a Town in the Shephelah, Israel” authored by Itzhaq Shai, Casey Sharp, Antonio de Freitas, Deborah Cassuto, and Chris McKinny, Pp. 177-183 in Interchange in Pre- and Protohistory, BAR S2891, edited by Ana Cruz and Juan F. Gibaja, published by BAR Publishing (Oxford, 2018).

This paper deals with a variety of aspects related to trade in Late Bronze Canaan relating specifically the finds from Area B1. Way to go team!

 

 

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Water puddles at Tell es-Safi/Gath in mid-June!

Today, I was on site, guiding a group and came upon something that I have not seen in the 25 odd years I’ve been hanging around Tell es-Safi/Gath.

Yesterday and today, there was quite an unusual rain event throughout the country – and there were several impressive rain showers.

When I got to the tell, the dirt roads near the tell were muddy and with puddles. And, when I got to the tell, there were actual puddles on the dirt road next to Area D in the lower city! Remember – this is mid-June and in most years, the last rains were over in April or early May!

This really is something extraordinary – and hopefully, will be good for the new areas that we are opening – in that the topsoil won’t be very dry and hard.

Here’s a picture so that you believe me:

June 12, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

A week and half to the 2018 season!

The countdown continues! It’s only a week and half to the beginning of the 2018 season! Looking forward to the team getting together – old timers and first timers – and for the great finds of the season!

Woohoo! :-)

June 08, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Some pre-season work at the tell

Yesterday (Thursday, June 7th), Louise, Maria, Vanessa and me went out to the tell, to do some work at the tell. This included: measuring worked masonry in several areas (Louise), and trying to set up the points in the two new areas (M and Y) in the lower city, and most importantly, getting used to some of our new equipment (or as some would say, having a chance to play with some new toys) – a GoPro (Hero 6 Black with a really nice gimbel grip) and a Mavic Pro drone.

Louise got a lot done, the measuring didn’t work out since someone destroyed our GPS base point that survived from last year (until just a week ago!), and we definitely managed to try out/play with our new equipment/toys…:-)

Here are a few pictures:

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June 04, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Lecture, field trip and other “extra-excavation” activities for the 2018 season

See below a link to the schedule of the lectures, field trips and other “extra-excavation” activities that we will have in the 2018 season – which is starting is less than 3 weeks! It’s going to be great!

Lecture schedule 2018

Needless to say – this is a basis for change…

May 28, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Quick visit to the site today

This afternoon, I was on a quick visit to the site with some people from the Nature and Parks Authority, who are the “landowners” of the tell. We met to talk over current and future plans on the site, and to start thinking about what areas will be covered over once excavations are finished in the various areas, and what areas will have various levels of conservation.

Walked around a large part of the site – and all told – things are looking good!

And its now less than a month to we begin! Digging fever is developing! :-)

Aren

May 17, 2018

Calixtlahuaca Archaeological Project

Obsidian Sourcing

by Angela Huster


While we have posted here about exporting obsidian samples for chemical sourcing – in order to determine which volcano the obsidian came from – I realized that we never posted anything about the results.

Chemical sourcing techniques measure the amount of different elements in a sample. Since different volcanoes (or even different eruptions from the same volcano) have difference “fingerprints” of rarer elements, archaeological samples can then be matched to their source area this way. We used two different techniques, XRF (by Adrian Burke) and INAA (by the MURR lab), which agreed pretty well for the subset of samples which were analyzed both ways.

Getting from the results of the sourcing analyses to the actual frequencies of obsidian from different sources at the Calixtlahuaca ended up being a multi-step process due to how we selected samples. First, the obsidian that we found included both grey and green pieces. Since green obsidian in Central Mexico is almost always from the Pachuca source in Hidalgo and is easy to visually identify, we only selected a few pieces from each household for analysis, just to confirm that that it came from Pachuca – and it did! This means that the actual percentage of Pachuca obsidian at the site is what we identified visually, not the much lower number in the sourcing results. Second, when we picked the grey obsidian samples, we tried to get pieces representing different production techniques and artifact types for each household, but the resulting samples weren’t necessarily representative of the different artifact types in the parent assemblage. When we got out results back, we realized that most of our grey obsidian blades were from Ucareo in Michoacan, while most our grey obsidian bifaces and flakes were from Otumba, in the Basin of Mexico. As a result, we also had to correct our frequencies to account for the types of lithic technologies in our sourcing samples (using Brad Andrew’s typological lithic analysis data). This is why you should think very carefully about your sampling strategy before you select artifacts; your results are only as representative as your samples were!

Once we did all that, our results showed that most of the obsidian at Calixtlahuaca came from three sources; Ucareo in the Tarascan Empire, and Otumba and Pachuca in the Aztec Empire.  We also had occasional pieces from seven other sources, including four pieces from minor Toluca Valley sources. The proportions of the three major sources change over time, with increasing percentages of material from the Aztec Pachuca and Otumba sources over time (Figure 1). However, for all phases, the percentages of Ucareo obsidian at Calixtlahuaca are much higher than at other sites in Central Mexico (Golitko and Feinman 2015). This might be related to the presence of intrusive sites with Matlatzinca style ceramics near the Ucareo source (Hernandez and Healan 2008).

Figure 1. The percentages of obsidian from difference sources at Calixtlahuaca over time, after various correction factors were applied.


Another way to think about obsidian source frequencies is whether the volume of obsidian at a site is changing over time. One way to do this is to calculate the ratio of obsidian artifacts to ceramic sherds. At Calixtlahuaca, the volume of obsidian reaching the site during the Yata (LPC-B) phase drops, meaning that even though there is a higher percentage of obsidian from Aztec sources, this is because there is less Ucareo obsidian reaching the site, not because there is actually more Aztec obsidian (Figure 2). This is interesting because it suggests that the near-total Aztec monopoly on obsidian at other sites might have been due to cutting off access to other sources, rather than flooding the market with increased supply.

Figure 2. The frequencies of obsidian from difference sources per 1000 sherds over time at Calixtlahuaca





Works Cited:

Golitko, Mark and Gary M. Feinman
                2015       Procurement and Distribution of Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican Obsidian 900 BC-AD 1520: a Social Network Analysis. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 2015(22):206-247.

Hernández, Christine L. and Dan M. Healan
                2008       The Role of Late Pre-Contact Colonial Enclaves in the Development of the Postclassic Ucareo Valley, Michoacan, Mexico. Ancient Mesoamerica 19(2):265-282.


May 16, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

New article: Earliest bit in the ancient near east from a donkey from Tell es-Safi/Gath

A new article from the Safi team has just appeared
In this study, spearheaded by Haskel Greenfield, we discuss evidence for the earliest bit reported from the ancient near east, from a donkey from the EB III levels at Tell es-Safi/Gath.
The article is entitled:
Greenfield HJ, Shai I, Greenfield TL, Arnold ER, Brown A, Eliyahu A, Maeir, AM (2018) Earliest evidence for equid bit wear in the ancient Near East: The “ass” from Early Bronze Age Tell eṣ-Ṣâfi/Gath, Israel. PLoS ONE 13(5): e0196335. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0196335
And here is the abstract:
Analysis of a sacrificed and interred domestic donkey from an Early Bronze Age (EB) IIIB (c. 2800–2600 BCE) domestic residential neighborhood at Tell eṣ-Ṣâfi/Gath, Israel, indicate the presence of bit wear on the Lower Premolar 2 (LPM2). This is the earliest evidence for the use of a bit among early domestic equids, and in particular donkeys, in the Near East. The mesial enamel surfaces on both the right and left LPM2 of the particular donkey in question are slightly worn in a fashion that suggests that a dental bit (metal, bone, wood, etc.) was used to control the animal. Given the secure chronological context of the burial (beneath the floor of an EB IIIB house), it is suggested that this animal provides the earliest evidence for the use of a bit on an early domestic equid from the Near East.
Hope you find this interesting,
Aren

May 13, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

The Tell es-Safi/Gath airforce commencement!

The first of a series of two different types of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that will be put into regular use in the Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project has arrived.

While in the past we have regularly used UAVs for aerial photography, as of the coming season, we will have our own UAVs for our use! This will include a DJI Mavic Pro for regular and 3D photography and a DJI M600 for airborne LIDAR and multispectral scanning.

So far, the Mavic Pro has arrived, and last week, a bunch of us (Maria, Shira, Vanessa and Aren), went out to the drone field, to start learning how to use these great instruments.

I see a lot of interesting data for analytic purposes – and a lot of fun! :-)

Here’s some pictures from our training session:

May 11, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Prof. Zohar Amar’s new website

Prof. Zohar Amar, a colleague in the Dept. of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology at Bar-Ilan University, has put online a very nice website “Antiquities of Nature and Realia in Israel” – that deals with a broad range of aspects relating to the realia of nature, agriculture, medicine, technology and other aspects in antiquity and contemporary modern cultures, with particular emphasis on how this is reflected in ancient Jewish sources (from the Bible until modern Jewish rabbinical sources).

The website is in Hebrew and English – so check it out. Has a lot of very interesting materials!

Aren

May 08, 2018

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Matt Gets Tenure!

Congratulations to Matt for receiving tenure from the University of Maryland! Way to go Matt! Well-deserved!

 

May 03, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

“Worlds in Disarray: Prehistory and the Present”: Lecture by Prof. Louise Hitchcock, Univ. of Melbourne, May 21st

For those of you will are or will be in Melbourne on Monday, May 21st, Louise Hitchcock will be presenting a lecture “Worlds in Disarray: Prehistory and the Present”.

This lecture examines the relationship between social and technological acceleration, class conflict, natural disaster, and systems collapse in the ancient Mediterranean and in modern western society through an examination of globalization, populism and piracy.

Here is a flyer about the lecture: Louise_Worlds in Disarray Flyer

April 23, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Great News for Dr. Eric Welch!

Kudos and congratulations to Dr. Eric Welch, long time senior staff member of the Safi team, and director of Area K, for his new position as Senior Lecturer, in the Lewis Honors College at the University of Kentucky.

The good news is now that Eric has moved from Kansas to Kentucky, we can still keep the “K” in Area K! :-)

Way to go Eric!

Here’s a great picture of Eric (on the right, with the baseball hat) in Area K, with Prof. Amnon Albeck, vice rector of BIU (on the left).

April 22, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Safi related papers at MNEME: Past and Memory in the Aegean Bronze Age, the 17th International Aegean Conference

Louise has been kind enough to write the following:

Safi staff and alumni gave the following papers this past week at MNEME: Past and Memory in the Aegean Bronze Age, the 17th International Aegean Conference, Venice, 17-21 April 2018. The proceedings will be published by Peeters Press in the prestigious Aegaeum series.

Here are the various papers that were presented:

Brent DAVIS, Emilia BANOU, Louise HITCHCOCK & Anne CHAPINCuration in the Bronze Age Aegean: Objects as Material Memories 

Louise HITCHCOCK, Aren MAEIR, and Madaline HARRIS-SCHOBERTomorrow Never Dies: Post-Palatial Memories of the Aegean Late Bronze Age in the Mediterranean 

Caroline TULLY & Sam CROOKS The Self Possessed: Framing Identity in Late Minoan Glyptic

Jacob E. HEYWOOD & Brent DAVIS Funerary Iconography and the Stimulation of Memory

Way to go team!

 

April 20, 2018

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Registration Deadline Extended – May 15

We are rapidly approaching this summer’s season – and it promises to be very interesting – as we plan on opening at least one new area! And without giving away too many details – in this new area, we will be searching for something which rhymes with “date” 🙂

Speaking of dates – we are extending the registration deadline from May 1 to May 15 – see you still have some time to sign up.

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Articles on Safi in Jewish newspapers in the US

Several Jewish newspapers in the US have published articles about the Tell es-Safi/Gath excavations – and I’ve been called “Israel’s Indiana Jones” (sigh…) – but in general, they are very positive and appealing articles.

Check them out, here and here.

Aren

Jill Katz about archaeology in Israel

Yeshiva University put out a series of essays on Israel at 70. Among others, Jill Katz, long-time senior staff member in the Tell es-Safi/Gath Project, has contributed a very nice essay about archaeology in Israel.

Check it out!

Aren

April 19, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Overview of contemporary archaeology is Israel

Amanda Borschel-Dan, of the Times of Israel, put out a very nice overview of the state of the art of archaeology in Israel. For this, she interviewed a nice group of colleagues in the fields, including me.

I even got the lead quote on the articles heading: ‘STARTUP NATION IS SEEN, FULL BLOWN, IN ISRAELI ARCHAEOLOGY’

Check it out!

And happy Israel Independence Day to all!

Aren

 

April 11, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Tell es-Safi/Gath, Vol. 1 – at close out prices!

For those of you interested in having your own personal copy of the first volume of the final reports on the excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath, the publisher is offering the volume at a close-out price (10 Euro plus postage!).

If you are interested, contact Stefan Wimmer – stefan.wimmer@uni-muenchen.de.

As there are only a few copies left – I suggest you do this ASAP – if you are interested!

April 10, 2018

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

New Book out by Matt!

Our very own Matt Suriano has just published a book entitled A History of Death in the Hebrew Bible with Oxford University Press. Way to go Matt!

 

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Here are a few main arguments in the book:

  • Reinterprets death in the Hebrew Bible as a dynamic process that can continue after burial rather than a static event
  • Suggests the tomb represented a positive image of postmortem existence and a constructive ideal of the afterlife
  • Compares Hebrew funerary inscriptions from the Iron Age with motifs found in biblical literature
  • Integrates the archaeological analysis of Iron Age mortuary remains from Judah with the interpretation of death in the Hebrew Bible

April 08, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

2nd Issue of Near Eastern Archaeology devoted to the Safi project is out!

The second issue of Near Eastern Archaeology (81/1, 2018) entirely devoted to the Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological project has appeared!

Following the first issue (80/4, 2017, mentioned here), which dealt with various general issues and the pre-Iron Age finds, the 2nd issue deals primarily with various aspects relating to the Iron Age – and particularly the Philistine culture. In addition, there are articles that deal with later periods and several general issues, such as archaeological science, archaeobotany, physical anthropology, glyptics, stone tools, the site survey and other issues.

So, between these two issues, an excellent overview of the project and its results are now available to the public! Below is the “front matter” of the issue, with the full table of contents – and the guest editor’s introduction that I wrote.

Check it out!

April 04, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Two Safi-related papers at the ICAANE 2018 in Munich

Although I’m not attending this conference, two Safi-related papers are being presented this week at the ICAANE 2018 in Munich.

  1. Kent Fowler, Elizabeth Walker, Jon Ross, Haskel Greenfield and Aren Maeir (presented by Haskel), is entitled: “The age and sex of Early Bronze Age potters from Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel” (Tuesday, April 3rd, 17:00)
  2. Philipp W. Stockhammer and Aren M Maeir (presented by Philipp), is entitled: “Current Archaeological Approaches to The Philistines” (Thursday, April 5th, at 14:00).

April 02, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

One month left to sign up for the 2018 season at Tell es-Safi/Gath

If you have not registered to be a team member of the 2018 season of excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath – now is the time!

There is just one month left until the deadline – May 1st, 2018.

So – don’t waste any more time and deliberate – go here and sign up!

You will have one of the most memorable and enriching experiences of your life!

 

March 30, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Conference on Ashkelon and its environs in honor of Dr. Nahum Sagiv – May 9th, 2018

On May 9th, 2018, a conference will be held in honor Dr. Nahum Sagiv, marking his retirement from Ashkelon Academic College.

The meeting will be held at Ashkelon Academic College in Ashkelon. Various lectures will be presented (in Hebrew) on various topics relating to the history and archaeology of Ashkelon, the coastal plain and the Shephelah – including several on the Bronze and Iron Ages.

Here is the schedule:

March 29, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Panoramic view from Area E

One more picture from the work in Area E on Tuesday – a really nice panoramic view, looking east to south east, from Area E. Thanks to Oren for the picture!

March 28, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Is Tell es-Safi/Gath in Central Europe?

As mentioned previously, yesterday some of the team went out for day of work in Area E. In addition to the interesting work, the weather was quite unusual. Early in the morning it was cold and foggy and from mid-morning onward it was like the summer.

Here is a picture that Oren took just before 7 am, looking south towards the tell. Look how green and lush the tell and the surroundings look – and the cloud sitting right on the top of it! Looks like a scene from somewhere in central Europe! Quite different from how must of the team remembers the team – during the summer…

March 27, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Day in Area E

Today, March 27th, a small Safi team did some work in Area E. The team included Aren, Shira, Maria, Vanessa, Adi, Elisabetta, Johanna, J, Oren and Mickey, and we also had a visit from colleagues from the Czech Republic.

We spent the day on site for several reasons:

  1. To fill in some missing info in the Area E plans
  2. To take 14C samples from the various levels that were exposed in the deep pit down to bedrock in Area E (mentioned here)
  3. To take samples from some very interesting mudbricks that we noticed in Area E a few months ago. We noticed that several of the walls are comprised of mudbricks of alternating textures and colors – almost in a checkerboard pattern.

All told, the day was very successful, and we managed to do all the things we planned.

The tell itself was a splendid green from the winter foliage. In fact, in the first few hours, the tell was completely covered by a cloud (see video below of the proverbial “pea soup” for those who understand…), but by 9 am, the sun was out and it felt like summer!

See some pictures and a video from today below:

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WhatsApp Image 2018-03-27 at 6.18.53 PM2aaa5671-6206-4da6-abc8-147a2aef5768

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My lecture at the Priests and Priesthood conference

As previously mentioned, I participated last week in a very interesting conference on priests and priesthood in the ancient Near East and other cultures.

Some of the lectures from the conference are now online, including mine, which deals with archaeological evidence of priests and Levites from the Iron Age Southern Levant.

Check it out – and wait until the very end to hear my joke about the Jewish man who wanted to be a Cohen! (and mea culpa for my mispronunciation of “tithes”…)

:-)

Aren

March 26, 2018

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

New Paper in Honor of Kay Fountain

We are pleased to announce that another paper dealing with finds from Tel Burna has been published. This paper is a festschrift honoring Kay Fountain on the occasion of her retirement. Kay regularly joins us in the field – and we were thrilled to be able to offer this study!

And a special shout-out goes to Benjamin Yang for his first publication! Way to go!

The full bibliographic details are as follows:

2018: McKinny, C., B. Yang, D. Cassuto, and I. Shai. “Illuminating a Canaanite and Judahite Town: The Archaeological Background of Tel Burna.” In The Old Testament in Theology and Teaching: Essays in Honor of Kay Fountain, edited by Teresa Chai and Dave Johnson. Asia Pacific Theological Seminary Press.

March 25, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

TV interview about Moshe Dayan’s antiquities collection

This weekend, there was a TV documentary on the history of political corruption in Israel, and one of the topics was Moshe Dayan’s obsession with collecting antiquities (and excavating them illegally) and the fact that the government “looked the other way” at the time.

As part of this discussion, I was interviewed at the Israel Museum, where various objects from his collection are on exhibit.

See the clip below. I appear at 9:05, 9:50 and 10:00

Aren

https://www.mako.co.il/AjaxPage?jspName=embedHTML5video.jsp&galleryChannelId=d2207bfe61452610VgnVCM100000290c10acRCRD&videoChannelId=795719234e7c0610VgnVCM100000290c10acRCRD&vcmid=f99e7bfe61452610VgnVCM100000290c10acRCRD

Sad news: Prof. Ephraim Stern has passed away

Sad news has arrived that Prof. Ephraim Stern, z”l, professor emeritus at the Hebrew University, and the excavator (among other sites) of Dor has passed away.

He was one of the central figures in the field of archaeology in Israel for many years.

May his memory be blessed.

March 22, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

60th birthday Festschrift and party!

Yesterday (Wednesday, March 21, 2018), a party was organized (more or less a surprise…;-) to celebrate my 60th birthday, and present to me a festschrift prepared in honor of this milestone!

The very moving party was held at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem. Many friends, family, and of course – many of the volume contributors – were at the party.

I was presented with the proofs of the enormous volume – edited by Itzik Shai, Jeff Chadwick, Louise Hitchcock, Amit Dagan and Joe Uziel. It has over 64 articles, more than 100 contributors – and close to 1100 pages!

Wow! This was so nice – and I so appreciated it!

Here are some pictures:

 

March 20, 2018

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

New Paper in ANE Today

Fresh off the “press” – a new short paper (with lots of illustrations) dealing with aspects of Late Bronze Age cult as found at Tel Burna has been published by ANE Today (ASOR).

The full reference is below:

2018: Shai, I. and McKinny, C. “Canaanite Religion at Tel Burna in the 13th century BCE.” Ancient Near East Today 6(3). 

We’d also like to use this opportunity to remind you that we are rapidly approaching this summer’s excavation season! Here is the application – don’t miss your opportunity to take part in the next cool discovery 🙂

March 19, 2018

Calixtlahuaca Archaeological Project

Publication Round-Up


Angela Huster

The past two years have seen the publication of several articles, book chapters, and a dissertation related to the project. If you would like a copy, please contact me or the authors. (If you've written something on the project and I missed it, please let me know!)


Huster, Angela C.
                2018       Regional-Level Exchange in Postclassic Central Mexico. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 50: 40-53.

This article summarizes Middle and Late Postclassic trade patterns in ceramics in the Basin of Mexico, Morelos, and Toluca Valley, using data from Calixtlahuaca and several other published projects. It evaluates three hypotheses for the origins of the Postclassic market system and finds both bottom-up and top-down processes played roles, but that that the market system was not a product of the Aztec Empire.


Huster, Angela C.
                2016       The Effects of Aztec Conquest on Provincial Commoner Households at Calixtlahuaca, Mexico. Doctoral Dissertation, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ.

An evaluation of Aztec rulership strategies, using Calixtlahuaca as a case study. Includes trade, craft production, household wealth, and identity based on domestic ritual and food preparation.


Manin, Aurélie, Raphaël Cornette and Christine Lefèvre
                2016       Sexual dimorphism among Mesoamerican turkeys: a key for understanding past husbandry. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 10:526-533.

This paper is an analysis of turkey bones from multiple Classic and Postclassic sites in Western Mesoamerica, including Calixtlahuaca. It shows that Mesoamerican turkey flocks were heavily skewed toward female birds, which is consistent with flocks managed for a mix of egg and meat production.


Manin, Aurélie and Christine Lefèvre
                2016       The use of animals in Northern Mesoamerica, between the Classic and the Conquest (200-1521 AD). An attempt at regional synthesis on central Mexico. Anthropozoologica 51(2):127-147.


This paper is an analysis of faunal material from multiple Classic and Postclassic sites in Western Mesoamerica, including Calixtlahuaca. Calixtlahuaca shows a relatively heavy reliance on dog, and somewhat less on hunted on garden-hunted species.



Sergheraert, Maëlle
                2016       Aztec Provinces of the Central Highlands.In The Oxford Handbook of the Aztecs, edited by D. L. Nichols and E. Rodríguez-Alegría, pp. 463-472. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

An overview of the archaeological and ethnohistorical evidence for Aztec rule in Central Mexico, using Calixtlahuaca as a case study.


Smith, Michael E.
                2016       Aztec Urbanism: Cities and Towns. In The Oxford Handbook of the Aztecs, edited by D. L. Nichols and E. Rodríguez-Alegría, pp. 201-218. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

An overview of organization, form, population, and common features of Aztec cities, including Calixtlahuaca.


Umberger, Emily and Casandra Hernández Fahan
                2017       Matlatzinco Before the Aztecs: José García Payón and the Sculptural Corpus of Calixtlahuaca. Ancient Mesoamerica28(1):1-19.

This work summarizes Emily, Casandra and Maëlle’s work on the stone sculptures from the Garcia Payón excavations at Calixtlahuaca. While the best-known sculptures from the site are Aztec-style pieces, there are also a large number of pieces in a local Matlatzinca style, which are described for the first time in this article.

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

International Conference: Biblical Exegesis Through the Ages (BIU, May 9-10, 2018)

Dr. Leeor Gottlieb, RIAB Center member, is the organizer of a very interesting international conference “Biblical Exegesis Through the Ages”, which will be held at Bar-Ilan University, on May 9-10, 2018. The conference will be held under the auspices of the Faculty of Jewish Studies of BIU, the Israel Society for Biblical Research, the RIAB Minerva Center, and the Zalman Shamir Dept. of Bible at BIU.

Here is the detailed program of the conference:

March 18, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Safi-related papers at the “Young Scholars Conference” – March 15th, 2018

Last Thursday (March 15, 2018), the annual “Young Scholars’ Conference”, of the Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology of Bar-Ilan University, took place.

In this conference, MA and PhD students from the department present lectures on their research. It was a very interesting (and well organized) day (Shira and Michal were the organizers), and three of the Safi team members gave papers:

  • Nati spoke about the ethnic identity of the Philistine temple at Nahal Patish
  • Vanessa spoke about understanding Iron Age iron workshops
  • Maria spoke about the use of astragali bones in the Iron Age

Here are a few pictures:

March 07, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Happy birthday to Vanessa!

To wish Vanessa a happy birthday, there was a little celebration in the lab today.

Mazal tov!

March 06, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Podcast on archaeology, Tell es-Safi/Gath and other things

A few days ago, I was interviewed for a podcast by Alex Sorin from foreigncy.us.

The interview is now online.

You can listen to the podcast here or here

Enjoy!

Aren

February 25, 2018

iMalqata

Broken Dishes

Susan Allen

While the pottery of the West Settlement has been buffeted by millennia of wind and water (from the wadi that runs through the site), much has been recovered from our recent excavations. This year, we were able to build on the progress made last year by Egyptian interns Aisha Mohamed Montaser and Hussein Fawzi Zaki, with the expert assistance of Pamela Rose. Using the corpus of pottery fabrics and forms developed by Pamela at Amarna, we are now tackling the substantial number of still-to-be-analyzed pottery groups.

SusanCollection

A collection of sherds from the West Settlement

From each context (living surfaces, trash pits and other features) all pottery is collected and bagged. The first step is to lay out each group and divide the sherds into the two basic clay types: Nile silt and Marl clay (clay mined from desert sources). These are then divided between those from open forms (such as bowls), those from closed forms (jars, amphorae), and non-containers such as stands or lids. Each group is then sorted by surface treatment. Diagnostic sherds (rims, bases, handles, etc.) are counted and set aside for further analysis, comparison to the Amarna corpus, and in some cases for drawing. The body sherds, if they cannot be associated with a diagnostic form, are recorded and disposed of at a set location on site.

At this preliminary stage, it appears that the majority of the pottery is made of Nile silt and includes bowls and dishes of all sizes and medium-sized jars. Only a small percentage are Marl clay sherds, usually from large amphorae. Some of the bowls, especially the large ones, show indications of burning and were probably used as braziers, while smaller dishes were sometimes used as lamps. Each group collected usually includes a few pieces of the beautiful blue-painted decorated pottery that is characteristic of the late 18th Dynasty and particularly of the reigns of Amenhotep III and the Amarna period.

 

Left: Body and rim sherds from a blue-painted vessel found in the West Settlement. Right: Blue-painted vessel from The Met’s earlier excavations at Malqata (Rogers Fund, 1911, 11.215.462)

The shapes and wares analyzed so far support the interpretation of this site as a settlement area, where non-elite inhabitants of the complex were living. The predominance of dishes, bowls and jars may show that they were used for the consumption of food prepared elsewhere at Malqata. The large Marl clay sherds mixed with a few imported types from elsewhere in the Levant come from wine and oil amphorae which would have been stored and consumed in areas like the Palace. These large sturdy sherds may then have been reused in the West Settlement as leveling and filling material.

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Jeff Emanuel’s new book on the Sea Peoples, Homer, the LB/Iron Age transition and more

Just received my copy (as I wrote a “back cover blurb”) of Jeff Emanuel’s excellent new book, in which he examines the LB/early Iron I context of the “Second Cretan Lie” from Homer’s Odyssey. In it he discusses the context of the raiding activities and places it within the context of the Sea Peoples’ activities during the LB/Iron I transition. I highly recommend the book!

The full title is:

Emanuel, J. P. 2017 Black Ship and Sea Raiders: The Late Bronze and Early Iron Age Context of Odysseus’ Second Cretan Lie. Lanham, MA: Lexington Books.

Here are pictures of the front and back covers:

February 24, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Appreciation of Hershel Shanks in BAR

The just published issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) is dedicated to the honor of Hershel Shanks, the founding editor of BAR. In it, there is a series of short appreciations of Hershel, written by many, including some of the leading archaeologists in the field.

See here a PDF of the various appreciations. I’m on page 59:

BAR-MAMJ18-Celebrating Hershel Shanks

February 23, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

New paper by Louise Hithcock and Aren Maeir

A new paper by Louise and Aren has appeared.

The full title is:

Hitchcock, L. A., and Maeir, A. M. 2017. Hesperos and Phosphoros: How Research on Aegean-Eastern Interactions Can Inform Studies of the West. Pp. 253–60 in Hesperos: The Aegean Seen from the West, eds. M. Fotiadis, R. Laffineur, Y. Lolos and A. Vlachopoulos. Aegaeum 41. Leuven: Peeters.

See here for a copy of the corrected proofs.

The paper deals with: the recursive extent of influence between the Aegean interactions with neighboring regions remains an area of investigation that continues to generate enthusiastic scholarly interest and lively debate. Here, we outline the importance of current theoretical perspectives on Aegean interaction with the East (particularly Philistia and Cyprus), which may be conceptually helpful to the study of similar interactions with central and western Europe. We also draw on a couple of very interesting examples from the conference to illustrate our positions. The archaeological, historical, and anthropological approaches we touch upon include gift exchange, entanglement, transculturalism, transnationalism, and piracy as a model of limited migration.

Enjoy!

February 22, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Very interesting find: Possible bulla of Isaiah from Jerusalem

Reports are out on a very interesting find from Jerusalem – an Iron Age IIB bulla (clay sealing) mentioning a person by the name of Isaiah, which the excavator (Dr. Eilat Mazar) is suggesting as possibly being the well-known biblical prophet of that name!

If this is correct, this would be another item to add to the list of biblical figures known from the archaeological finds.

See here and here for articles discussing this, presenting some of the arguments for, and against, the suggested identification.

Very interesting – and without a doubt – something that will be much debated, discussed and noted in the future.

We have quarries and quarried masonry and object – but nothing like this!

At Tell es-Safi/Gath and its surroundings, we do have quite a few ancient quarries – and many objects and masonry from such quarries, but nothing like this!

Check it out:

Easter Island statues and quarries

February 21, 2018

iMalqata

Step by step by step by step…

Anthony Crosby

One of the priorities for this season at the King’s Palace at Malqata was to document, protect and interpret the one palace stairs that remains. Four palace staircases had been identified when the Metropolitan Museum’s excavations concluded in 1911, two of which had been recorded previously by Robb DePeyster Tytus and Percy Newberry during their 1901-1903 excavations.

The two staircases recorded by Tytus are highlighted in yellow. The one at the right is still partially preserved today. Detail of the palace plan published by Tytus in his preliminary report on the excavations in 1903. In this plan, south is at the top.

Only one of the staircases documented by the Metropolitan Museum is still visible today and that one is in an important interpretive area just north of the main central courtyard. Undoubtedly there were other stairways and ramps to connect various parts of the palace but the preserved staircase is apparently the only one that clearly provided access to the second level of the main palace area.

Model of a house with stairs leading to the roof. Gift of the Egyptian Research Account and the British School of Archaeology in Egypt, 1907 (07.231.11).

The remains of this staircase consist of what I assume is the first step of four that were documented on the early site plans along with three parallel mud brick walls that formed the stair well. Both the steps and the adjacent mud brick walls were shown by Tytus with a flight of stairs on the west ascending to the south and the parallel flight of stairs on the east ascending to the north (see arrows on the plan above). The remaining mud brick walls and step (below) support this interpretation.

Facing south: the stair well of the remaining staircase with preserved step; and a plan of the staircase (in yellow) made by the Museum’s excavators in 1911.

Okay, so we have one step made of mud bricks which are 17 cm long by 35 cm wide by 10 cm high, and the remains of three parallel existing mud brick walls 5.7 meters long that define approximately the overall width of the stairs. That’s a start, but what about the height of the riser, or step, and what about the width of the tread?

We can start by measuring the steps as recorded in the 1911 plan (above) and interpreting the width of the tread using the map’s graphic scale. This results in a tread of somewhere between 35 and 50 cm. This is quite a large range but the drawing that we are measuring was produced at a scale of 1 to 200 and, at that scale, the width of a line on the drawing could translate to several centimeters. There were three other avenues of research we pursued to more clearly define the stair details.

The first was to look at other examples of stairs that are contemporary and are also part of Malqata. I reviewed the documentation of several stairs at the site of Kom el Samak located just south of the palace site. The relevant structure was a desert shrine excavated by Waseda University in 1974. There were several monumental stepped ramps, the gradient of which was too flat to fit in the allowable space at the palace. Another stairwat appeared more functional with treads of 43 cm and a riser of 11 cm. We also looked at stairs at the Amun Temple located approximately 300 meters north of the palace with approximately the same tread and riser as the Kom el Samak stairs.

Another important consideration and one that would help establish the staircase details was to calculate the number of steps and the height of the steps that could reach a second level. Based on architectural modeling done at Amarna and other sites. I assumed that the height necessary to reach the second level would be somewhere between 3.5 and 4 meters which would include the thickness of a roof or ceiling system. If I used the step height of 11 cm and a tread width of 43 cm, the maximum height of each flight would be 1 meter and a total height of 2 meters, clearly not enough. To achieve a steeper stairway that could reach the appropriate height, we can increase the height of the step or decrease the width of the tread, or a combination of both. Increasing the height of a step to 15 cm, keeping the same tread width and assuming a 1 meter landing between flights of stairs we can gain approximately 3.6 meters or 12 feet.

Continuing our research, we communicated directly with Barry Kemp on the staircases at Amarna. Previously I had reviewed his book on Amarna but found it didn’t have enough specific detail about stairs. However, we contacted Kemp directly and he shared several important details. “Staircases at Amarna were normally built from mud bricks of standard size laid on their long edge. Thus, if the width of the bricks was around 16 cm, then the steps or treads would have been about the same height…”

IMG_4033

Talatat blocks from a temple of Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten), discovered at Karnak Temple and included as part of a large reconstructed wall on display in the Luxor Museum.

Incorporating this important information into our design process would result in step height of 17 cm, as our remaining step consisted consists of bricks that are 17 cm wide. With an assumption that the second level would be approximately 3.6 to 4 meters higher than the first, 22 to 24 steps would be required. Assuming a landing of 1 meter, we divide the 4.7 meters by 11 or 12 steps for one flight and arrive at a tread width of 40-44 cm. Depending on the number of steps, the height reached by the stairs would be approximately 3.7 to 4.1 meters. The thickness of mortar and the variation in brick sizes could alter the actual number of steps to a minor degree. Of course we can never know the specific dimensions of the staircase, except the height of the steps, because all other information has been lost. However, this solution is logical as it incorporates the existing physical evidence, the documentation of the early Malqata excavations, and knowledge of normal construction practices of the period.

stairs_3

After the walls were capped, we laid out two additional steps to indicate the possible configuration of the lower stairway. The preserved step has been covered with sand.

Our next step was to construct a full size model of several stairs. We hope in the future to construct a partial staircase of four or five steps to show the general characteristics of a Malqata Palace stairway that is a considered response to the existing original conditions, to the earlier documentation at Malqata, to examples at similar sites and to traditional historic stair design.

 

 

February 20, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

New paper on Mesoscopic analysis of EB pottery from Safi

A new paper from the Safi project has appeared, spearheaded by Jon Ross from the University of Manitoba – a PhD student of Haskel Greenfield, and Safi team member for the last several years.

A copy of the proofs can be found here.

Here is the abstract:

In this paper, we propose an alternative analytical method for identifying vessel shaping techniques at the mesoscopic scale to complement current micro and macro methods in ceramic analysis. We demonstrate how this simple and low cost method permits clear and rapid identification of the signatures indicative of different pottery shaping techniques. The datasets that are generated using this method provide a new perspective on vessel structure for characterising neglected stages of the chaîne opératoire, with the analytical potential to shed further light on economic life, learning frameworks, and group identities. Material from the Early Bronze Age III of Tell eṣ-Ṣâfi/Gath, Israel are used to demonstrate the utility of the method on a site assemblage. We identify different combinations of coiling techniques used to make different vessel types and propose that potters are
specialising in the production of specific parts of the repertoire.

The full title is:

Ross, J., Fowler, K., Shai, I., Greenfield, H. J., and Maeir, A. M. 2018. A Scanning Method for the Identification of Pottery Forming Techniques at the Mesoscopic Scale: A Pilot Study in the Manufacture of Early Bronze Age III Holemouth Jars and Platters from Tell es-Safi/Gath. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 18: 551–61.

February 19, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Conference on “Priests and Priesthood in the Near East” – TAU, March 19-21, 2018

The full schedule for the upcoming conference on “Priests and Priesthood in the Near East: Social, Intellectual and Economic Aspects” is available (HT Jack Sasson).

This very interesting meeting (at which I’m also giving a paper), will be held at Tel Aviv University on Monday-Wednesday, March 19th-21st, 2018.

Here is the schedule:

Priests and Priesthood in the Near East: Social, Intellectual and Economic Aspects
Tel Aviv University, 19 – 21 March 2018

Monday, March 19
Bnei Zion Hall, Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of the Jewish People
09:30 – 10:00 Gathering
10:00 – 10:15 Greetings and opening remarks

Opening Address: Recent Discoveries from Ur / Tell Muqayyar (10:15 – 11:00)
Priests of Ur in the Old Babylonian Period: A Reappraisal in the Light
of the Discoveries at Ur / Tell Muqayyar in 2017
Dominique Charpin (Collège de France)

Keynote Session I: Origins of Near Eastern Priesthood (11:00 – 12:30)
Close to the Ruler and to the Gods: The Cultic Duties of the Cupbearer
and the Role of Priestesses and Priests in Early Dynastic Mesopotamia
Walther Sallaberger (LMU, Munich)
Babylonian Priesthood during the Third Millennium BCE: Between Sacred
and Profane
Piotr Steinkeller (Harvard University)

12:30 – 14:00 Reception

Gilman Building, Room 282
Priestly Identity in Mesopotamian Art and Material Culture (14:00 – 15:00)
Fashioning the Priesthood’s Identities in 3rd Millennium Mesopotamia
Through Objects and Images
Christina Tsouparopoulou (Cambridge University)
Identity Through Appearance: Babylonian Priestly Clothing
Louise Quillien (EPHE, Paris)

Biblical Priests between Text and Context (15:00 – 16:00)
“The priests, the Levites, and all the tribe of Levi, shall have no
part nor inheritance with Israel” (Deut 18:1): Is There Archaeological
Evidence of Priests and Priesthood in Iron Age Israel and Judah?
Aren Maeir (Bar Ilan University)
“Is there a Priest in the House?”: Identifying Jewish Priests
(Kohanim) in the Archaeology of Roman Judaea/Palaestina
Yonatan Adler (Ariel University)

16:00 – 16:30 Coffee Break

Keynote Session II: New Perspectives on Near Eastern Priesthood (16:30 – 18:00)
Priests in the City, Priests in the Kingdom: Discourse and Social
Change in the Babylonian Chronicles
Caroline Waerzeggers (Leiden University)
Near Eastern Priests: A Graeco-Roman perspective
Julietta Steinhauer (University College London)

Tuesday, March 20
Gilman Building, Room 496
Priesthood Identity in City-State and Empire (09:30 – 12:00)
Kings, Priests, and Power in the Neo-Assyrian Period
Shana Zaia (University of Helsinki)
In the Shadow of Oannes: Priesthood, Scholarship and Politics in
Hellenistic Babylonia
Kathryn Stevens (Durham University)

10:30 – 11:00 Coffee Break

The Two Wings of a Bird: Buddhism and the State in Early Medieval Japan
Mikael Adolphson (Cambridge University)
Altered by devotion (bhakti): Kings and Brahmins, Royal Courts and
Temples in Second Millennium South India
Ilanit Loewy-Schacham (Tel Aviv University)

12:00 – 13:30 Lunch Break

Social and Cultic Geographies (13:30 – 15:00)
Priests on the Move: Migrations of Priestly Families in First
Millennium Babylonia
Paul-Alain Beaulieu (University of Toronto)
Lower-ranking Priests: The Reed Workers from Borsippa
Kathleen Abraham (KU Leuven)
Geographies of Expertise and Entitlement: Brahman Priestly Migrations
in India Over the Longue Duree
Polly O’Hanlon (University of Oxford)

15:00 – 15:30 Coffee Break

Ethnic and Social Markers of Priesthood (15:30 – 16:30)
The Cults of Old Babylonian Susiana within its Socio-economic and
Ethno-linguistic Framework
Ran Zadok (Tel Aviv University)
Priests Associated with Hurrian Religious Beliefs and active in the
Hittite Kingdom
Stefano De Martino (University of Torino)

Wednesday, March 21
Gilman Building, Room 496
Choosing and Becoming a Priest (09:30 – 11:00)
Preconditions for the Priesthood in the Ancient Near East: A
Comparative Investigation
Jonathan Stökl (King’s College London)
The Economic, Social, and Religious Significance of Local Priests in
Hittite Anatolia
Michele Cammarosano (University of Würzburg)
“As a priest I offered to the goddess for myself”: The Hittite Kings as Priests
Amir Gilan (Tel Aviv University)

11:00 – 11:30 Coffee Break

Festival and Cultic Performance (11:30 – 13:00)
Priestly Colleges in North-Central Anatolia. Some Remarks on the
Tradition and Organization of Local Cults in the Second Millennium BCE
Piotr Taracha (University of Warsaw)
The Nissan Ceremony in Ezekiel in Light of the Akītu Festival
Tova Ganzel (Bar Ilan University)
The Role of the kalû-Priests in the Ancient Mesopotamian Temple Cult
Uri Gabbay (Hebrew University)

13:00 – 14:30 Lunch Break

Economy and Administration of the Cult (14:30 – 15:30)
Priests and Prebends in Old Babylonian Nippur
Wiebke Meinhold (University of Tübingen)
How to Run Your Neo-Babylonian Temple: A šatammu’s Guide
Yuval Levavi (Bar Ilan University)

15:30 – 16:00 Coffee Break

Concluding Session (16:00 – 17:00)
The Urukean Priesthood Between City and State Religion
Michael Jursa (University of Vienna) & Shai Gordin (Ariel University /
Tel Aviv University)
In Lieu of a Conclusion: Results and Open Questions
Michael Jursa (University of Vienna)

February 18, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Join the team at Tell es-Safi/Gath for the 2018 season!

Don’t miss your chance to join the 2018 team at the excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath.

Go to the online registration and sign up now – and have the experience of a lifetime!

 

February 16, 2018

iMalqata

Fallen Ceilings

Catharine Roehrig

When we started work at the Palace two weeks ago, we had the workmen clean the walls that were going to be capped in the area of the King’s bedchamber and its antechamber at the southern end of the palace. In the process, they uncovered a section of fallen ceiling next to a wall in the southern half of the antechamber. Interestingly, the pattern of this ceiling is not the same as the fallen ceiling discovered in the northern half of the same room by the Metropolitan Museum in the winter of 1910-1911.

Malqata-PA174

Looking east at pieces of the cow ceiling lying on the floor at the northern end of the antechamber. The decorated wall plaster at the center left is the east jamb of the antechamber entrance.

We know the exact location of the 1911 ceiling discovery because a photograph was taken of the fragments lying on the floor where they had fallen. (And yes, odd as it may seem, large numbers of the ceiling fragments were found lying face-up.) The pattern of this ceiling has a series of cows’ heads separated by spirals enclosing rosettes. At the time, it was possible to remove two large portions of this ceiling and set them in plaster. In the division of finds at the end of the year’s work, one section went to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and the other was sent to New York where it is now on display in gallery 119 (11.151.451).

11.215.451

Section of the cow ceiling that was given to the Museum in the division of finds in 1911. Rogers Fund, 1911 (11.215.451).

The pattern uncovered two weeks ago consists of alternating red and blue concave squares with rosettes in the center. The lens-shaped spaces between the concave squares are painted yellow and have green circles at the intersections. A similar ceiling pattern was found by Waseda University in a room at the north end of the Palace during their excavations here in the 1970s (http://www.egyptpro.sci.waseda.ac.jp/e-mp.html).

JEMKP_2018_J_second-ceiling-pattern

A ceiling fragment that was found while cleaning a wall in room J. This piece has the same pattern as the fallen ceiling, but was not found in situ.

 

Anyone who has visited the nobles’ tombs at Qurna has probably noticed that the ceilings often have more than one pattern, and the same seems to have been true in the King’s Palace.

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

Review of Brian Janeway’s book

My review of Brian Janeway’s very nice volume on the Aegean-style early Iron Age pottery from Tell Tayinat, in the Amuq Valley in southern Turkey, has just appeared.

While dealing with a site quite to the north of Tell es-Safi/Gath specifically and Philistia in general, the Aegean style pottery from Tayinat has generated a lot of interest due to the possible connections with the Philistine material culture and the dynamics of its appearance.

See here a link to read it.

The full title is:

Maeir, A. M. 2018. Review of Janeway, B. 2016. Sea Peoples of the Northern Levant? Aegean-Style Pottery from Early Iron Age Tell Tayinat. Studies in the Archaeology and History of the Levant 7. Harvard Semitic Museum: Cambridge, MA. Review of Biblical Literature 2018/02.

Enjoy,

Aren

 

February 15, 2018

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavations Official (and Unofficial) Weblog

More BIU PR photos in the lab

The BIU PR department took some photos in the lab for various PR uses. Various Safi team members and BIU students got a chance to star in a series of stunning photos!

They actually came out quite nice!

Departmental “Young Scholars’ Conference” – March 15th, 2018

The annual “Young Scholars’ Conference” of the Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology at Bar-Ilan University, will be held on Thursday, March 15th, 2018 (which is only 3 days before my 60th b-day…:-).

At the conference, which was organized by Shira Albaz (of Safi team fame) and Michal David (who has also been part of the Safi team), both doctoral students in the department, several of the MA and PhD students from the department will present papers relating to their research projects.

Among the various papers presented throughout the meeting, the Safi team will be represented by Nati Ohrbach, Vanessa Workman (who will both present in English) and Maria Enukhina. Go Safi!

In addition, at the end of the day, several stipends will be awarded to students in the department, in memory of several of the former teachers in the department.

Here is the schedule – do come and join us at this very interesting day!

 

 

 

 

 

Aren