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.

December 05, 2016

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

2017 Registration Officially Open!

We are pleased to announce that the registration for the 2017 Season of Tel Burna (season number 8!) is officially open, and you can sign up at this link 2017_information_registration_package. You can also use our online application here.

In this upcoming season – we plan to reach into the 9th century BCE layers (and perhaps earlier) in Area A2, hopefully solve some of the riddles in the middle of our SIXTY-FIVE METER LONG(!) trench connecting Areas B1 and B2, clarify a few more details concerning the Late Bronze Age temple in Area B1, and continue to find lots of agricultural installations in Area C. All told, it should be a great season with lots of fascinating finds – come and see for yourself!

flyer_2017

 


December 04, 2016

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

New paper on ground stone objects from EB Safi

A new paper on the ground stone objects from Early Bronze Age Tell es-Safi/Gath has just appeared (see link here)!

The paper, spearheaded by Jeremy Beller (originally part of his MA dissertation at the Univ. of Manitoba), deals with the “life history” of basalt ground stone objects from the Early Bronze Age III levels in Area E.

The full title is:

Beller, J. A., Greenfield, H. J., Shai, I., and Maeir, A. M. 2016. The Life-History of Basalt Ground Stone Artefacts from Early Urban Contexts: A View from the EB III of Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel. Journal of Lithic Studies 3(3).

And here is the abstract:

Recent archaeological excavations at the early urban settlement of Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel present the opportunity to reconstruct the life-history of basalt ground stone artefacts of an early urban domestic neighbourhood. Tell es-Safi/Gath is a multi-period site located on the border between the Judean foothills and the southern coastal plain of central Israel. Survey and excavations over the last two decades demonstrated that it was a major urban centre for the region during the Early Bronze Age (EBA) III. At the eastern end of the site, a neighbourhood of commoner residences (some perhaps associated with mercantile activities) have been exposed. This paper describes and analyses the basalt ground stone tools found in association with this domestic neighbourhood. It seeks to establish the nature of production, distribution, consumption, and discard associated with ground stone tools within a domestic context. The study involved several forms of analysis including typology, macroscopic observations, and excavation data. It is suggested that basalt sources from the northeastern regions of the southern Levant were exploited for the small-scale production of basalt artefacts by nonspecialised craftsmen. These commodities were then transported in more or less finished form to Tell es-Safi/Gath where they were further redistributed or sold to the settlement residents. The residents of the Tell es-Safi/Gath neighbourhood utilised the basalt artefacts for traditionally domestic tasks, and ultimately intentionally discarded or recycled them in a few depositional contexts. In summary, this paper presents a unique investigation into the life-history of basalt ground stone artefacts discovered in the EB III occupation levels of Tell es-Safi/Gath. It further demonstrates the potential of ground stone tools for understanding the behaviour and daily life of non-elite people.

Check it out!

Aren

 


Workshop on Hazael Destructions – Jan. 19, 2017

Please reserve the date for an upcoming workshop (for researchers and graduate students in the field), the first of the RIAB Minerva Center for this academic year, which will be held at BIU on Thursday, Jan. 19th, 2017.

The workshop, organized by Dr. Amit Dagan and Dr. Omer Sergey, will deal with sites in southern Israel at which there is possible evidence of a “Hazael destruction” – as well as some more or less contemporaneous sites. The workshop will include short presentations about the various sites and then a hands-on “table-top” presentation of ceramic assemblages from the relevant sites.

More details will be posted in the future. In the meantime – save the day!


November 28, 2016

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

Delegation of All-China Youth Federation visits the lab

Today, we hosted a delegation of the “All-China Youth Federation” in the lab, coordinated by Dr. Danielle Gurevitch, of BIU. The All-China Youth Federation is a government organization that coordinates most of the foreign programs and activities of Chinese students outside of China.

During the visit, I explained to them about the excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath and showed and explained to them about some of the finds. In addition, we discussed the possibility of having Chinese students join us in the dig (and also the possibility of Israeli students participating in archaeological excavations in China!).

Here’s a few pictures of the visit:

2016-11-28-photo-00000033 img_6326 img_6325

Aren


New article on Philistine names

A new article dealing with Philistine names and terms, jointly written by Aren, Brent and Louise, has just appeared!

See here a link to the final proofs of the article (as I do not have permission to post the final version)

The full title is:

Maeir, A. M., Davis, B., and Hitchcock, L. A. 2016. Philistine Names and Terms Once Again: A Recent Perspective. Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage 4(4): 321–40.

And here is the abstract:

In the last decade or so, new data and interpretations on the onomastics of Iron Age Philistia have appeared.In this article, we review, discuss, and suggest some insights regarding some of these Philistine personal names (e.g., Goliath), names of deities (e.g., PTGYH), and terms (e.g., seren). We assess them from linguistic, cultural, anthropological, and historical points of view. We then propose how they can be understood within the wider socio-cultural context(s) of Iron Age Philistia specifically and the wider eastern Mediterranean in general, and how they can be incorporated into efforts to understand the origins, development, and transformation of the Philistines and their culture(s).
Enjoy!

November 15, 2016

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

Article on the EB in the Shephelah by Ayelet Levy

Dr. Ayelet Levy, who was on a Safi team back in the first years of the project, and wrote her PhD under my supervision on the Early Bronze settlement in the Judean Shephelah (foothills), has just published an article (in Hebrew) that summarizes the main points of her dissertation.

The title of the article is:

Levy, A. 2016. Settlement Processes during the Early Bronze Age in the Judean Shephelah. Cathedra 161:37-7 (in Hebrew with English abstract).

Congratulations to Ayelet!

Aren


November 14, 2016

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Tel Burna Team at ASOR and SBL

Next week, many of our team will be presenting at the ASOR and SBL meetings in San Antonio. These lectures including some very interesting discussions related to our excavations at Burna in the last few seasons, as well as some non-Burna related research. Here is a list of papers that will be presented by the Burna Team.

Archaeology and Biblical Studies I – 11/17/2016

9:05 Chris McKinny, (Bar-Ilan University), “Struck Down for Error: A Discussion of Two Early Iron Age Israelite Temples and Their Possible Connection to the Movements of the Ark of Covenant in Samuel” (15 min.)

Archaeology of the Southern Levant – 11/18/2016

10:40 Casey Sharp (University of Haifa), “In the Shadow of Tel Nami: A Newly Examined MB IIA Settlement on the Carmel Coast” (20 min.)

ASOR – Archaeology of the Southern Levant – 11/18/2016

11:25 – Itzhaq Shai (Ariel University), Chris McKinny (Bar-Ilan University), Matthew Spigelman (Independent Scholar), Avshalom Karasik (Israel Antiquities Authority), David Ben-Shlomo (Ariel University), Dvory Namdar (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), and Joe Uziel (Israel Antiquities Authority), “Two Cypriot Pithoi from Late Bronze Age Tel Burna” (15 min) 

ASOR – The Archaeology of Feasting and Foodways – 11/18/2016

11:55 Tina Greenfield (University of Manitoba), “Late Bronze Age Feasting in Canaan: A View from Tel Burna” (20 min.)

ASOR – Methods of Historiography in the Study of Ancient Israel and the Levant—Joint Session with SBL – 11/19/2016 8:20-10:25

Co-chaired by Matthew Suriano along with Lauren Monroe

SBL  – Archaeology of the Biblical World 11/20/2016 –  1:00 PM to 3:30 PM

Itzick Shai, Ariel University Center of Samaria
New Insights on the Iron IIB in the Shephelah: A View from Tel Burna (20 min)
Discussion (5 min)

Go Team!🙂


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

Safi posters at the ASOR meeting

In addition to the Safi-related lectures to be presented at the ASOR meeting in San Antonio this coming week (see here), three posters on Safi-related research are being presented.

See below *.jpg versions of the posters:

A poster by Tina Greenfield et al. on the spatial analysis of the Early Bronze Age neighborhood in Area E (see here for the pdf version):

greenfield-et-al_anatomy-of-a-ba-neighborhood_asor-2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

A poster on analysis of “heavy fraction” from the flotation of sediments, by Annie Brown et al.
brown-et-al_safi-heavy-fraction-poster_asor-2016

 

 

 

 

 

And a poster on the stratigraphic sequence in Area F, by Jillian Mather et al. (see here for the pdf):

mather-et-al_area-f-stratigraphy-2016-asor-poster

 

 

 

 

 

All very nice!!!

 

 

 


November 11, 2016

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

Safi related lectures at ASOR and SBL

For those of you who will be at the ASOR and SBL meetings next week in San Antonio, here is a list of presentations that are either directly related to the Safi project, or given by people that are, or have been, involved in the Safi project:

Safi-related talks (and by Safi-related people) at the ASOR meeting (San Antonio, Nov. 16-19, 2016 – for full program – see here)

Thursday, Nov. 17th, 2016:

Session: 1D. Archaeology of Israel I, San Antonio Ballroom D & E

9:45 Aren Maeir (Bar-Ilan University), “Excavation Results at Tell es-Safi/Gath and their Implications: An Update for the 2015 and 2016 Seasons” (15 min.)

Session: Archaeology and Biblical Studies I

9:05 Chris Mckinny: “Struck Down for Error”: A Discussion of Two Early Iron Age Israelite Temples and Their Possible Connection to the Movements of the Ark of Covenant in Samuel

Session: 1H. Art Historical Approaches to the Near East I, San Antonio Ballroom I

9:25 Linda Meiberg (University of Pennsylvania), “Decorative Motifs on Philistine Pottery and Their Cretan Connections” (25 min.)

Session 2E. History of Archaeology, San Antonio Ballroom F

11:10   Christina Olson (East Carolina University), “Lost Among Treasures: An Analysis of Forgotten Pots in the Albright Attic” (25 min.)

 

Session 3D. Archaeology of the Near East: Bronze and Iron Ages I

2:00     Haskel Greenfield (University of Manitoba), “The Early Bronze Age Domestic Neighborhood at Tell es- Safi/Gath, Israel: An Update on Recent Research” (15 min.)

2:20     Shira Albaz (Bar-Ilan University), “Foundation Deposit as Domestic Ritual in EB III at Tell es-Safi/Gath” (15 min.)

3:20     Josephine Verduci (University of Melbourne), “Metal Jewelry of the Southern Levant and its Western Neighbors: Surprising Results Concerning Cross-Cultural Influences during the Early Iron Age” (15 min.)

3:40     Jeffrey Chadwick (Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center), “The 54 cm Canaanite Cubit in Bronze Age Canaan and Iron Age Israel, Judah, and Philistia” (15 min.)

Session 3G. Material Culture and Identities in the Eastern Mediterranean III, San Antonio Ballroom H

3:15 Louise Hitchcock (University of Melbourne) & Aren M. Maeir (Bar-Ilan University), “Pulp Fiction or Tangible Connections?” (20 min.)

Friday, Nov. 18th, 2016:

Session 6A. Object Biography for Archaeologists III, San Antonio Ballroom A

11:15 Brent Davis, A Temple Foundation Peg

Session 6B. The Archaeology of Feasting and Foodways, San Antonio Ballroom B

11:30 Elizabeth Arnold (Grand Valley State University), “Animal Production Over- Consumption? How Stable Isotopes of Animal Remains Can Address These Questions” (20 min.)

11:55 Tina Greenfield (University of Manitoba), “Late Bronze Age Feasting in Canaan: A View from Tel Burna” (20 min.)

Session 6E. Archaeology of the Southern Levant, San Antonio Ballroom F

11:05 Itzhaq Shai (Ariel University), “Two Cypriot Pithoi from Late Bronze Age Tel Burna” (20 min.)

 

Safi-related talks at the SBL Meeting (San Antonio, Nov. 19-23, 2016 – for a search engine of full schedule, see here)

Saturday, Nov. 20th, 2016:

Session: Wisdom of the Ages, 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM, Theme: The Rise of Israel: Historical Theory and Practice in the First and Second Temple Periods in honor of Lester Grabbe

Aren Maeir, Bar-Ilan University, Respondent (15 min)

 

Sunday, Nov. 21st, 2016:

Session Hebrew Bible, History, and Archaeology, 9:00 AM to 11:15 AM, Theme: History and Memory

Aren Maeir, Bar-Ilan University, Keys to the past? Archaeological Correlates of Social and Cultural Memory from the Ancient Levant (20 min)

Session: Archaeology of the Biblical World, 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM, Room: 217A (2nd Level – West) – Convention Center (CC), Theme: New Insights on the Iron Age IIB in the Shephelah (Eric Welch, University of Kansas – Lawrence, Presiding)
Aren Maeir, Bar-Ilan University, New Insights on the Iron IIB in the Shephelah: The View from Tel es-Safi/Gath (20 min)
Itzick Shai, Ariel University Center of Samaria, New Insights on the Iron IIB in the Shephelah: A View from Tel Burna (20 min)
Cynthia Shafer-Elliott, William Jessup University, Insights on the Iron IIB from Tel Halif: Household Archaeology on the Shephelah’s Periphery (20 min)
 


My thoughts on the UNESCO decision regarding Jerusalem

“Building Peace in the Minds of Men and Women”?  Is UNESCO Fulfilling its Constitution?

Aren M. Maeir

The lofty goals of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), as defined in its constitution are: “… to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among the nations through education, science and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations”, or as succinctly summarized on the UNESCO website – “Building Peace in the Minds of Men and Women.”

But are these goals being attained? And is UNESCO acting in a manner that will build peace for men and women?

The recent, and much debated, UNESCO decision regarding cultural heritage in Jerusalem, Gaza and Hebron, seems to indicate otherwise. The decision, which was crafted by various Arab states, accepts the Arab/Palestinian narrative on a broad range of issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and in particular, on issues regarding the historical and cultural heritage significance of the most important site in Jerusalem – the Temple Mount/Haram esh-Sharif. This location is holy to Judaism, Christianity and Islam (which is stated briefly in the beginning of the UNESCO text), but throughout the extended discussion in this decision about this site, including various factually false claims of Israeli mis-doings, it is never called the “Temple Mount” (as Jews call it) but only “Haram esh-Sharif (as Muslims do). In addition, when referring to the “Western Wall” – currently the most important religious site for most Jews, this site is referred to as the “El Buraq Plaza” (the Muslim term for this area) – with the term “Western Wall” appearing only with quotation marks.

This, and other points, in this decision, point to an extremely one-sided approach to the contentious issues at hand, issues relating to probably the most complex issue, in a region wrought with complexities. The across-the-board condemnation of this decision by just about all Israelis – including by groups such as “Emek Shaveh” that are usually very critical of Israeli activities in east Jerusalem – is particularly telling.

But more so, this is unfortunate, and so nonconstructive, to the prospects of building, sustaining and hoping for a peace process, especially coming from an organization that professes to “build peace for men and women.”

Such an organization, with such lofty and admirable aims, must exercise a much more level-headed approach when dealing with a complex and contested narrative. The very fact that the recent UNESCO decision is seen as very one sided by most Israelis, creates a situation where the average Israeli will feel that the UN (or other international institutions) are not “fair brokers.” If the UN, and UNESCO, aim to have a potentially constructive role in moving the Middle East, and Israelis and Palestinians, towards a process of rapprochement and peace, this is not the way.

Without a doubt, over more than a century, archaeology has been used and misused for political purposes, in the Middle East in general and Israel/Palestine in particular. Already in the 19th cent., the archaeological expeditions of various European colonial powers in the Middle East were a reflection of this, in which archaeology was but a thin camouflage for colonial intentions. And since then, in some cases until this very day, the various national ideologies and subsequent nation states (such as Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan) have used and/or misused the archaeological remains to push their national agendas.

As an Israeli archaeologist it is clear to me that archaeology was, and is, a central part of the Zionist ideological narrative, and very often, the Jewish historical roots in Israel/Palestine were accentuated, at times exaggerated, and occasionally, done so at the expense of other historical narratives. This situation continued during the first decades of the State of Israel and many examples abound. Nevertheless, despite claims to the contrary, throughout the history of modern Israel/Palestine, archaeologists (including Israelis) have excavated, researched, published and developed archaeological remains relating to a broad range of cultures, periods and heritage narratives.

An excellent example of this can be seen in Jerusalem itself, where a previously unknown, important phase in the history of Jerusalem, during the early Islamic Period was revealed by Israeli archaeologists working just outside the Temple Mount/Haram esh-Sharif, with the discovery of a previously unknown series of palaces of the Umayyad caliphs (ca. 8th century CE).

Nowadays, most Israeli archaeologists have chosen to have a much more inclusive approach to the archaeological sites. Monuments and remains from all periods of the history of Israel/Palestine, from early Prehistoric to Modern are actively and intensively excavated and studies.

Nevertheless, politics and archaeology can be enmeshed – and in particular when politicians attempt to use the archaeological evidence to push their agendas. But this is not only an Israeli problem – it can be seen throughout the Middle East, and in fact, throughout the world.

To illustrate this how archaeological can and should be conducted in an inclusive manner, I can give an example that is close to home. The excavation that I have been directing for the last twenty odd years – at Tell es-Safi/Gath (gath.wordpress.com) – is at a site that was settled, virtuously continuously, from late Prehistoric times (ca. 5000 BCE) until modern times, with cultural remains from many periods, and heritage that can be connected to many different groups. In our research and excavation, while focusing, for the most part, on the Bronze and Iron Age remains (due to research foci), we just as carefully and meticulously excavate and study Crusader and early Islamic levels as those of other periods, or the remains for the village and cemeteries of the Palestinian village of Tell es-Safi, which existed at the site until 1948, as those of the Philistines of the “biblical period.”

Similarly, the team that works on the site is a multi-national team, with participants of many religious, political and ideological backgrounds. On a regular basis, during our summer season, you can find Jews, Christians, Muslims, Atheists, and an occasional Buddhist, working together in the same excavation square, and people with very different life styles and political views developing close friendship and long-lasting camaraderie. All this done through a policy of mutual respect and inclusiveness. And as we are now in our 21st year of the project – it is clear that this works!

In fact, I would argue that despite the dangers of enmeshing archaeology and politics, archaeologists, as custodians of the past, should not hesitate to utilize the archaeological remains to teach about, and forge connections, between communities of today, and the heritage and cultural memory of the past (even if this is at times fabricated). The human need to search for one’s roots, and to find meaning today – based on the past, can be seen in all societies throughout the world. This gives archaeologists a unique role, enabling them to utilize the archaeological remains to enrich the meaning and group cohesiveness of peoples today. Enabling a young Jewish child to connect to her history by holding a coin from the time of Maccabees, or a Christian boy through learning about tombs from the time of Jesus, or a Muslim girl by showing remains from the time of Muhammad, can have an enormous impact on the development of their cultural roots and identity. Anyone who has ever seen the excited eyes of someone discovering an archaeological object that can be connected to a tangible past and one’s personal identity, well knows the power of this educational tool. Without a doubt, this is one of the major ways in which archaeologists can “give back” to the societies that enable them, the archaeologists, to study the past. One should not let the misuse of the archaeological remains for political ideologies let us shed these tangible educational opportunities. But we must make sure that this is done in a manner which respects, and does not deny, the various, and at times conflicting narrative. This may be difficult – but it can be done!

So then, in the end, what’s the problem(s) with the UNESCO decision? By choosing a non-inclusive approach to the complex problems of heritage, politics and identity that exist in Jerusalem (and the Middle East in general), and by opting for the easy way out, and caving in to the demands of one of the sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they have not helped move the peace process, or any aspect of reconciliation, forward. In fact, paraphrasing UNESCO’s own credo, more than anything else they are “Building Discord in the Minds of Men and Women.”

Too much is at stake, and too many live are in danger, for such an organization to take such an irresponsible stance.


November 09, 2016

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

New Paper on Kfar Menahem West by Oren Ackermann et al.

Oren Ackermann, longtime geoarchaeologist and core staff member of the Safi project, keeps busy in other research as well!

Oren and colleagues have just published a very interesting paper on the chronology of the Lower Paleolithic/Late Acheulian site of “Kfar Menahem West”, which is situated a two km to the west of Tell es-Safi/Gath. While dealing a period not represented in the archaeological record at Tell es-Safi/Gath, it provides some very nice background information the region in Prehistoric periods (there are several other important Prehistoric sites in the region of Tell es-Safi/Gath).

Here is the full title:

Malinsky-Buller, A., Barzilai, O., Ayalon, A., Bar-Matthews, M., Birkenfeld, M., Porat, N., Ron, H., Roskin, J., and Ackermann, O. 2016 The Age of the Lower Paleolithic Site of Kefar Menachem West, Israel—Another Facet of Acheulian Variability. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 10: 350–62.

And there is the abstract:

A salvage excavation at the Lower Paleolithic site of Kefar MenahemWest in the interior of the Israeli coastal plain yielded a flake industry devoid of handaxes and their byproducts. The archeological finds covering an area exceeding 2000 m2 , are found at the contact of two distinct sedimentological units: Quartzic Brown and hamra (red clay loam paleosols). The absence of handaxes hamper placing the site within the relative chronology of the Lower Paleolithic record of the Levant. New paleomagnetic analysis coupled with optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) and thermally transferred optically (TT-OSL) dating yielded a chronological range between 780 and 460 ka for the archeological occupation. The techno-typological similarities with Late Acheulian assemblages together with possible variations in the mode of occupations by early hominids at the site, both suggest that the KMW should be conceived as part of the Late Acheulian variability.

Check it out!


November 04, 2016

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

PhD positions in Microarchaeology at Rutgers

Dan Cabanes, who has worked on the Safi project for quite a few years on topics relating to Phytolith analysis, just received a new position in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University. Dan has informed me that he has openings for several PhD positions with a focus on “microarchaeology”.

For anyone interested in doing a PhD in microarchaeology – and in particular with focus on phytolith and FTIR analyses – I suggest you check this out. And if you know of anyone (friend, colleague, student) who might be interested, please pass this on to them.

This should be a fantastic opportunity to conduct PhD research dealing with cutting-edge issues in the interface between archaeology and science. And, no less important – Dan is a great guy and a fantastic researcher!

Here is the official notification:

rutgers-phd-positions-microarchaeology


October 28, 2016

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

My take on the Jerusalem Papyrus

Yesterday, at the Jerusalem conference at HU, I was invited to serve as a respondent in the session in which the new papyrus mentioning Jerusalem was presented (see here for the full article [in Hebrew]). This was reported as well by Nir Hasson in Haaretz (see below the English version of the article).

As some of the points I raised are not mentioned, here are some additional issues that I noted:

  1. My comments are as an archaeologist, not as an epigraphist or a linguist.
  2. I’m not sure that it is real or a fake, but various issues are problematic. I would very much like it to be authentic – but first – doubts must be dispelled.
  3. This is particularly so in light of the strong indications that many of the recently acquired fragments of Dead Sea Scrolls may be fakes – indicating that there are some very good forgers working out there – some of whom seem to have an in-depth knowledge in epigraphy, paleography and related issues.
  4. The lack of sufficient details on how the papyrus was obtained, due to the need of the IAA Anti-theft Unit to protect its sources, is understood from an operational point of view (and I fully believe them about this), but it creates a aura of secrecy and lack of credibility around this.
  5. And if in fact the papyrus was known for several years to other scholars as well, this makes the background of its discovery even more obscure.
  6. While I cannot state with certainty that it is fake, there is a strong possibility that it was faked.
  7. Even if did not actually reach the market and was confiscated by the IAA before hand, it could still be fake. One could even envision a scenario, if in fact it is a forgery, that it might have purposely been unveiled, enabling the IAA to confiscate it, so that in future, similar papyri that would surface  would seem authentic.
  8. Due to these questions, I feel that the IAA should not have published the find prior to conducting a much broader range of analytical tests on the papyrus, including analysis of ink content and ink degradation, analysis of possible traces of sediments on the papyrus, and other tests. Even if they would not have proven without a doubt that it was real or fake – it would have demonstrated a much more serious effort for authentication.
  9. This is particularly important as the IAA is a governmental body and should be very careful when giving a certification of authenticity to a problematic object.
  10. It is absolutely clear that the publication of the papyrus and its presentation at the conference, had nothing to do with the recent UNESCO decisions. The publication and conference were planned months before the UNESCO decision. Anyone claiming otherwise is either gullible – or malicious.
  11. That said, the manner in which it was announced to the press, and subsequently used by politicians, is quite disturbing.
  12. The only positive aspect that I see if it is found out to be fake, is that some politicians (including the current “King of Jerusalem”…) can eat their hats…
  13. If the papyrus is authentic, I think that the suggested reconstruction is possible – but only a suggestion. Thus, extrapolating that we can learn about the status of women in Iron Age Judah from this is far-fetched at best.
  14. Also, at the end of the day, there is not that much new information from the papyrus – it’s just a very “sexy” find, mentioning Jerusalem…another bit of knowledge about Iron Age Judah.
  15. I hope that the papyrus is authentic – but more proof is required. In any case, even if bona fide, it can only be related to as a source of secondary or tertiary relevance, due to the lack of clarity on its origin.

See below the English text of the Haaretz article:

http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/archaeology/.premium-1.749603 [English]

http://www.haaretz.co.il/news/local/.premium-1.3105482 [Hebrew]

Ha’aretz

Oct 28, 2016 2:43 AM

Archaeology

Papyrus With Earliest Ex-bible Hebrew Mention of Jerusalem Likely Fake, Experts Say

 Archaeologists are usually wary of any finds not discovered in a supervised dig, though Antiquities Authority insists ancient scroll is authentic.

Nir Hasson

Scholars are questioning the authenticity of what the Israel Antiquities Authority says is a 2,800-year-old papyrus document bearing the word “Jerusalem” in Hebrew, unveiled by the authority on Wednesday.

The papyrus was found four years ago while pursuing antiquities thieves in the Judean Desert and dates to the seventh century B.C.E., according to the antiquities authority. That would make it the earliest known mention of Jerusalem in Hebrew outside the Bible. The fragment appears to be a document concerning a wine shipment from Na’arat, in the Jordan Valley, to the king in Jerusalem.

It’s not certain where the thieves found the document, though it appears to have come from a cave along the Hever Stream in the Judean Desert. Archaeologists are usually wary of any finds not discovered in a supervised dig.

But in this case, the scholars who studied it – Prof. Shmuel Ahituv of the Hebrew University and Dr. Eitan Klein and Amir Ganor of the antiquities authority – are convinced that it is authentic. Carbon-14 dating showed that the papyrus was made 2,500 to 2,800 years ago, and an epigraphic examination concluded the letters are typical of the Hebrew writing of the seventh century B.C.E.

But at Thursday’s session of an antiquities authority conference on Innovations in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and its Region, archaeologist Prof. Aren Maeir of Bar-Ilan University cast doubt on the document’s authenticity. He also assailed the authority for deciding to publicize it even though “it was clear in advance that it would be controversial.”

Maeir said there were too many unanswered questions about the papyrus. “How do we know it isn’t a forgery intended for the antiquities market?” he demanded, adding that forgers could have deliberately “sacrificed” this document in order to prepare the way for selling other papyri that they would “discover” later.

The fact that carbon-14 dating proved the papyrus’ age is insufficient, he added. “After all, there are well-known cases in which writing was forged on an ancient ‘platform,’” he said. “It’s very possible that only the papyrus itself is ancient.

“In my humble opinion, the need for additional tests is glaring, especially if a government agency is publishing this and giving it a seal of approval. Why wait for the arguments and only then do the additional tests? They should have done them first.”

Prof. Christopher Rollston of George Washington University also voiced skepticism, writing on his blog that he believed the document was a forgery.

“The fact that the papyrus itself has been carbon dated to the 7th century BCE certainly does not mean that the writing on the papyrus is ancient,” he wrote. “In fact, it really means nothing. After all, ancient papyrus is readily available for purchase online (check the web and see!), thus, no modern forger worth his or her salt would forge an inscription on modern papyrus.”

Ahituv, however, rejected the critics’ arguments. First, he said, the papyrus was folded up when it was found, which makes forgery seem unlikely. “Would a forger buy an ancient, dry, fragile papyrus, write text on it that’s typical of the seventh century, and then fold it up and tie it with a cord and thereby endanger all his work?” he demanded.

The text itself also suggests it’s not a forgery, he continued. He and his colleagues read the text as “[me-a]mat. ha-melekh. me-Na’artah. nevelim. yi’in. Yerushalima,” meaning “From the king’s maidservant, from Na’arat, jars of wine, to Jerusalem.”

But both “Na’artah” and “Yerushalima” are very rare words, and thus unlikely to occur to a forger, “even if he’s an expert in Bible,” Ahituv said. “If I were a forger, I’d choose a more impressive text,” he added.

Ganor also rejected the criticisms. “We tried in every possible way to check the papyrus,” he said. “We used the methods used to check the Dead Sea Scrolls. If someone has an additional method, he’s invited to apply it. We, as a country, were obligated to get our hands on this, and I’m certain it’s authentic.”


October 27, 2016

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

HuffPost article on the history of Gaza

A nice article on the history of Gaza, written by Ben Piven, has just appeared in the Huffington Post. In the article, Ben surveys the history, and ups and downs, of Gaza thru the ages – and quotes me a couple of times along the way.

Check it out!

Aren


October 25, 2016

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

Flor blogs about Safi!

Flor Fustinoni, who has been in the Safi team for the last two years, has written a great piece for the ASOR blog about her work this last summer as a square supervisor.

Flor eloquently describes the fun, excitement, camaraderie and professionalism that you experience as a team member.

Way to go Flor!

And here’s a picture of Flor next to the EB city wall in Area F
flor-in-area-f-2015


October 24, 2016

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Registration Details for Summer 2017

We are excited to announce the registration details for this upcoming summer’s excavation season (2017) at Tel Burna! We will be in the field from July 2-July 28! Come join us for what promises to be a great season with very interesting finds!

Click 2017_information_registration_package

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October 22, 2016

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

New article on Sea Peoples and pirates

A new article on the maritime culture of the Sea Peoples, one of series of articles by Louise Hitchcock and yours truly, is about to appear.

The article’s full title is:

Hitchcock, L. A., and Maeir, A. M. 2016 A Pirates’ Life for Me: The Maritime Culture of the Sea People. Palestine Exploration Quarterly 148(4).

Here’s the abstract:

An anthropological approach to a culture extrapolates social structures, traditions, and general organizing principles of that culture from the careful observation of patterns of behaviour as described in case studies. In the absence of a living culture to record, archaeologists extrapolate this information from behaviour reconstructed from spatially determined patterns in the deposition of material remains and from patterns found in the general organizing principles of historically documented cultures, using arguments based on analogy. This contribution builds on our previous research on the “Sea Peoples” as a piratical culture in order to apply an anthropological approach to understanding the cultural identities of the various tribal groups involved in maritime activities at the end of the Bronze Age who are popularly known as the “Sea Peoples”, and place this within the broader context of the current discussions on the transition between the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age in the Mediterranean.

To see the corrected page proofs – see here.

Enjoy!

Aren


October 19, 2016

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

Short clip about excavations – without any content…

A short clip, supposedly describing “Discoveries where Goliath may have walked” – referring to Gath – was posted today on the youtube channel of the Museum of the Bible (thanks to G. Grena for the HT)

While its really nice that they posted this, once you actually watch the clip, it’s quite astounding that just about no information, insights or new discoveries are mentioned regarding Tell es-Safi/Gath (though they do show low quality still shots of the site off season in the beginning) and then they very briefly describe the discovery of the Philistine cemetery at Ashkelon.

In light of the massive sums of money poured into this museum and related projects, I would expect a little more quality – and research – put into productions that they are producing. And if they are discussing a specific site (whether Gath or any other site), it would make sense to speak to those excavating that site!!!

C’mon guys – you can do better than that…

Here’s the clip – judge it for yourself:


October 18, 2016

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

New publication – not Safi related

Once in awhile, I also publish things not related to Tell es-Safi/Gath…

I just received from Ami Mazar a pre-print copy of a chapter that I wrote for the forthcoming, 5 volume final report of Ami’s excavations at Tel Rehov. The chapter is an introduction to the geography and environmental background of the Beth Shean Valley, as a backdrop for the excavations at Tel Rehov.

The chapter is based on research conducted as part of my PhD (1997; co-supervised by Ami), which was later (2010) published in book form (see here).

The chapter is entitled:

Maeir, A. M. 2016. Chapter 1: The Beth-Shean Valley: Geographical and Environmental Background. Pp. 1–11 in Excavations at Tel Rehov, 1997–2012. Vol. 1, eds. A. Mazar and N. Panitz-Cohen. Qedem Monographs of the Institute of Archaeology. Jerusalem: Institute of Archaeology.

See the new chapter here.

Enjoy!

Aren


New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem Conference – and very interesting find to be published!

On Oct. 26-27, 2016, the annual New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and its Region conference will be held in Jerusalem. During the two day meeting, quite a few interesting papers will be presented.

Among others, there will be a very interesting session on a VERY INTERESTING papyrus – which due to “gag orders” – I can’t say anything else about… :-}

I’ve been asked to serve as a respondent for this session – and I believe the session – and discussions that will develop from it – will be quite something…

Be there or be square…

Here is the full schedule of the meeting – the relevant session is at the very end of the program, marked it in bold:

 

New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and Its Region
The Tenth Annual Conference, October 26 and 27, 2016

The 10th annual conference of the New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and Its Environs, will be held on October 26, 27 and 28, 2016. This year, the conference marks its 10th anniversary, making it a very special event for us all. Over the past ten years, the conference and the published proceedings have served as the primary platform for the presentation of archaeological research in Jerusalem and its surroundings, including lectures from across the entire spectrum of Israeli scholars working in the field.

In order to celebrate the event, this year’s conference will not only include the full day of lectures in Hebrew, to be held at the Hebrew University, but an additional venue of international scholarship with lectures from scholars from Israel and abroad, will be given in English.
The program of the English and Hebrew sessions of the conference are listed below. The sessions are devoted to discussions of some of the major topics of research in Jerusalem, crossing both  periods and cultures: Jerusalem and the empires, the city borders, temple and economy and finally the preservation and management of the city’s cultural heritage.

New Studies in the Archaeology of Jerusalem and Its Region

The first day of the conference will be held in the auditorium of the Yad Izhak Ben Zvi Institute at 14 Ibn Gabirol Street, Jerusalem. All lectures will be presented in English, with simultaneous Hebrew translation available.

Day 1(October 26)
9:30        Opening remarks
9:45        Session 1: Jerusalem and the Empires
Session Chair: Rachel Milstein
Jerusalem and the Empires: Israel Finkelstein, Tel Aviv University
Agrippa II in Jerusalem and the Destruction of the Temple in 70 CE: Martin Goodman, Oxford University
Communal Institutions in Frankish Jerusalem: Adrian Boas, Haifa University

11:15–11:30 Coffee break

11:30     Session 2: Cultural Resource Management in Jerusalem
Session Chair: Mike Turner
Whose Heritage? Urban and Architectural Considerations: Alona Nitzan-Shiftan, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology
The Kidron Valley Cyber-Archaeology Project: Thomas E. Levy, University of California, San Diego
The Ancient Ruins of Lifta: A Preliminary Assessment According to Architectural and Archaeological Survey: Gil Haklai, Conservation Department, Israel Antiquities Authority

13:00–14:00 Lunch break

14:00     Session 3: Opening Afternoon Session
Sustainable Rehabilitation of the Holy Sepulchre: An Interdisciplinary Scientific Study and Monitoring, A Scientific Integrated Governance of the Project, Antonia Moropoulou, Chief Scientific Supervisor of the project, Head of the NTUA Interdisciplinary Research Group for the Monuments’ Protection

14:30     Session 4: The City Boundaries
Session Chair: Elhanan Reiner
Jerusalem in the Days of Nehemiah: Gary Knoppers, University of Notre Dame
Aelia Capitolina – An Unusual Roman Colonia in the Light of Its Inscriptions: Benjamin Isaac, Tel Aviv University
Jerusalem’s Borders in the Early Islamic Period: Gideon Avni, Israel Antiquities Authority and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

16:00–16:15 Coffee break

16:15 Session 5: Temple City and Its Economy
Session Chair: Amikam Elad
Economy and Administration in the Iron Age and Persian Period: Oded Lipschits, Tel Aviv University
Cult, Pilgrimage and Economy in the Byzantine Period: Leah Di Segni, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The Haram al-Sharif and the Field of Religious Goods – Economy, Sanctity and the Developing Urban Landscape of Mamluk Jerusalem: Nimrod Luz, Western Galilee College

17:45 Closing remarks

Day 2 (October 27) will be held at the Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus, in the Mandel Institute of Jewish Studies (Rabin) Building. All lectures will be in Hebrew.

8:00        Gathering
8:30        Opening remarks
8:40        Joe Uziel and Ra’anan Kislev: Archaeology, Preservation and Development in the Jerusalem District, 2015–2016
9:10        Keynote lecture – Yvonne Friedman: Jerusalem as a City for Medieval Pilgrims
9:40        Award Presentation of the David Amit Prize for Young Archaeological Researchers, 2016–2017

10:00     Session 1: Approaching the Temple Mount
  Session Chair and Discussant: Gideon Avni
Yuval Baruch, Ronny Reich and Débora Sandhaus: The Temple Mount – Results of the Archaeological Research of the Past Decade
Alon de Groot and Hillel Geva: “Descending the Mount” – A Response to the “Mound on the Mount” Theory
Joseph Patrich and Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah: The “Free Masons Hall” – A Composite Herodian Triclinium and a Fountain to the West of the Temple Mount
Assaf Avraham and Peretz Reuven: An Arabic Inscription from the Dawn of the Islamic Period from Kafr Nuba

11:30–11:50 Coffee break
11:50     Session 2: “Standing on the Wall” – Jerusalem’s Fortification
  Session Chair and Discussant: Ronny Reich
Johanna Regev, Nahshon Szanton, Joe Uziel and Elisabetta Boaretto: Absolute Dating of the Gihon Spring Tower
Rina Avner and Kfir Arbiv: Excavations in the Russian Compound: The Battle of the “Third Wall”
Shimon Gibson, Rafi Lewis and James Tabor: Going to the Market with Saladin: Finds from the 11th–13th Centuries in the Excavation of the Ayyubid Gate in Mount Zion
13:00–14:00 Lunch break

14:00     Session 3: What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us? Jerusalem in the Days of the Procurators
  Session Chair and Discussant: Jonathan Price
Nahshon Szanton, Michal Haber, Moran Hagbi, Joe Uziel and Donald T. Ariel: Monumental Building Projects in Jerusalem in the Days of the Pontius Pilate – A Numismatic View from the Stepped Street in the Tyropoeon Valley
Ortal Chalaf, Peter Gendelman and Hannah Cotton: The Bet Strauss Excavations: Preliminary Results and a new Latin Inscription
Helena Roth and Dafna Langgut: Lumberjacks and Water Wells: On the Use of Wood and Stature in the Lower City of Jerusalem in the Early Roman Period
Yuval Gadot: Urban Judaism under Roman Rule: Dedicating the Kidron for Garbage Disposal in the First Century CE

15:10–15:30 Coffee break

15:30     Session 4: Path, Place and Memory
  Session Chair and Discussant: Rina Talgam
Katia Cytryn-Silverman and Avi Mashiach: Sulayman’s Sabīls: Restoration and Revival
Amit Re’em and Ilya Berkovich: Reassessing the Art, Architecture and Chronology of the Crusader Basilica on Mount Zion
Annette Nagar: A Byzantine Church near Bet Nekofa along the Road from Jaffa to Jerusalem
Lihi Habas: The Cross in the Mausoleum at Horbat Ha-Gardi: The Tombs of the Maccabees and the Christian Cult of the Maccabean Martyrs

17:00 Session 5: A New Old Papyrus
                Session Chair and Discussant: Ester Eshel            
Shmuel Ahituv, Eitan Klein and Amir Ganor:  Papyrus “to Jerusalem”
Hagai Misgav, Aharon Demski, Aren Maeir : Discussion

17:40     Closing remarks


October 05, 2016

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

Clip from SAGU – with Safi excavations starring!

Rob Price (Rob Price, SAGU Communication Arts department) has been kind enough to pass a link to the very nice video clip promoting the Ancient Studies Program at SAGU (Southwestern Assemblies of God University). Rob and team from SAGU participated in the dig in 2014, and others connected to SAGU have been regulars (such as Eric Welch).


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/185312577″>Ancient Studies Program_SAGU</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user5493224″>Rob Price</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

The clip was prepared by a SAGU multi-media team led by Rob (Caleb Celestino and Jon Utley), which joined the Safi team during the 2014 season – especially to put together this great clip.

In the clip, you can see shots taken during the excavation (on site and at the base camp at Kibbutz Revadim), as well as various Safi team members talking (Eric, Jeff, Aren, Brian Stachowsky, Kristen Flake) and appearing (the SAGU team, the Area F team, Rob, Mark, and others).

Check it out – very nicely done!


October 02, 2016

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

Shana tova – happy Jewish New Year – to all!

A shana tova u-metuka – a happy and sweet Jewish new year – to you all!

May this year be one of health and happiness, growth and fulfillment, and not to forget – many interesting finds and groundbreaking research!

:-)

Aren


September 29, 2016

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

Meeting in Warsaw

As previously noted, on this last Tuesday-Wednesday, I participated in a very interesting conference in Warsaw, on the Aegean and the Levant during the transition between the Late Bronze and Iron Ages. The meeting was an excellent, very intimate meeting, with about 25 participants, most of whom presented papers.

The papers dealt with various issues relating to the topic of the meeting, but from many various perspectives. By and large, the papers were excellent, the discussions were stimulating – and the hosting and organization (organized by Łukasz Niesiołowski-Spano) superb.

What can be seen from the papers is that a lot of very interesting research is being conducted nowadays on related topics!

In addition to the “regular suspects”, I also got to meet some very interesting scholars, as well as interact with some who I don’t usually meet in other contexts.

And best of all – the papers will eventually published – so the public will get to see them as well!

Here’s a group picture of the participants:

warsaw-meeting-group-picture_9_16

Aren


September 28, 2016

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

The Passing of Ido Ginaton

We are shocked and saddened by the sudden death of our good friend and excavator – Ido Ginaton, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in the Netherlands. It was always a pleasure and fun working and talking with Ido – who always had an opinion, a smile, good coffee, and a willingness to help any and everyone at Tel Burna. We will miss him!

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September 22, 2016

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

Safi team at Scientist’s Night at BIU

The Safi lab team was at the BIU “Scientists’ Night” open house this afternoon and evening, with a great hands-on booth on ancient board games. Amit, Shira (who has researched the EB games from Safi), Maria and Lindsay set up a great booth, with actual game-related finds from the excavations, and modern recreations that could be played. Shira also gave a TED-like lecture on the games to the crowd.

See here photos of the families (parents and kids) trying to play the games at the booth.

img_6022 img_6023

Well done!

Aren


The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Lecture on the Late Bronze at Tel Burna at Texas A&M Corpus Christi

I (Chris) will be giving a lecture at Texas A&M Corpus Christi on the Late Bronze finds from Tel Burna over the last 7 seasons. Here is the announcement and the flyer (Texas themed🙂.

NEW: Oct. 3: Religious Studies Minor Speaker Series featuring Professor Chris McKinney: The College of Liberal Arts welcomes all to the Religious Studies Minor Speaker Series. The first talk features Professor Chris McKinny, who teaches Biblical Archaeology at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. McKinny’s talk, “Beseeching the Storm God? Canaanite Cultic Activity at Tel Burna, Israel,” will take place from 1 – 2 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 3, in Island Hall, room 267. The talk is free and open to the public and includes a Q&A session. For more information, contact Dr. Jennifer Epley, Religious Studies Minor Coordinator, at jennifer.epley@tamucc.edu.

beseeching-the-storm-god_flyer


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

New paper on EB fauna from Safi!

A paper discussing the Early Bronze Age faunal remains from the Area E excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath has just appeared (see link to the paper here).

The full title is:

Greenfield, H. J., Brown, A., Shai, I., and Maeir, A. M. 2016. Preliminary Analysis of the Fauna from the Early Bronze Age III Neighbourhood at Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel. Pp. 170–92 in Bones and Identity: Archaeozoological Approaches to Reconstructing Social and Cultural Landscapes in Southwest Asia, eds. N. Marom, R. Yeshurun, L. Weissbrod and G. Bar-Oz. Oxford: Oxbow.

 


September 17, 2016

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

17th World Congress of Jewish Studies – Jerusalem, Aug. 6-10, 2017

As a board member of the World Union of Jewish Studies, please let me bring your attention to the official notice (below) on the upcoming congress in Aug. 2017 in Jerusalem.

And, as a member of the committee for Bible and Ancient Near East at the congress, I would like to invite you all to submit suggestions for lectures and/or sessions relating to Bible, Bronze and Iron Age Archaeology, Ancient Near East, and related topics, on the submission page on the website.

Here is the official notice:

17th World Congress of Jewish Studies

We are happy to announce that the Seventeenth World Congress of Jewish Studies will take place from August 6 to 10, 2017 at the Mount Scopus Campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The World Congress of Jewish Studies convenes in Jerusalem every four years, and is the most important event in Jewish studies worldwide. The last Congress in 2013 brought together thousands of participants from over 40 countries, who attended nearly 1600 lectures in various fields and on many diverse topics in Jewish studies. The lectures were presented by scholars from all the important centers and institutions of Jewish learning. The Congress also features a comprehensive book fair, as well as hosted social and cultural events to give participants the opportunity to share various aspects of Jewish culture.
Proposals for lectures to be presented at the 17th World Congress of Jewish Studies may now be submitted. The deadline for submissions is November 30, 2016.

September 16, 2016

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

Louise will be giving a talk in Athens, Sept, 27th, 2016

If any of you are in Athens in the near future, make sure to come to Louise Hitchcock’s lecture at the Australian Archaeological Institute in Athens, on Sept. 27th, 2016, at 7 pm.

Louise will be giving a talk entitled: “Yo ho, Yo ho, a Pirate’s Life for Me: The Maritime Culture of the Sea Peoples”.

Aren


Paper at the 12th Cretalogical Congress

The 12th International Cretological Congress will be held in Heraklion, Crete, Sept. 21-25, 2016 (for program and abstract, see here).

Louise Hitchcock will be presenting a paper (with A. Maeir as 2nd author) at the meeting, which I believe will be of interest to many of you:

Pirates of the Crete-Aegean: migration, mobility, and Post-Palatial realities at the end of the Bronze Age

Abstract: Our recent research (Hitchcock and Maeir 2014; in press) has used historical accounts of piracy to briefly examine pirate leadership, pirate culture and social organization, feasting activities, and studies of pirate geography to propose an interpretive framework for understanding the migration of the Sea Peoples as, inter alia, pirate tribes who plundered some of the great centers at the end of the Mediterranean Bronze Age (ca. 1177 BCE, e.g. Cline 2014). We suggest that as Mycenaean control over trade routes collapsed with the destruction and/or eventual abandonment of the Mycenaean palaces, that Crete became particularly vulnerable to piracy, because of certain geographical and topographical features that characterized its coastlines. Unless defended, rocky coastlines, natural harbors, promontories, and river valleys were susceptible to piratical activity, as we shall discuss. Historical records indicate that piracy resulted in a desolation of coastlines, as coastal settlements and coastal plains might be attacked at night, with villages burnt and pillaged, and fields devastated. Inhabitants of such areas were motivated to move to defensible places further inland. Such abandonment and move to defensible areas characterized early Iron Age Cretan settlements, such as Karphi, Kavousi, Kephala-Vasiliki, Chalasmenos, Monastiraki, Thronos-Kephala, and many others, which were relatively inaccessible from the surrounding landscape with the numerous sites documented by Nowicki (2000) in postpalatial Crete representing only a fraction of the total. Our paper will consider the role of piracy at the end of the Bronze Age in influencing migration, new realities, social practices, and changes in the cultural environment and social organization of post-palatial Crete. We will also explore the idea that just as certain areas of Crete were geographically suitable for seeking refuge from pirates, other sites in Crete became geographically suitable for pirate activity to take place. This will eventually be incorporated into an understanding of the larger picture of the major transformation, which occurred in the eastern and central Mediterranean in the transition between the 13th and 12th centuries BCE.


September 12, 2016

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

Kudos to Sharon Staub

Sharon Staub, who was a staff member of the Australian team (led by Louise) for several seasons, has just been awarded a very nice award.

Sharon wrote an undergraduate paper (supervised by Brent Davis) entitled “The Importance of Terebinth Consumption in the Late Bronze Age: Evidence, Religion and Trade”.

Subsequently the paper came to the attention of “The Undergraduate Awards”, the world’s largest academic award program.

The results of this program have now been announced: not only did Sharon place in the top 10% of Classical Studies & Archaeology students worldwide, she has now been named the Regional Winner for Classical Studies & Archaeology in Oceania, giving her priority booking to the Undergraduate Awards Global Summit in Dublin this November!!

Way to go Sharon! Well-deserved!

Aren

HT: Brent Davis


September 06, 2016

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

Meeting in Warsaw on the Aegean and the Levant at the turn of the Bronze and Iron Ages (27-28/9/16)

Heads up for a very interesting conference that will be held on Tuesday-Wednesday, 27/28/9/16 at the University of Warsaw (organized by Łukasz Niesiołowski-Spano).

The meeting includes lectures from various scholars dealing with the Levant and the Aegean in the LB/Iron Age transition (and beyond). Quite a few very interesting papers will be given, including the opening paper by yours truly (A. Maeir), on changes in the understanding of who and what the Philistines are in light of recent research.

Should be very interesting!

Here is the schedule (which can be found online here as well):

The Aegean and the Levant at the Turn of the Bronze and Iron Age

27TH SEPTEMBER 2016, UNIVERSITY OF WARSAW
Institute of History, Krakowskie Przedmieście 26/28, room 108, (new building of the Faculty of History)
9:30 Opening Greetings
9:45-10:30
Aren Maeir (Bar-Ilan University), The Philistines: ‘Things ain’t what they used to be’
10:30-11:30
Rostislav Oreshko (University of Warsaw), Ahhiyawa – Danu(na) – Palasti(na). Aegean Ethnica in the Eastern Mediterranean in the Light of Old and New Hieroglyphic-Luwian Evidence
Zsolt Simon, (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München), What do we really know about the Philistine language?
Discussion

Coffee (11:45-12:15)

12:15-13:00
Ayelet Gilboa (University of Haifa), Foci of Levantine Maritime Trade across the Late Bronze/Iron Age Transition: Sea People, Phoenicians and other Problematic Entities
13:00-14:00
Jeffrey P. Emanuel, (Harvard University), Warfare or Piracy? Describing and defining naval combat in the Late Bronze-Early Iron Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean
Stefan Yordanov, (Veliko Tarnovo University Sts Cyril and Methodius), Potestary political cultures in change in the times of change: Interactions in Aegean Region and Eastern Mediterranean at the end of the Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age
Discussion

Lunch (14:15-15:15)

15:15-16:00
Alexander Fantalkin (Tel Aviv University), The Goddess of Ekron in the context of Philistine Migration in the Early Iron Age
16:00-17:00
Alexander V. Safronov, (Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow), The letter RS 88.2158 and Egyptian-Ugaritic relations under Sethos II
Mariacarmela Montesanto (University of Liverpool), Aegeans in the Northern Levant? A view from Alalakh
Discussion

Coffee (17:15-17:45)

17:45-18:30
Jan Paul Crielaard (VU University Amsterdam), Hybrid go-betweens: the role of individuals with multiple identities in cross-cultural contacts in the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age Mediterranean
18:30-19:15
Irad Malkin (Tel Aviv University), Greek women and Greek colonies in the Archaic period

28TH SEPTEMBER 2016, UNIVERSITY OF WARSAW
9:00-11:00
Vicky Vlachou, (Université libre de Bruxelles – CReA-Patrimoine), New Images, Old Practices? An Imagery of Funerary Rituals and Cult between the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean.
Laszlo Vilmos, (University of Pécs), Pride and prejudice / Piracy and exchange of goods – warriors and craftsmen
Rik Vaessen (independent scholar), An Ionian perspective on Aegeo-Levantine interactions at the end of the second millennium BCE
Sarah C. Murray, (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), Imported Objects in the Aegean as Evidence of Elite Interaction: A Flawed Paradigm?
Discussion

Coffee (11:15-11:45)

11:45-12:30
Gunnel Ekroth (Uppsala Universitet), Burn, burn, burn… When, why and how the ancient Greeks performed holocaustic sacrifices
12:30-13:30
Olga A. Zolotnikova, (University of Athens / Hellenic Open University), Elements of the Syro-Phoenician epic / mythic traditions in the Homeric concept of Zeus
Lech Trzcionkowski (The Jagiellonian University), Tradition and Innovation in the Greek Sacrificial Ritual: Epics and the Prehistory of Ritual in the East Mediterranean Context
Discussion

Lunch (13:45-14:45)

14:45-15:30
Ian Rutherford (University of Reading), Mons Kasios and Early Greek Mythology
15:30-17:00
Ismail Gezgin (Ege University, Izmir), The Making of Ionian Identity in Asia Minor
Jesse Michael Millek (The University of Tübingen), Destruction and the Cessation of Trade between the Aegean and the Levant at the End of the Late Bronze Age
Francisco Jesús Núñez Calvo (Independent Scholar) The impact of the Sea Peoples in Central Levant. A revision.
17:00 Closing remarks and discussion


August 30, 2016

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

New volume on Iron Age archaeology of the Shephelah in press

Eisenbrauns has put up on its website the pre-publication announcement for a new volume edited by Oded Lipschits (TAU) and Aren Maeir (BIU) that deals with recent archaeological excavations and studies in the Shephelah. The volume is based on a session that was held at the World Congress of Jewish Studies in 2013, and includes most of the papers from that double session and a few additional papers. What is nice about this volume is that it enables a very broad view of the rich and varied archaeological research being conducted in the Shephelah in recent years. In fact, almost all the project directors excavating Iron Age remains in the Shephelah agreed to submit papers!

The volume should be out in December 2016, but can be ordered now. Jim Eisenbrauns has promised that a pre-publication copy will be available for viewing at the upcoming ASOR meeting in San Antonio, in November.

The full title is:

Lipschits, O. and Maeir, A. M. eds. In press. The Shephelah during the Iron Age: Recent Archaeological Studies. Eisenbrauns: Winona Lake, IN.

Here is the publication blurb:

The area of the Judean Foothills – the biblical Shephelah – has in recent years become one of the most intensively excavated regions in the world. Numerous projects, at sites of different types and utilizing various methodological approaches, are actively excavating in this region. Of particular importance are the discoveries dating to the Iron Age, a period when this region was a transition zone between various cultures—Philistine, Canaanite, Judahite, and Israelite. The current volume includes reports from eight of the excavations currently being conducted in the region (Azekah, Beth Shemesh, Gezer, Khirbet Qeiyafa, Tel Burna, Tel Halif, Tell es-Safi/Gath, and Tel Zayit), as well as a general study of the region by Ido Koch. The importance of this volume lies not only in the fact that it collects up-to-date reports on most of the current excavations in the region but also demonstrates the lively, at times even boisterous, scholarly discussions taking place on various issues relating to the archaeology and history of the Iron Age Shephelah and its immediate environs. This volume serves as an excellent introduction to current research on the Iron Age in this crucial zone and also serves as a reflection of current trends, methodologies, and approaches in the archaeology of the Southern Levant.


August 24, 2016

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

Lemba and Edgar Peltenberg

I visited the Chalcolithic site of Lemba today – both the site and the experimental village. Very interesting site – even if it is from the Protohistoric periods (:-).

In light of the fact that Prof. Edgar Peltenburg, excavator of this site, passed away last week, it was a nice way to pay tribute to one of the more important near eastern archaeologists of this generation. May he rest in peace!

Aren


Maa Paleokastro

Today I had a chance to visit the very interesting site of Maa Paleokastro in NW Cyprus. This is an important LC III site, connected to the changes seen in the eastern Mediterranean in the transition between the 13th and 12th cent. BCE. It is often suggested that this is a site connected to the initial Mycenaean colonization of Cyprus at the time and connected to the Sea Peoples phenomenon (although other suggestions have been raised as well). It is particular interesting to me in the context of understanding the Philistine phenomenon, and more so regarding our recent papers (with Louise Hitchcock) on the role of piracy among the Sea Peoples and Philistines. In any case, it was nice to visit a site that I had dealt with extensively for many years.

Here are some pictures – including some modern pirate ships (:-)

IMG_5811 IMG_5808 IMG_5807

August 23, 2016

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

Nice article in Haaretz about Safi, Philistia, Tiryns, Cyprus and other aspects relating to the Philistine culture

Phillippe Bostrom has published another very nice article in Haaretz, based on his visit to the excavations this summer, and discussions with me, Joseph Maran, Philipp Stockhammer and others.

Very nice! Check it out here.

Aren


August 22, 2016

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

Nice article on a visit to the dig this summer

Nachaliel Selavan came to interview some of the team this last season – and at the same time did some work for a couple of days.

Here is the very nice article that he wrote about his experiences!

Aren


August 19, 2016

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

New article on the importance of the donkey in the Early Bronze Age!

It’s nice to report yet another article resulting from the joint efforts of several members of the Tell es-Safi/Gath team (see here a link to the full version).

The article, by Itzik Shai, Shirab Albaz, Annie Brown, Haskel Greenfield and Aren Maeir, deals with the importance of the donkey in the Early Bronze Age Levant, based on the finds from Tell es-Safi/Gath and other sites.

Here is the abstract:

In this paper, we review the evidence for the use of the domestic donkey as a mode of transportation in the Early Bronze Age. The study will present the domestic donkey remains (artefactual and zoological) and their archaeological context from the Early Bronze Age III domestic neighborhood at Tell es-Safi/ Gath. The remains indicate the significant role that donkeys played in the daily life of the inhabitants. This reflects on our understanding of their role in the trade networks and mode of transportation that existed within the emerging urban cultures in the southern Levant during the 3rd mill. B.C.E.

The full reference is:

Shai, et al. 2016. The importance of the donkey as a pack animal in the Early Bronze Age southern Levant: A view from Tell es-Safi/Gath. ZDPV 132: 1-25.

 


August 16, 2016

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

New Article – “Reassessing the Character of the Judahite Kingdom”

A new article entitled “Reassessing the Character of the Judahite Kingdom: Archaeological Evidence for Non-Centralized, Kinship- Based Component” written by Prof. Aren Maeir and Dr. Itzick Shai has just appeared in the feschrift in honor of Prof. Yossi Garfinkel (From Sha‘ar Hagolan to Shaaraim Essays in Honor of Prof. Yosef Garfinkel). Besides the compelling background for describing the historical situation of the Kingdom of Judah, they also give a nice “shout-out” to Tel Burna (and Tell es-Safi/Gath) in the following quote.

“It would be safe to assume that various local elites most probably changed loyalties over time. Just as the רפא family, as noted above, may have been first associated with the Philistines and later with the Judahites, other clans might have changed sides over time. A hint at this might be found in the depictions of the relationship between the Judahite Kingdom and the town of Libnah (Tel Burna?). As noted above, Josiah’s mother is attributed to this town, while on the other hand Libnah supposedly revolted against and was besieged by Jehoram (2 Kings 8:22; 2 Chron. 21:10). Perhaps, then, this reflects the ever-changing relations between this specific site and the Kingdom of Judah, situated in a region that traditionally vacillated between Judahite and Philistine control (on this point, see as well Blakely, Hardin and Master 2014).”

Read the whole thing here.

Full bibliographic entry:

Maeir, A., and I. Shai
2016  Reassessing the Character of the Judahite Kingdom: Archaeological Evidence for Non-Centralized, Kinship-Based Components. In From Sha‘ar Hagolan to Shaaraim Essays in Honor of Prof. Yosef Garfinkel, edited by S. Galon, I. Kreimerman, K. Streit, and M. Mumcuoglu, pp. 323–340. Israel Exploration Society, Jerusalem.

August 11, 2016

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

Yossi Garfinkel’s 60th birthday and Fs

Yesterday evening, a large crowd gathered at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem, in honor of Yossi Garfinkel’s 60th birthday, and a Festschrift volume that was published on this occasion. The evening was very nice, and the book has many very interesting articles!

Among them is an article by Itzik Shai and myself (that can be downloaded here), which is entitled:

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.

Here is the abstract:

In this study we reassess the character of the Judahite Kingdom during the Iron Age. As opposed to most past discussions of this monarchy, which define it as a highly centralized political structure, we suggest to identify various facets indicating that local elites played a major role in the societal and leadership structure of the Judahite Kingdom. We suggest that many of the supposed indices of centralized bureaucratic control that have been previously identified may in fact reflect the influence and control of local elites within the kingdom. We likewise believe that patronage-based relations, at different levels of society, were of central importance in the social and economic structure of the kingdom.

At the end of the evening, the participants were given a sneak preview of the about to be opened exhibition on Khirbet Qeiyafa, Yossi’s former excavations. The exhibit is very nice – and is highly recommended. It will officially open in a few weeks.

Aren


August 04, 2016

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

New paper on provenance of EB basalt ground stone vessels

A new paper by the Safi team has appeared (see here a link to the paper)!

The paper, spearheaded by Jeremy Beller, deals with a geochemical provenance study of basalt ground stone objects from the EB levels at Tell es-Safi/Gath, and attempts to place the results within the context of the EB exchange and trade networks.

Here is the abstract:

On-going excavations at the Early Bronze Age III settlement of Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel have recovered a small assemblage of basalt ground stone objects in a residential neighbourhood. As high quality basalt is not found within the Shephelah (the Judean foothills), the occurrence of basalt artefacts at settlements in this region has frequently been cited as evidence of movement of raw material or the exchange of commodities within the southern Levant. However, only a limited number of studies have connected basalt artefacts with sources through geochemical provenance from this area of Israel. Using the geochemical fingerprints from previous studies and an XRF analysis,
we attempt to identify the source of origin of nineteen basalt grinding stones using a meta-analysis of previously identified geological sources in the region and surrounding areas. The results demonstrate that the basalt artefacts originated from a wide variety of sources, including the eastern Dead Sea, Jezreel Valley, and Galilee-Golan regions, thereby supporting previously held hypotheses about the movement of basalt commodities
from sources within the immediate region. No artefacts were linked to more distant sources (e.g. Egypt, Sinai). These data provide evidence that EB urban centres, such as Tell es-Safi/Gath,were socio-economically connected even for quotidian commodities to other regions of the southern Levant through some kind of system for the non-local exchange of traditionally domestic commodities.

The paper is entitled: Beller, J. A., Greenfield, H. J., Fayek, M., Shai, I., and Maeir, A. M. 2016. Provenance and Exchange of Basalt Ground Stone Artefacts of EB III Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel. Journal of Archaeological Science Reports 9: 226–37.

The research on which this paper is based was funded by the joint grant to Haskel Greenfield and Aren Maeir from the Canadian SSHRC.

Enjoy!


Great visit to Tel Azekah!

Yesterday, I had the great opportunity to visit the ongoing excavations at Tel Azekah, hosted by co-directors Oded Lipschitz, Yuval Gadot and Manfred Oeming. They gave me a great tour of the various areas – and the fantastic finds that are coming up.

We also laid the foundations for some exciting joint research between our sites – two close neighbors with ongoing relations, contacts and/or lack thereof in different periods! I’m sure that this will lead to some really interesting, and perhaps ground breaking research in the coming years!

Thanks to the Azekah team for the gracious hosting!

Aren


August 02, 2016

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

Dates for the 2017 season: July 2nd-28th, 2017

An early heads up to all those interested for the dates of the 2017 season at Tell es-Safi/Gath – July 2nd to July 28th, 2017.

Start planning your next summer accordingly!

Aren


Great news for Brent Davis – a position at Melbourne!

Great news for Brent Davis, long-time member of the Safi team:

Brent has just been appointed to a salaried position at the University of Melbourne, where he’ll be in charge of teaching, restructuring and expanding the ancient Egyptian language program there. Over the next few years, Brent will (1) incorporate significant amounts of Online Learning into the program, (2) refocus the program toward Object-Based Learning, in which students learn extensively from actual inscriptions in addition to those in textbooks, and (3) expand the program from a single semester into a full two-year series of language courses (Egyptian 1, 2, 3 and 4).

Way to go Brent! Well-deserved without a doubt!


August 01, 2016

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

Maddi gives a lecture on Safi!

Madeline Harris-Schober (better known as Maddi), former team member at Safi (2014) has informed me that she just have a paper at the National Archaeology Student Conference (NASC), held at the University of Western Australia in Perth. The paper she gave was a shortened version her undergraduate project Demystifying the Philistines- A Comparative Study of IIIC Pottery from Crete and Philistia, whilst also adding in some general info about the site – including practical information about the dig itself.

Here’s a picture of Maddi giving the lecture – way to go!

Maddi lecturing on Safi NASC 2016


July 26, 2016

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

Kudos for Cynthia – “The Five Minute Archaeologist” volume about to appear

Cynthia Shafer-Elliott (William Jessup University – and a former Safi staff member) has sent out a flyer for the soon to appear “The Five Minute Archaeologist“, which provides an excellent intro to what archaeology is, based on short chapters on a wide variety of topics, covering the basics of “everything you wanted to know about archaeology but was afraid to ask”…

As you will notice from the table of contents in the flyer (Shafer-Elliott-5 minute archaeologist flyer) 22 of the 56 chapters are written by past or present “Safiites” – so I think it is safe to say that Safi rules…

:-)

Nice job Cynthia!

Aren


July 25, 2016

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

A third drone video clip from the end of the 2016 season

Here is a third aerial video clip from drone (taken by PW) at the end of 2016 season at Tell es-Safi/Gath. Clip starts with drone just to the east of Area K in the lower city, then flies northwards over the lower city moving west, passing Area D, and then and turns south and climbs up towards the peak of the tell and Area F. After circling around Area F, it turns north, northeast, and heads again towards Area D.

Now, with the three clips – one can get a view of the overall majority of the tell and its immediate surroundings!

Check it out – really nice!


Another great drone video clip from the end of the 2016 season

Here is another aerial video clip from drone (taken by PW) at the end of 2016 season at Tell es-Safi/Gath. Clip starts with drone just to the north of Area F on the upper tell, then flies over the lower city moving east, passing Area D and then Area E, and turns south and reaches just to the north of Areas A and E.

Once again, great views of the areas, and the beautiful scenery and colors, on and around the tell!

Enjoy!


July 24, 2016

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

Video clip from drone of lower city excavations

See below the simply astounding aerial drone clip of Tell es-Safi/Gath, taken at end of 2016 season (by PW). Flying first east over Area D (including the new gate area) and then Area K, the drone continues eastwards, to just north of the eastern section of the siege trench (and Area C6). Then it turns westwards and returns towards Area K.

Note the flock of sheep returning from pasture to the east of the tell, and the black car that I’m driving that comes into the clip just after the drone passes over Area K.

The colors and lighting in the late afternoon/early evening are always fantastic at Tell es-Safi/Gath – and this comes through in an astonishingly vivid manner in this clip!

Enjoy!


July 21, 2016

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

2016 aerial group photo!

What you have all been waiting for is now out! The aerial group photo for the 2016 season was taken today at the start of the final aerial photography. We definitely are keeping up with the traditions of cool group photos!

This time, we made a donkey – in honor of the 2 donkeys from the EB levels in Area E

2016 aerial donkey foto


July 20, 2016

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

Some Safi fauna (contemporary…)

For those interested in the animal life around Safi, today I saw a few interesting animals in and around the tell.

This afternoon, while I was driving around the tell with our conservator, I came upon a dead Barn Owl (Tyto Alba; תנשמת), lying on the road on the eastern side of the tell, I believe the first time I saw this species around the site. Sic transit gloria mundi…

Barn owl on Safi July 2016

Later on, I saw a Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes; שועל מצוי) running out of Area D, followed by a very long brown Narrow Striped Dwarf Snake (Eirenis decemlineata; שךוון קווים) – who was not that much of dwarf (over a meter long) – just as we walked in to Area K! To top it off, I also saw a nice Short Toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus; חוואי) flying over, and two Great Grey Shrikes (Lanus Excubitor; חנקן גדול) sitting in a tree near Area A! While the last two are very commonly seen on the tell – they are beautiful species as well!

And one more nice bird that we saw earlier today, right after the final photos, was a Little Owl (Athene noctua; כוס החורבות) which we saw to the south of the tell, near the southern part of the siege trench. We see these birds almost every day, usually in the morning as we arrive at the tell. Here is a nice picture that Maria took of it.

1

All told – splendid species them all!


The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

Thank You

Today, I am going to beg everyone's indulgence and end regular posting on the Ashkelon blog on a personal note.

Grid 38 1989 -- that's me in the yellow shirt

Grid 38 1989 -- that's me in the yellow shirt

My first season was in 1989. I spent the summer in Grid 38 digging open air sewers in Roman streets. I loved every minute of it. I returned the following year and spent another summer in Grid 38. By then there could be no doubt, the archaeology bug had bitten me and I was hooked.

In 1991 I joined the staff and moved from Grid 38 to Grid 50 which was just a short run down the dump from the Mediterranean and swimming during fruit break. There I dug robber trenches, dog burials (approximately 100) and meters and meters of the Persian period.

Grid 50 -- 2016

Grid 50 -- 2016

In 1997, I opened Grid 51 where I spent the summer excavating the Islamic and Byzantine periods.

Grid 51 -- 2016 (today)

Grid 51 -- 2016 (today)

It was back to Grid 50 for a year and then when I returned, Grids 23, 47, 44, 32, 25 and finally, the cemetery of Philistine Ashkelon. Each excavation area was another piece of the puzzle that told us about the history Ashkelon. There was the bedrock sand and the elusive cardo in Grid 25, the dogs in Grid 50, the dense Islamic and Crusader residential settlement in Grid 44, and so much more. 

My Ashkelon story is one that lasted 20 excavation seasons over the course of 27 years. It is not a unique story. Co - Director Daniel Master also reached 20 excavation seasons this summer. Many of my fellow staff members passed the decade mark years ago (Adam and Kate to name two) and many others are hovering right around it (Josh). I am sure there are others as well. Some have participated only a year or two or three and at least two staff members, Lawrence Stager and Paula Wannish, were here in 1985 and again in 2016.

We all have similar stories, as do the countless specialists from zooarchaeologists, physical anthropologists, microarchaeologists and geologists to archaeobotanists, conservators, and surveyors who have helped to make sense of the material we found.

I believe many of us would tell you that most seasons, we were the least important people in our excavation areas. The people who really mattered? The ones who ensured we learned so much about the history and archaeology of Ashkelon? The volunteers: students, retirees, professors, nurses, computer scientists, artists, architects, engineers, theologians, historians, people from all walks of life. Everyone who got their hands in the dirt, who rode the bus at 5:00 in the morning, who dived into the containers on a compound day, who relished the challenge of sweeping the dirt clean, who collected EVERY sherd, bone, and piece of glass, played an important role in telling the stories of ancient Ashkelon.

With the help of more than 1,000 staff and volunteers, we uncovered the earliest occupation at Ashkelon (Chalcholithic/EB), excavated Nebuchadnezzar's destruction of the city in 604, explored daily life, and death, in Philistine Ashkelon, traced the development of orthogonal city planning in the Persian and Hellenistic cities, revisited the city's Roman period bouleuterion, excavated and restored the MB II Canaanite Gate, tracked urban developments in the Byzantine, Islamic and Crusader periods, and deciphered the sequence of the fortifications ringing the city.

We have learned a great deal about ancient Ashkelon in the 30 years of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon. There is more work to do but not for us. Now we return the archaeological site to the national park in which it is housed. Today Grid 51 is a field of dirt but nature works quickly and it won't be long before it is reclaimed just as has happened with previous excavation areas.

Grid 37 -- excavated 1986-1987

Grid 37 -- excavated 1986-1987

Grid 44 -- excavated 2013

Grid 44 -- excavated 2013

Our excavation is done but our publication work continues as does our commitment to leaving a lasting legacy for the park and the people of Ashkelon. The Philistine house in Grid 38 will be conserved in the future while work on the restoration of the bouleuterion is well under way. Stage 1, an IAA excavation preparing the surrounding landscape, is in process.

Grid 47 -- 2016 IAA excavation preparing for restoration of bouleuterion

Grid 47 -- 2016 IAA excavation preparing for restoration of bouleuterion

Grid 47 -- bouleuterion (2016)

Grid 47 -- bouleuterion (2016)

Good-byes are hard, especially after 30 years, but it's time. On behalf of the 2016 Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon staff, I'd like to thank everyone who helped us excavate Ashkelon, to everyone who ever helped us tell the story of this remarkable city, and to those who will help us finish the publication program. I'd like to thank the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.

It was the vision and support of Leon Levy and then the continued and unwavering support of Shelby White and the Leon Levy Foundation that made it all possible and allowed us to excavate Ashkelon for 30 years. Thank you.

Finally, to the Ashkelon staff, more an extended family than a group of co-workers, thank you. It was a fantastic run and I loved each and every minute of it.

Sunset over the beaches of Ashkelon -- 2015

Sunset over the beaches of Ashkelon -- 2015

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

A new game for Amit – *.gif files on the dig

Amit has a new game to play, making *.gif images on the dig. While we were busy taking final pictures, he was busy with his new game…

See some results below (notice the one where I’m running out of a square and I forget my leg…):

20160720_064728 20160720_063303 20160720_063217 20160720_060507 20160720_055512 20160720_054527 20160720_054232

 


July 18, 2016

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Beautiful Drone Video

Check out this beautiful video of the tell after the 2016 season, which was taken by PW with his drone. A lot of work went into each of these excavation squares in the last 7 seasons🙂 thank you to all of the participants of this season and the six before!


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

Shout out for Udi Weiss on Nature Genetics article

Hearty congratulations are called for to Udi Weiss (lead archaeobotanist for the Safi project) and his colleagues for a great article that appeared today in Nature Genetics on the sequencing of the genome of 6000 year old barley from a cave under Masada in the Judean desert!

Here is a nice summary of the research. The Safi angle to this is that one of the PR photos for the BIU press announcement on the article was taken in the Safi project lab at BIU. So we can claim that we have a (very small) part in this admirable achievement…

Udi Weiss and colleagues in lab after Nature Genetics article


The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Postseason

On Friday, Melissa climbed a tall ladder and took the Grid 51 final photos. She also took a picture of grid supervisors Laura and Jonathon as they stood in the grid one last time.

Today, the bulldozer came and backfilled Grid 51. 

That's it.

We're all done in the field. 

The Leon Levy Expedition has completed its excavation of ancient Ashkelon. 

July 17, 2016

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

Pokémon Go at Tell es-Safi/Gath

Well, it appears that Pokémon Go has reached Tell es-Safi/Gath!

Here’s a screen shot – courtesy of Debby Tabacinic:

Pokemon Go at Safi 1


Great find to start the week: Portion of a head-shaped vessel!

Today in pottery reading a great find popped up from Area D (not Area A as previously written) – a portion of a head-shaped vessel! A beautifully made nose, mouth, left cheek and hints to other parts are preserved.

Due to the relatively small size, it most probably is a vessel – and not a mask (such as those found not too long ago at Tel Burna). The iconography and ware seems to indicate an LB dating – which fits in with the other pottery from this context.

Most likely, this is an object used in a cultic or ritual context – perhaps depicting the face of a deity.

Reminds me of the traditional Jewish blessing – that I give my kids and grandkids on Friday night (Num 6: 24-26):

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee
The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee
The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace

Really cool! Here’s two pictures of this really nice find:

IMG_5565 IMG_5566

 

 


Last week of 2016 about to begin!

This is the last week of the 2016 season at Tell es-Safi/Gath. As mentioned previously, the season up until now has been very successful – and I hope this will continue in this week as well. Hard to believe how quickly the weeks go by…

Promise to update on any developments in the next few days.


July 15, 2016

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

Last day of week 3

Today, Friday, July 15, 2016, was the last day of week three of the 2016 season – and the end of a great week in general. Last night we had the end-of-the-week party – and we said goodbye to quite a few team members who leave Israel this weekend. Thanks to these and other team members for their exceptional work and motivation during the season!

Next week we will be a smaller team – “only” about 75… :-) (as opposed to ca. 200 on some of the days this week!)

We had quite a few visitors today, and many of them joined us for the end of the week tell tour of the various excavation areas.

Here are some of the highlights of the day:

Area A: Deep in Iron I (a lot of animal bones and Iron I pottery, and two very nice blades – one obsidian and one flint) and the Iron IIA (with more of the 9th cent BCE destruction level).

Area D: Lots of more finds in the gate area – and it looks like the gate is making more and more sense from an architectural points of view. Along with it we had nice Iron I and Iron IIA finds – and more and more evidence of the substantial Iron I construction and activity in the area. Johana and Lior Regev from WIS came to the dig today and sampled for 14C dating from various contexts in Area D. This will hopefully provide additional data for the existing 14C sequence that we have for the lower city.

Area E: One of the donkeys is out (and we have the petrous bones from this animal which is the current “holy grail” for DNA and other analyses of skeletal remains). The other donkey is fully exposed and we hope to remove it on Sunday. In addition, the Area E team took out a few floating walls in the area, and discovered a very interesting installation, possibly for cooking.

Area F: Excavation in the MB, LB and Iron IIA levels with various finds – and clarifications of various aspects of the stratigraphy.

Area K: More installations, vessels and other things coming out – and the area is looking great!

Looking forward to the final week. Here are some pictures:

IMG_5542 IMG_5543 IMG_5544 IMG_5545 IMG_5546 IMG_5547 IMG_5548 IMG_5549 IMG_5550 IMG_5551 IMG_5552 IMG_5553 IMG_5554 IMG_5555 IMG_5558 IMG_5559 IMG_5560

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 41

The 2016 field season is done. Last night we enjoyed all-you-can eat ice cream as we celebrated the end of the season and tonight the volunteers start heading home.

There is still a lot of work to do to shut everything down. One such project had volunteers back in the field this week covering the shrine in Grid 38.

Sunday morning we sleep in until 6:00 at which time the staff will meet to go over the schedule for staff week. We have a few days of post-season until everyone heads home. Check back next week to see what is happening in the Pottery Compound.

July 14, 2016

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

Thursday, July 14th, 2016 on the dig

Another really nice day for a great team! Although we were not as many people as in the previous two days, things moved along really nice in all areas!

Area A: Louise and her team had a good day with a slew of Iron IIA vessels from the 9th cent BCE destruction level.

Area D: More and more finds in the gate area, and a lot of more walls beginning to connect and make sense. In the metallurgical area we had some nice finds as well, including a really nice square tuyère and small pit filled with ash – perhaps remains of some of the production processes.

Area E: Both donkeys are doing well – and coming out. Today it was decided that one of the donkeys should be named Jehoiakim (see Jeremiah 22…). A really cool find was a patch of phytoliths that was found right on the teeth of one of the donkeys – perhaps the donkey’s last meal before burial!

Area F: Great finds today, including a very nice late MB or early LB votive juglet, and some nice LB and Iron IIA levels.

Area K: Lots of more pottery and other finds from throughout the area – including loomweights, vessels and other cool things!

Great day! Here are some pictures:

IMG_5493 IMG_5494 IMG_5495 IMG_5496 IMG_5497 IMG_5498 IMG_5499 IMG_5500 IMG_5501 IMG_5502 IMG_5503 IMG_5504 IMG_5505 IMG_5507 IMG_5508 IMG_5509 IMG_5510 IMG_5512 IMG_5513 IMG_5515 IMG_5517 IMG_5518 IMG_5519 IMG_5520 IMG_5521 IMG_5522 IMG_5523 IMG_5524 IMG_5525 IMG_5527 IMG_5528 IMG_5529 IMG_5530 IMG_5531 IMG_5532 IMG_5533 IMG_5534 IMG_5535 IMG_5536 IMG_5537 IMG_5538 IMG_5539 IMG_5540

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 40

The season is almost over. Tonight is the final party and the expedition will be celebrating at the 2nd "All You Can Eat Ice Cream Party" at Polar Bear Ice Cream. What's not to love about ice cream?

This morning the expedition had a chance to unwind and celebrate a successful season during Adam Aja's annual Tell Games. The 2016 edition was awesome and fun was had by everyone who participated as well as those who watched safely from the sidelines.

July 13, 2016

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

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

Another great, but extremely hectic, day on the tell. Once again, the team was enormous, with something like 200 people in the various areas (most of them in Area D…). We also had quite a few visitors today, including a group from the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem, the Tel Burna Team (led by Dr. Itzik Shai), and the Land of Mannaseh Survey team (led Dr. Doron Bar). We were all running around like mad… :-)

But the finds were great!

Area A: In the Iron I square they found a concentration of ca. 25 olive pits, and removed a very nice dipper juglet. In the Iron IIA square there is oodles of pottery, including a complete jug and quite a few jars. A very nice that came out today in the pottery washing is a clay bulla, with two poorly preserved stamps and the negative of the string on the back. Due to its form, the bulla was probably for closing a box and not a letter, and from what could be seen, the two stamps were anepigraphic (which is to be expected in the Iron I)

Area D: The metallurgy area had some nice finds, including a couple of bronze objects (though poorly preserved) and perhaps an installation. So, maybe we will have some insights on how the metal production was carried out – and what was being made.

In the gate area more and more architecture is coming out, and its becoming more and more complicated and massive. We have more finds from the Iron I and IIA levels, including a series of tabuns covering all these periods, a ton of restorable pottery from the Iron I and IIA – including a very nice strainer jug (“beer jug”) of the “Late Philistine Decorated Ware” pottery group – something what we have not yet seen at Safi.

Area E: The donkeys are starting to come out of the ground – and we have most of the skeletons of both of them. In addition, Johanna Regev (WIS) came to take some 14C samples from a probe into the lower levels in the area – hopefully to add lower, earlier phases to the 14C sequence of the EB in Area E.

Area F: The almost complete jar was removed today, and it very much looks like an MB form. If so, this is the first restorable MB jar from our excavations, and also nice evidence of the MB levels within the city wall. In addition, LB and Iron IIA levels were excavated and a nice bone object was found.

Area K: More and more architecture and smashed pottery is coming up in the area, but it is still quite hard to understand the plan and function of the contexts – and the various installations in and around them. Today the K team took out a bunch of loomweights, two nice juglets and a bunch of other vessels. An interesting find was a vessel in which a collection of small pebbles was found! We have no idea what this might have been used for!

All told – a great day – here are some pictures:

IMG_5485 IMG_5486 IMG_5487 IMG_5490 IMG_5464 IMG_5465 IMG_5466 IMG_5472 IMG_5477 IMG_5479 IMG_5481 IMG_5482 IMG_5483

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 39

The probe in Grid 51

The probe in Grid 51

They have reached the Iron I, 11th century, in the Grid 51 probe. They hope to reach Phase 21, the Late Bronze Age, by the end of day tomorrow. 

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

Nice MB jar from Area F!

The Area F team just took out a really nice, almost complete MB jar! Nice!

img_5477


July 12, 2016

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

Tuesday, July 12th on the dig

Quite a day today – both in finds and size of the team. In addition to the “regular” team, we had a large group of IDF soldiers and YU students who joined the team for the day, and we had something like 180 to 200 people working on the tell today. This was particularly important in the gate area, as we we cleaned surface and opened quite a few squares – which will help us clarify the “big picture” of this enormous architectural complex.

Here are two clips of the work in the gate area! It’s like something out of a movie…

And here is the daily summary of the finds:

Area A: The team is working in Iron I in one square – with tons of Iron I pottery – including a complete juglet, as well as a very interesting stone (?) bead. In the other square they are deep in the 9th cent BCE Iron IIA destruction level – and they have quite a few restorable or complete vessels.

Area D: As mentioned above, we had a very big team in this area today, and we opened up a whole bunch of new squares. The 3 major phases in this area (9th, 10th and 11th cent BCE) can be seen in quite a few places, with all kinds of nice finds. Also, more and more architectural elements, both of monumental stones and brick walls are beginning to be recognized, as well as several well-defined rooms. In the metallurgical area they are still working hard to define the extent of the metallurgical activities.

Area E: The two donkeys are almost completely excavated – but unfortunately, parts of both skeletons are under deep balks. So while we will get major parts of the skeletons, parts of both will be missing…

Area F: The F team was digging in MB, LB, Iron I, and Iron IIA, with some nice finds, including an almost complete seeminly MB jar in a collapse, a very nice bone/ivory object from the LB, and a nice Iron IIA floor.

Area K: More and more architecture and restorable vessels are popping up, as well as some very interesting “installations” covered with plaster. We still have a lot of questions about this area – but things are looking good!

Here are some pictures:

IMG_5437 IMG_5438 IMG_5441 IMG_5444 IMG_5446 IMG_5448 IMG_5450 IMG_5451 IMG_5452 IMG_5453 IMG_5454 IMG_5455 IMG_5456 IMG_5457 IMG_5458 IMG_5459 IMG_5460 IMG_5462

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 38

Grid 51 is still in the field digging a probe to bedrock. They have reached Iron I and are now starting to go even earlier. The Pottery Compound is also busy as end of season inventory begins and we start to pack the containers. Photos of all of this coming tomorrow. 

Today, a few more pictures from the exhibit at the Rockefeller.

Fatimid inscription with Crusader shields

Fatimid inscription with Crusader shields

"Pottery River"

"Pottery River"

Byzantine inscription

Byzantine inscription

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

Nice article on the dig

A nice little article, summing up last week’s visit by Michelle Chabin, representative of the “Religious News Service”, now appeared. And very nicely, it includes a picture of Prof. David Kotter and Diona Southcott, team members of Area K!


July 11, 2016

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

New Article in Bible and Interpretation

Check out the new article by Aharon, Joe, Dvir, and Itzick that deals with different problems and solutions related to archaeological surveys. Way to go guys!

The full reference is below:

2016: Tavger, A., Uziel, J., Raviv, D., Shai, I. “Addressing Survey Methodology in the Southern LEvant.” The Bible and Interpretation, June 2016.


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

Visit to the Gezer excavations

This afternoon, part of the Safi team, lead by Eric Welch, visited the excavations at Gezer.

Here’s a picture of the group on site (thanks to Christina for the picture):

Safi team at Gezer 2016


Great start for the 3rd week – July 11, 2016

Well, the 3rd started with a bang with a lot of great finds in all the areas!

Area A is deep in the Iron I in one square and in the Iron IIA destruction in the other, with lots of restorable pottery coming up.

Area D is overloaded with finds today. The gate architecture is getting more and more impressive, with apparent three stages – representing (at this point from pottery, but with hints to stratigraphic/architectural phases as well) 11th, 10th, and 9th cent BCE, with a ton of finds near surface. Among the cool finds today are: a scarab, a cylinder seal, a flint blade core, another tabun, and many, many walls, rooms, etc. Really nice!

Area E: The two donkeys are looking really good – with great preservation – hopefully we will be able to conduct a wide range of analyses on the remains. The E team also found a nice bronze pin today

Area F: Working in LB, possible MB and Iron IIA levels, with some nice finds, including an almost complete upside down jar placed in an installation, a nice phytolith level/floor, and other finds.

Area K: Finally we are getting some comprehensible architecture in various squares, along with nice amount of restorable pottery and other finds. Looking good!

Nice way to start the week – here are some pictures:

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The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 37

This afternoon Adam Aja was interviewed about the cemetery of the Philistines at Ashkelon. You can find the video here.

Last night, the IAA held their annual reception for foreign expeditions. It coincided with the  opening of a special exhibit on the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon at the Rockefeller Museum. Below, some photos from the exhibit opening.

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

What a day – already before breakfast!

We are having quite a day already – and this even before breakfast! Details later – but here’s a sampling – a scarab from Area D, just inside the gate area.


July 10, 2016

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Heading into Week 4

In this last week, we made excellent progress in all of the excavation areas. Area A2 closed down early this season because Debi’s son is getting married early next week – Mazel Tov!!!

In Area C (c. 70 meters northeast from the tell summit) – Casey, Ian and Sam have continued to expose more agricultural installations and it seems quite clear that this area was used for agricultural activity for thousands of years from as far back as the Chalcolithic period until the Iron II. This week, they exposed another installation with pottery only from the Chalcolithic period.

In Area B1 – Chris, Benjamin, Samuel and the Area C team (they join us after breakfast because they are digging without shade) are finishing up the new square related to the large public building “where cultic activity took place” – which is looking more and more like a temple/high place – and are focusing on the stepped trench/sondage. With regards to this stepped trench – things are getting rather interesting as we have nearly reached bedrock in the two lowest squares and it seems that there is a large (c. 2 meters deep so far) accumulation of either a purposeful fill or glacis/earthen rampart that is mostly comprised of medium-large sized stones and very loose soil. This feature can be clearly seen on the west and east of the tell as it creates a 5-meter wide step on both sides of the mound and runs the entire length of the site. Interestingly, the majority of the pottery is from the Late Bronze Age, but there is clear evidence of Iron II pottery from the 10th-8th centuries BCE (no 7th yet) – which seems to indicate that this large feature was added only in the 8th century BCE using primarily Late Bronze Age fill. Finding out its exact purpose will probably have to wait until next season – but we still have two more full work days – so stay tuned😉

In Area B2 – Aharon and Matt are continuing to go down in two squares connected with the fortification and it seems clear that that the outer fortification wall must pre-date the Iron II as the Late Bronze  (either 13th or 12th century BCE) metallurgical area clearly abuts the outer face of the wall. This discovery means that the outer fortification wall was most likely built during the Bronze Age – but we will have to wait until next season to determine an exact date since we still need to excavate the inside of the wall. In addition, and thanks to the hard work of this past week’s participants (including a great school group from the nearby town of Kiryat Gat!), we have successfully joined Areas B1 and B2 in the stepped-trench/sondage that now stretches 65 meters across Area B1 and B2! To mark the occasion, Matt and Chris “met axe to axe” to make it official! We have only just opened these two new squares and there are clear signs of large architecture.

Uziel hard at work Friday is community day! removing loose debris from the new excavation square in B1 Tracing what appears to be a Late Bronze structure in B2 Washing pottery (and each other :) The crew from week 3 Area A2 sleeps until 2017 Tel tour of B2 Bucket brigade Aviva and Smadar washing pottery while using a pottery bucket in an innovative way End of day sweeping Not exactly Hezekia's tunnel - but still quite an achievement after several years - Matt and Chris were happy to join the two areas (B1 and B2) Not exactly Hezekia's tunnel - but still quite an achievement after several years - Matt and Chris were happy to join the two areas (B1 and B2)

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

Reports on Philistine Cemetery at Ashkelon

The “lid is off” for media coverage (such as here, here and here) of the very exciting discovery and excavation of a Philistine cemetery at Ashkelon. The cemetery, which has been excavated in the last few years, and now with the end of the Ashkelon project is the last major find to be announced, is quite an important find. I had the pleasure of visiting the site last week, hosted by the project director, Prof. Daniel Master (Wheaton), just before the excavations were finished and the cemetery was closed up.

The cemetery contains perhaps more than 1000 burials, of which 160 were excavated. Most of the burials date to the 10th and 9th cent. BCE, with some going later to the Iron IIB. Almost all the burials are simple inhumations, with relatively few burials items. Interestingly, the burial methods are different from Canaanite or Israelite/Judahite methods.

Clearly, this will provide a lot of information on the Philistines: their culture, demography, health, diet, genetics and otherwise. Since this is the first large cemetery that has been found that is associated with one of the large Philistine cities (but definitely not the first – part of the Philistine cemetery at Gath has already been excavated), this is an excellent opportunity to find out a lot of new data on a broad range of issues. Up to now, we did not have enough Philistine burials to study!

All told – a very important and worthy discovery!

Aren


The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 36

This morning, Co-Directors Lawrence Stager and Daniel Master along with Assistant Director Adam Aja and Physical Anthropologist Sherry Fox announced the discovery of a Philistine cemetery at Ashkelon. First uncovered in 2013, the cemetery was excavated for four seasons by staff and volunteers who did not speak of what they found until today. It's a remarkable story and more will come out in the next few days, weeks, and months.

Today, pictures from four seasons of excavation in the Philistine cemetery. 

2013

2013

2014

2014

2015

2015

2016

2016

2016

2016

2015 -- desalination pool

2015 -- desalination pool

2016 -- conservation of a juglet

2016 -- conservation of a juglet

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

Short news items in Italian on the excavations

In continuation of the visit last week by Aldo Baquis, an Italian journalist, see here a short piece in Italian on our dig, and a few more below:

golia, 3golia, 2golia

And here is a news item in Spanish  deriving from Aldo’s visit

Molto bella!


July 09, 2016

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Area A2 High-Res 3D Model

As we mentioned a few days ago,  Adam Prins (Durham University) of the Jezreel Valley Regional Project  gave us a very interesting lecture on the use of 3D modeling in the day-to-day aspects of archaeology including creating models for each locus, significant find, and even pottery plates. Adam has just sent us a very nice model of the northern part of Area A2 (i.e., the large pillared 8th century BCE Judahite building), which now has very few balks remaining after the hard work of Debi, Caitlin, and Sheila’s crew this season. Check out the model. Thanks Adam and Matt for showing us the ropes!


The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 35

The end of the season is right around the corner. We have one more week of excavation. Grid 51 will continue to excavate the 7th century while also digging their probe to bedrock. Their final goal for the season is to establish the full occupational sequence in their area of the tell. 

We'll also start shifting volunteers and staff to the compound as we begin end of season, and end of excavation, projects. This week promises to be one of the busiest of the entire season.

Today, some more staff photos from previous seasons.

1989

1989

1993

1993

1996

1996

July 08, 2016

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

Fantastic end of 2nd week!

Today, Friday, July 8th, 2016, was the final day of the 2nd week of the season, and it was great! We had great results in all areas.

This included:

Area A: Got thru the Iron IIA in one square and are going down in the Iron I, and soon this will be the situation in the other square as well.

Area D: It appears that we may have the beginning of the plan of the gate! It looks like a classical chambered gate – but a very big one. And what also seems to be coming out is that there are two distinct phases of the gate – Iron I and Iron IIA! We have a lot of more work in this area – but things are looking quite astounding!

Area E: The donkeys are being excavated and interestingly, in one of them, there are bones of other animals (deer and dog)!

Area F: LB, Iron I and Iron IIA levels with nice preservation. The find of the day was definitely a decorated bone inlay!

Area K: More and more architecture and pottery on levels, and a few more loomweights. While we still don’t understand the architectural features – we are getting more and more stuff

Great end to a great week – and clearly, a lot of promising finds in the 2nd half of the season!

Here are some pictures:

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The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 34

Here are some recent photos from grid 51, soon we start our weekend!

Whitney holding a piece of carved bone

Whitney holding a piece of carved bone

Ariel sifting

Ariel sifting

Ben, a member of the GIS team, working with the total station

Ben, a member of the GIS team, working with the total station

July 07, 2016

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

Yes, another great day (July 7th, 2016)

We had another great day on the tell, with great finds all over!

Area A: Louise and her team are working in the Iron I and Iron IIA destruction level. Among other finds, they found a couple of fragments of ivory

Area D: Oh boy – a lot of stuff for Amit and his team. The gate area is only more and more fascinating. We have more and more very substantial walls – both large stone ones, as well as brick walls with plaster coating. What is even more impressive is the fact that we now have clear cut stratigraphic evidence of at least two clear stratigraphic/architectural phases in this area – one the final 9th cent. destruction – and at least another one in which we have oodles of Philistine 2 (Bichrome) pottery. It the gate is in use already at this that is not yet clear, but in any case we can say that the lower city of Gath is already extensively settled in the 11th and perhaps already the late 12th cent. BCE. Needless to say this is very important as this runs counter to suggestions (won’t name names…;-) that believe that Gath only became a large city in the Iron IIA…Finds included several jars with a lot of charred botanical finds, a structure built up against the gate area with what looks like a kitchen area (with a tabun/tanur, paved floor, working platform, handmade vessels, etc.), as well as all kinds of other cool finds!

Area E: We now officially have two donkeys being excavated in the area! This means that with stuff from previous seasons we have major portions of 4 donkeys! I see a lot more interesting studies on relating to these asses…In addition, we had other nice finds, including another complete flint blade.

Area F: Jeff’s team had a lot of nice finds today. This included a collection of beads and other objects probably all coming from some sort of necklace from the late MB/early LB; a very nice cuboid weight/pounder from the same period; some nice Philistine 1 pottery, and other finds.

Area K: Eric and his team are deep in a layer with restorable pottery in many of the squares. In addition, more and more architecture is showing up. This new area is getting more and more promising!

And here are some pictures:

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The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 33

Check out this great view of grid 51 - Dr. Kate Birney made a visit, and you can see a pottery splat, ash layer, and possible grinding stones.  Zoom in, zoom out, look up and down, and all around.  

Excavation at the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

July 06, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 32

Some more pictures from the past 30 years of the Leon Levy Expedition.

A store jar in the field.

A store jar in the field.

Pottery marking with fingernail polish and ink.

Pottery marking with fingernail polish and ink.

Worked bone. Holes were drilled to allow for the insertion of lead.

Worked bone. Holes were drilled to allow for the insertion of lead.

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

Clip of enormous team working in the gate area

Here’s a great little clip of the big team that was working in Area D, in the gate area of the lower city, today, Wednesday, July 6th, 2016.

What a workforce!

 


Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

And yes, another great day! We had an enormous team today. In addition to the regular team, a group of 25 students from the Ashkelon College joined the dig – and we were quite a team!

Area A: The A team are in the Iron I and Iron II. Among the finds today was another  bronze pin – and quite a lot of pottery.

Area D: Woohoo! The gate area has a ton of finds. This included clear Iron IIA AND Iron I levels, so it is looking more and more that the gate area was in use already in the mid-Iron I. We have a lot of Philistine 2 (Bichrome), and even some imported Cypriot pottery! Oodles and oodles of finds, including some quite impressive architecture is coming out!

Area E: The donkey seems to have another friend – so we may have three donkey burials in the area! This is getting very interesting!

Area F: The team was working away today in the Iron IIA, Iron I, LB and possibly MB.

Area K: more and more finds relating to the agricultural installations – including some layers of pottery, a very hard to understand layer of sediment – and what appears to be some cool architecture.

See below some pictures.

And BTW  – last night we tried out a new format of lectures – TEDx Safi! We had three short lectures – by Jeff, Louise and Jill – instead of the standard format of a one hour lecture. It worked out great and people had a lot of fun. And we will do this again in the coming weeks.

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Clip with view from upper to lower city

Here is a short clip with view of lower city of Tell es-Safi/Gath, from the northern side of the upper city, looking north towards Areas K and D (including the newly discovered gate area) in the lower city. Note the substantial topographic difference between the two parts of the site and that the lower city is only settled in the Iron I and Iron II. You really can get a feeling of the large size of the city during the Iron Age – when Philistine Gath was probably the largest city in the Land of Israel.


July 05, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 31

The Leonardo Hotel chain has been a good friend and partner since the expedition moved to the Leonardo Hotel in Ashkelon in 2014. Tonight, the hotel held a poolside reception and dinner for us.

It was a wonderful evening and everyone had a great time. 

There was even a little dancing!

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Update for Week 3

We have had a very nice week so far with lots of interesting finds in all three excavation areas (A2, B1, and B2 – C is starting again next week).

In Area A2 – Debi and her team have finished removing several balks and are now prepared to remove the large 8th century building in order to expose the earlier periods below. Today, they excavated a nice Iron IIB complete vessel.

In Area B2 – Aharon and Matt have exposed the fortification collapse in B6 (this year’s new square) and in B7 they have more evidence of the metallurgical activity and what seems to be a clean Late Bronze Age surface – just outside of, but leaning on the fortification wall. This is very interesting – because it has been our assumption until now that the outer fortification wall was constructed at some point in the Iron II – this new evidence may point to an earlier period for the initial construction of the fortification (Middle Bronze?)

In Area B1 – Chris, Benjamin, Casey, and co. are exposing a well-preserved layer within the large cultic building. Today and yesterday we had lots of finds including several complete vessels a large concentration of cypriot imports and a nice complete and decorated goblet. We may also (finally) have the northern wall/corner of the large courtyard/building. A little further up the slope, Benjamin is digging a deep probe into what appears to be a purposeful rock and fine soil fill – it is too early to determine if this fill is just a collapse or something more interesting… hopefully we will have more to write on this in the next week or so.

Besides all of the great progress in the excavations, we have had several interesting lectures over the last couple of days. Tonight – Adi Eliyahu-Bahar presented on the importance and fundamentals of “microarchaeology.” Yesterday – Adam Prins (Durham University) along with Matthew Adams (the Albright Institute) gave a fascinating lecture on the JVRP method for field plans and registration that incorporates 3D models simply using photos and software (look for more posts on this in the future). Finally – Casey lectured on the material culture of the Late Bronze Age on Sunday afternoon.

Restored goblet similar to one found during this season Adi lecturing on microarchaeology Casey lecturing on the Late Bronze Age

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

Day 2 of week 2

 

Another really nice day on the dig – with some nice finds!

Area A: Louise’s team is excavating in Iron IIA and Iron I, and finds include some almost complete vessels, and nice jar stopper and other stuff.

Area D: Finds are popping out all over D and Amit’s team is having a ball. Near the gate, we have both Iron IIA and Iron I/II finds, including several complete vessels, jar stoppers, grinding stones, walls, and more and more. Things are developing nicely. The the metallurgical area is expanding!

Area E: Shira and Haskel’s team are doing great! The donkey is being exposed and there are some additional animal bones in the pit – and there may be another donkey! In addition, several beautiful Canaanite flint blades were found.

Area F: Jeff and his team had a lot of nice finds of the LB and Iron I, including an arrowhead, a bone handle, and very nice piece of Myc IIIC/Philistine 1 pottery.

Area K: Looks like Eric and his team have some surfaces related to the agricultural installations, with lots of pottery on the surfaces.

 

Here’s some photos:

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July 04, 2016

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

Great start for the 2nd week!

Today, July 4th, 2016, in addition to being the US day of independence, was a great start for the 2nd week of the dig. Things are really starting to pop out in the various areas!

Area A: Louise and her team and some really nice finds. This includes a virtually complete bronze pin, and what appears to be an almost complete Iron I bowl. In general, it looks like Louise and her team are getting very nicely into the Iron I.

Area D: Today was a great day – Amit’s team is doing well. In several of the squares near the gate we had rich finds, seemingly related to the final destruction of the date. This included a collection of loomweights in a jar, remains of collapsed roof, storage jar stopper and other great finds – and this in Jim and Dan’s area. In MiYoung’s area we have what looks like a cooking area, with a tabun, a cooking jug and other finds. Jill’s team moved to some new squares and it appears that just below surface we have some nice finds. And Vanessa’s team continues to find more and more of the metallurgical area.

Area E: Great day today in Area E – Haskel and Shira’s team came up with another donkey! The skeleton, so far, seems quite complete – and seems to be purposely deposited below the floor of a house – just like the first one. As this will require a lot more careful excavating – we hope a lot more interesting finds will come out with this.

Area F: Jeff and his team, which grew this week in numbers, is now working in both LB and Iron I levels – and we await some great finds this week.

And finally – Area K – Eric and his team are deep into the area of the agricultural installations in the lower city – and it seems that they have reached Iron Age levels, with complete vessels, that are associated with these installations!

We also had some nice visits today:

Aldo Baquis, a journalist from the Italian ANSA new agency.

Prof. Bill Schniedewind (UCLA) and Dr. Joseph Lamm (UNC).

Oren Ackermann, the project’s geomorphologist, brought Ladislav Smejda and Michal Hejcman, from Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague (who are working at Tel Burna with Itzik Shai) for a visit to the site. They were impressed the site so much that they conducted a sampling of sediments on the tell and the surroundings, using a handheld XRF. I hope this will develop into a nice study.

Here are some pictures from today:

IMG_5213 IMG_5214 IMG_5216 IMG_5217 IMG_5219 IMG_5220 IMG_5221 IMG_5224 IMG_5225 IMG_5227 IMG_5228 IMG_5230 IMG_5231 IMG_5233 IMG_5234 IMG_5235 IMG_5236 IMG_5208 IMG_5209 IMG_5210 IMG_5211 IMG_5212

 


The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 30

As promised, the sources for the 2016 Ashkelon dig t-shirt.

July 03, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 29

It was another great day in Grid 51.

We aren't just adding to the history and archaeology of Ashkelon this season, we are also looking back at 30 years of excavation. One of the ways we are celebrating is with a special exhibit at the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum in Jerusalem. The entire expedition will be there next week at the gala opening. It promises to be a wonderful evening.

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

Great articles (in Hebrew and English) on 20 years of digging at Gath

A great article, in Hebrew and English, appeared in the Hebrew magazine Eretz va-Teva and its English version Eretz. The article, by Yadin Roman, editor of these great magazines, summarizes an in-depth interview that he conducted with me, on the occasion of the 20th year of excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath – and how our understanding of the Philistines has changed during this period.

Here is a PDF of the English version: Eretz English Safi article_7_16

And here is a PDF of the Hebrew version: Eretz vaTeva Hebrew Safi article_7_16

Aren


July 02, 2016

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

Update for Friday, 1/7/16

The last day of the first week of the 2016 season was full of finds!

In addition to visits from quite a visitors (and families with kids who joined the dig for a day), a bunch of nice things came up in the various areas:

Area A: Louise and her team are into the 9th cent. destruction level, and found a few more loom weights as well as other finds.

Area D: Amit and his team are busy working in the vicinity of the gate, and more and more of the squares have remains dating to the 9th cent. destruction level, hinting to what apparently is the final phase of the gate. The finds included a complete jug. In the metallurgical area, more metal production related finds come out (including a tuyere), and a bone knife handle.

Area E: Shira and Haskel’s team continue working on the EB levels, with various finds and installations. This includes some more animal teeth – which are important for expanding our isotope studies on the EB fauna.

Area F: Jeff and his team had some really nice finds – including another bronze arrow head and a stone bead, both from LB levels.

Area K: Eric and his team are finding more and more installations, most probably related to olive oil production – all right near surface.

All told a great ending for a great week!

Here are some pictures:

IMG_5203 IMG_5206 IMG_5195 IMG_5196 IMG_5198 IMG_5200 IMG_5201 IMG_5202

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 28

Weekends are wonderful because the sun wakes up before we do. We have an old picture and a couple of new pictures today.

Excavating in 1989

Excavating in 1989

The park in bloom, part I

The park in bloom, part I

The park in bloom, part II

The park in bloom, part II

It really is a beautiful place to work and we are back at it tomorrow.

July 01, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 27

Photos from a week of excavation in Grid 51.

June 30, 2016

Lapis Gabinus: official blog of the Gabii Project

A Fun Story About Locks and Limes

I'm Eli Jenkinson and here's a fun anecdote about locks and Limes!

“It’s the start of day three on site and as always its an early start to the morning. Alarm goes off at 6 am and it’s time to start getting ready. Thankfully I had packed my bag the night before so I didn’t have to put any mental effort into that. I had already dressed, eaten breakfast and brushed my teeth, time to get a move on. Getting down the stairs and out the gate, with a short walk to the bus, were the only things left between me and a nap on the way to site. As I walked through the gate I did a quick touch test to make sure the most important things are in my backpack and of course I’m missing something. Oh no! It’s my water bottle. I hustle back up to our third story apartment to get it while trying not to make the bus late. I’m out of the building and rushing to the bus. Thankfully it’s 6:43 and I can see the last group just getting onto the bus, I’m not going to keep anyone waiting! Trust me, you never want to be the one holding up the bus. Then I hear “ELI!”. I whip around having no idea who is shouting my name but I realize it is coming from an apartment balcony. It’s Emily Lime! In a very animated matter she shouts “Help me! I’m locked in our apartment! Tell someone to come get me.” So I double my hustle and hop onto the bus. I tell Darcy and Emily Sharp, who are conveniently both in charge and roommates with Emily Lime, that she needs help. They get her out quickly and we’re off to site. As I nod off to sleep I assume the problems of the locks are over, boy was I wrong. 


Emily’s bad luck with the locks persisted into the day on site. She is the finds intern this season and when she went to get the items out of the finds hut for the day on site that lock broke too! The finds team had to improvise, and a mighty fine job they did at it, until a locksmith was able to come bust the lock. This seemed insane to have Emily have such bad luck with two completely different locks but it transferred itself one more time before the eventful day was over. There is a phone, think old flat face style, that the interns have for contact with the directors if needed at anytime. This thing is very old and the interns hadn’t been able to figure out how to lock it but after just a few minutes with Emily Lime locks them out of it! It seemed too strange to be true. Thankfully Emily Lime has not had anymore problems with the locks but it is quite interesting that things really do come in threes.”

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Tel Burna Update for First Two Weeks!

We are now nearing the end of the second week of excavations at Tel Burna (out of four) and, so far, we have had some very nice finds and a great group. In the first week, we were joined by students from Israel College of the Bible and this week by students from Hanshin University led by Prof. Park.

In Area A2 – Debi (along with Caitlin, Sheila, and co.) are removing several balks in connection with the large Iron IIB (8th century BCE) building, in order to expose earlier layers. Today, they found a very nice small horse figurine – which probably dates to the Iron II, although we are still looking for the rider🙂

In Area C – Casey and his crew are exposing a myriad of agricultural complexes, which seem to clearly date to the Bronze and Iron Ages (including a complete Iron II jug) – and perhaps even the Chalcolithic period! These are very cool finds immediately beneath the top soil!

In Area B2 – Aharon and Matt are exposing a section of the Iron II casemate fortifications that were re-used in later phases of the Iron II (probably 7th century) and perhaps in the Persian period. As we mentioned last year, directly outside of these walls we have remains of metallurgical activity of copper – but it is still a bit of a mystery as to which particular period this should be related. In addition, Ladislav and Michael are with us again this year and have been busy taking measurements with the handheld XRF and just this evening Ladislav presented on the fantastic results from last year’s research in Area B2 and throughout the entire site.

In Area B1 – Chris, Benjamin, and co. have been exposing some remains from the Late Bronze Age cultic building that had been excavated in previous seasons – we hope to report more on this subject in the next two weeks as we have just opened what appears to be a very promising square, which has already produced an enormous amount of Late Bronze pottery (including a complete LB goblet) in just the first few centimeters below the surface. Finally, team members from B1 and B2 are working together on one of the main research tasks for Tel Burna – the large east-west section on the western side of the tel’s summit (i.e., the “sondage”).

See below for photos

Tel Burna Ladislav presenting on the significance of source nutrients in the eastern Mediterranean ecosystem with a special emphasis on Tel Burna Ian and Sam taking photos over the square Area A2 Jane after removing a concentration of bones from a balk in Area A2 Ian and Sam with our totally red-neck photo apparatus Area C Tel Burna Casey and Ian discussing the next steps for Area C Area B1 Tel Burna Gary and Sunny McKinny and Jun digging Area A2 Tel Burna Professor Park and students from Hanshin University

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

Update for June 30th, 2016

Nice day, once again! Here is a quick review of the finds from the various areas:

Area A: More work in the Iron IIA destruction and it seems that the A team is very close to the Iron I levels

Area D: D1 is coming up with more and more metallurgy-related finds; D2 – are finding great Iron IIA (Hazael) destruction contexts and more and more architecture in the vicinity of the what we hope is the gate; D3 – seem to have gone thru a sterile modern level and are on the top of the Iron IIA level

Area E: more and more EB contexts – floors, installations and lots of pottery

Area F: cleaned part of the MB city wall and seem to have some nice MB pottery to date it. And also are going thru one LB floor to uncover another one.

Area K: Discovered what seems to be another component of an olive press installation – a very large stone object – either a weight or a roller.

All told – things are looking good!

Here are some pictures:

IMG_5167[1] IMG_5161[1] IMG_5168[1] IMG_5163[1] IMG_5162[1] IMG_5170[1] IMG_5171[1] IMG_5174[1] IMG_5173[1] IMG_5165[1] IMG_5176[1] IMG_5177[1] IMG_5178[1] IMG_5179[1]

 


The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 26

The afternoons are just as busy as the mornings. Instead of digging, however, we process pottery, archaeobotany samples, registered MCs and more.

The afternoon is also one of the busiest times of the day for two of our teams. Melissa, our dig photographer, works on photographing not only objects in the field but also objects to be used in publication projects. Much of that work happens during pottery washing.

The GIS team, George, Jeff, Trent and Ben, is equally busy mapping all the day's finds as they prepare top plans for each square. Can't dig without a plan and they do a great job of updating them daily.

June 29, 2016

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

Update for June 29th

Great day at the dig today, and in fact in all areas we are fully excavating and finding great stuff. Add to that, we had a birthday celebration in F (for Jillian and Chris) and a few visits to the site.

In Area A, Louise an her team had some really nice finds, including a bunch of loomweights – including one made of stone which may be a reused EB macehead, a juglet, and coming up from below, some really nice fragments of Philistine Bichrome.

In Area D – Amit and his team are finding great stuff. In D1 – Vanessa and her team have found a lot more materials relating to the metallurgical area; D2 – MiYoung, Dan, Jim and Maria are in the 9th cent. destruction level in some squares, have 10th cent materials in another and are beginning to find some nice lines of architecture; D3 – Jill and her team are still trying to get thru the modern materials to the early levels

Area E: Haskel and Shira are deep in the EB levels – and are coming up with a lot of pottery, installations and other cool things

Area F: Jeff and his team are working in two very interesting LB squares – including some more bronze finds.

Area K: Eric and his team are expanding the new squares – and it looks like they are in the destruction level, with a couple of installations, in some of the squares.

Nice day – here are some pictures:

IMG_5159 IMG_5156 IMG_5157 IMG_5158

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 25

The final dig t-shirt is here.

Ashkelon 2016

Ashkelon 2016

June 28, 2016

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

And just for fun – two “other” Goliaths…

Although we, at Tell es-Safi/Gath, are the home of the “real” Goliath, here are two Goliaths from other places:

  1. A mosaic from a Byzantine church in Syria with a David and Goliath mosaic has been reported (HT Jack Sasson). For the article, in French, but with a nice picture – see here.
  2. Just found at that one of the leaders of the Free West Papua movement (against which the Indonesian government regularly commits crimes of unspeakable magnitude that are almost completely overlooked by the world…) is named Goliat Tabuni! (and here in Indonesian)

It’s a small world…

Aren


The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 24

A couple of pictures from Grid 51 today.

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

The donkey, again…

The Ancient Origins website put up a nice report on our study of the Egyptian donkey at Tell es-Safi – check it out!

And also on breitbart.com

Aren


Day 2 of the 1st week

Today, June 28th was the 2nd day of excavations, and things are going great!

Here’s a quick review of some of the finds:

Area A: Louise and her team our working in the 8th cent and 9th cent levels, and are not too far from reaching the Iron I levels – and the continuation of the Iron I building excavated a few seasons ago.

Area D: Things are going full swing there – and Amit is orchestrating quite a show! In D1 – Vanessa has found the continuation of the metallurgical area – and already has had some related finds; in D2 – in the area of the gate, MiYoung in already on the 9th cent destruction level, and Dan and Jim are clearing what may be some architecture related to the gate. In D3 – Jill cracked surface and we hope to start having an idea of what the structure that we saw in the aerials is.

Area E: Haskel and Shira are back working in the EB – and we already have some nice clean contexts with plenty of pottery!

Area F: Jeff and his team have started excavating in two squares – both seeming in the LB

Area K: the new area – Eric and his team already have some very interesting results. Right next to the stone installation which we saw on surface (possibly an oil press), the found another stone installation – and all around what seems to be the 9th cent destruction.

Great day! Here are some pictures:

IMG_5146 IMG_5147 IMG_5148 IMG_5149 IMG_5150 IMG_5151 IMG_5152 IMG_5153 IMG_5154 IMG_5138 IMG_5139 IMG_5143 IMG_5144 IMG_5145

June 27, 2016

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

Great first day of excavations!

Today we started the excavations and all the areas had a very productive day. While it started with putting up tarps, cleaning winter wash, and removing thorns and thistles, by the end of the day, all the areas were already excavating!

It looks like it is going to be a great season. The team is great – and the areas look SOOO promising!

Will beging posting pictures ASAP

Aren


The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 23

Old excavation photos are so interesting and here are a few more. The photograph below is a staff photo from 2000. Both co-directors and three of the four current grid supervisors can be found in the picture.

One of the most important daily jobs? Processing the pottery excavated during the dig day. The photo below is from 1986. The only thing that has changed over the years is that we now dry pottery in cardboard fruit crates.

June 26, 2016

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

New Book for Dr. MiYoung Im!

MiYoung Im, long time staff member of the Safi team has published a book on archaeology and the Bible in Korean, and today, with her arrival at the dig, gave me a copy of the volume.

The volume is entitled “Reading the Bible in Light of Archaeology” (Seoul: Christian Literature Center, 2016) and it covers the relationship between the Bible and archaeology from the Iron Age until the end of the Byzantine period.

While I don’t read Korean (maybe this is a good reason to learn…), it looks like a very nice book!

Congratulations to MiYoung!

 


The 2016 season has begun!

And today is the official beginning of the 2016 season! A great team of around 100 people from all over the world have gathered at Kibbutz Revadim for the season! Without a doubt – this is going to be a great season!

Aren


The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 22

The volunteers are off on a field trip and there is no digging today. It's a good time to share some more pictures from the expedition.

1986 

1986 

1985 -- the first season

1985 -- the first season

1987

1987

1992

1992

June 25, 2016

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

The “Safi donkey study” appears in “Archaeology”

A short news item on our study on the isotopic analysis of the EB fauna from Safi and the connection with Egypt has appeared in “Archaeology” – the popular magazine of the Archaeological Institute of America.

Nice!


Safi 2016 – the fun begins tomorrow!

So the 2016 season at Tell es-Safi/Gath is about to start tomorrow, and team members from all over the world are converging to meet tomorrow at Kibbutz Revadim!

No doubt about it – this is going to be a great season!!!

Aren


The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 21

It's the weekend and we woke up to more unusual weather. It's very unusual not to see bright sun, blue skies and the clear water of the Mediterranean in the morning.

Another photo from Community Day in Grid 51.

Tomorrow the volunteers are off on a field trip while most of the staff will spend the day catching up on work. Monday we are back in the field.

June 24, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 20

It's Friday and the end of another busy week. Grid 51 continues to excavate 604. While digging a robber trench today, volunteers recovered a worked bone ligula (a bone spoon). Here are some pictures from a day of excavation in Grid 51.

June 23, 2016

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

Staff preparation day at the site

Today, a big group of the staff were at the site, preparing for the season. We were measuring and marking squares (in Area D and K), moving equipment into place, and setting up the tarps.

It was a super hot day – and thanks to all for the hard work from early morning!

And just as a got to the tell – a got a flat tire. This definitely is a sign that we will have a great season! (thanks to Linda for the picture)

Flat tire on the preparation day in the field

Aren


The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 19

In addition to being an archaeological site, Ashkelon's national park is also a nature reserve. It is not uncommon for us to see a variety of animals while in the field. Today a mongoose darted out from behind a pile of dirt during a bucket chain. We have spotted mice, foxes, lizards and a wide variety of birds this summer. There is also a herd of goats and sheep that graze in the park regularly.

The park also has a sea turtle rescue program and one of the highlights of each season is when the park releases healthy turtles back into the Mediterranean. 

We have one more day of work this week and then its the weekend. Saturday everyone is off. Sunday the staff is off while volunteers head off on a field trip.

This weekend also marks the halfway point of the season which means several volunteers are leaving while several more will be joining us for the remainder of the season. Only three more weeks of excavation to go!

June 22, 2016

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

Pre-dig team meeting at BIU

Today, we had a pre-dig staff meeting at BIU. A nice group of the Safi staff came to BIU, to get together before the season (and to meet new people), collect relevant paperwork, train on the new total stations, learn/relearn the online database, etc.

Pre-Season meeting at lab 1 Pre-Season meeting at lab 2 Pre-Season meeting at lab 3 Pre-Season meeting at lab 4

Then, some of the team went down to Revadim to unload the equipment brought from BIU.

Tomorrow early morning the staff is again on site, to finish marking squares – and start putting up the shades in the various areas.

The season is definitely about to start!!!

Aren


Great TV interview about the Donkey/Isotope article

Today, I had the pleasure to be interviewed in the popular talk show “London and Kirschenbaum”, on Israel Channel 10.

It was a great interview.

Here is the link to the interview: http://10tv.nana10.co.il/Category/?CategoryID=600262. Go to the program from 22/6/16 – and from 35:15 to 40:52.

In the meantime, here are some screen shots – courtesy of some of those who saw it live

Aren

Aren on TV_22_6_16 Aren on 2 TV_22_6_16 Aren on 3 TV_22_6_16 Aren on 4 TV_22_6_16

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 18

Some pictures from Community Day. Approximately 15 local junior high school students joined us today to learn about ancient Ashkelon and archaeology. It was great fun for everyone.

We have two more work days this week and then it's the weekend. A schedule change means the volunteers have a field trip on Sunday and excavation will resume on Monday.

June 21, 2016

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

Word from the experienced….

For those of you who plan to one day direct an excavation project – here’s a good piece of advice from someone who’s been doing this for over 20 years:

Directing a dig (and for that matter, just about any dynamic project) is basically moving from one unplanned moment to the next, trying to make believe that all is going as planned. The trick though is to keep calm – and make believe that you are completely in control. Eventually, you even fool yourself…

:-)

Aren


The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 17

Having absorbed a new group of volunteers this week, Grid 51 now is gearing up for Community Day. Each year, the expedition invites a group of junior high school students to come spend a day excavating with us. Tomorrow, those students will get to spend some time digging in Grid 51, washing pottery in the Compound and touring the ancient site. It promises to be a fun day for everyone.

June 20, 2016

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

New article in PLOS ONE on isotopic analysis of EB fauna

A new article from the Safi team has just appeared in PLOS ONE.

The article reports on a very interesting study of faunal remains from the Early Bronze Age levels at Tell es-Safi/Gath. In this study, we analyzed samples from the sacrificial donkey that was placed below one of the floors of the EB houses in Area E, along with several samples from ovicaprines (sheep/goat) from the EB levels. Isotopic analyses were conducted on these faunal remains, and it turned out that the donkey, and some of the sheep/goat, were not local. Rather – they were born and bred in Egypt – and only later on in life arrived in Canaan!

While we have known for years of trade connections between Egypt and Canaan during the Old Kingdom (time of the Pyramids), actual trade in animals (as opposed to using donkeys as beasts of burden in caravans between the two regions), and especially from Egypt to Canaan, was not documented.

The full title of the study is:

Arnold, E. R., Hartman, G., Greenfield, H. J., Shai, I., Babcock, and Maeir, A. M. 2016. Isotopic Evidence for Early Trade in Animals Between Old Kingdom Egypt and Canaan. PLoS ONE 11(6): e0157650. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0157650.

Check it out – very cool article! And by the way, a nice newspaper article describing this study appeared in the English edition of Haaretz and should appear soon in the Hebrew edition as well.

Aren

P.S. Two days to the pre-season staff meeting at BIU on Wednesday morning!


The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 16

Grid 51 street in 2013

Grid 51 street in 2013

Grid 51 is done with the Persian period and is now focusing on uncovering the 7th century. They have discovered a shell installation (some type of hydraulic feature) in the eastern half of the grid.

Today, they also welcomed a new group of volunteers who are opening Squares 73 and 74 and assisting in the excavation of 7th century rooms as well as a street.

June 19, 2016

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

Measuring day on the tell

Today, a bunch of team members were on the tell, to measure out new squares and check old one. Boy was it hot – and we managed to complete almost all the areas. What’s left to finish we’ll do this Thursday morning – the day when the staff will be on site to fix up the tarps.

Here is the team resting in the shade of the tree near Area F

IMG_5111 IMG_5112

It’s coming soon…

:-)


The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 15

The weather is getting hotter and more humid but work continues. In Grid 51 they continue to excavate the Persian layers of the street running past the insula along the east baulk of the grid. They also are continuing the excavation of the 604 destruction of the city. Finally, every day brings them closer to the digging of a large probe to ascertain the full occupational sequence of Grid 51.

We have a long week ahead of us, six work days, but it promises to be exciting.

June 18, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 14

This morning's hazy sunrise gave way to a rare overcast morning in Ashkelon.

Today was about catching up on much needed sleep, eating leisurely meals in the hotel, arranging "movie afternoons" and taking a deep breath before heading into Week Three.

June 17, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 13

It's Friday, the end of the work week! Everyone gets to sleep in tomorrow and enjoy a hotel breakfast along with a day of relaxation. Hard to believe two weeks have already passed.

Grid 51 keeps getting deeper and deeper.

The afternoons continue to be busy with pottery washing and processing, container inventory, research and writing on the Hellenistic and Roman Ashkelon volumes, zoo archaeology and botanical analysis. The registrars also spend a lot of time cataloging and recording all of our finds. While we are off this afternoon, we'll be back in the field on Sunday. Check back for regular updates.

Examining a "flotation" sample

Examining a "flotation" sample

June 16, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 12

The weather was much more pleasant today with a high of 82 instead of yesterday's mid-90s. There were even a few clouds casting some much appreciated shade.

Grid 51 continues to make dirt.

After a morning of digging, the afternoons are devoted to artifact processing as well as container archaeology. Who knows what we'll find next.

A busy week this week, a full Sunday - Friday schedule, and we have one more dig day tomorrow.

June 15, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day 11

Grid 51 is making a great deal of progress in Week 2. Excavation of Persian layers continues in the street along the east baulk. Elsewhere, they are continuing the excavation of the 604 destruction as well as exposing more of the earlier city.

It was hot today, mid-90s, but most volunteers (and staff) are now used to such temperatures and simply shrug them off. Shade cloths are an archaeologist's best friend! We have two more days of digging this week, a day and a half to relax and then we'll be into Week Three!

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

Houston – we have authorization for lift off!

And now it’s official. I received notification that we have been granted the official licenses for the coming season, from both the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and from the Israel Antiquities Authority. Not that I’m surprised – but it’s always nice when you get them…

We are officially OKed for lift off! A week and a half to go!

:-)

Aren


June 14, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day Ten

With the season in full swing, the afternoons are very busy with pottery washing, reading and marking, faunal processing, and flotation. Managing all that also means lots of bookwork for the supervisors.

After pottery washing, volunteers stayed a little longer in the Pottery Compound to hear a lecture by Daniel Master and Lawrence Stager on MB and Iron Age pottery.

June 13, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day Nine

While the students were at Seminar Day, the staff was back in Grid 38 uncovering a Philistine house. 

Today, everyone was back in the field. It's a full digging week, Monday - Friday. Things should look very different in a couple of days.

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

New study relating to Safi excavations

Yotam Asscher (from WIS; who worked at Safi for several seasons while completing his PhD; Yotam has been mentioned often in the blog, such as here and here) Yuval Goren (BGU) have just published a new article in Geoarchaeology, on a new, rather simple onsite method to take micromorphological samples. As the method was first thought of and tried out at Tell es-Safi/Gath by Yotam, and later developed jointly at various sites – this study can definitely be considered as being related to the Safi project (and Safi is mentioned several times in the article).

Way to go Yotam and Yuval!

Aren


Less than two weeks to go for the 2016 season!

We now have less than 2 weeks to go for the beginning of the 2016 season at Tell es-Safi/Gath. Preparations are in full swing and we are expecting a great team – comprised of students, volunteers and professionals from throughout the world. In fact, there should be, altogether, about 100 or so team member during most of the season. That’s a really nice-sized team.

Needless to say, I’ll be posting updates on the season – hopefully on a daily basis. So, those of you who could not physically join the team this season – you can get a vicarious feeling of what is going on by following the updates!

Aren


June 12, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day Eight

Seminar Day went off without a hitch. Students spent the day getting tours of the site and learning about various technologies used by the Leon Levy Expedition as well as archaeobotany and zooarchaeology.

Touring the medieval fortifications

Touring the medieval fortifications

Walking down the path towards the Canaanite Gate

Walking down the path towards the Canaanite Gate

XRF Seminar

XRF Seminar

Microarchaeology Seminar

Microarchaeology Seminar

Zooarchaeology Seminar

Zooarchaeology Seminar

GIS Seminar Part 1

GIS Seminar Part 1

GIS Seminar Part 2

GIS Seminar Part 2

Archaeobotany Seminar

Archaeobotany Seminar

Tomorrow we are back in the field!

June 11, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day Seven

Picture of the day.

Detail of restored mosaic found on North Tell

Detail of restored mosaic found on North Tell

Tomorrow is Seminar Day when volunteers have an opportunity to go on tours of the site, learn about microarchaeology and XRF, GIS and much more. Monday we are back in the field.

June 10, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day Six

The excavation woke to the sounds of a triathlon going on just outside our hotel.

Swimmers transitioning to the bike leg of the race

Swimmers transitioning to the bike leg of the race

It was an early hotel breakfast this morning, always a treat, before the volunteers left for the 7:00 am bus trip to Jerusalem. Once there, they visited Hezekiah's Tunnel, the Israel Museum and a number of other sites. After the tour, some students stayed overnight in Jerusalem while many returned to Ashkelon.

Tomorrow is another day off and then Sunday is Seminar Day.

From excavation Thursday, baulk cutting in Grid 51.

June 09, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day Five

The inventory of the containers in the Pottery Compound has revealed some fantastic objects. In one container, volunteers found boxes of frescos excavated from the church near the Jerusalem Gate. The church was excavated in 1985 and the collected material culture, fresco fragments included, put into storage. This week, Angie started cleaning the fragments, one piece of which is shown below. 

Angie working on fresco fragments from the church near the Jerusalem Gate

Angie working on fresco fragments from the church near the Jerusalem Gate

Church fresco fragment

Church fresco fragment

June 08, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day Four

Kathleen and Meghan discussing archaeobotanical samples

Kathleen and Meghan discussing archaeobotanical samples

Inventory of the containers in the pottery compound continued yesterday. Along with sorting through objects and samples, some collected 20 years ago or more, many students had an opportunity to help sort pottery for specialists working on publication projects.

Kate discusses Hellenistic pottery with volunteers

Kate discusses Hellenistic pottery with volunteers

Today, efforts will likely turn to the washing of pottery collected during the first four days of cleaning and excavation. One more day of digging this week. Friday the volunteers will go on a field trip to Jerusalem. Saturday is free and then Sunday is Seminar Day when students have an opportunity to learn about the technologies we use, take tours of the site, and learn about the inner workings of a modern excavation. Monday we will be back in the field.

June 07, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day Three

Grid 51 is going to the dogs. Really. As excavation of the street running along the east baulk of the grid resumed today, volunteers uncovered a dog burial.

A dog burial found in a Persian period street

A dog burial found in a Persian period street

Elsewhere in the grid it was another day of cleaning which meant taking the dirt up and out to the dump.

Hauling dirt out of Grid 51

Hauling dirt out of Grid 51

Yesterday afternoon, staff and volunteers started sorting through the containers taking inventory of the objects collected during 30 years of excavation. As might be expected, there was a lot to go through. In fact, there was enough that staff and volunteers will be doing it again today.

Sorting through objects in the pottery compound

Sorting through objects in the pottery compound

June 06, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day Two

Things got off to a better start today with no flat tires to change.

IMG_2667 (1).jpg

It was another day of cleaning, getting systems in place, updating technology, and introducing volunteers to the afternoon session in the pottery compound.

The season is in full swing, the sun is hot, and we are making progress.

June 05, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Field Season Day One

Volunteers and staff were up bright and early this morning -- even before the sun -- as the 2016 field season got underway. The wake up call came at 4:30 am and the bus left for the site at 5:00 am. It was a fast start to the day.

Arriving at the compound

Arriving at the compound

The tool container

The tool container

After picking up the necessary tools, volunteers headed out for their first day of digging. The first day is all about cleaning and volunteers spent the morning "cleaning the dirt." Everyone took a break for field breakfast at 9:00 and then it was back to work. At 11:00 volunteers broke for fruit break, a short 15 minute period to relax, refill water bottles, and find out how quickly they could fall asleep. (Then, of course, they needed to decide whether a 15 minute nap was a good or a bad thing.) 

Work wrapped up at 1:00 and then it was back to the hotel for a shower, lunch, a welcome meeting and then, at long last, free time. Until tomorrow, when everyone wakes up and does it all over again.

The 2016 field season has started and it promises to be a fun one. Check back for regular updates on our progress.

June 04, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Preseason Day 3

The Ashkelon beach

The Ashkelon beach

It's going to be a hot one today. 100+ degree temperature in the forecast. It's the perfect welcome for volunteers arriving today. The first shuttle heads to Ben Gurion this morning and then a second one goes up this afternoon. Once in Ashkelon, volunteers will have the afternoon and evening to relax (and try to stay awake) ahead of a 4:30 am wake up tomorrow morning. The 2016 season starts tomorrow!