Thursday, July 16, 2009

Summer Excavation Blogs

The slow pace of recent blogging here is going to be reduced further in the next few weeks.  This morning I finished a project I’ve been working on for years, and that puts me in a good position ahead of summer travels.  I’ll have more later on the project (whose intended audience is you if you read this blog), but for now I’ll suggest some excavation blogs that might be of interest this summer.  If something exciting comes up, I may miss it but you won’t.

At the top of the list is the Tell es-Safi/Gath weblog.  Aren Maeir is not only running the show, but he posts very regularly on the latest discoveries and progress at the dig.  For instance, his entry today is entitled “Update for 16/7/09 – another temple????” and he writes:

Cynthia’s team is also on top of the 9th cent. destruction level, but more importantly, they appear to have began to uncover a large building that is situated just below the 9th cent. building in which we found the interesting collection of cultic items two years ago. This building has so far revealed to very large pillar bases and some very nice brick work. Although it is a bit early to say, this might very well be a large public building, and perhaps, who knows, a temple. Time will tell....

Elsewhere, you can read daily updates excavations along the coast of Israel (somebody got smart and figured that you’re going to recruit more volunteers if you’re near the beach!): in the south, the Ashkelon excavations and in the north, the Tel Kabri dig.

A couple of volunteers at the Gezer excavation discuss their travels more than the excavation, especially since they’ve been sworn to secrecy.  Apparently a four-room house was among the discoveries.

A personal account of excavation at Tall Dhiban is coming to a close.

Blogs that may be resurrected in the future include the Elah Fortress (Khirbet Qeiyafa/Shaaraim) blog and the Tel Dan blog.

If I missed an interesting one, let us know in the comments.

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Volunteer Opportunity at Philistine Gath

Prof. Aren Maeir, archaeologist directing the excavations of Philistine Gath, mentions that there are still openings for this summer’s excavation.  He adds, “Remember - talking about the ANE, archaeology and the Bible, without actually experiencing excavations - is like a Bedouin who lives in the Sahara learning to swim thru a correspondence course...”  He writes:


JULY 5 – 31, 2009

Tell es-Safi/Gath (Hebrew Tel Tsafit), Israel, is a commanding mound located on the border between the Judean foothills (the Shephelah) and the coastal plain (Philistia), approximately halfway between Jerusalem and Ashkelon. At about 100 acres in size, it is one of the largest and most important pre-Classical period archaeological sites in Israel. Tell es-Safi is identified as Canaanite and Philistine Gath (known from the Bible as the home of Goliath and Achish) and Crusader Blanche Garde. The site was inhabited continuously from the Chalcolithic period (5th millennium BCE) until 1948 CE.

All able and willing people between 16 and 80 are invited to join us for a unique and exciting experience uncovering the history and culture of the Holy Land. In addition to participating in all facets of the excavation process, participants will be provided with an opportunity to learn cutting-edge techniques of field archaeology, gain experience in archaeological science applications (with a unique program in inter-disciplinary archaeological science in the field), hear lectures about the archaeology and history of the region and related issues, and go on field trips to nearby sites of historical/archaeological and/or contemporary interest. Participants will join a young, vivacious team comprised of staff, students and volunteers from Israel and the world-over. Students can earn either 3 or 6 university credits through Bar-Ilan University, the second largest university in Israel. Accommodations (including kosher food) will be provided at idyllic Kibbutz Revadim, a short drive from the site. Rooms (4-6 per room; single and double rooms available at extra charge) are air-conditioned and there will is to the Kibbutz pool. And don't forget the weekly, Thursday evening, Bar-B-Q!

WORKDAY (more or less)
6am to 1 pm excavation; Afternoon: various excavation related processes (such as pottery reading) and occasional tours; Evenings: occasional lectures. We work Sunday afternoon to Friday mid-day.

You can get more details here, and the registration form here (pdf).

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Conference on the Philistines

Aren Maeir reported last week on an archaeological meeting in Beersheba that included eight presentations on recent research on the Philistines in Israel.  Reports like this are so helpful in giving the public a sense of the progress being made in the field.  Otherwise individual reports will appear in scattered journals or possibly an (over-priced) collection from a European publisher and be unknown by those with a general interest.  

You can read his summary of the presentations, but I’ll just note here Pirhiya Nahshoni’s excavation of a small Late Bronze fishing village which included “imported Minoan, Mycenaean, Anatolian, Cypriote, Egyptian and other finds.”  That’s quite a rich collection of imports.  Maeir had previously praised the significance of this site:

Meanwhile, what she has published in her MA thesis is of utmost importance! This study has been largely overlooked, but deserved close attention from anyone dealing with the final stages of the LB and the early Iron I periods. For example, the fact that the site is abandoned at the end of the LB and not resettled in the early Iron I, is a nice example of the major changes that occured in the settlement pattern, trade relations, economic structure, etc., between the two periods. It would appear to support the “normative” explanation on the Sea Peoples/Philistine phenomemon, i.e. that it is not a continuation of the LB, but rather, a new, intrusive event(s).

Maeir concludes his post with a description of the rocket attack he experienced while in Beersheba.

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