Bona Fide metallurgy location in Area D!

Today we seem to have uncovered in Area D what looks like a bona fide metallurgical location! This includes quantities of slag, “hammer scale”, “tuyeres” and a crucible, with apparent evidence of both iron and copper related work! As the full scale of this was discovered only today (last day of excavation…), we will have some interesting stuff to look forward next year!

In other areas we were finishing up last minutes things, such as the possible donkey burial in E and some really nice Iron I levels (including Philistine I/very early Iron Age) in F.

Last day of digging – and tomorrow we brush away.

In the afternoon, we went for a field trip to Azekah, and while Yuval Gadot was guiding us on site – the air raid siren went off! So now we know that the Hamas does not have something personal only about the Safi excavation – they also are trying to stop the Azekah excavation as well! :-)



Update for Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday the 18th of July was the final day of the 3rd week of the 2014 season. We had some great finds from various areas on the site, as well as visits from several groups.

In Area A, Louise and her team worked on the Iron I – especially the section around where the ivory bowl was found last year. Yotam from the WIS came to take various samples from this area.

In Area D, they continued working in the area of the metallurgy, on some of the 9th cent. destruction level and in various places in the pre-9th cent. BCE level. Of particular interest were fragments of a “notched scapula” which was found in this early level. Several such notched scapulae have been previously published from the 9th cent. destruction in Area A (as well as from other Philistine sites).

In Area E, they continue working on EB and LB materials. The possible donkey burial was worked on – although it is still not clear whether or not it is in fact another such burial.

In Area F they have some great finds. The earlier EB fortifications are becoming more and more impressive. They have also exposed some interesting levels dating to the Iron I – including several almost complete vessels! The LB is also coming along – and it looks that by next year we should have some substantial LB remains from F!

Area P was popping as well. with interesting finds from the LB levels, as well as from the early EB fortification stage.

All told, a great day to close the 3rd week – in preparation for the final week of the season!

Here are some photos from the day.


photo 2 (15) photo 1 (18) photo 3 (14) photo 2 (14) photo 1 (17)

Very interesting day! Thursday, July 17, 2014

We had a great today on the tell! First of all – no air raid sirens! And also – some great archaeology!

Area A: The are working in Iron I, LB and a bit EB, mainly doing various stratigraphic checks to make sure we understand various previously excavated contexts.

Area D: Some really cool stuff! We have what appears to be a clear metallurgical context, most probably dating to the post-9th cent. BCE “squatter’s phase”. This includes a large amount of metal slag, a fragment of a tuyerre, and other interesting remains. As we already have a 10th BCE metallurgical areas in Area A from several years back, this should give a very nice long range perspective on the metallurgy at Gath in the Iron Age. Most importantly, Prof. Amotz Agnon (yes, the grandson of…) came with colleagues to Area D today, to work on taking various samples for paleomagnetic analyses – both from the metallurgical area as well as from various installations. We also had some other nice finds in D, from the 10th and 9th cent.

Area E: Work continued in the EB levels, with today’s highlight being the possible discovery of another donkey burial – in addition to the one found and published a few years ago.

Area F: As usual working various periods, including Iron IIB, Iron IIA, Iron I, LB and EB. The very impressive architecture under the EB fortification wall is becoming more and more impressive – and we clearly have a lot more to understand about it!

Area P: Also in P we have more evidence of the pre-EB fortification phase. In the LB levels near the EB wall several nice beads were found.

Amir Golani, Ianir Milevski and Alon De Groot of the IAA visited today, and we had very interesting and important discussions at the different parts of the excavations.

All told – great day – here are some pictures:


photo (16)

photo 3 (13) photo 2 (13) photo 1 (16) photo 3 (12) photo 2 (12) photo 1 (15)

July 16th, 2014 on the tell

Very nice day on the tell today. We only had one air raid siren and managed to get a lot of work done in various areas.

Area A: They worked in the Iron I levels and in addition to various Iron I pottery, also had two possible ivory fragments.

Area D: The evidence for metallurgical activities is becoming more clear, and today they found a fragment of a tuyerre, as well as pieces of slag and “hammerscale”. Also, some nice walls from the pre-9th, 9th and post destruction layers are coming up.

Area E: The E team is working in various EB levels, as well as a very nice LB context with tons of pottery. And somewhat surprisingly, a very nice piece of Philistine pottery with a nice bird came out in a recently re-opened square.

Area F: As usual working in various periods, including two places with nice 9th cent. remains, some nice Iron I floors, an LB terrace, and all the way at the bottom of F, some really cool evidence of an earlier EB stratum – below the EB city wall! We have even added a new stratum to F!

Area P: The really cool new is that we are seeing more of the EB architecture under the EB wall (as in F!), and a very nice flint blade was found in relation to this architecture. It’s not yet clear if it is an earlier fortification or other architectural features that were covered by the later EB wall. They also are digging in some LB contexts – and still looking for the continuation of the EB wall to the west.

Here are some nice pictures of today’s work:


photo 2 (10) photo 1 (13) photo 4 (6) photo 5 (1) photo 3 (11) photo 2 (11) photo 1 (14) photo 4 (5) photo 3 (10) photo 2 (9) photo 1 (12)

Update for Tuesday July 15th

Today we had a really nice day in the field – despite the fact that the @#$% is still shooting rockets…

In Area A, Louise and her team are working in Iron I levels

In Area D, there are several nice things: In the post-9th cent destruction level we have some metal slag, remains of some interesting walls and other finds. In the 10th cent. BCE level we have a very nice restorable cooking jug and some interesting architecture.

In Area E they are working on both EB and LB contexts. This included some rich LB contexts with a lot of pottery, and several EB contexts with a lot of samples for 14C.

In Area F, they are working on a wide range of periods, from Iron IIB until EB. Among other things they have nice evidence of the 9th cent. BCE destruction in a couple of places, Iron I floors with finds, and some very interesting EB finds – including what looks like an earlier phase of the EB fortifications!

In Area P there are LB and EB remains. This includes a very nice LB floor with finds on surface, as well as evidence, similar to what was found in F, of an earlier phase of the EB fortifications.

We also had a couple of visitors on site – and only one siren sounding!




Monday, July 14th at the dig

The first day in the field of the 3rd went by very nicely today. All the areas were up and running – and it was nice to see that despite the security situation we could move ahead – more or less planned – and despite some the two days that we missed out last week – and some of the team that decided to leave.

We had a few visitors today, including a nice group of geologists from the Israel Geological Society, who came for a very comprehensive visit, in which both the finds on the site and in the surrounding region, as well as the various analytic methods that we are implementing were explained. It was an excellent visit as we learned a lot from them – and I believe they did from us – and hopefully, some interesting collaborations on various issues will come out of the visit.

In the afternoon, we visited Itzik Shai’s excavation at Tel Burna and saw the very impressive LB and Iron II remains.

And finally, this evening, I went over to Kibbutz Galon to give a lecture to the Azekah team – our neighbors from just up the Elah Valley.

Great Day!