Friday, July 11th on the tell

Today, we had a nice day of excavation on the tell.

In Area A, Louise and her team worked on a very nice Iron I living surface, with a lot of finds (including a very nice bead and tons of pottery and bones). Looks like this surface – and probably others below it – will provide some nice finds in the coming week or so. In addition, the Iron IIB and Iron IIA squares were cleaned – and we will stop on them – ready to open them up next season.

In Area D, Amit’s team worked on a balk in which there was plenty of Iron IIA finds, and clarified various architectural features throughout the site.

In Area E, Haskel and Shira’s team were working on various EB features which were uncovered – including a very nice corner of an Stratum E5c building.

In Area F, Jeff ‘s team were working on quite a few periods (Iron IIB, Iron IIA, Iron I, LB, MB and EB). As they always joke, this is the area where you go if you want to learn stratigraphy – and boy are they right!

In Area P, Jill and her team worked on the LB levels just inside the EB wall, and are still looking for the continuation of the EB wall, and/or features built up against it, in the squares to the west of the main area.

Around 8 am, we all (in all the areas) heard the air raid siren from the nearby power station, and as ordered by the Home Front Command, we all got into the excavation trenches and ducked. Nothing landed anywhere near us, but we could see up in the air, far to the north, some Iron Dome interceptions!

We finished the 2nd week – with a little more excitement than we expected during the week – but we are eagerly looking forward to the next two weeks and all the finds.

Shabbat Shalom – and pray for peace unto Israel!



Beautiful early Philistine 2 (Bichrome) bowl

Over in Jeff’s area (Area F), Zach found a simply beautiful early Philistine 2 (Bichrome) bowl – and although found in sherds, we have the whole profile and much of the decoration. Hopefully, in the future, we will get the entire vessel.

Here is Jeff and then yours truly, holding the bowl. In the 2nd photo I’m giving the pirate AAARGH!

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The Boys (and girls) are back in the field!

Today, we got back into the field, after we received the formal OK from the Israel Home Command – and as expected, we had a great day out there.

In Area A, we had some great finds. They are right on top of the 9th cent. destruction layer in one square, and are cleaning an 8th cent. square in another. In the Iron I, we have several fragmentary vessels, including portions of a “beer jug” as well as several rather complete shells and other cool finds.

In area D, they excavated a whole mess of finds from the 9th cent. destruction level, including about 10 whole or restorable vessels, an iron blade and other objects.

In Area F, as usual they are working in a whole bunch for periods, including Iron IIA, Iron I, LB and MB. Particularly interesting was the nice MB contexts they worked on near the MB city wall.

In Area P, we excavated out two beautiful “lamp and bowl” deposits,  and seem to have found some nice architecture on the western side of the area, perhaps parts of the city wall.

Here are some pictures from today:

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A day in the camp

Since today we did not go out to excavate – due to the current security situation, we spent the day in the camp in Revadim (breakfast was at 7:30 so everyone got up with a rested look on their faces…).

In the morning, we all did various tasks relating to the dig, such as pottery registration, bone washing, “picking” (looking for microfinds in sediments), and other tasks. In the afternoon and evening, we had and will have several lectures on workshops, including I gave a lecture on my trip to Papua New Guinea, Louise will be lecturing on Santorini, and various lectures and workshops on various topics, such as field registration techniques, archaeobotany, microarchaeology, and other archaeological topics, as well as several general ones, such as on Israeli dancing, yoga and everyday Hebrew.

Right now it looks like we won’t be excavating tomorrow as well – so we will continue camp related activities once again.


Update for the end of week one and the beginning of week 2, 2014 season

Since I have not had a chance to update since about what’s been happening on the dig since Thursday evening, here’s an update for what’s been going on since then, updated for Tuesday morning.

To start with, for those who are following us from abroad in the tense period, we are all OK – and while the team is a little nervous about the current security situation, as of now things are fine. Although we did not go out to excavate this morning – until there are more clarifications on the security situation, we do hope that “normality” will return as soon as possible. I will update regularly on developments – but most importantly I would like to stress that the safety and well-being of the entire team is the utmost priority!

Earlier on Monday, as an demonstration that security issues existed in this region for a long time, we had an “interesting” find. In Area D, in the lower city, a portion of a very old mortar shell was found (probably from the 1948 war). Since we were not sure that it was, we called the police bomb squad to check it out – just to be safe – and it turned out that it was the tail of an already exploded mortar shell from about 60 years ago. But clearly, this was not exactly the type of find we were looking for… (see pictures below)

And now to some archaeology:

On Monday we had a couple of visits. In the morning, Itzik Shai came to visit and especially to talk about the finds in Area E. Then, later on, Matt Adams, the new director of the Albright Institute came for a visit of the site.

Area A: Louise’s team has been working in Iron I and Iron IIB levels. In the Iron I levels we have had some really nice finds, including two spool-shaped loomweights, a absolutely beautiful cone-shaped seal with a mix of figurative, geometric and hieroglyph decorations (see pictures of it in the field), various vessels and other objects. In the Iron IIB level they are exposing portions of a late 8th cent. house – part of the Judahite levels we have excavated previously – both in Area A  and F.

Area D: In addition to the old mortar shell mentioned above, the D team is working on the 10th cent. levels (below the 9th cent destruction), the 9th cent destruction level and the post-destruction squatters level. In all these levels we seem to be “on the verge” of some very cool finds.

Area E: The EB and LB finds continue to emerge. One of the very nice things that we now can see is that we have a very clear sequence of atleast for EB II-III levels with well-dated 14C samples. This means that we will be able to expand our contribution to the new 14C chronology of the EB. Already, the dates from the final EB III level at Safi have shown that the new high chronology (end of EB III around 2500 BCE) is well-based. Also, a very cute EB votive juglet was found (see picture below).

Area F: Things are really cracking in F – especially with the arrival of a new group of team members at the beginning of the week. The F ream is excavation a whole slew of periods, including: Iron IIB, Iron IIA, Iron I, LB, MB and EB, in various parts of the site. This includes portions of a very nice 8th cent. BCE structure, some very nice in situ Iron I Philistine pottery (see picture below), portions of the EB and MB fortifications, etc.

Area P: The P team has had some great finds as well (see pictures of the P team below). In the LB levels, they have exposed several things, including what appears to be two “lamp and bowl” deposits. In the western part of P they are still looking for the continuation of the EB wall – but in any case are for the most part below surface materials and seem to be getting into stratified early materials.

Here are some photos from the last few days – notice the seal from Area A and the mortar shell from Area D (marked as a “special find”)

photo 4 (3) photo 3 (7) photo (4) photo (5) photo (6) photo (7) photo (11) photo (10) photo (9) photo (8) photo 1 (7) photo 4 (2) photo 3 (6) photo 2 (6) photo 1 (6) photo 2 (4) photo 1 (4)



Brent Davis’ new book arrives!

Brent Davis, long-time team member and Louise’s chief assistant in Area A, had a great thing happen today!

His just published book, “Minoan Stone Vessels with Linear A Inscriptions” (Aegeaum 36; Liege) arrived by FedEx to the dig today!

Way to go Brent!

We put the book in the pottery trays while we were reading pottery from Brent’s squares – and eventually he even saw the book in the tray! :-)

Here’s Brent as he gets the book and opens the package, along with proud Louise – who was his doctoral adviser!

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Thursday, July 3rd on the dig

Another great day on the dig!

All the areas are finding great stuff and as we near the end of the first week things are looking great!

In Area A, we have a variety of finds: Jo’s team is working in Iron I and they have a couple of nice walls, a “reel” shaped loomweight, and a pit.

Sharon’s team is uncovering what appears to be part of an 8th cent BCE house – so far with not bad preservation!

Here are some views of A, including the loomweight, excavating the pit, and the 8th cent. pit:

photo 1 (3) photo 2 (4) photo 1 (4)











In Area E, they are excavating both in EB and LB levels. Among other things there is a very interesting area with a ashy like sediments with an enormous amount of charred botanical material – what appears to be many different species of plants.

Here’s some views of Area E, with the LB levels (with Hannah and Lindsay), and Jon and Adi excavating the sediments with botanical finds:

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In Area P, it seems that they may have the top of the EB wall in the western square, while in the center of the Area, in the LB levels next to the wall, a large chunk of what looks like bitumen was found.


In Area F they are working in Iron IIB, Iron IIA and LB, and today they found a large part of an LB jar.


In Area D they are working both in the post-9th cent destruction “squatters level” with many finds, as well as expanding the pre-9th cent level.

Here’s a view of Esther holding a chameleon that was found next to Area D:

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And just an example of complex things can get in the excavation, here is a picture of a 9th cent. BCE handle in the “squatter’s level” which is just below surface in Area D, and lodged in the “hole” of the handle – a modern 9 mm shell casing!

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Nice day!