Microarchaeology in Area F

This afternoon, just after the MOOC went online, I drove to Tell es-Safi/Gath, to meet Prof. Elisabetta Boaretto (WIS) and Dr. Michael Toffolo (Université Bordeaux-Montaigne), to do some microarchaeological sampling, from a very interesting context in Area F. This is in a square, right inside the EB and MB fortifications, which had been excavated previously under the supervision of Prof. Jeff Chadwick (BYU).

We had already done some sampling in this area before (see here), but due to the very interesting results – and many more questions – we decided to return for another round of sampling (and maybe more will be required).

While I can’t tell a lot of what we found, as the research is still ongoing, there are some very interesting concentrations of phytoliths, ash, burned materials and brick detritus, located in the sediment layers of the latest EB and early MB contexts in this area.

See here some pictures that I took of the work. And since it is already after the first rains – everything around the tell was very, very green!


MOOC is up and running!

So, the MOOC is up and running, with great registration (as of this morning, just under 700 students), from countries from all over the world, including a few that don’t have diplomatic relations with Israel…:-)

A nice article on the course was just published on YNET, in Hebrew – check it out!

And for those who have not signed up – now is the time – and do it here!


In two more days, the MOOC on Biblical Archaeology starts!

The MOOC on Biblical Archaeology opens in two more days, on Wednesday, December 5th, 2018!
For those who already registered (as of yesterday, some 500 people are already registered), last night the first “brainteaser” was sent out!
If you want to join in on the fun – and learning – sign up for the course!

The 2019 season at Safi in the annual list in BAR

The annual list of excavations has been published by BAR, and as usual, for the last quarter century or so, the upcoming season at Tell es-Safi/Gath appears!

See here the notice in BAR and here to sign up online for the 2019 season!

Be there or be square!

And, if already, here’s a reminder about the MOOC on Biblical Archaeology that opens next week, on Wednesday, December 5th, 2018.

Join the hundreds who have already registered for the course! To register, go here.


Archaeological Science in the MOOC on Biblical Archaeology

The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in biblical archaeology, that I’ve mentioned previously (registration is open – go here), is about to start! The first lesson will go online next week, on Wednesday, December 5th, 2018. Following that, each week (save for a two week break at the end of December for the holidays), a new lesson will go online – a total of 8 lessons.

Yesterday, as part of the final work on the various lessons, we filmed at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot (WIS). There, we interviewed Prof. Stephen (Steve) Weiner and Prof. Elisabetta (Lisa) Boaretto, leading figures in the application of the exact sciences in archaeology.

As part of the course is not only to teach about Biblical Archaeology, but to give a general background on archaeology in general, and how it is practices – from field to lab – an important aspect is the inter- and multi-disciplinary research that is conducted in archaeology.

So, no better place than to do this at WIS, and to discussion with Steve and Lisa about various scientific applications in archaeology. More so, the stressed the integration of the two into what they call “Microarchaeology“.

As you can see in the pictures below, and as will appear on the MOOC, I interviewed Steve and Lisa in their labs, on such issues as the use of the Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) in archaeology, and how, with a step-by-step demonstration (and I even participated in this, not that proficiently, as you can see in the photos), Carbon 14 dating is conducted in the WIS facilities.

So don’t wait – sign up for the MOOC – it’s going to be very interesting!

See here some great pictures from this day:

New article on the chronology of the LB/Iron Age transition

A new article (see here), a joint effort of several colleagues, which deals with the 14C chronology of the transition between the LB and Iron Age at Tell es-Safi/Gath, Qubur el-Walaydah and Megiddo, has just been published.
In this study, we argue that the the transition between the LB and Iron Age age commenced earlier than usually assumed (already in the 13th cent. BCE). In addition, we suggest that: a) it was a protracted process; b) it probably commenced earlier in southern than in northern Canaan; c) a methodological framework for comparing chronologies between sites over a relatively large region.
The article is a response to Israel Finkelstein’s response on an earlier article of ours – who has recently even published a second response…:-)
The full title is:
Boaretto, E., Asscher, Y., Hitchcock, L. A., Lehmann, G., Maeir, A. M., and Weiner, S. 2018. The Chronology of the Late Bronze (LB)-Iron Age (IA) Transition in the Southern Levant: A Response to Israel Finkelstein’s Paper. Radiocarbon. DOI:10.1017/RDC.2018.57
I do hope you will find this of interest – and that it will generate continuing discussion and debate! And I’m sure – not all will agree with our views! :-)

Safi related stuff at the Annual ASOR meeting, Denver, Nov. 2018

The annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) was held in Denver on Nov. 14-17, 2018.

As in previous years, there was quite a lot of Safi related things going on at the meeting, including various presentations, posters, and special session in honor of the Festschrift for Aren’s 60th birthday, and an event in which, among other things, the P. E. MacAllister Field Archaeology Award, for outstanding contributions to ancient Near Eastern and Eastern Mediterranean archaeology, was given to Aren. Some of Safi crew got together for a very nice supper, and in addition, Jeff, Aren and Amanda popped over to visit the Colorado Christian University campus, and were hosted by Dr. David Kotter, Dr. Seth Rodriquez, Dr. and Mrs. Usrey, Melissa Johnson and Josephine Geisler

The following Safi related presentations were given:

Aren presented an update on the 2018 season of excavations at Safi – “The 2018 Excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath: Overview of the Results.”

Debi Cassuto presented two papers – one on the connection between cult and weaving at Safi (“Tying Up Loose Ends: Weaving and Cult in the Southern Levant”), and one, jointly with Margaret Cohen, on the connection between cult and weaving at Safi and Megiddo.

Andy Creekmore gave a paper on the magnetometric remote sensing at Tell es-Safi/Gath, and how it helped identify sub-surface features – some of them then excavated in the 2018 season – “A Magnetometry Study of the Philistine City of Gath”.

Liz Arnold et al. gave a great paper on isotopic analyses of additional sacrificial donkeys from the EB levels at Safi – showing that 4 donkeys were imported from Egypt – “Isotopic Analyses of Donkey Burials under the EB III House Floors in the Early Bronze Age City of Tell es-Safi”.

Haskel Greenfield et al. gave a talk on household archaeology in the EB levels at Tell es-Safi/Gath – “Houses and Households in the Early Bronze Age of the Southern Levant: Recent Research at Tell es-Safi/Gath”.

Eric Welch gave an interesting talk about the ideology behind Bliss and Macalister’s reporting at Tell es-Safi/Gath – “Ignorance is Bliss or Was Bliss Ignorant? Contextualizing the Culturally Biased Conclusions of the 1899 Palestine Exploration Fund Expedition to Tell es-Safi.”

Will Krieger gave a talk: “The Evolution of Theory and Methods in Philistine Archaeology,” comparing the work at Miqne-Ekron and Tell es-Safi/Gath.

Maddi Harris-Schober gave a talk on cultic architecture in the Levant, with a focus on finds from Safi – “They Practice Divination Like the Philistines! A Re-Analysis of Cultic and Ritual Architecture of the Southern Levant.”

The following posters were presented:

Jeremy Beller et al. presented “Stones in Homes: The Spatial Distribution and Use of Ground Stone Objects at EB III Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel”

Annie Brown et al. presented “Spatial Representation of Heavy Fraction Collection and Analysis from Tell esSafi/Gath, Israel”

Tiffany Okaluk et al. presented “Urban vs. Rural Butchery Practices in the Early Bronze Age: A Comparison of Butchering Technology between Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel, and Göltepe, Turkey”

Sarah Richardson et al. presented “Who? What? Where? Understanding the Population, Their Household Organization, and Activities through Bone Tool Use at Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel”

Here are some pictures of the various events, lectures and activities! It was really great seeing all the Safi team! And if I may add, it was nice to see former Safiites who moved on to conduct research at other sites as well!