Lectures on Safi at KU and OI

Yesterday, I have a talk on the excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath at the Kansas University and I was hosted on campus by Eric Welch – long-time team members and supervisor in Area F. A nice group came to the lecture – and hopefully we will have some KU students on the dig – this year and in future years as well.

I then moved on to Chicago, to give a series of two talks at the Oriental Institute. After having lunch with Prof. Gil Stein, director of the OI, and some of the OI staff and researchers, Dr. Jack Green, curator of the OI Museum showed me around the exhibits – which are simply excellent, I got to the main events of the day, when I gave the 2nd Annual David Kipper Memorial Lecture on Ancient Israel. To a packed crowd in the Breasted Hall at the OI, I talked about new directions in the study of the Philistines, mainly based on the finds from Tell es-Safi/Gath. Based on the questions after the lectures and the reactions – it looked like the lecture was extremely well received. As the lecture was filmed, it should be online sometime in the future – and I’ll notify when it is.

Tomorrow, I will be giving a 2nd talk to the OI graduate students and faculty, an overview of some of the major results of the project in the last 17 years. Afterwards, I’m going to look at some of the ivory bowls from the Megiddo ivory cache – which are very similar to the ivory bowl that we found at Safi this year.


Upcoming lectures on Tell es-Safi/Gath in Kansas City and Chicago

Next week, I’ll be travelling to the US, to give a few lectures.

On Tuesday, April 22nd, I’ll be lecturing at the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Kansas – the lecture will be entitled:

“Canaanites, Philistines, and others at Tell es-Safi/Gath – The Hometown of Biblical Goliath”

On Wednesday, April 23rd, I’ll be giving the Annual David Kipper Ancient Israel Lecture at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. The lecture will be entitled:

“New Light on the Biblical Philistines: Recent Study on the Frenemies of Ancient Israel”

So, if you are anywhere in the vicinity – do hope to see you!



Check out the new Facebook page of the Corinne Mamane Museum of Philistine Culture in Ashdod!

As I’ve mentioned previously (such as here and here), the Corinne Mamane Museum of Philistine Culture in Ashdod is really a nice place to visit, for all ages and levels of interest in ancient history and archaeology. The museum now has a new Facebook Page – do check it out.

And for those of you in Israel, they have a slew of activities for the entire family (including various hands on activities for kids) during the Pesach vacation!



Filming with Documentary Crew at Safi and the Ashdod Museum

On Friday, I spent the entire day with a British film crew, working for the Smithsonian channel, who are making a documentary about the “Ark of the Covenant“. Since we found a stone altar at Safi which has similar dimensions to those of incense altar in the “Tabernacle” described in Exodus 30, and since I have my very definite opinions on the relationship between Bible and archaeology, they wanted to spend the day with me dealing with these issues.

So first, we visited the Ashdod Museum, to say hello to the two horned altar from Gath. After spending some time keeping the altar company, we headed over to Safi and walked around the site. Funnily, the actual filming on location at Safi was not done in Area D, where the altar was found, but rather in Area A – as the views were better there (what you don’t do for impressions…).

So here’s a view of the altar in the “limelight” at the museum (I still think it looks like cookie monster!) and the back entrance to Tell es-Safi/Gath, all covered with weeds and thorns. For those who remember how this looks in the summer – it is quite different at this time of year.


back entrance to Safi_4_14 Filming altar in Ashdod museum 4_14

Annual Archaeology Conference in Israel in Haifa – two Safi papers!

Today, I was in Haifa for the annual archaeological conference in Israel, and heard papers on various topics in archaeology from morning to evening. Some were good, some were great, some were less… BUT, we had two great papers connected to Safi!

The first one was by Shira Kisos (speaking for Itzik, Haskel and myself as well), who talked about the EB game boards and pieces from Safi. Shira gave a great lecture!

Later on in the day, Johanna Regev (speaking for Elisabetta Boaretto and I), talked about the results of her doctorate, in which she revolutionized the EB chronology, based on new 14C datings from various sites – including Tell es-Safi/Gath.

Safi was definitely on the map!


News flash: Anthropoid coffin near Afula

An IAA press release has appeared today on the discovery of a LB burial in an anthropoid coffin! The grave was found at Tel Shadud, right next to Kibbutz Sarid, which is just to the NW of Afula. According to the press release, the coffin contained the skeletal remains of a male, with various burial objects, including a dagger and metal bowl, a scarab of Rameses II among other things. This is very interesting, as similar burials were found years ago at Beth Shean, which is not too far away.

Why does this interest a Philistine – and a seren at that? This can be seen as additional proof that the anthropoid coffins had nothing to do with the Sea Peoples/Philistines, but rather, reflect the Egyptian presence, and influence in the region in the LB and early Iron Age – as there was nothing in this (and in fact in the other graves as well) to connect it to the Sea Peoples.



New inscription?

Nahshon Zanton, who is working on the late Iron IIA pottery from Area A for his MA thesis (updating Itzik Shai’s earlier study with new types that have since been discovered), yesterday came across a few fragments of a jar that might just have an ink inscription on it! We will now have to look closely for all related fragments, restore this vessel (which is a storage jar) and see if in fact this is the case!

Very exciting!

And on a related note, hopefully, in the very near future, an article, which summarizes the late Iron IIA inscriptions that have been already been found at Tell es-Safi/Gath (not including this possible new one), will be published.

The title of the article is:

Maeir, A. M., and Eshel, E. In press. Four short alphabetic inscriptions from Iron Age IIA Tell es-Safi/Gath and their contribution for understanding the process of the development of literacy in Iron Age Philistia. In “See, I Will Bring a Scroll Recounting What Befell Me” (Ps 40:8): Epigraphy and Daily Life – From the Bible to the Talmud Dedicated to the Memory of Professor Hanan Eshel, eds. E. Eshel and Y. Levin. Journal of Ancient Judaism, Supplements, Band 12. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.


P.S. And yes, this can also be defined as a tease… :-)

Happy Pesach and/or Easter to all those celebrating – and a great spring as well!

To all those celebrating Pesach next week and/or Easter soon after – have a great holiday! And in addition to this – best wishes to all for a great spring – leading up to the summer when we will be back in the field at Tell es-Safi/Gath.

And in connection to Pesach (which commemorates the Israelite Exodus from Egypt), here is a recent lecture that I gave in which I presented my views on the Exodus  the perspective of “cultural memory” studies:


Chag sameach!




Field trip to sites in NW Negev

Yesterday, April 3rd, I took a group of the Safi lab staff (Amit, Adi, Shira, Mor, Maria and Emuna) and BIU students (and Shawn Selig Aster from our department joined as well) for a great field trip to a bunch of great archaeological sites, less visited, in the NW Negev. We visited Tell el-Hesi, Tel Nagila, Tel Haror, Tel Jemmeh (which for me was a first time at the site!) and Tell el-Farah (S). We also tried to get to Tel Sera but we were stopped by a muddy road, and we did not have enough time to get to Kh. Sumeilly (near Hesi) and Qubur Walayda (near Farah).

The region was stunning, since it was the beginning of spring after a relatively wet rainy season, and in addition to the very interesting archaeology, everything was green, with blankets of flowers and all kinds of other flora and fauna.

In the pictures, in addition to views of the sites and the group, notice the very interesting carved stone from Hesi (a relief?), a flock of storks near Farah (s), and the water in the Besor River underneath Farah (s).

As they say in mamma loshen: a mechayeh…

Here are some great pictures:

Visit to Hesi_Fragment of relief visit to Hesi_Shira Adi and Mor with flowers visit to Jemmeh visit to Nagila Visit to Tell es Hesi visit to Farah south with storks visit to Farah south visit to Farah south_Amit and Omri overlooking Besor river with water visit to haror_group in Area K temple