New article on the importance of the donkey in the Early Bronze Age!

It’s nice to report yet another article resulting from the joint efforts of several members of the Tell es-Safi/Gath team (see here a link to the full version).

The article, by Itzik Shai, Shirab Albaz, Annie Brown, Haskel Greenfield and Aren Maeir, deals with the importance of the donkey in the Early Bronze Age Levant, based on the finds from Tell es-Safi/Gath and other sites.

Here is the abstract:

In this paper, we review the evidence for the use of the domestic donkey as a mode of transportation in the Early Bronze Age. The study will present the domestic donkey remains (artefactual and zoological) and their archaeological context from the Early Bronze Age III domestic neighborhood at Tell es-Safi/ Gath. The remains indicate the significant role that donkeys played in the daily life of the inhabitants. This reflects on our understanding of their role in the trade networks and mode of transportation that existed within the emerging urban cultures in the southern Levant during the 3rd mill. B.C.E.

The full reference is:

Shai, et al. 2016. The importance of the donkey as a pack animal in the Early Bronze Age southern Levant: A view from Tell es-Safi/Gath. ZDPV 132: 1-25.


Yossi Garfinkel’s 60th birthday and Fs

Yesterday evening, a large crowd gathered at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem, in honor of Yossi Garfinkel’s 60th birthday, and a Festschrift volume that was published on this occasion. The evening was very nice, and the book has many very interesting articles!

Among them is an article by Itzik Shai and myself (that can be downloaded here), which is entitled:

Maeir, A. M., and Shai, I. 2016. Reassessing the Character of the Judahite Kingdom: Archaeological Evidence for Non-Centralized, Kinship-Based Components. Pp. 323–40 in From Sha‘ar Hagolan to Shaaraim: Essays in Honor of Prof. Yosef Garfinkel, eds. S. Ganor, I. Kreimerman, K. Streit and M. Mumcouglu. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society.

Here is the abstract:

In this study we reassess the character of the Judahite Kingdom during the Iron Age. As opposed to most past discussions of this monarchy, which define it as a highly centralized political structure, we suggest to identify various facets indicating that local elites played a major role in the societal and leadership structure of the Judahite Kingdom. We suggest that many of the supposed indices of centralized bureaucratic control that have been previously identified may in fact reflect the influence and control of local elites within the kingdom. We likewise believe that patronage-based relations, at different levels of society, were of central importance in the social and economic structure of the kingdom.

At the end of the evening, the participants were given a sneak preview of the about to be opened exhibition on Khirbet Qeiyafa, Yossi’s former excavations. The exhibit is very nice – and is highly recommended. It will officially open in a few weeks.


New paper on provenance of EB basalt ground stone vessels

A new paper by the Safi team has appeared (see here a link to the paper)!

The paper, spearheaded by Jeremy Beller, deals with a geochemical provenance study of basalt ground stone objects from the EB levels at Tell es-Safi/Gath, and attempts to place the results within the context of the EB exchange and trade networks.

Here is the abstract:

On-going excavations at the Early Bronze Age III settlement of Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel have recovered a small assemblage of basalt ground stone objects in a residential neighbourhood. As high quality basalt is not found within the Shephelah (the Judean foothills), the occurrence of basalt artefacts at settlements in this region has frequently been cited as evidence of movement of raw material or the exchange of commodities within the southern Levant. However, only a limited number of studies have connected basalt artefacts with sources through geochemical provenance from this area of Israel. Using the geochemical fingerprints from previous studies and an XRF analysis,
we attempt to identify the source of origin of nineteen basalt grinding stones using a meta-analysis of previously identified geological sources in the region and surrounding areas. The results demonstrate that the basalt artefacts originated from a wide variety of sources, including the eastern Dead Sea, Jezreel Valley, and Galilee-Golan regions, thereby supporting previously held hypotheses about the movement of basalt commodities
from sources within the immediate region. No artefacts were linked to more distant sources (e.g. Egypt, Sinai). These data provide evidence that EB urban centres, such as Tell es-Safi/Gath,were socio-economically connected even for quotidian commodities to other regions of the southern Levant through some kind of system for the non-local exchange of traditionally domestic commodities.

The paper is entitled: Beller, J. A., Greenfield, H. J., Fayek, M., Shai, I., and Maeir, A. M. 2016. Provenance and Exchange of Basalt Ground Stone Artefacts of EB III Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel. Journal of Archaeological Science Reports 9: 226–37.

The research on which this paper is based was funded by the joint grant to Haskel Greenfield and Aren Maeir from the Canadian SSHRC.


Great visit to Tel Azekah!

Yesterday, I had the great opportunity to visit the ongoing excavations at Tel Azekah, hosted by co-directors Oded Lipschitz, Yuval Gadot and Manfred Oeming. They gave me a great tour of the various areas – and the fantastic finds that are coming up.

We also laid the foundations for some exciting joint research between our sites – two close neighbors with ongoing relations, contacts and/or lack thereof in different periods! I’m sure that this will lead to some really interesting, and perhaps ground breaking research in the coming years!

Thanks to the Azekah team for the gracious hosting!