Yesterday (Monday, 2/12/12) I had a chance to join a small group who were invited by Prof. Eliezer Oren to see the Iron II-III pottery assemblage from Tel Sera (Sharia) in the NW Negev. The site, which had been excavated by Prof. Oren years ago, has a very interesting group of Iron Age finds, including the apparent remains of an Assyrian fortress. We had a chance to look at the Iron Age IIA (9th cent BCE), and Iron III pottery (mainly 7th cent BCE) materials. One of the fascinating aspects of the Iron IIA materials is that most of the pottery is virtually identical to the Iron IIA pottery from Tell es-Safi/Gath, SAVE for some of the cultic items, and the storage jars. It appears that the this is nice evidence to the fact that different regions in Philistia had several simultaneous economic/cultural spheres – and that these did not always overlap evenly. Very interesting – and definitely looking forward to the final publication to compare to the finds from Safi.
BTW – the Iron IIA pottery assemblage, which clearly is of a coastal, non-Judahite/Israelite cultural orientation, was found in two houses of the so-called “Four-Room House” type. This is yet another indication that the supposed direct connection between these houses and an ethnic identification with Judahites/Israelites is not always the case.