Taygete Atlantis: Excavation Blogs (Antiquity)

http://planet.atlantides.org/taygete

Tom Elliott (tom.elliott@nyu.edu)

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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!

June 03, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Preseason Day 2

The pottery compound is buzzing.

Discussing the number of keys to be made.

Discussing the number of keys to be made.

GIS gets ready to head out for a day of surveying

GIS gets ready to head out for a day of surveying

Tool prep 

Tool prep 

Organizing the registrar's supplies and equipment

Organizing the registrar's supplies and equipment

Today there are trips to the airport to pick up staff members, errands in town to buy supplies, and the organization of tools. We are only one day away from the season's start!

June 02, 2016

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

New Safi Project Articles: EB pottery with plaster; Kfar Menahem site

Two new articles, fruits of the Tell es-Safi/Gath project have just appeared!

1) The first one, by Adi and a big group of collaborators, deals with a technological and archaeological study of Early Bronze Age pottery with a unique plaster covering. While known from other sites in Israel, Syria and Egypt, this is the first time a detailed technological study of this pottery has been conducted.

The full title is:

Eliyahu-Behar, A., Shai, I., Regev, L., Ben-Shlomo, D., Albaz, S., Maeir, A. M., and Greenfield, H. J. 2016. Early Bronze Age Pottery Covered with Lime-Plaster: Technological Observations. Tel Aviv 43: 27–42.

To see a PDF – go here.

2) The second article is by Amit and Debi, and deals with the interpretation of the Kfar Menahem site, an Iron Age IIB rural site just to the east of Tell es-Safi/Gath. In this study, Amit and Debi suggest that the function of the site was related to the production of textiles.

The full title is:

Dagan, A., and Cassuto, D. R. 2016. Horbat Shim`on: An Eight-Century BCE Textile Workshop in the Southern Coastal Plain. Israel Exploration Journal 66(1): 35–54.

 

Nice harvest for the Safi team!!


The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Preseason Day 1

We are in Ashkelon.

The road to Grid 51

The road to Grid 51

It's warm and sunny today as more and more staff members arrive ahead of the volunteers who come in on Saturday. We have a busy couple of days ahead of us as the GIS team gets everything surveyed, as computers are updated and prepared for the season, and as we descend on the wonderful Leonardo Hotel.

It was a busy offseason in the park where a number of new projects got under way. On the North Tell, the Parks Authority received funding for the restoration of a mosaic the expedition excavated in the 1990s.

Mosaic south of the gate on the North Tell

Mosaic south of the gate on the North Tell

Near the center of the site, the IAA, in cooperation with the Parks Authority, has started excavating the basilica which is one of the first steps in the restoration program for the bouleuterion.

Dirt pile at southern end of basilica

Dirt pile at southern end of basilica

Tomorrow we'll be in the compound organizing tools, preparing supervisor bags, getting registration set up and working to make sure Sunday morning, Day 1, goes as smoothly as possible. The 2016 field season is here.

May 31, 2016

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

Prof. Wolfgang Zwickel (Mainz) visits the lab

Today, we had the privilege to host Prof. Wolfgang Zwickel (Univ. of Mainz) at the Safi lab. It was a very interesting visit in which discussed various types of finds in the lab, and some very nice ideas were exchanged.

Always nice to have friends and colleagues visit us – and the interesting discussions which develop.

Aren


May 27, 2016

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

Guidelines and detailed schedule for 2016 season

I just sent out to all team members of the 2016 season the guidelines and schedule (at the end of the file) for the season. If any team members did not receive the mail – here it is.

English_Volunteers_guidelines_2016

If you look at the lecture schedule, you will see a new type of evening lecture that we will be trying out this year: TEDx Safi! Instead of an hour long lecture, on three of the evenings, we will have 3 short lectures (18 minutes each) on various topics. Should be really cool! And we’ll see – maybe we will film them and put them online! (but no promises here…)

And for those of you who made the mistake of not joining us this season :-), you can see what you are missing…

Aren


May 26, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

360 view of Tel Shimron

Post from RICOH THETA. - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

The Ashkelon 2016 season starts in less than two weeks, but some staff members are already in Israel conducting surveys of Tel Shimron.  This is the last year of digging at Ashkelon and staff will excavate Tel Shimron next year, summer 2017.  You can catch a glimpse of Daniel Master, Tracy Hoffman and Rebecca Dutton (learn more about the staff) enjoying the beautiful view of the Jezreel Valley.

May 25, 2016

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

One month to go to the 2016 season!

As of tomorrow, it is one month to the 2016 season at Tell es-Safi/Gath.

It looks like it is going to be a great season! We will be digging in some of the old areas (A, D, E, F) and in some new areas as well (D2, K), and I’m absolutely sure that we will have some great finds!

What is very nice is that we have a very nice number of team members (professionals, students, volunteers) who will be joining us – from all over the world!

And if you still want to join the team – registration is open until May 31st – so there is still time to join!

Aren


May 24, 2016

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Interview on Community Archaeology in Israel at TLV 1

Check out Itzick’s very nice radio/podcast at TLV 1 in which he discusses the importance of “community archaeology” and why it is a significant goal for our project, as well as several other important issues related to the Tel Burna Archaeological Project.

Also – we are getting very close to the excavation and still have several spots that are open if you would like to come and participate in this season’s excavations.

Most of the Shai clan (Nimrud, Ohad, Abiathar and Elah) washing some pottery Friday morning at the tell


May 19, 2016

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

BIU TEDx talk on Philistine food online

As previously mentioned, two months ago I gave a TEDx talk at BIU (in Hebrew) on how we can use the study of archaeological remains of food and eating habits among the Philistines to understand who the Philistines were and what were their relationship with neighboring cultures (such as the Israelites and Judahites), and how food in general can be used to help understand issues relating to the definition of cultural and ethnic identities in the past.

The lecture is now online – see below. Enjoy!

Aren

P.S. Notice at 9:05 in the clip, I tell a couple of ladies who were talking loudly in one of the last rows to be quiet! It worked… :-)


May 18, 2016

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

Poster at Annual Aegean Conference, in Ioannina, Greece

Today, Louise Hitchcock presented a poster that was jointly authored by Louise and myself, at the 16th Annual Aegean Conference (Hesperos), held at the University of Ioannina, Greece.

The full title of the poster is:

Hitchcock, L. A., and Maeir, A. M. 2016. Hesperos and Phosphoros: How Research on Aegean-Eastern Interactions Can Inform Studies of the West. Poster presented at Hesperos: The Aegean seen from the west. 16th Annual Aegean Conference, University of Ioannina, 18–21 May 2016.

Here is a link to the poster

And here is Louise standing in front of the poster at the conference:

Louise at Hesperos next to Poster may 2016

Aren


May 16, 2016

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

New paper on entangled Philistine cult at Tell es-Safi/Gath

A new paper of the Safi team has just appeared:

Hitchcock, L. A., Maeir, A. M., and Dagan, A. 2016. Entangling Aegean Ritual in Philistine Culture. Pp. 519–26 in Metaphysis: Ritual, Myth and Symbolism in the Aegean Bronze Age, eds. E. Alram-Stern, F. Blakolmer, S. Deger-Jalkotzy, R. Laffineur and J. Weilhartner. Aegaeum 39. Liège: Universitë de Liège.

See here for a semi-final version of the paper.

Check it out – very interesting!

Aren


May 13, 2016

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

New article on the EB of Tell es-Safi/Gath

A new article summarizing some of our work on the EB at Tell es-Safi/Gath has appeared.

The title is:

Greenfield, H. J., Shai, I., and Maeir, A. M. 2016. Understanding Early Bronze Age Urban Patterns from the Perspective of Non-Elite Neighborhood: The Excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel. Pp. 475–89 in Proceedings of the 9th International Congress on the Archaeolog of the Ancient Near East, 9–13 June 2014, Basel, Volume 3, eds. R. A. Stucky, O. Kaelin and H. P. Mathys. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

To see the paper – go here.

Aren


May 08, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Offseason Week 9

The season is almost upon us and next week I'll be blogging from Israel! This weekend is for packing and getting everything in order. After almost twenty years of excavating at Ashkelon the process of packing is quick and easy. For those of you coming for the first time, it might be a little more time consuming. Check here for more on what to bring with you, what you can find in Ashkelon, and a general overview of the season.

This season promises to be an exciting one. See you there!

May 01, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Offseason Week 18

Today we share some "people shots" and photos of two grids in their early days. Check back next week for more on how to prepare for Ashkelon and what's happening in our final season.

Grid 50

Grid 50

Grid 38

Grid 38

One aspect of dig life that never changes is the ability, or, in fact, the need to sleep whenever the opportunity presents itself. By the end of the first week of excavation, volunteers and staff alike are adept not only at finding objects in the ground, but also at finding time to catch up on much needed sleep. How many different ways can you fall asleep in the field?

Countless.

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

The Five Minute Archaeologist

Cynthia Shafer-Elliot, from William Jessup University, who was on the Safi team for quite a few years, has edited a very interesting volume called the “Five Minute Archaeologist” – in which basic terms and ideas central to archaeology are explained in a clear and succinct manner.

The volume is slated to appear in the early fall of 2016, but the volume’s TOC is already online. The contributors (including your’s truly) include many familiar names, some of the them of Safi team fame.

Looks like a great volume to have – check it out!

Aren


April 30, 2016

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

Extension of Registration Deadline to May 31st

Although the official deadline for registration for the 2016 season was May 1st, due to requests by several potential team members, the registration period has been extended to May 31st.
Please do make sure to finish your registration by then!

See you in the summer – in what I’m sure will be a great season!

Aren


April 26, 2016

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

Safi at the ICAANE meeting in Vienna

The ICAANE meeting which is currently being held in Vienna has many interesting lectures.

The Safi project has some appearances there as well!

Haskel and Tina Greenfield will be presenting a few papers on various aspects relating to the research on the EB in our project.

Best of luck with the presentations!

Aren


April 24, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Offseason Week 17

Spring is blooming.

Flowers in the pottery compound (2015)

Flowers in the pottery compound (2015)

With the arrival of spring, it's almost time to decide what will be on the final dig t-shirt.

Previous dig shirts

Previous dig shirts

The first members of the staff to leave for Ashkelon head over in three weeks! They'll be preparing for the season and working on publication projects. What will we uncover in Ashkelon this summer?

April 21, 2016

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Presentation at the EGU Conference in Vienna

Today, Ladilsav presented an interesting paper authored by Ladislav, Michal and Itzick entitled “Ancient settlements are significant sources of nutrients in Eastern Mediterranean ecosystems – the case of Tel Burna, Israel” at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly in Vienna, Austria  (see photo of presentation title, and thanks to Oren Ackermann for attending and taking a photo).

20160421_163108 (2).jpg

The following is the abstract for the paper:

Past human settlement activities have caused changes in soil chemical properties that may persist in the cultural soil archive for a very long time and some of them are practically irreversible. We are studying the question if the large-scale mapping of elemental composition based on the surface layer of contemporary soil can reveal spatial patterns corresponding to areas of settlements, which were abandoned even millennia ago.

Our case-study is focused on the archaeological site of Tel Burna, located in the Shephelah region, Israel, and its immediate surroundings, making a survey area of 68 ha. The site is known as the town flourishing mainly in the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age (13th-7th centuries BCE). The heyday of the town was during the 10th – 8th centuries BCE, when its summit was enclosed by a massive limestone wall. Later on, the significance of the settlement declined, and the architecture vanished. The place has gradually turned to an uninhabited area, used in the recent period as a pasture. We have measured the chemical composition of 350 samples from the surface soil at and around the site by a portable XRF device as part of an on-going interdisciplinary research project studying this site. The results were analysed by standard statistical methods and also in geographical information systems, which were used for calculating models of elemental distribution patterns across the surveyed area.

In this paper, we discuss the observation that the anthropogenic impact on the chemical composition of soils became quite significant already in times of ancient societies. This human-induced signature was of such magnitude that it can still be detected today, not only in the sub-surface archaeological deposits, but also on the very surface of the present-day landscape. We are able to demonstrate that the nutrients accumulated within the precincts of ancient settlements through the intensive deposition of organic and inorganic waste have been slowly released into local ecosystems and this process of nutrients dispersion will continue in the future. Human activities certainly have (and always have had) a long-term effect on soils, but not all these impacts are negative in the sense of environmental pollution. Especially in the semi-arid Mediterranean ecosystems, where some key nutrients like phosphorus may be deficient in contemporary soils, the immediate surroundings of archaeological sites are clearly enriched from local reservoirs of such elements represented by archaeological sites. This demonstrates that archaeological sites are not only important cultural heritage, but also an essential part of local ecosystems, playing a significant yet under-studied role in their long-term sustainability.

 


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

Lecture Poster at the EGU 2016 in Vienna

Oren Ackermann, who is at the annual meeting of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna, has sent a picture of the poster that he put up, representing some of the joint archaeo-environmental research that is being conducted, as part of the Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project.

Oren has now sent a good jpg of the poster:

Poster_EGU_2016_

And here is Oren himself next to the poster – in situ:

Oren next to poster in Vienna


April 20, 2016

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

Great day for Safi at the Annual Archaeological Congress

The safi project had great representation at the Annual Archaeological Conference at TAU today. As mentioned previously, 4 papers relating to the project were presented: Sue et al. on EB paleobotany; Amit et al. on the excavations in Area E; Shira et al. on EB votive vessels; and Aren on a reassessment of the so-called Canaanite enclave in the Iron I Shephelah.

All the papers were well-received – even if not all agreed with mine… :-)

In general, the day was very successful, and I managed to hear quite a few really interesting papers on a broad range of issues.

Kol Hakavod to the organizers!

Aren


The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Yet Another New Article! this one by Yirmi

Check out Yirmi’s newly published article that discusses his experiences and reflections on restoring the vessels from Tel Burna. Way to go Yirmi!

Full Reference:

Jeremy (Yirmi) Szanton (2016) Resurrecting Colleagues Through Their Shards, Journal of Community Archaeology & Heritage, 3:1, 70-74.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Jeremey (Yirmi) hard at work

April 17, 2016

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

Abstract booklet of 42nd archaeological congress

As already mentioned, on Wednesday, April 20th, 2016, the 42nd Archaeological Congress in Israel will take place at Tel Aviv University.

The Safi project will be represented by 4 lectures on various topics (papers given by Amit, Shira, Sue and yours truly – but representing a whole bunch of collaborators).

The booklet with the abstracts of the lectures (in Hebrew) has now been posted.

Check it out – and come to the meeting – there are many interesting talks and sessions!

Aren


The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Offseason Week 16

During the 2000 field season excavation continued in Grid 23 where a rare coin depicting Cleopatra was found.

"Cleopatra" coin (obverse)

"Cleopatra" coin (obverse)

"Cleopatra" coin (reverse)

"Cleopatra" coin (reverse)

Work also continued in Grid 51 as archaeologists continued to expose and excavate more of the Persian and Hellenistic cities.

On the North Tell, excavation of the Gate complex was complete but restoration work was ongoing.

The Gate standing inside and looking to the north 

The Gate standing inside and looking to the north 

After the 2000 field season there were several more field seasons but none were on the scale of the early years. In 2004, the team focused on Grid 38 in an effort to finish the excavation of the Philistine levels. 

Grid 38

Grid 38

In 2007 the team returned again for a study season and in 2008 full-scale excavation of the site resumed. 

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

Rock art and graffiti in the Negev – Meeting on May 20, 2016

Liora Horwitz has asked me to spread the word about a very interesting meeting on Rock Art and Graffiti in the Negev and surrounding regions (she is one of the co-organizers) that will take place on May 20th, 2016 at Sde Boker in the Negev.

Should be very interesting.

See the notification below:

הזמנה כנס ציורי סלע 20 מאי 2016


Article on EB fortification of Tell es-Safi/Gath is out!

Although I have not yet received the official PDF, the newest issue of PEQ (148/1 [2016]) with an article on the EB fortifications at Tell es-Safi/Gath is out (or so at least the PEF website claims so).

The full title is: Shai, I., Chadwick, J. R., Welch, E., Katz, J., Greenfield, H., and Maeir, A. M.
2016 The Early Bronze Age Fortifications at Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel. Palestine Exploration Quarterly 148(1): 42–58.

I’ve posted a page-proof version of the article on Academia.edu – and as soon as the finished version is out – I’ll send it out as well.

In this paper, we discuss the fortifications of the site during the EB, based on the finds from different areas (E, F and P) and in comparison to what Bliss and Macalister reported from their earlier excavations.

Check it out!

Aren


April 16, 2016

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

Tell es-Safi/Gath I at great prices

Prof. Wolfgang Zwickel has kindly informed me that all available copies of the double volume “Tell es-Safi/Gath I” are now available at the great price of $30 plus shipping!

That is such a great price that if I was you, I would buy 2 copies for your own use, two for your local library, and at least one copy for each of your children, grandchildren and nieces and nephews! :-)

If you are interested in purchasing copies, please contact:

 

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Zwickel

Seminar für Altes Testament und Biblische Archäologie

FB 01: Evangelische Theologie

Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

Saarstraße 21, 55099 Mainz, GERMANY,

e-mail: zwickel@uni-mainz.de

 


April 15, 2016

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

And something from the Tell for Passover!

On our field trip to the tell yesterday, Udi Weiss pointed out something very interesting, relevant for the festival of Passover that Jews throughout the world celebrate from next Friday evening.

One of the many special customs that are observed at the Passover Seder is eating “Maror” – which, according to various customs are various types of bitter plants (some more, some less better). The tradition is based on the biblical commandment regarding the Pessach sacrifice that should be eaten with bitter herbs (Exodus 12:8). As mentioned, there are many traditions regarding what is the original plant (or plants) to be used for this.

One of the species suggested for this (originally suggested by the late Prof. Yehuda Felix, of Bar-Ilan University) is the Prickly Lettuce (Lactuta serriola, חסת המצפן).

And in fact, Udi found some Prickly Lettuce growing in abundance on the tell – and this just in time for the Seder. So, I took some and put it in the fridge – and hopefully it will still be edible next Friday night!

Here’s a picture of it:

IMG_4897

Chag Pessach Kasher ve-Sameach (Happy and Kosher Pessach) to all!

Aren

 


Looking a yonder

In continuation of the pics from yesterday, here’s a few, taken by Udi.

The first bunch if of Liora, Linda and yours truly checking out what to be seen around the tell, in comparison to the marked out ortho-photo map of the tell and its surroundings.

The second group is of the storks on the remains of the mosque in the center of the tell, and Oren with a flock of sheep in the background.

The third group are some beautiful shots of the surroundings of the tell from the summit.

Check them out!

Aren

IMG_2934 IMG_2931 IMG_2932 IMG_2933 IMG_2824 IMG_2951 IMG_2953 IMG_2948 IMG_2876 IMG_2918 (1) IMG_2918

April 14, 2016

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

Field day on the ecology and agricultural environment of the tell and its surroundings

Today, we had a great field day at Tell es-Safi/Gath and its surroundings, working on an ongoing research project we are conducting on the environmental and agricultural surroundings of the tell, and other sites in the Shephelah, in modern and ancient times.

Liora Horwitz, Linda Whittaker, Oren Ackermann, Udi Weiss, Sue Frumin, and yours truly, each bringing expertise in relevant areas (fauna, flora, ecology, GIS, geomorphology, archaeology, etc.), spent the day on and around Tell es-Safi/Gath, and on and around Tel Miqne-Ekron, to “ground truth” some of the observations made from analyses of maps, aerial photos and other data sets.

To start with – it was a beautiful day! And even more importantly – we had a great time. And most importantly – we had some very important observations and discussions on the issues! When completed – this will be a VERY interesting (and I believe important) study.

In addition to the environmental archaeology, there was a lot of nice nature as well, including beautiful storks, short-toed eagles, sheep, and astounding greenery with colorful flowers.

Below are some pictures we took during the day.

Aren

20160414_101258 20160414_102109 20160414_102458 20160414_104611 20160414_122941 20160414_081214 20160414_100151 20160414_100221 20160414_100252 IMG_7316 2016-04-14 10.16.17 IMG_4887 IMG_4889 IMG_4893 IMG_7294 IMG_7295 IMG_7309 IMG_7311

And we are on another summary list!

The gate which we discovered this last season at Gath is on another list of the 10 most important finds in Biblical Archaeology of 2015 – from the Biblical Archaeology Society. Check it out – not bad!

Aren

P.S. And thanks to Carl Schwanke for the HT


The Tel Burna Excavation Project

New Article by Itzick and Joe on Community Archaeology

We are pleased to announce that a new article that was written by Itzick and Joe has just been published. This article relates to our experience in “community archaeology” at Tel Burna. From the outset of the project, one of the main goals was to include as many as people as possible from the local communities in the excavation process. This article lays out some of the reasons why that is an important principle for archaeological excavation. Enjoy! Way to go Itzick and Joe!

The full reference is:

 Itzhaq Shai & Joe Uziel (2016) All for Archaeology and Archaeology for All: The Tel Burna Archaeology Project’s Approach to Community Archaeology, Journal of Community Archaeology & Heritage, 3: 57-69

DSC06626

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


April 12, 2016

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

Lions bones and a shark tooth!

Today, while Liora Horwitz was going thru the LB fauna from the site that is stored in the lab, she came across a few interesting finds. Among them were some lion bones – and a rather large shark tooth! Not run-of-the-mill finds – quite cool!

:-)

Aren


April 10, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Offseason Week 15

During the 1999 field season, work in Grid 38 continued to explore Philistine Ashkelon.

Grid 38 looking to the south

Grid 38 looking to the south

Excavation also continued in Grids 50 and 51.

Grid 50

Grid 50

Grid 51

Grid 51

1999 saw the opening of a new grid on the North Tell, Grid 23. Work in this area uncovered a complex sequence of domestic occupation.

Grid 23 looking to the southeast

Grid 23 looking to the southeast

April 08, 2016

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

Call for the 2016 – in Korean

Dr. MiYoung Im, long time Safi core team member, has put out a call for volunteers for the upcoming 2016 season at Tell es-Safi/Gath – in Korean (see below).

MiYoung, who has led groups of Korean student team members at the dig for many years, is calling for additional people interested in having the experience of a life time!

기회를 놓치지 마세요! 당신은 많은 재미를 가지고 많은 것을 배울 것이다!

Here’s a picture of MiYoung holding a beautiful conch which she just excavated:

MiYoung holding Tona Galea shell

And here’s a picture of one of the Korean teams (with Amit and yours truly in the background) – from the 2012 season:

Korean team in D

So those of you who were waiting for the call in additional languages – there are now no more excuses! It’s time to join the team!

:-)

Gath 2016 in Korean

Aren


April 03, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Offseason Week 14

Applications are due Wednesday, April 6th. Get yours in today.

March 27, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Offseason Week 13

Throwing shade for a photograph

Throwing shade for a photograph

During the 1998 field season the goal in Grid 38 was to continue excavating the Philistine city. 

Grid 38

Grid 38

As always, Grid 38 produced a wealth of material culture including a hoard, seen below, with remnants of a linen bag preserved.

Excavation continued in Grid 51 where more of the Byzantine period was uncovered.

Grid 51

Grid 51

On the North Tell, excavators worked to continue clearing the moat and expose more of a mudbrick retaining wall associated with the Middle Bronze Age fortifications.

The fortification system

The fortification system

Just inside the gate, archaeologists discovered a much later building with an elaborate mosaic floor.

The first group of supervisors heads over to Ashkelon in seven weeks. Preparations for the season are well under way. There is still time to get your application in to join us for our final season. What will we discover this year?

March 25, 2016

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Scholarship Opportunity for American Undergrads

American Archaeology Abroad is offering two scholarships to help fund US undergraduates wishing to participate in an archaeological excavation overseas. If you are thinking of joining us at Tel Burna this summer (and you are a US undergraduate student) – you should apply for this scholarship!

DSC06477


March 20, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Offseason Week 12

There is still time to submit your applications for the 2016 field season. Join us for all or part of the season including a special week of events from July 4th - 10th. 

During the 1996 field season, Grids 2, 38 and 50 again continued to be the main areas of excavation.

The gate complex

The gate complex

Detail of the gate

Detail of the gate

By the start of the 1997 season, the gate was roofed and protected.

The gate complex

The gate complex

Grid 51

Grid 51

The 1997 season was the first season in Grid 51. Excavation in 1997 encountered extensive Islamic period pitting and trenching as well as the remains of an earlier Byzantine period structure.

Grid 38, which long had some of the tightest most complex stratigraphy on site, was the training ground for the excavation of mudbrick architecture.

March 13, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Offseason Week 11

Signs of spring are everywhere in Ashkelon. The site was visited by several staff members recently and they sent back these pictures.

A fox has taken up residence on top of the containers in the Pottery Compound.

Grid 32, which was excavated for a single season in 2014, is overgrown with wild flowers.

The first group of supervisors heads over in two months and the 2016 field season is right around the corner. There is still time to submit a volunteer application. The deadline to apply is April 6th. There is also time to submit your stories and photos as we look to commemorate the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon.

Coming to Israel this summer? There will be a week long series of events from July 3rd through the 10th. Tours, lectures and a special event at the Rockefeller highlight the week's activities.

March 06, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Offseason Week 10

Early Morning over Grid 47 (2015)

Early Morning over Grid 47 (2015)

Want to be a part of the festivities in Israel? The week of July 3 will be a week of special activities celebrating Ashkelon and 30 years of the Leon Levy Expedition. Former volunteers are invited to join current staff and volunteers for five days of digging (7/4-7/8). In addition to the opportunity to dig, the week will include special lectures and tours of the site. On July 7th there will be a party in the park. Finally, all are invited to Jerusalem and the Rockefeller Museum on July 10th for the opening of a special exhibit on Ashkelon.

Please contact us at info@digashkelon.com for more information.

February 28, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Offseason Week 9

Join us July 3rd through 11th for a week long celebration of Ashkelon and the Leon Levy Expedition. There will be excavating and tours, a cookout in the park and more. Details will be announced shortly once the schedule is finalized.

Want to volunteer and join us for a half or full season? There is still time. Applications are due April 6th.

February 25, 2016

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

New Article by Casey, Chris and Itzick

A new article authored by Casey, Chris and Itzick that deals with the figurines from Area B1 has just appeared in the current edition of Strata.

Way to go Casey, Chris and Itzick!

Asherah2LB Canaanite fertility figurine Revadim type

February 21, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Offseason Week 8

During the 1995 field season, Grids 2, 38 and 50 continued to be the main areas of excavation.

Grid 50

Grid 50

Grid 50 grew in size and was split into Grid 50 North and Grid 50 South. Work during the season investigated Ashkelon prior to the 604 destruction.

Grid 38

Grid 38

In Grid 38, archaeologists excavated the Iron Age city. The situla found during the previous season underwent conservation during the offseason. The results were impressive. Today, they are on display in the Israel Museum.

Situla from Grid 38

Situla from Grid 38

On the North Tell, excavation continued to reveal more of the gate and Middle Bronze Age ramparts.

February 15, 2016

Lapis Gabinus: official blog of the Gabii Project

Gabii Project at Penn

J. Marilyn Evans (Swarthmore College) will give a talk in a colloquium organized by the Department of Classical Studies at the Univeristy of Pennsylvania. The talk, titled "Buried Among the Living: Intramural Burial in Archaic Gabii", will offer a reappraisal of the role of intramural burial in urban development, based on recent finds from the Gabii Project excavations. 

The event is scheduled for February 18, 4:30-6:00 p.m. (402 Cohen Hall). More details here.

February 14, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Offseason Week 7

The 1994 field season was another one of fascinating discoveries.

The situla in the ground

The situla in the ground

After cleaning

After cleaning

Section of masonry talus and fallen tower on North Tell

Section of masonry talus and fallen tower on North Tell

February 07, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Offseason Week 6

Fatimid Inscription

Fatimid Inscription

The 1993 field season was a big one for excavation areas on the North Tell. In Grids 3/10 on the northern slope of the North Tell, excavation uncovered a 22 line Fatimid imperial inscription. The piece commemorated the building of a tower in 1150 on the orders of the Grand Vizier in Cairo. Three years later after a seven month siege Ashkelon fell to the Crusaders. Almost a century later a knight named Sir Hugh Wake, traveling to Ashkelon with Richard of Cornwall, inscribed his shields over the earlier Fatimid inscription providing the latest direct evidence for the Crusaders in Ashkelon.

In another area on the summit of the North Tell excavation uncovered the remains of a small bath.

Bath

Bath

Elsewhere on the North Tell, more of the gate complex was uncovered and in another area an Islamic and Crusader period workshop was excavated. On the South Tell, excavation continued in Grids 38 and 50 where there were a few more dogs to excavate.

February 03, 2016

iMalqata

Our Last Days for the Season

Catharine Roehrig

Yesterday was our last day of work at the site. We spent the morning finishing up with drawing small finds, sorting pottery, and overseeing the workmen covering the excavated areas with sand.

covering the site

Workmen carrying sand to cover the site

Our inspector, Shereen, wanted to have a photograph taken of those of us who are still here, and we took another photo of the excavation crew after the last basket of sand was put in place.

last day

Janice, Diana, Shereen, and Catharine with our spectacular backdrop, the Theban cliffs

excavation crew

Excavation with Diana at the end of the day

Today we took our small finds to the magazine and packed up the equipment for next year. And late yesterday afternoon, they finally got the electricity hooked up for our guard house (upper right in the photo above)!

Shereen at Palace.jpg

Catharine, Shereen, and Diana at the Palace

February 3, 2016


February 02, 2016

iMalqata

The Guardhouse

Diana Craig Patch

Last season the Inspectorate of the Antiquities of the West Bank asked us to consider building a guardhouse at Malqata to aid in the site’s protection. Each year JEM has undertaken to do something to improve the state of the site. So we agreed to build this structure for the MSA. We chose a high natural hill that doesn’t have any cultural material associated with it –west of the West Settlement and the North Village− and provides a great lookout for the main structures of the site. Last year we dug the foundation and put up the walls, the roof, and installed windows. The guardhouse seemed virtually done.

Guardhouse w plaster and waiting for hiba (6)

The guardhouse, plastered and waiting for its hiba coating

Well we were wrong because a group of ten workmen have been working very hard for three weeks giving it the finishing touches. They applied a mudplaster surface to all walls inside and out and then added two more coats to make the building a desert color while protecting it a bit from rain. They added a concrete floor and concrete surfaces to the eight mastabas or benches that are against each wall inside and out. One of our talented workmen installed all the wiring for the circuit breakers, switches, sockets, and plugs.

IMG_2337 resized

The finished guardhouse

The last unfinished step, a big one, was connecting the guardhouse to electricity. The company came last week and laid the large cable but were unable to finish the timer and hook up to the main power. Apparently that happened this evening, so we hope to see lights in the new guardhouse and satisfied guards, who will help protect the site.

February 2, 2016


February 01, 2016

iMalqata

Lost and Found

Diana Craig Patch

During work in the area west of the Audience Pavilion, we have consistently recovered small molds made from pottery. The fabric is Nile clay tempered with fine sand, and frequently with lots of coarse sand, which I refer to in my notes as grit. Grit for me is very visible as little dark irregular chunks.

Rosette resized.

Mold for a round-petalled rosette

The molds were used to make the beautiful little faience ornaments like the mandrake featured in an earlier blog (An Ancient Egyptian Aphrodisiac). The most common image that we have collected is that of a rosette. Rosettes come in many varieties: ones with clear rounded petals, ones where the petals are long and thin so the rosette looks ridged, and ones I refer to as “spotted.” (I am sure there is a more elegant or technical term, but for now I know exactly what a “spotted” one is!)

N150_E180_Level 1_rosette mold_drawing 49resized (3)

Mold for a “ridged” rosette

The people who were producing these ornaments would press faience paste into the mold to take the impression, which would then be trimmed and set it aside to dry. When dry the faience would be baked to harden it and produce the shiny bright blue color that is so familiar to us. At Malqata though, one finds other faience colors besides turquoise; dark blue, yellow, and even green faience occur.

N150_E180_Level 1_pottery molds_spotted rosette_drawing 25 resized 25 (1)

Mold for a “spotted” rosette

The other day we collected a piece of “plaster” in a level in N150 E180, the square where we have excavated the most this year in this site. Yesterday I had a chance to study it and noted the ball was evenly round and closer observation made me realize that the material wasn’t plaster, but a white substance with grit: faience. I am guessing that one ancient Egyptian workman’s task was to make little round balls of faience for another workman to press into a mold. He lost one and we just found it!

N150_E180_Level 4_Locus 2_faience preform cropped (2)

Faience “preform” ready to be pressed into a mold

February 1, 2016


January 31, 2016

iMalqata

Out in the Desert – Again

Catharine Roehrig

Yesterday, Joel’s last day at the site, we went for a walk along the ancient roadway that borders Malqata to the west. Behind the Amun Temple, the roadway is raised and easy to see, but in other areas, where the elevation of the desert is higher, it becomes invisible. We decided to follow it south as far as we could, and we found this easier than we had expected. For example, the roadway forms a ridge that almost blocks the wadi to the south of the Coptic monastery, Deir el-Moharab.

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Raised roadway blocking the wadi south of the monastery

A bit farther south, there is another raised section that continues for about 100 yards. And each time we encountered a wadi, the remnants of the roadway were visible.

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On the raised roadway heading south

Along the way, the road turns southeast at two points until it is heading straight for Deir el-Shalwit, a temple that honors the goddess Isis. Although the current temple is from the Roman period, there was almost certainly some sort of shrine there during the Eighteenth Dynasty, and probably before. On the way to this shrine, the road would also have passed by the Kom el-Samak, a small shrine built by Amenhotep III and excavated by Waseda University in the 1970s. (See Malqata South)

We finally lost all trace of the roadway just south of the power lines at the southwest corner of the Birket, but we could see its final destination about half a mile away.

end of the road.

Deir el-Shalwit and Kom el-Samak in the distance

January 31, 2016


The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Offseason Week 5

The 1992 field season was another one filled with discoveries both large and small. 

Attic Red-figured cup with an owl.

Attic Red-figured cup with an owl.

In Grid 50 signs of Nebuchadrezzar's destruction of Ashkelon continued to appear.

Grid 50

Grid 50

And on the North Tell, the Canaanite Gate emerged.

Grid 2

Grid 2

January 30, 2016

iMalqata

Analyzing the King’s Plasters

Alexandra Winkels •

This season, I had the pleasure of working with the Joint Expedition to Malqata (JEM) team for twelve days to analyze the site’s archaeological mortars and plasters. As a freelance wall painting conservator and conservation scientist I am performing a research- and PhD project investigating mortars and plasters in Ancient Egyptian wall painting and architecture from the pre-dynastic and pharaonic periods, and into the Greco-Roman period. Malqata, as one of the two preserved ancient Egyptian royal cities, is of course a very interesting place to examine which different mortar and plaster materials have been used for the construction of architecture and the decoration of architectural surfaces.

As the analysis had to be carried out on site, I set up my mobile “field laboratory,” with portable photographic and analytical equipment, in the old mud brick guard house next to the King’s Palace. Though it got a bit crowded at times, I enjoyed sharing the tiny room with hundreds of clay plaster fragments with elaborate bright colored wall painting decoration, uncovered by Peter Lacovara during this season (iMalqata Blog | January 19, 2016).

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The little mud brick guard house turned into a temporary little “field lab” and wall painting shelter.

 

For the comparative analysis of plaster materials from selected archaeological sites in Egypt I am implementing conservation- and natural scientific methods. Besides the analysis of the chemical-mineralogical composition of the original plasters I also investigate and document technological features that reveal the applied plaster and wall painting technology. At Malqata, I collected small mortar and plaster fragments from several areas of the site in 2015 and 2016. These include the King’s Palace, houses of the North Village, and the Amun Temple. Here is a short glimpse of what I found so far.

In the recent analysis, eight major mortar and plaster types, each being processed for individual technological functions, could be differentiated. For example, dark brown clay mortars, with varying contents of plant fibers as organic fillers and reinforcement, were used as basic floor, wall, and ceiling plasters. In some buildings, however, millimeter-thin yellowish- to brownish-white “plaster washes,” containing a high content of calcium carbonate and marl clay, were applied to floors and walls of selected rooms, and onto several throne platforms within the King’s Palace.

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Cross section of a yellowish-greyish white mortar with upper thin clay and white wash layer used to set and plaster stones of a bathroom basin (iMalqata Blog | February 16, 2015). Below, the cross section of a dark brown clay plaster fragment with white and Egyptian blue paint layers from a ceiling of the King’s Palace.

The most elaborate treatment was given to apparently more significant throne platforms and sections of floor within the palace. In these places, a fine layer of pure lime plaster covers the visible surfaces of the clay-plastered mud brick superstructure. This plaster type is much more stable than clay plaster as it cannot be dissolved in water.

In terms of wall painting technology, the polychrome wall and ceiling paintings of the King’s Palace were created directly on a smoothed clay plaster surface, without the overall interlaying of fine white wash or paint layer that we see in the painted tombs of the Theban necropolis. Aside from this, traditional construction methods were used in the composition of the paintings on the walls and ceilings of the palace as seen in the photograph below.

 

3_Wall painting construction features

Wall painting fragments from the King’s Palace showing lines and drips from a cord string soaked in red color, and traces of red outline drawings that preceded the polychrome paint application.

The color spectrum includes a differentiated use of varying blue and green colors that could be investigated further by visible-induced luminescence (VIL)-imaging (See VERRI, G. (2008): The use and distribution of Egyptian blue: a study by visible-induced luminescence imaging. In: Uprichard, K and Middleton, A, (eds.) The Nebamun wall paintings: conservation, scientific analysis and display at the British Museum. (41 – 50). Archetype: London) Egyptian blue emits a bright luminescence that lies in the infrared range when it is excited by visible fluorescent light. With an infrared-sensitive digital camera, this luminescence can be photographed. A special filter applied in front of the camera lens captures the IR-radiation, but blocks out all visible light. Using this technique, the tiniest traces of Egyptian blue that are not noticeable in visible light can be shown in the digital VIL-image.

In case of the Malqata paintings, the multi spectral imaging method helped to determine that the early synthetic pigment Egyptian blue was used not only in its pure form. Apparently, to achieve brighter bluish green color shades, it was also mixed with Egyptian green and a natural green earth pigment containing glauconite. The latter is a pigment production technique that continued into Roman times.

4_Vis_VIL_Lotus

Wall painting fragment from palace room K1 photographed in visible light and with visible-induced luminescence imaging (levels increased). The outlines of the pure Egyptian blue color application (reduced due to pigment loss) are clearly legible in the VIL image. The bright shining dots in the bluish-green colored paint of the lotus flower show the luminescent pigment grains of Egyptian blue in mixture with Egyptian green.

 

 

5_Spiral_vis_VIL

Detail of a spiral from a ceiling plaster fragment, visible and VIL-image (levels increased); the green colored center of the spiral was painted with a natural green earth pigment containing glauconite. The bright luminescence of pigment grains within the green paint shows the additional intermixture of Egyptian blue.

January 30, 2016

 


January 29, 2016

iMalqata

A Quiet Friday

 

We spent much of today, our official day off, writing notes and catching up with things at The New Memnon, our home away from home. In the afternoon, we took a quick trip to the east bank to take care of some business at Chicago House and do some last-minute shopping. The weather was beautiful, and we enjoyed our time across the river.

DCP_CHR1

Diana and Catharine enjoy the sunshine as we travel across the river to Chicago House

January 29, 2016


January 28, 2016

iMalqata

Meanwhile, Out in the Desert: Pots and Pits

Joel Paulson and Catharine Roehrig

The amount of broken pottery found around the palaces and other buildings at Amenhotep’s festival city is staggering considering that the area appears to have been used for only a few months during each of Amenhotep’s three festivals. Even if preparations at the site began a year before each celebration of the king’s Heb-Sed, the city and its villages would have been occupied for only three to four years at most. And the main settlement area is not the only place at the site where one finds masses of pottery from the time of Amenhotep III.

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Sherd-scatter photographed in 1917

A century ago, and probably long before, odd features were noted in the desert to the west of Malqata and the Birket Habu. Over a vast area, huge swathes of pot sherds litter the desert surface, and many of the sherds seem to be associated with well dug pits. The pottery includes the same types that are found around the buildings of the festival city, and a large percentage appear to have been large open-mouthed storage jars. But, it’s not just the types of pottery that are of interest – it’s their vast quantity and their unexpected location.

The initial impression is that the pottery was buried in pits and, at some later time, the pits were dug out and the pottery was strewn about. Whether the pots were buried whole and broken when they were dug out, or whether they were broken in some ceremony connected with the Heb-Sed and then buried, is not clear. Either way, they appear to have been smashed on site with groups of sherds from the same jar lying in and around the pits. At this time it’s impossible to make even a crude estimate of the number of pots that the ancient Egyptians took out into the desert to bury.

CHRJP-2

Joel and our assistant, Feisel, in the distance using the GPS unit to plot a huge concentration of pits and sherds

Another major point of curiosity is the location of the pits and sherds, which extend intermittently in large and small concentrations over an area ranging from a hundred meters (the length of a football field) to almost a kilometer from the King’s Palace. Why the ancient Egyptians would haul the pottery so far from the palace for disposal is one of the mysteries of these pot sherd pits.

For the past two days, we have been surveying the area covered by the sherd pits and scatters to determine their locations and extent. Next season, we will ask permission to study these areas in more detail. Scientific excavation and pottery analysis may help answer some of the questions about the purpose and function of these interesting features.

January 28, 2016


January 27, 2016

iMalqata

Site K

Peter Lacovara

Thanks to a generous grant from the Institute for the Study of Aegean Prehistory, we were able to survey an interesting and enigmatic feature of Malqata, a strange outlier to the Birket Habu mounds. Called “Site K” by Barry Kemp, who excavated it in the early 1970’s, the place is a small, mysterious mound. When trenched, it appeared to be filled with material from the destruction of a palace decorated with murals on mud plaster. The contents of the mound were sampled and found to contain not only remains of painted decoration similar to that in the King’s Palace where we are working, but also fragments with much more clearly Aegeanizing motifs. Examples are a rosette terrain (a circle or dot design) and wild plants in a rocky landscape that bring to mind paintings like those found on Santorini and Crete.

SiteK_Strata

Recording the stratigraphy at Site K with Mahmoud Mohammed Hussein

The King’s Palace at Malqata also had some Aegean motifs, such as a leaping calf, bull’s heads with rosettes, and running spirals. Daressey reported, but sadly did not illustrate, some other scenes that could have been inspired by Minoan or Mycenaean art.

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Ceiling Painting with Bull Heads from the King’s bedroom, Malqata; MMA excavations, 1910–11, Rogers Fund, 1911 (MMA 11.215.451)

Why would these foreign style paintings be in an Egyptian palace? I think it was for the same reason that French furniture was chosen in the Eighteenth Century for the White House in Washington, D.C. and for the Catharine Palace in St. Petersburg. Rulers always like to show their cosmopolitan tastes, and Amenhotep III was certainly no exception.

Bull's Head Rhyton, from Knossos, Crete; Late Minoan I, ca. 1600-1425 BC.; serpentine, limestone, rock crystal; Athens National Museum “Dolphin Fresco” from the Palace of Knossos, Crete; Late Minoan I, ca. 1600-1425 BC.

It has been unclear as to what building these fragments at Site K may have belonged, but one possibility is that it represents an earlier palace that was demolished and re-built elsewhere during the expansion of the Birket. The demolition might also correspond to the later re-orientation of the site. To get a better idea of Site K and how it relates to the rest of Malqata, several sections were drawn through Kemp’s old trenches, which are still visible. These trenches will also be tied into the work of Angus Graham of The Egypt Exploration Society Theban Harbours and Waterscapes Survey (Searching for the Venice of the Nile) who is making a study of the Birket and the other harbors in the Theban area. Hopefully these studies will add more to our picture of the history of the site and Amenhotep’s grand and ever-changing design.

Wild Plant from Site K “Blue Bird fresco” from Akrotiri on Thera; Middle Minoan, ca. 1700-1525 BC

January 27, 2016


January 26, 2016

iMalqata

101 Years Ago at Malqata

Catharine Roehrig

In the winter of 1914/15 the Museum’s excavation season was rather short-staffed due to the outbreak of the First World War in Europe. That fall, the first arrivals were Norman De Garis Davies, director of the Graphic Section of the Egyptian Expedition (Met Around the World-The Egyptian Expedition Graphic Section) and a young artist named Hugh Hopgood, both of whom were British. Wanting to employ as many of the Museum’s workmen as possible, Davies oversaw excavations in a number of tombs, including Theban Tomb 52, which belonged to a scribe and “astronomer of Amun” named Nakht who probably served in the reign of Thutmose IV and may well have lived into the reign of his son, Amenhotep III (Facsimile painting from the tomb of Nakht).

CHR-101-1

Facsimile painting of a wall in the tomb of Nakht, Norman DeGaris Davies and Lancelot Crane, Rogers Fund 1915 (15.3.19b)

In 1914, the upper sections of the tomb were accessible, and the first chamber, with its charming decoration, was well-known. However, the shaft and burial chamber had not been excavated. In the debris that filled the shaft, Davies discovered a small, kneeling statue of Nakht holding a stela inscribed with a hymn to the sun-god Re. As one can see from the black & white photograph taken in Egypt, the paint on the statue was well-preserved, and the only damage to the text was the excision of the name of the god Amun which had occurred during the reign of Akhenaten only a few decades after Nakht’s death. At the end of the excavation season, this statue was given to the Museum in the division of finds. Tragically, it was lost at sea when the ship it travelled in was sunk by a submarine on its way to New York. (For a similar statue, see Statue of Roy)

Kneeling statue of Nakht Kneeling statue of Roy, Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917 (17.190.1960)

Davies’s work in the tomb, including the watercolor facsimilies he painted of the decoration (now on display in the SE corner of gallery 135 at the Museum) were published as the first volume of the Robb de Peyster Tytus Memorial Series, which had been funded by the mother of one of Malqata’s early excavators (imalqata-Special Guests).

Part-way through the 14/15 season, another British member of the expedition, Hugh G. Evelyn-White, arrived and began excavating at Malqata in an area north of the King’s Palace on the other side of a cultivated field. Here, remains of another mud brick structure, built on a perpendicular axis to the King’s Palace, were visible on the surface. In the course of the season, a large structure with several outbuildings emerged. Now called the North Palace, it was dubbed White’s Palace in the excavation report. The North Palace is slightly lower in elevation than the King’s Palace. In 1914/15, it was between two cultivated fields. Consequently, it lies very close to the water table and the area is now covered with a healthy, and tenacious stand of halfa grass. At some future date, we hope to work in this area, but for the moment, we try to keep the halfa grass in check.

CHR-101-4

“White’s Palace,” photographed early in 1915 at the end of the excavation season

January 26, 2016


January 25, 2016

iMalqata

An Ancient Egyptian Aphrodisiac

Diana Craig Patch

The small fragile faience ornaments that were collected during the first years the Met excavated at Malqata have always been favorites of mine.   These colorful images of floral elements were probably used to decorate different things, including broad collars. This season one of the images for these pendants, fruit of the mandrake (Mandragora sp.), has appeared on several objects.

A faience pendant depicting a mandrake from the King’s Palace at Malqata, Rogers Fund, 1911 (11.215.226) A closeup of Tutankhamun from his golden shrine with mandrake elements clearly visible in his broad collar

The mandrake is a short plant whose leaves occur in a basal rosette on the ground. Found traditionally around the northern and eastern part of the Mediterranean, it appeared in Egypt during the New Kingdom, grown in gardens of the elite members of Egyptian society.

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Ipuy’s garden with a mandrake plant growing along the canal to the right, Rogers Fund, 1930 (30.4.115)

A perennial herbaceous plant, it is best known for its long thick branched root that in many folk cultures were assigned human characteristics. The flowers are greenish white, pale blue, or even violet and its short-stemmed fruit, a berry, is a deep yellow to orange with a calyx in dark green. The fruit was translated into Egyptian imagery as bright yellow fruit whose calyx in paintings is green and in faience, a deep blue.

A mandrake with its fruit A mandrake fruit
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A tile illustrating a mandrake plant in a garden, Purchase, Edward S. Harkness Gift, 1926 (26.7.942)

The leaves and root contain deliriant hallucinogenic tropane alkaloids, making the plant potentially poisonous. Depending on the amount ingested, which varies from plant to plant, the parts used, and preparation technique, emetic, purgative, and narcotic side effects are likely; a mandrake can cause a toxic overdose. Based on what records survive from antiquity, it appears that the plant was used medicinally. Greek literature suggests possible applications for treating gout, wounds, and sleeplessness; for the Sumerians, it was a remedy for pain.

The mandrake, however, becomes a popular image in Egyptian art because the plant and its berries are associated with the concepts of love and desire, possibly to be achieved or aided by a potion made from the plant. As suggested by Kate Bosse-Griffiths, the mandrake had connotations for male potency and the strengthening of sexual power, especially in the mid to late Dynasty 18.

Nakht banquet with mandrakes.

A young woman at a banquet in Nebamun’s tomb passing mandrake fruit

In love poems and in contexts where rejuvenation is the theme, such as in the festival city of Amenhotep III, we find many images and representations of this beautiful but toxic little fruit.

A fragment of a blue painted vessel with a portion of a mandrake fruit preserved Fragment of a wall painting with mandrakes from the King’s Palace

 

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A pottery mold from an industrial area (N150, E180) at Malqata used to make faience elements in the shape of mandrake fruit

January 25, 2016

Interesting reading:

Kate Bosse-Griffiths, “The Fruit of the Mandrake in Egypt and Israel,” in Amarna Studies and Other Selected Papers (ed. by J. Gwyn Griffiths), pp. 82-96, Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis 182 (Fribourg, Switzerland and Göttingen, 2001).


January 24, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Offseason Week 4

Grid 16

Grid 16

We are just four months away from members of the senior staff heading to Israel to prepare for the season.

During the 1991 field season, work continued in Grids 2, 38, 50 and 57. 

Grid 50 Square 47

Grid 50 Square 47

In Grid 50, Square 47 was opened and excavation began in an effort to bring it into phase with the remainder of the grid. Elsewhere, excavation moved the grid closer to the 604 destruction of the city.

Grid 50 Square 58

Grid 50 Square 58

Grid 38

Grid 38

In Grid 38, work focused on the excavation of a large courtyard building flanked by a street on its western side.

Over on the North Tell, excavation continued to reveal the towering mudbrick fortifications of the Bronze Age city.

January 18, 2016

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Another Generous Donation from the Weisselbergs

We are pleased to announce another generous donation to the Tel Burna Archaeological Project by Edward and Myrna Weisselberg!

Edward and Myrna have supported us since day one of the project andtheir support has played a huge role in the effectiveness of the project to date – thank you Weisselbergs!

 


January 17, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Offseason Week 3

During the summer of 1990, excavation continued in Grids 2, 38, 50, and 57. 

Grid 50

Grid 50

Grid 38

Grid 38

It was a summer of discoveries both big and small.

"Brindisi" amphora dating to the Hellenistic period

"Brindisi" amphora dating to the Hellenistic period

Ivory comb depicting a hunter on horseback.

Ivory comb depicting a hunter on horseback.

This was especially true on the North Tell where even greater expanses of the ancient fortifications were revealed. Of course, the North Tell is also where one of the most important "small find" discoveries on site was made.

Ramparts

Ramparts

The "Silver Calf"

The "Silver Calf"

January 10, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Offseason Week 2

Ashkelon 2010 t-shirt

Ashkelon 2010 t-shirt

What will make the cut and be put on the Ashkelon 2016 t-shirt? Have any ideas? Let us know what you think might be worthy of the final dig shirt.

Yes, it is Ross Voss front and center. He is not, however, a current staff member. Someone else in the photo is on staff and has been since 1991. 

January 08, 2016

Lapis Gabinus: official blog of the Gabii Project

Gabii Project at the 117th AIA Annual Meeting

Jason Farr will present a paper titled "Lapis Gabinus: Quantifying the Economy of a Roman Tufo Quarry." The presentation is part of Session 3F - The Economics and Logistics of Roman Art and Architecture, and is scheduled for Thursday, January 7th 2:10 p.m. (Plaza Room A, Lobby Level).

Giulia Peresso and Arianna Zapelloni Pavia are scheduled to give a presentation on "Decay or Repurposing of a Roman City: Gabii in Late Antiquity" in Session 6G - From Foundation to Decay: Town-Planning and Urban Development in Ancient Italy on Friday, January 8th 4:15 p.m. (Plaza Room A, Lobby Level).

J. Troy Samuels and Matt Naglak will talk about "Dress to Impress: Elite Status and Textile Production at Early Gabii" in Session 7F - Textiles, Dress and Adornment in Antiquity  on Saturday, January 9th 8:50 a.m. (Yosemite Ballroom A).

Open to all Gabii aficionados attending the meeting!

January 03, 2016

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2016 Offseason Week 1

Excavation expanded during the 1989 field season to include Grids 1, 2, 9, 16, 38, 50 and 57. 

Supervisors and volunteers in Grid 38 (This was the first season of a current staff member. Can you guess who it is?)

Supervisors and volunteers in Grid 38 (This was the first season of a current staff member. Can you guess who it is?)

Excavation in Grid 38 continued to reveal a complex stratigraphic sequence dating to the Roman and Byzantine periods. 

Grid 38

Grid 38

Excavation also produced a wealth of small finds including a cache of oil lamps many of which, but not all, depicted erotic images.

Oil lamp 

Oil lamp 

In Grid 50, there were more sea views, more dogs, and more evidence for earlier Persian occupation.

End of season Grid 50 photo

End of season Grid 50 photo

On the North Tell, excavation uncovered an impressive section of the mudbrick ramparts. 

Mudbrick ramparts on the North Tell

Mudbrick ramparts on the North Tell

December 31, 2015

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Happy new year and congratulations to Chris!

First of all, we here at Tel Burna would like to wish all of our friends a very happy New year! May 2016 be a very productive and exciting time for all of bus and May we have another great archaeological year at Burna!

But wait! Big news, Chris Mckinny’s book has appeared! The book, titled “My People as your people: A textual and archaeological analysis of the reign of Jehoshaphat”, is based on his ma thesis. Way to go Chris!!!! May this be the first of many.

 

 

 


December 27, 2015

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2015 Offseason Week 23

A couple of fun pictures to end the year.

The stones that archaeologists collect during excavation...

...must get moved for final photos.

(With a little help from some friends, of course.)

We'll see you in 2016!

December 23, 2015

December 20, 2015

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2015 Offseason Week 22

As 2015 comes to a close, and planning for the 2016 field season kicks into high gear, it's time to think about:

...one more day in the dirt...

...helping out with one more guffah chain...

...enjoying one more Pottery Compound Day...

...one last chance to find something amazing.

December 16, 2015

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

Generous Donation from Yeshua Bride Preparing Ministry

We are very happy to announce that we have received a very generous donation from Yeshua Bride Preparing Ministry! Paul Chang and several members from his congregation joined us this last summer in the field and we hope that they will join us again! We would especially like to thank Paul and his wife Esther.

As always, any donations of any sum in support of the Tel Burna Archaeological Project are most welcome.

1796823_869752023091745_5250654165929888105_oPaul hard at work in Area A2, summer 2015

 


December 13, 2015

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2015 Offseason Week 21

Grid 47 staff and volunteers in 2012 (first half of season)

Grid 47 staff and volunteers in 2012 (first half of season)

It's no secret 2016 will be the last field season for the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon. We are asking for stories and photos and anything you might want to share as the project comes to a close. Over 50 past and present staff and volunteers have contacted us with some wonderful memories. If you'd like to contribute, you can email us at Ashkelon2016@gmail.com.  We will be collecting photos and stories until March. There is plenty of time to see what you can "dig up!"

Our celebration of the excavation will culminate in a week of events in Ashkelon from July 3rd - 7th. Details coming soon.  

December 06, 2015

The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon

2015 Offseason Week 20

Today, some more people shots from 30 years of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon.

The early days of Grid 38 when it was a step trench.

The early days of Grid 38 when it was a step trench.

"Clean" the dirt, find a pot.

"Clean" the dirt, find a pot.

A nearly complete jar gets ready for its trip to the Pottery Compound.

A nearly complete jar gets ready for its trip to the Pottery Compound.

One of the most common building materials at Ashkelon? Mudbrick.

One of the most common building materials at Ashkelon? Mudbrick.

There's always another dark corner to explore.

There's always another dark corner to explore.

November 22, 2015

November 12, 2015

The Tel Burna Excavation Project

New BASOR article on Area B1 by Itzick, Chris and Joe

We are pleased to announce that BASOR (Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research) has just sent the final proofs of our article “Late Bronze Age Cultic Activity in Ancient Canaan: A View from Tel Burna,” which was authored by Itzick, Chris and Joe!

Here is the abstract:

Excavations at Tel Burna, Israel, have uncovered portions of a large structure from the Late Bronze Age IIB, yielding numerous finds that suggest ritual and cultic practices occurred in the building, particularly in its central courtyard. is article presents the finds from the excavations, examining the meaning of the cultic artifacts discovered and comparing the building with the nearby Fosse Temple at Lachish. It is hoped that the discovery and presentation of the finds will help yield important information on cultic practices occurring in the 13th-century b.c.e. Shephelah.

Bibliographic Details:

2015: Shai, I., McKinny, C., Uziel, J. “Late Bronze Age Cultic Activity in Ancient Canaan: A View from Tel Burna.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 374: 115-133.


August 04, 2015

Lapis Gabinus: official blog of the Gabii Project

A Perfect Season Comes to an End

It will be a hectic time on site this week until the very moment we finally drop the curtain, but one thing is clear already: this has been a very successful season! After seven straight seasons the archaeological levels in the so-called Area D have been completely excavate, reaching the natural deposits across the entire sector. We now have documented an uninterrupted sequence stretching back to the phase of Gabii's formation. Another major achievement is the conclusion of excavation activities in the Area F building. Our research group looks forward to the next step: study and publication! On the other hand, the important results from Area C have already opened new avenues for the expansion of the excavation areas in 2016. The future fieldwork will provide more evidence on the urban history of the urban core, addressing new research questions.


Such incredible accomplishments would not have been possible without the hard work, unwavering enthusiasm, and passion for archaeology of our 2015 crew. Thank you all! We hope that you will keep in touch with the Gabii Project, and we are looking forward to welcoming you back in the field next year if you wish. A special farewell goes to our long-time friend, supporter and staff member Diane Tincu. We celebrated Diane during our end-of-dig lunch party. To honor her, the project decided to officially name one of the buildings excavated in previous years on site after her: from now on, the Area B House will be known as the Diane Tincu Building. Thank you Diane! We hope you'll change your mind and join us again next season...



July 16, 2015

Lapis Gabinus: official blog of the Gabii Project

The Gabii Project is back!

If you are a friend of the Gabii Project, you will have seen from our facebook posts that a lot has been going on on site for the past four weeks! After a stint of preparatory work with staff only, a team of 40 students joined us on Monday June 29th for our seventh straight season of excavation at Gabii.



Despite the recent heat wave, activities in the three excavation sectors are progressing with the same enthusiasm ever since. The Area D group is completing the investigation of a cluster of Early Iron Age huts, whose stratified sequence is providing tantalizing new evidence on the earliest phases of city formation at Gabii. The Environmental Lab team is processing dozens of samples from these deposits, which will help us reconstruct the function of the structures, economic patterns, and ancient diet. In neighboring Area C, we reopened a trench first excavated in 2009-2012, which revealed a large atrium house. We are now exploring the Early Republican levels of the city-block, and we hope to reach into the same Archaic deposits attested in Area D. In Area F, three rooms of the monumental public building brought to light in the past two seasons remain to be documented. Once this will have been accomplished, we will have a complete picture of this exceptionally important building. Meanwhile, the Topo team is producing scores of photomodels (we are over 1000 now...). It is a busy time in the Finds Lab too, with washing pottery in the morning and sorting, drawing and studying the finds in the afternoon.

Several visitors and friends came to see the progress of the excavation, including Kim Bowes and Richard Hodges, Lisa Fentress, and David Potter, who gave a lecture on Epigraphy to our students. We were particularly pleased to welcome a group of children participating in the Summer Camp of the Children's Hospital of Padova.

Ciao for now!


August 05, 2014

Lapis Gabinus: official blog of the Gabii Project

Android Tablets at Gabii

BY J. TROY SAMUELS, PhD student in the Interdepartmental Program in Classical Art and Archaeology, University of Michigan

Buon Giorno from Rome! This summer, the Gabii Project, a University of Michigan archaeological excavation and field school, undertook our sixth full season of fieldwork focused on the ancient Latin city of Gabii. Directed by University of Michigan professor Nicola Terrenato, this large-scale open area excavation aims to both increase our understanding of this city, a neighbor and rival to Rome in the first millennium BCE, and educate students in archaeological method, theory, Roman history, and myriad other topics. To that end, this season we welcomed forty-two volunteers from a variety of undergraduate and graduate colleges and universities to Rome, who, along with various staff members, spent the last five weeks significantly expanding our understanding of the city of Gabii, its people, and its history.

Gabii Project 2014 Team
Gabii Project 2014 Team

Alongside the normal challenges and opportunities offered by such a large-scale undertaking, the 2014 edition of the project featured a massive shift in recording strategies. Instead of the paper forms used in previous seasons, this year we decided to go paperless in the field. All data was recorded exclusively on four Panasonic Toughpads and seven Android tablets. Despite early trepidations, perhaps best exemplified by the Seven Deadly Sin–themed names assigned to the seven Android tablets, this new system has proved highly successful. Paperless recording not only cut down on off-site data entry but also encouraged a degree of student autonomy in information gathering and recording. The individual nature of tablet data entry encouraged students to attempt to record and understand the archaeology on their own terms before seeking the help of their supervisors. By the end of the second week, it was commonplace to see five students on their own tablets, independently entering data pertaining to the stratigraphic unit they had excavated by themselves. The presence of excellent students helped this transition go smoothly, and paperless recording will certainly be a feature at Gabii for years to come.

Matt Naglak (University of Michigan, IPCAA) creates a photo model while Dr. Marilyn Evans (ICCS) instructs Rachel Goldstein (Yale University) in her work on “Wrath,” the Android tablet.
Matt Naglak (University of Michigan, IPCAA) creates a photo model while Dr. Marilyn Evans (ICCS) instructs Rachel Goldstein (Yale University) in her work on “Wrath,” the Android tablet.

In terms of archaeological discovery, this season was also highly successful. The large size of the project allows for two distinct areas of excavation, Area F, focused on expanding our understanding of the monumental complex revealed last season, and Area D, focused on an occupation area from the early, formative phases of the city. While vastly different in terms of surviving architecture and excavation method, both areas continue to provide important information that will shape our understanding of the cities and people of first-millennium BCE central Italy. We are excited both about the many things we uncovered and the future seasons that will help us continue to better understand the multifaceted, fascinating material history of this important site.

For more information please visit our websites, Facebook page, or read our wonderful student blogs.

http://gabiiproject.org/
http://sitemaker.umich.edu/gabiiproject/home
https://www.facebook.com/gabii.project
http://agergabinus.blogspot.it/

This post was adapted from Troy Samuels' post to The Kelsey Museum's blog.

July 15, 2014

Lapis Gabinus: official blog of the Gabii Project

The Gabii Project: Archaeology in The Information Age

Racel Opitz demonstrates use of the tablets to students .
Racel Opitz demonstrates use of the tablets to students .

Rachel Opitz doesn’t dig much at Gabii, but rather records. Leading a core team of four, her topography, data entry, and photogrammetric modelling unit is tasked with the construction of a digital database on a large scale.

“We have scale issues,” Rachel chuckles, “Well, they’re not issues because the method works.”
Rachel’s team has implemented strategies and introduced technologies aimed at increasing efficiency within The Gabii Project to support a large open area excavation. They upgrade software and propose new methods nearly every field season. Most recently, Rachel brought tablet technology to the scene, replacing almost all of the paper recording formerly done in the trenches with direct to digital recording on Panasonic ToughPads and Android tablets, linked in real-time to the project’s ARK database and GIS system.

“One of the reasons we were able to open such a large excavation area as is that the recording is just so fast,” Rachel states plainly. “You can answer very different archaeological questions working at this scale”

Several forms of digital recording can be uploaded and processed in real-time using the current configuration.
Several forms of digital recording can be uploaded and processed in real-time using the current configuration.

The Gabii Project isn’t the only dig using digital recording. Excavations at Çatalhöyük and Pompeii—to name a couple high-profile cases—are also making use of similar systems, and such methods have been increasingly adopted in recent years. In Rachel’s opinion, what sets The Gabii Project apart is Program Director Nicola Terrenato’s insistence on using these systems extensively from the beginning.

“More and more people are doing some variant on what we’re doing, and that’s a good thing. Of course we try to stay at the forefront, so five years from now we’ll be doing something totally different.”

You can follow Rachel’s work at: http://gabiiserver.adsroot.itcs.umich.edu/gabiigoesdigital/

This post was adapted from James Reslier-Wells'  post to The 2014 International Day of Archaeology on behalf of The Gabii Project.

The Gabii Project: A Moment with Field Directors Anna and Marcello


Gabii Project Managing and Field Directors Marcello Mogetta and Anna Gallone visit Area F to see how things are going.
Gabii Project Managing and Field Directors Marcello Mogetta and Anna Gallone visit Area F to see how things are going.

The Gabii Project is an excavation and field school run jointly with The University of Michigan and The University of Verona. We are excavating the Ancient Latin city of Gabii, about 20 km East of Rome. The city grew alongside Rome through the first millennium, BC, and into the 3rd century AD, when it was finally abandoned. Throughout its existence, the city underwent many of the same changes as its more famous neighbor except for one crucial point: it hasn’t been developed further. This fact allows us pure excavation of the site, without millennia of modernization stacked atop it.
But today, we focus less on the story of the site, and more on those who have cultivated it. First, we have Managing and Field Directors Marcello Mogetta, and Anna Gallone…

Anna Gallone and Marcello Mogetta taking a quick break.
Anna Gallone and Marcello Mogetta taking a quick break.

“Archaeology is one of the best activities ever,” begins Marcello, “because you have the feeling of discovery; I guess that’s what drives us despite the effort, the grueling conditions associated with digs.”

At The Gabii Project, however, Marcello’s work is mainly administrative. As a so-called “big dig,” there is a lot of logistical work to be done not only on-site, dealing with safety concerns, and choosing where to dig and where to spend money, but also during the off season where securing permits, writing and submitting papers, and choosing new staff take precedence.

“The important point to realize is that these are not isolated tasks,” maintains Marcello, “It’s so linked together… and this is not something that starts on June 1st and ends on August 1st, it continues throughout the off season.”

“What happens here in five weeks is the result of ten months of preparation,” Chimes in Anna, whose work is also primarily logistical.

Even with all of the preparations and planning, the two are still very busy during the field season. This affords the two little time to participate in the actual fieldwork, their real passion. While they do make time to buck this trend where they can—such as when they lead the excavation of a lead sarcophagus in 2009—the two long for their days working in the field.

“Our secret dream is to go work as volunteers in another field school, with fewer responsibilities,” Marcello half-jokes, with Anna adding: “Back to the old days, when the only thing that really mattered was excavating a layer correctly and finding something cool.”

Anna Gallone and Marcello Mogetta snag a rare moment to join the active excavation
Anna Gallone and Marcello Mogetta snag a rare moment to join the active excavation.

Regardless of the desire to get back out to the field, both are fiercely proud of The Gabii Project and their roles therein. In fact, both of their favorite parts of the program have to do with its inherent structure.
“I’ve been a field archaeologist for 20 years now,” states Anna. “I have never ever seen a site with so many people working together at the same time on so many different aspects.”

As for Marcello, “The project is constantly evolving, I mean the way we started six years ago, you would hardly recognize it. In a way, this is like a living organism, growing and changing, so I’m very curious to see what this is going to look like in 10 years.”

This post was adapted from James Reslier-Wells'  post to The 2014 International Day of Archaeology on behalf of The Gabii Project.

April 07, 2014

Calixtlahuaca Archaeological Project

Calixtlahuaca’s Market Brought to Life!



By Brad Andrews
           In my earlier blog on how art and archaeology work together, I summarized the work of Michael Stasinos, professor of Art at Pacific Lutheran University. Michael has provided our project with a means of artistically bringing to life the city of Calixtlahuaca based on the archaeological efforts of the Calixtlahuaca Project. He has now finished the market scene, a site-wide shot of the Calixtlahuaca cityscape with a marketplace in the foreground. As I pointed out before, Calixtlahuaca’s actual marketplace has not been identified, but Mesoamerican archaeological and ethnohistoric scholars agree that it was an extremely important economic institution throughout Central Mexico and beyond (Smith 2003). By the time of the Spanish conquest the market was an important component of what is referred to as the highly commercialized Postclassic Mesoamerican world system focused on the Basin of Mexico (Smith 2001). As applied to the study of prehistoric societies, the world systems concept refer to a macro-regional network of trade that linked individual political units - societies – into larger functioning units. For Prehispanic Mesoamerica, it has been argued that the market was the primary means by which people provisioned themselves with daily material necessities, both utilitarian and ceremonial.

As I mentioned in my previous blog on the topic, Michael’s challenge began by selecting a photo of Cerro Tenismo, upon which Calixtlahuaca is situated, that provided a “sense” of the whole, but enabled the incorporation of details in the foreground. The foreground is the focal point of the market scene, which he masterfully brought to light in consultation with those of us working on the Calixtlahuaca Project. The details of the market-focused daily activities were inspired by other ancient Mesoamerican market scenes, photographs of modern Mexican markets, and ethnohistoric information from a variety of sources. Hours of painstaking revisions were necessary to give full magic to the final product. Besides the market, he incorporated a reconstruction of the monumental Structure 4 (pyramid complex in the central part of the scene), the hillside populated with domestic households, vestiges of the water control ditches that drained the site during the rainy season, temples that occupied the top of the hill (complete with smoke produced by the probable burning of copal incense), and an ethereal skyscape of clouds, complete with birds drifting round and about. Note the increased density of households in the upper left-hand portion of the cerro. This detail depicts the variation in the layout of the urban center that was identified during the project’s survey efforts. Lots to see here, much of which is unfortunately obscured at the scale needed for this posting.

We extend many thanks to Michael Stasinos for his invaluable contribution to our project. We hope you agree his efforts were well worth it!



Smith, M. E.
            2001    The Aztec Empire and Mesoamerican World System.In Empires, edited by S. E. Alcock, T. N. D'Altroy, K. D. Morrison and C. M. Sinopoli. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

            2003    The Aztecs. Second Edition ed. Blackwell Publishing, Malden, Massachusetts.

March 03, 2014

Tell Edfu - The 2011 Season

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January 08, 2014

Calixtlahuaca Archaeological Project

What's new for Calixtlahuaca ??

It's a new year --  2014  --  and our analysis of the findings from our fieldwork at Calixtlahuaca continues.

We will try to get some new material posted soon. But in the meantime, check out some of our past posts. These cover several years, from our initial excavations in 2007 up to our current analyses at ASU:

The life and times of Burial 4 (written by anthropology major Kea Warren)

Sounds from the past: The bird-whistle from Calixtlahuaca  (have you ever heard an Aztec musical instrument, 500 years old, played?)

Gambling, tortillas, and Spaniards in hats

Using an artistic touch to bring Calixtlahuaca back to life

The 1563 calendrical relief

Working on ceramics in Toluca



December 29, 2013

Lapis Gabinus: official blog of the Gabii Project

Tha Gabii Project and the state of Italian archaeology

An interview with Nic Terrenato just appeared on the Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano. The article discusses the state of Italian archaeology in light of the recent funding cuts by the Italian government, and highlights the important contribution of US-based and other foreign institutions.

Gabii in the Top 10 Discoveries of 2013!

The Archaeology magazine has selected Gabii's Area F building as one of the Top 10 archaeological discoveries of 2013! A large chunk of this monumental building, which features imposing ashlar architecture and finely appointed floors, was uncovered in 2012-2013. In July 2013 the sensational find was first announced in a short article by Prof. Mario Torelli, featured in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. Additional coverage from news outlets in the UK and the US soon followed. Most notable are a piece that appeared in the New York Times, and a release by the University of Michigan's news service. Both include a summary of the finds, and quotes from Nic Terrenato and other team members. A story on the dig was included in the september/october 2013 issue of the UK-based magazine Minerva.

Lecture on Lapis Gabinus at the Kelsey Museum FAST series

Jason Farr (Michigan) will present the results of current research on the well-preserved quarries at Gabii in a a lecture titled "Lapis Gabinus and the Economy of Urban Construction: Recent Fieldwork at Gabii and Rome". The talk is part of the Field Archaeology Series on Thursday, and is sponsored by the Interdepartmental Program in Classical Art and Archaeology and the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. Thursday November 21st at 6:00 pm (Kelsey Museum, Lecture Hall).

October 26, 2013

Lapis Gabinus: official blog of the Gabii Project

Gabii Goes Digital... at the Digital Heritage 2013 Conference


We're excited to be leading a joint workshop, together with Ilaria Meliconi and Bernard Frischer of the Digital Applications in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (DAACH) journal, on 3D models, Peer Review and Publication at the Digital Heritage 2013 Conference in Marseille. Our workshop will be Monday, October 28 from 2:00pm - 6:00pm. During this workshop we will be presenting our work so far within the Gabii Goes Digital project. Participants will have the opportunity to participate in a 'mock peer review' through which they will critique the digital content we've created in terms of interface, information content,and integration with the narrative and argument.This exercise will act as a springboard for open discussion, in which participants will define key issues in developing a process for the peer reviewed publication of the kinds of digital 3D models and complex, interactive data archaeological projects like the Gabii Project are now producing. You can read more at: http://sched.co/19fV9w7. If you're attending the conference in Marseille, we hope you can join us at the workshop!

gabii goes digital integrated narrative and models
Work in Progress: Integrating model content and basic stratigraphic narrative.

October 22, 2013

Lapis Gabinus: official blog of the Gabii Project

The Gabii Project announces its 2014 season (June 22-July 26)

Applications are now being accepted from students and volunteers who wish to participate in the 2014 season.The field program will run from June 22 to July 26, 2014.

Detailed information on the application process can be found on the project website. The call has also been published on the AFOB listing of the Archaeological Institute of America.

October 17, 2013

Lapis Gabinus: official blog of the Gabii Project

The Gabii Project on the AAR web-site


The new research portal of the American Academy in Rome highlights the partnership between the AAR and the Gabii Project.

Learn more by visiting http://aarome.org/research/archaeology-projects.

American Academy in Rome - Rome, Italy

October 03, 2013

Calixtlahuaca Archaeological Project

Subsets and Samples



By Mike Smith, with comments from the peanut gallery by Angela Huster
 
After a rather involved set of phone conversations and emails among various project members trying to establish the frequency of green obsidian at the site during each phase, we realized that half our problem was the we were working with different samples. We had defined the Domestic Context Sample of lots strongly associated with dated houses several years ago, but any analyses that wanted to work with a larger sample were a free-for-all. 

Based on Mike's previous projects in Morelos, we defined five samples based on their value for the analysis of domestic artifacts and conditions. These run from the Domestic Context Sample, (now called Domestic Sample 1, or DS-1), which consists only of well-dated midden deposits, to DS-5, which is the entire sample of all excavated contexts at the site. In addition there are other samples of lots that make sense for particular analyses or materials. Most of these samples are nested; e.g., all other samples include DS-1, and DS-5 includes all other samples. Samples DS-3 and DS-4 intersect in a non-nesting fashion, however.

DS-1 (the Domestic Context Sample).   178 lots.
             This sample consists of well-dated midden deposits associated with houses. It can be subdivided into domestic components; that is, deposits from a single phase in a single unit. It was designed to provide a robust sample of materials from contexts with abundant artifacts for optimal quantification. This sample is used for:
      Household comparisons of ceramic type frequencies.
·         Ceramic type frequencies for the Aguas Celestiales chapter

It is also the source of sub-samples for particular technical analyses, including:
Ceramic attribute recording

·         Obsidian source samples
·         Ceramic petrographic samples
·         Angela’s NAA samples


DS-2 (the Extended Domestic Context Sample).  340 lots.
            This sample extends the domestic context sample to include other lots dating to the same phases at individual units. Units without representation in the domestic context sample are not included in DS-2. The advantage of a larger sample is offset by the inclusion of contexts such as fill and colluvial overburden whose association with the occupation of a house is less secure. This is used for:
·         Interhousehold comparisons of rarer items in Angela’s dissertation analyses – ground stone, copper, jewelry, whorls, and molds

DS-3 (the all-Phased sample)  1,146 lots.
            This sample consists of all lots phased to a particular period. It includes the transitional or uncertain phases (3, 5, and 44*) and phase 1 (pre-Postclassic). This is a much larger sample than DS-1 or DS-2, and its value lies in the fact that it includes the maximal number of lots that can be phased. Many of the lots have not had their ceramics classified; they are phased through stratigraphic position or associations with lots dated from their classified ceramics and/or radiocarbon dates. Its disdvantage is the inclusion of many lots whose direct association with the house occupation of each unit is more tenuous (fill, overburden, etc.). Its primary use is for comparing frequencies of rare artifacts. It is used for:
·         Rare artifact types by phase for the general project

DS-4 (the Classified Sample)  664 lots.
            This is the sample of lots whose ceramics have been classified. It has two related disadvantages compared to sample DS-2: many of the lots have not been phased; and many of the lots have only a few sherds. It is not used in any analyses.

DS-5  (all Excavated Lots).  1,668 lots.
            This is the total number of lots that were excavated. It includes many tiny lots from Alex’s soil sampling, lots from architectural excavations, and other small lots whose value for artifact analysis is minimal. It’s primary use is to generate inventories of all excavated artifacts of a given type, irrespective of phasing or quality of context. This is useful for descriptive purposes (i.e., we want to describe all of the figurines, not just the ones that fall into a more restricted sample), but not for making comparisons among units or parts of the site.

The following diagram shows the relationship among these samples.
 If anyone needs to know which samples their data fall into, please contact Angela.

August 19, 2013

Lapis Gabinus: official blog of the Gabii Project

Gabii Goes Digital


gabii goes digital logoGabii Goes Digital

A new project working to make 3D models a core part of our publication record and to promote their acceptance as basic data within the archaeological community.




We are pleased to announce that the Universities of Arkansas and Michigan have been awarded an NEH ODH Start-Up grant in support of the Gabii Goes Digital: 21st c. Data, 21st. c. Publications project. This project is directed by Fred Limp and Rachel Opitz of the University of Arkansas and Nicola Terrenato of the University of Michigan, and is closely linked to the Gabii Project.

Methodological innovation has always been important at Gabii. Our recording strategy makes extensive use of digital data and 3D technologies. Since 2009, over 500 GB of data have been collected in the form of 3D models of stratigraphic layers and features such as walls, pavements and burials, photographs, surveyed measurements, written descriptions and sketches. Having created this rich digital dataset, we face the challenge of developing effective and innovative ways of publishing it. The Gabii Goes Digital project seeks to address two key challenges our project and others like it are facing: how to develop a process for the peer reviewed publication of these kinds of data, and how to build a community of peer reviewers with the skills and background to confidently evaluate these publications.

You can read more about the new project on the Gabii Goes Digital website.


August 05, 2013

Lapis Gabinus: official blog of the Gabii Project

Amazing Week 5 concludes Gabii Project 2013

The 2013 Team
The final week of work at Gabii could not be more rewarding! Impressive results were achieved in all departments of the dig, making this a very successful season.

Hut floors emerging in Area F (with students presenting!)
Excavation and recording continued with full steam in both areas D and F. Bedrock was finally reached in the north part of Area D, revealing a series of rock-cut features, such as post-holes and sunken floors, belonging to the earliest phase of occupation beneath the Archaic compound. This horizon has been exposed also in the south sector, where the excavators identified more linear cuts and concentrations of ashy layers that sit on top of a natural level. This sequence will be the object of excavation next year. 

Cleaning new features in Area F
In Area F, more built structures of the monumental complex emerged below the dumps that covered the back of the lower terrace. These features include a very well-preserved drain made of slabs of tufo, and part of the original pavement of this open space. The continuation of the staircase connecting the upper and lower terraces was also uncovered, totaling 21 steps! On axis with this, another room of the complex has been found, which features in its northeast corner a whole dolium sunken into a cut in the bedrock. 
Stepping on a column base

A sondage was excavated in the front part of the building, providing evidence of modifications dating to the Early Imperial period, and exposing tantalizing architecture (including a column base) predating the construction of the building. The west half of the complex will be investigated in 2014.

One of the highlights of the week were certainly the presentations given by the students on their work on site. It was incredibly gratifying to see how much they grew as archaeologists in 5 weeks: they described the sequence they excavated as professional diggers. As every year, the end of dig was celebrated with a big lunch offered on site.

Looking forward to welcoming new participants and returning students next year.

Until then, arrivederci Gabii! 

Nic Terrenato leads the final trench tour in Area F

July 21, 2013

Lapis Gabinus: official blog of the Gabii Project

New exciting data from Week 4


It has been a very successful week at Gabii, which added interesting new data to the overall picture.

In Area F, the excavation progressed on different fronts simultaneously. In the north section of the lower terrace, a team continued digging the dumps that covered the large corridor at the back of the building, revealing part of a third room to the west. This was probably connected with the staircase joining the lower and upper terraces. Other important features were also uncovered, most notably the foundation trench of the monumental ashlar wall and the original surface of the upper stretch of the road delimiting the complex (this was a via glareata). Excavation of these fills will hopefully provide dating elements.

In the front part of the building, more built features were recorded. Another set of rooms at the level of the main thoroughfare was thus identified.

A test-trench was begun in one of the rooms that opened onto the side of the axial access-way, which showed evidence of a multi-phased occupation. A fragment of brick featuring a stamp dating to the 98-180 CE period was found incorporated in the mortar floor of this room, giving us a much-needed terminus post quem for the last phase of construction at this site.

Activities finally resumed in Area D. The removal of the construction level of the Archaic compound exposed the outlines of preexisting huts, which however are still partially masked by the abandonment layers, including concentrations of burnt adobe. This horizon will be the focus of the excavation in this sector of the dig in the last week.


M. Evans presents a selection of miniature votives to the students
More votive offerings have been retrieved from the northwest part of the area, seemingly in connection with a U-shaped structure that had been identified in previous years near one of the rooms of the complex (perhaps an altar?).


Dr. Peter Rauxloh (MOLA) with the topo team
On July 17th, the Project hosted Dr. Peter Rauxloh, MOLA's Director of Technical Solutions, who spent the day with our topo team to learn about our recording methodology, especially the use of photogrammetry.








July 13, 2013

Lapis Gabinus: official blog of the Gabii Project

The Project sails swiftly through the high waters of Week 3

There was a slight change of strategy this week, due to the inclement weather, and the large volume of water falling from the heavens over our site.
Excavation of the beaten earth surfaces in Area D was stopped and some features were covered up, in order to protect the fragile deposits from erosion. Activities, however, were not halted in Area F, where the supervisors could avail of the idle hands from Area D, with impressive results.

Work progressed simultaneously in different sectors of the Area F building, revealing more features of its plan. A team concentrated on excavating the early Imperial levels of the road that delimits the complex on its east side, reaching a preparation surface contemporary with the first phase of the building. Other parts of the back sector of the lower terrace were also cleared from the dumps that obliterated the building in the first century CE. The remains of a stepped access-way from the road and a water drain were exposed in the area behind two large rooms paved with decorated signinum-floors.

Another team continued cleaning the front part of building facing on the ancient Via Praenestina. An intricate sequence of Imperial concrete structures and recycled ashlar elements mask the original aspect of the Republican building here. Sealed under the floors of this late phase are pockets of stratigraphy, which will be the object of investigation next week in order to clarify the dating.

Anna Gallone shows the state plan of the Area F building
Many  visitors and colleagues came to the site this week. A group of architects from the Consulta dei Beni Culturali were hosted by the Project on July 9th. Clementina Panella (University of Rome "La Sapienza"), Daniele Manacorda (University of Rome III), and David S. Potter (University of Michigan) also came to learn about the new discoveries and share their views on the finds.

David Potter and Daniele Manacorda on site

Architects from the Consulta dei Beni Culturali visit Gabii

July 06, 2013

Lapis Gabinus: official blog of the Gabii Project

Highlights of week 2

The second week of activities at Gabii has just come to a a very successful end. Digging progressed in both excavation areas, revealing important new features that attracted a steady flow of colleagues and visitors to the site.

View of one of the rooms of the Archaic compound
The staircase of the Area F building
In Area D, the excavators continued unpeeling the occupation layers of the Archaic compound, reaching what seem to be the abandonment deposits of the previous settlement phase. Clusters of burnt adobe have been found in several spots, which may be related to the destruction of one or more huts that occupied the area in the seventh century BCE and earlier. Concentrations of rubble, which perhaps correspond to the foundations of these huts, are also beginning to emerge. Miniature votive terracottas representing food offerings (cakes; loaves of bread etc.) have also been retrieved from the excavated levels.

In Area F, other parts of the large ashlar building have been brought to light under the leveling layers that obliterated the complex in the early Imperial period. Most notable is a staircase that connected the upper and lower terraces, and a series of rooms featuring decorated mortar floors and tufo pavements. The front and west sides of the Republican building are partly masked by concrete additions, but extensive portions are preserved under the later features, which will be the object of investigation in the coming days.

Mario Torelli (to the right) with Nic Terrenato and 
Anna Gallone visits Area D.
On July 2nd we received a visit from Mario Torelli, who also acts as one of the scientific advisors of the Gabii Project. His original take on the most recent finds at Gabii appears in an article he just published on the Italian newspaper "La Repubblica", titled Il tesoro di Gabii (Gabii's treasure). We gratefully acknowledge his vital contribution to the Project's outreach efforts.

July 03, 2013

Lapis Gabinus: official blog of the Gabii Project

An exciting first week at Gabii

A week has passed since the official kick-off of the 2013 season, and it has been a very productive one!  Staff and students integrated quickly and smoothly, and worked hard all week, despite some scattered thunderstorms that hit the area around Gabii. Important results have been achieved, which are already transforming our perception of the site.

The Area D team
Activities this year are concentrating in two distinct sectors of the dig. In Area D, which is located on the southeast edge of the excavation, Marilyn Evans and her team are investigating the lower strata of an Archaic compound that was partially explored in 2011 and 2012. Judging from what we can see so far, we expect to reach interesting occupation levels of the seventh century BCE really soon.
Cleaning the upper terrace of the Area F building

On the western side of the dig, the volunteers led by Andrew Johnston and Jason Farr are exposing the huge Area F building. This multi-phased monumental structure occupied an entire city-block of the urban grid, facing the main thoroughfare. It was originally organized in two terraces, separated by an impressive ashlar wall. Work will progress on both terraces, with the goal of understanding and dating the construction sequence.
Documenting the collapse of the ashlar wall in Area F

This is only some of the tantalizing evidence that is emerging. Stay tuned for more highlights!
A new crew member: the Gabii Project van


Calixtlahuaca Archaeological Project

Working on ceramics in Toluca

Mr. Monkey-Helmet
I'm in Toluca for a few weeks working in our lab at the Colegio Mexiquense. I am wrapping up a variety of final tasks with our ceramics. One thing I am doing is organizing the miscellaneous ceramic forms, checking catalogs, recording attributes, drawing the artifacts, and taking photos. Here are a few photos to show what I've been doing.

The first photo is a monkey face, someone I call Mr. Monkey-Helmet. This is classified as a ceramic appliqué, which means it was stuck on the side of some object. In the profile view you can see the projection where this attached to the wall of the vessel. The problem is, what kind of vessels had monkey faces sticking out their sides? I really don't know (let me know if you have a
Pipes
suggestion).

 Next we have some tobacco pipes. These little pipes were most abundant in western Mexico, among the Tarascans and other cultures. We found more pipes than I did in my earlier excavations near Cuernavaca, but they are still pretty rare items. Not all the houses had pipes, but since they are rare it is tough to tell whether this is significant or not.

Stamps
Here are a few stamps. Ceramic stamps, like the one on the top left, are common at Aztec sites in the Valley of Mexico and in Morelos. These were regular household items at Yautepec and the other sites I excavated near Cuernavaca. But they are quite rare at Calixtlahuaca. In fact, the two on the left are the only Aztec-style stamps we excavated. The rarity of stamps at  Calixtlahuaca is one of many indications that the site was not closely integrated with the styles, culture, and practices of the Aztec heartland in the Valley of Mexico. My Morelos sites, on the other hand, matched the materials and styles of the Aztec center much more closely. The object on the right is unusual. The design does not match Aztec stamps, and it lacks a tab on the back. If you have any suggestions about what this may be, please let me know. Maybe it is from an earlier time period.

Tlaloc vessels
When he excavated at Calixtlahuaca in the 1930s, José  García Payón found a bunch of offerings of Tlaloc Vessels (tall, crude, ugly vessels with Tlaloc faces) in Temple 4, which then became known as the Tlaloc Temple. We found a few fragments of probable Tlaloc vessels in our excavations, but not very many. If you have seen the Tlaloc vessels from offerings at the Templo Mayor in Mexico City, these crummy sherds look pretty pathetic. Ah, the curse of household archaeology. We excavate fragments of everyday items, and rarely fine a beautiful complete object worthy of a museum. Oh, well.

Imports from Morelos

And finally, a photo of sherds from vessels imported from the state of Morelos. Contemporary sites in Morelos have move imports from the Toluca Valley than the reverse. Aztec-period houses in Morelos have a much higher number of imports overall, and imports from a larger number of places, than the houses at Calixtlahuaca. One interesting thing is that these Morelos imports span the entire sequence. At the top right is Morelos-Puebla Black-on-Orange, an Early Aztec type, and the two bottom decorated sherds, Morelos Type I, are from the final half of the Late Aztec period in western Morelos.

Brad Andrews is down here too for a few days, checking the obsidian. Next week I return from the 70 degree weather of Toluca to the 115 degree heat of Phoenix.

June 25, 2013

Lapis Gabinus: official blog of the Gabii Project

Gabii Project 2013 begins!

We are all very excited for the start of the 2013 season!

All the participants arrived safely in Rome, and settled in the apartments in Trastevere. The first day of work began with a welcoming speech by Prof. Terrenato, and featured an on-site orientation, but everyone was eager to start moving dirt!

We'll keep you posted on the exciting finds!











May 20, 2013

Lapis Gabinus: official blog of the Gabii Project

Gabii Project spin-off awarded NEH Grant

A project directed by Fred Limp (University of Arkansas, Fayetteville), Rachel Opitz (University of Arkansas, Fayetteville), and Nicola Terrenato (University of Michigan) has just received a Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant ($49,719) from the NEH Office of Digital Humanities (announcement here).

The Grant, titled 21st Century Data, 21st Century Publications: 3D Model
Publication and building the Peer Reviewer Community
, will support the development of a new publication framework, using the Gabii Project's dataset as a test case. The first phase of the project will be launched in August, after completion of the 2013 field season at Gabii.



April 24, 2013

Calixtlahuaca Archaeological Project

Bone Rasps at Calixtlahuaca

Note: This post contains photos of human bone. 
During the archaeological excavations at Calixtlahuaca, Dr. Michael Smith and his team uncovered two different burials of bone rasps sometimes called Omichicahuaztli by the Aztecs. These bone rasps have been examined and analyzed by Kristin Nado, PhD Student with the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University. Her studies include details of both burials involved in the 2006-07 excavations as well as comparisons with burials found at the same site by Garcia Payon during his excavations in the 1930’s. She then makes a comparison of the burials found in Calixtlahuaca to bone rasps uncovered at a site in Zacapu Michoacán, Mexico.
Several secondary burials at Calixtlahuaca contain bone rasps. Some, discovered by Garcia Payon, are formal offerings near public architecture, including complete human femurs, tibias and crania.  One secondary burial found by Dr. Smith and his team was found in a terrace deposit with fragmented arm and leg bones and partial crania. The fragmented bones show evidence of green bone breakage, meaning they were ritualistically killed or “broken” after just a few years of use. A second (and most interesting) burial was also discovered by Dr. Smith’s team and it was found in a colluvial deposit and consists of fragmented bones, possibly of a child, with green bone breakage and partial crania. What makes this burial different is that all the notched bones showed distinct signs of wear and were burned. In contrast the bone rasps discovered in Zacapu Michoacán were of adults and young adults and consists of humerus, ulnas, femurs and tibias with no mention of crania. The bones show clear signs of mass use as well as green bone breakage. Unfortunately, context is not well known.
Terrace Deposit Burial
Colluvial Deposit Burial
                                                    

            What was the purpose of the Omichicahuaztli to the Aztecs? That question is still under debate. Major consensus is that they were used in mortuary rituals and symbolized the myth of Quetzalcoatl’s gathering of the bones of past creations to recreate human beings. The examinations of the Omichicahuaztli burials at Calixtlahuaca are still in its infancy, as studies progress these enigmatic bones will surrender even more information.  I would like to acknowledge Dr. Michael Smith, Ms. Angela Huster, Ms. Juliana Novic and the rest of the Calixtlahuaca excavation crew as well as a special thanks to Kristin Nado, whose power point presentation this information is based on, for without their dedication, expertise, and sense of curiosity the Calixtlahuaca project and this blog would not be possible.

Brenda Smalley
Undergrad Intern
Calixtlahuaca project 
Arizona State University


The Life and Times of Burial 4



This is the second post by this semester's student volunteers on bioarchaeological research at Calixtlahuaca.

This post includes photographs of human bone.

By Kea Warren

                Bioarchaeologists work with the traditional archaeologists to try to understand the way a group of people lived based on the remains they leave behind.  While working on the site of Calixtlahuaca in Mexico, Doctor Michael Smith and his team uncovered four full burials and the areas with broken bone rasps discussed in the previous post, all of which were later analyzed by Kristin Nado. Six burials is a relatively small sample size. While the site provides insight to the lives of a small group of people, archaeologists tend to prefer larger samples to understand trends and diversity among the population. From this smaller sample, bioarchaeologists can observe individuals and how those individuals lived, as will be discussed later, though the broader understanding of the group is limited.  
Map of Burial Locations
Three burials are physically close together, which may imply some sort of familial relationship between burials 5, 4, and 3 (which contain two adult males and an adult whose sex is unknown).  The two of these three bodies with preserved feet share a congenital condition known as non-osseous tarsal coalitions. This condition is also found in burial 2, which is from a different house excavation.  According to Nado, tarsal coalitions are when two or more tarsal bones are connected by bone or cartilage. This union of bone can be painful, and can also affect the sufferer’s ability to walk.  Further study of the inhabitants of Calixtlahuaca would provide a better understanding this condition in the region. If other remains were uncovered, it would allow bioarchaeologists like Nado to analyze if the condition is regional or possibly only specific to certain groups. DNA evidence of the relationship would strengthen the claim.
Beyond this potential familial relationship, the man in Burial Four has pathologies that are not found in the other burials.
Burial 4
          
                Burial Four is a male, who was between 25 and 29 years old at the time of death. Based on the man’s bones, Nado could immediately identify several pathological problems that give insight into the life of this man.  The tarsal coalitions are present, which would probably have caused pain. The lip of his acetabulum (colloquially known as the hip joint) appears to have extra articular surfaces. Nado has hypothesized that this may be due to a dislocation of the hip earlier in his life that was never realigned.  This would have been extremely painful, if not completely crippling to individual in Burial Four. The injury was sustained long enough before death that the bone had time to repair itself and try to accommodate the new location of Burial Four’s femur. This would have taken years.