2016 aerial group photo!

What you have all been waiting for is now out! The aerial group photo for the 2016 season was taken today at the start of the final aerial photography. We definitely are keeping up with the traditions of cool group photos!

This time, we made a donkey – in honor of the 2 donkeys from the EB levels in Area E

2016 aerial donkey foto

Some Safi fauna (contemporary…)

For those interested in the animal life around Safi, today I saw a few interesting animals in and around the tell.

This afternoon, while I was driving around the tell with our conservator, I came upon a dead Barn Owl (Tyto Alba; תנשמת), lying on the road on the eastern side of the tell, I believe the first time I saw this species around the site. Sic transit gloria mundi…

Barn owl on Safi July 2016

Later on, I saw a Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes; שועל מצוי) running out of Area D, followed by a very long brown Narrow Striped Dwarf Snake (Eirenis decemlineata; שךוון קווים) – who was not that much of dwarf (over a meter long) – just as we walked in to Area K! To top it off, I also saw a nice Short Toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus; חוואי) flying over, and two Great Grey Shrikes (Lanus Excubitor; חנקן גדול) sitting in a tree near Area A! While the last two are very commonly seen on the tell – they are beautiful species as well!

And one more nice bird that we saw earlier today, right after the final photos, was a Little Owl (Athene noctua; כוס החורבות) which we saw to the south of the tell, near the southern part of the siege trench. We see these birds almost every day, usually in the morning as we arrive at the tell. Here is a nice picture that Maria took of it.

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All told – splendid species them all!

Shout out for Udi Weiss on Nature Genetics article

Hearty congratulations are called for to Udi Weiss (lead archaeobotanist for the Safi project) and his colleagues for a great article that appeared today in Nature Genetics on the sequencing of the genome of 6000 year old barley from a cave under Masada in the Judean desert!

Here is a nice summary of the research. The Safi angle to this is that one of the PR photos for the BIU press announcement on the article was taken in the Safi project lab at BIU. So we can claim that we have a (very small) part in this admirable achievement…

Udi Weiss and colleagues in lab after Nature Genetics article

Great find to start the week: Portion of a head-shaped vessel!

Today in pottery reading a great find popped up from Area D (not Area A as previously written) – a portion of a head-shaped vessel! A beautifully made nose, mouth, left cheek and hints to other parts are preserved.

Due to the relatively small size, it most probably is a vessel – and not a mask (such as those found not too long ago at Tel Burna). The iconography and ware seems to indicate an LB dating – which fits in with the other pottery from this context.

Most likely, this is an object used in a cultic or ritual context – perhaps depicting the face of a deity.

Reminds me of the traditional Jewish blessing – that I give my kids and grandkids on Friday night (Num 6: 24-26):

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee
The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee
The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace

Really cool! Here’s two pictures of this really nice find: