New method for provenancing ancient Iron! (and Safi connected…)

Check out the just published article on a new method to provenance ancient Iron objects, based on isotopic analysis of the element Osmium.

The article, put out by a team of scientists, including Adi Eliyahu-Behar (Ariel; part of the Safi team for quite a few years) and Naaman Yahalom-Mack (HU; who also worked at Safi for a few years), was just published in PLOS One.

And needless to say, Safi finds are mentioned as well…:-)

Brauns, M., Yahalom-Mack, N., Stepanov, I., Sauder, L., Keen, J., and Eliyahu-Behar, A. 2020. Osmium Isotope Analysis as an Innovative Tool for Provenancing Ancient Iron: A Systematic Approach. PLOS One 15(3): e0229623.

Here is the abstract:

The innovation of iron production is often considered one of the greatest technological advances in human history. A reliable provenancing method for iron is instrumental for the reconstruction of economic, social and geo-political aspects of iron production and use in antiquity. Although the potential of osmium isotopes analysis for this purpose has been previously suggested, here we present for the first time the results of osmium isotope analysis of ores, bloom and metal obtained from a set of systematic, bloomery iron-smelting experiments, utilizing selected ores from the Southern Levant. The results show that the 187Os/188Os ratio is preserved from ore to metal, with no isotopic fractionation. In addition, enrichment/depletion of osmium content was observed in the transition from ore to metal and from ore to slag. This observation has potential significance for our ability to differentiate between the various processes and sheds light on the suitability of various production remains for this method, which emerges as a robust and promising tool for the provenancing of archaeological ferrous metals.

Check Louise’s podcast on the Bronze Age collapse in comparison to today

If you’re looking how to not go stir crazy, sitting at home (WHERE YOU SHOULD BE, WASHING YOUR HANDS OFTEN!), and want some historical perspective on what’s going on, check out Louise Hitchcock’s very interesting podcast on the Bronze Age collapse and its parallels with what’s going on today:

Update on the upcoming summer season (June/July 2020)

Dear all,

I hope you and yours are all healthy, and that you are managing in these crazy and scary times.
Here is a short update on what’s happening regarding the 2020 summer season at  Tell es-Safi/Gath.
I was just in contact with my dean and my department chair, and they both recommended that a final decision about the season be taken after Passover (which ends on April 16th), as all the decisions on activities relating to Bar-Ilan University, at this point, are up until that date.
That being said, I’m not very optimistic about the possibility of conducting the season – whether with all participants who can come (from Israel and abroad), and even if only with BIU participation. From what I understand, there are very good chances that the official limitations on university and general public activities in Israel (as in my countries) will continue for many months more.
Already, several of the foreign teams have announced that their home institutions have cancelled all summer programs, including participation in the dig.
So what does this all mean?
1) I will notify as soon as there is a decision – whether the dig is cancelled or not, or perhaps to be conducted in a small format.
2) If it is cancelled, all those who have paid their participation fees will be reimbursed (save for the registration fee).
3) If, in the end, we do have a season, if any of you would like to come on their own, not as part of a team whose institution has cancelled the official participation, we will be able to discuss this when it is relevant.
In the meantime, may I wish you all health, safety and calmness, and may we soon see the light at the end of this ominous tunnel – and come out of it stronger!
And finally, make sure you follow the health and safety instructions, to keep you, and your family and friends, safe!
All the best,
Aren Maeir

Time to bring out the heavy guns – Philistine style!

Since this COVID-19 issue is getting a little out of hand, I think it is time to bring out the heavy guns – Philistine style – to stop this plague!

Anybody have some golden emeroids or golden mice?  All I can provide are some ceramic “emeroids”…:-)

If you want to read about this – check out this article: Maeir_Opalim JSOT 32_2007

I Samuel 6: 1-11:

And the ark of the Lord was in the country of the Philistines seven months. And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, What shall we do to the ark of the Lord? tell us wherewith we shall send it to his place. And they said, If ye send away the ark of the God of Israel, send it not empty; but in any wise return him a trespass offering: then ye shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why his hand is not removed from you. Then said they, What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague was on you all, and on your lords. Wherefore ye shall make images of your emerods, and images of your mice that mar the land; and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land. Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? when he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed? Now therefore make a new cart, and take two milch kine, on which there hath come no yoke, and tie the kine to the cart, and bring their calves home from them. And take the ark of the Lord, and lay it upon the cart; and put the jewels of gold, which ye return him for a trespass offering, in a coffer by the side thereof; and send it away, that it may go. And see, if it goeth up by the way of his own coast to Bethshemesh, then he hath done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that smote us: it was a chance that happened to us. And the men did so; and took two milch kine, and tied them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home. And they laid the ark of the Lord upon the cart, and the coffer with the mice of gold and the images of their emerods.


Some good news: Safi II submitted to press!

Woohoo! And finally, some good news!

The 2nd volume of the final reports of the Tell es-Safi/Gath excavations has been submitted to press!

The full title is:

Maeir, A. M., and Uziel, J., eds. In press. Tell es-Safi/Gath II: Excavation and Studies. Ägypten und Altes Testament. Münster: Zaphon.

Looking forward to it appearing!