Ackerman Fellows for the 2015 excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath


The Ackerman Family Excavation Fellows at Tell es-Safi/Gath (2015)


Thanks to the generous funding of the Ackerman family of South Africa, we hereby are happy to announce an exciting new fellowship for students from all over the world, to assist in participation in the excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel.

The grant (approximately 20 will be awarded), will cover the R&B costs for the entire season at the excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath. Fellows will have to cover their travel expenses to and from Israel, and all expenses in Israel incurred not during the excavation itself (including costs of weekends during the dig).

Fellows, if accepted, will commit to participate in all the activities for the duration of the entire season of excavations (June 28-July 24, 2015). In addition, fellows will commit to preparing a written report on their experience during the excavation, and participate in filmed interviews about their experiences.

To apply, please download the fellowship application form (see “Ackerman Fellows” tab above), fill it out, and send back a digital version (if scanned, it must be legible) to All materials, including letter of recommendation, must arrive by Dec. 31st, 2014.

Notification of the awards will be sent out by Jan. 31st, 2015.


Prof. Aren M. Maeir

Director, Ackerman Family Bar-Ilan University Expedition at Gath

Big News!! Safi project changes name to: Ackerman Family Bar-Ilan University Expedition to Gath

Great news for the Safi project!

I can now officially announce that the Ackerman Family of South Africa has provided very generous support for the project. In appreciation of this, for the duration of the Ackerman Family’s support, the project is officially renamed:

The Ackerman Family Bar-Ilan University Expedition to Gath.

(abbreviated as: AF-BIU-EG)

Keep your heads up! Soon to follow, some exciting news about fellowship opportunities for the 2015 season.

Here is the new logo of the project:

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Safi and giant bones!

Periodically, people pass on to me links of pictures of excavations in which giant skeletons appear, thinking that perhaps these are evidence of Goliath and his family. Well, while all these pictures are fakes, we can post something real – with very large bones!

Carson and Julie Hastings, who were on the Safi team in the 2003 season, are avid dinosaur excavators. Julie was kind enough to pass on to me (thru Eric Welch) some great pictures of her lying right next to a bunch of VERY large dinosaur bones – and wearing a Safi t-shirt!

So, even though we have not found extra-large bones at Gath – we at least have a picture of some next to one of the Safiites!

Safi shirt next to dino bones 2 Safi shirt next to dino bones 1











Shana tova,


Toast in the lab for the New Year

Yesterday, Tuesday morning, a group of Safi team members and friends got together in the lab to raise a toast in honor of the Jewish New Year (which is celebrated on Thursday and Friday). We used the opportunity to be thankful for all the nice things that happened this year, and to hope that the coming year will be even better – and most of all, to express appreciation for the close friendship and camaraderie that our community has created.

And just in time for the new year, I hope that next week I will be able to post about some ASTOUNDING NEWS for the Safi project. Right now I have to keep quiet about it – but when I can – it will be a very nice way to start the new year!!! :-)

Here’s the apple and honey and honey cake (traditional foods eaten on the New Year so that one has a sweet year) for the event, and here Oren and I are trying to open bottles without a corkscrew…

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Shana Tova U-metuka (Happy and Sweet New Year)!


The “Other” Gath wins it bigtime!

Our distant neighbor, the city of Qiryat Gat (which was mistakenly named Gat/Gath when in the early 1950s the common opinion that Gath of the Philistine was located at Tel Erani), has just had some great news.

Intel (yes, that Intel…) will be investing $6 billion (!!!) in upgrading the current computer chip plant in this town. This will be largest foreign investment in Israeli Hi Tech to date!

Cool! Now all we have to hope is perhaps some of that money will seep northwards towards Tell es-Safi/Gath….


Shana Tova!


Amazing find! A green balloon inside of an Iron IIA jug! :-)

See there this amazing photo of a green balloon that Elisheva, our new pottery restorer, found inside an Iron IIA Late Philistine Decorated War jug from Safi!

I think this can be a great title for a children’s book: “Elisheva and the Green Balloon”…

elisheva and the green balloon












Now seriously folks – this is a method to restore a pottery vessel which is very fragmented – the balloon serves as a basis for the slowly reconstructed sherds….