Documentary on the LB/Iron Age transition!

Just received the following exciting notice about a documentary film on the Late Bronze/Iro Age transition in the eastern Mediterranean. I was fortunate to be among the scholars interviewed (at Safi) for the movie.

Here are the details:

A new special documentary, dealing with the end of the Bronze Age in the
Eastern Mediterranean, titled “Ancient Armageddon”, debuts in the US this
Sunday the 4th of June at 9pm on Science Channel. Many prominent colleagues
appear in it; In alphabetical order: Ara Avagyan, Christoph Bachhuber,
Marilena Chovalopoulou, Eric Cline, Yoram Cohen, Israel Finkelstein, Salima
Ikram, Dafna Langgut, Aren Maeir, Nick Marriner, Krzysztof Nowicki, Kostas
Paschalidis, Andreas Schachner, and Hourig Sourouzian. Christina
Tsouparopoulou (UKSW Warsaw & Durham University) was Associate Producer.

“This film explores the mysterious and catastrophic collapse of ancient
civilizations during the late Bronze Age, revealing the tumultuous events
that brought an end to a thriving era of human history. Through invasions,
mega-droughts, natural disasters, and rebellions, we discover the complex
web of factors that were involved. With stunning visual imagery, expert
interviews and immersive storytelling, this film offers a fascinating
glimpse into one of the most pivotal and enigmatic periods of human

Produced by TV6 for Science Channel in association with France Télévisions
and NHK, SBS, STV and LGI Media

Executive Producer for LGI Media NHA-UYEN CHAU
Directors Of Photography KENDAL KEMPSEY & LIAM ADAM
Executive Producer  RICHARD REISZ
Producer And Director  KATIE REISZ

Articles in BAR on magnetic research with focus on Safi

Two short articles just appeared in BAR on magnetic-related research used in biblical archaeology, with a particular focus on Safi.

In the first article, Andy Creekmore writes about our joint research using magnetometry (see here) at Tell es-Safi/Gath, and how this revealed important information about the site.

In the 2nd article, Nathan Steinmeyer summaries studies in archaeomagnetic dating, led by Yoav Vaknin, including one in which the destruction of Gath by Hazael was one of the important linchpins for chronological synchronism of the archaeomagnetic datings.

Check it out!

Beer from Safi yeast at the “Feast” opening!

Last night was the official opening of the “Feast” exhibition at the Israel Museum. As part of the exhibition (which is really nice), the Shiqma brewery in Ashkelon made a limited series beer, based on the yeast which had been found at Tell es-Safi/Gath (mentioned before, such as here and here).

At the opening, free beer (and wine) was served to the visitors, and it was quite a scene! The beer was VERY tasty, lots of friends and colleagues were there, including Ronen Hazan, Michael Klutstein and their team from the Hebrew University (the microbiology side of our inter-disciplinary team who found the yeasts), and a bunch of Safi team members.

This was super fun – and super tasty.

We got a chance not only to see objects from the past – but to actually taste it! Le-Chaim!

Woo-Hoo! Safi III goes to the publisher!

Great news! The 3rd final report on the Safi excavations has gone to the publisher and will hopefully be out in the next few months!

Thanks to my co-editors, Itzik and Haskel, and to Chris and Joe who worked hard on preparing the final manuscript!

The full details are:

Shai, I., Greenfield, H. J., and Maeir, A. M., eds. In press. Tell es-Safi/Gath III: The Early Bronze Age, Part 1. Ägypten und Altes Testament (Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project Publications, Vol. III, ed. A. M. Maeir; Studies in the Early Bronze Age at Tell es-Safi/Gath, Vol. I, eds. H. J. Greenfield and A. M. Maeir). Münster: Zaphon.

Volumes IV and V are in advanced stages, and VI, VII, VIII, IX and X are on the way…

Online workshop on Fortifications and Symbolism

Please note that the Minvera RIAB Center workshop scheduled for Monday, May 22nd, 2023 in the late afternoon/evening, on “Fortifications and Symbolism in the Ancient southern Levant” will be conducted only online through zoom, and not face to face.

Here is the link to the zoom:

Here is the schedule:

16:30 Opening remarks – Prof. Aren Maeir

16:35 The call of the wall: The symbolism of city walls – Prof. Angelika Berlejung (Leipzig)

17:05 The fortifications of Jerusalem in the Persian Period – Prof. Oded Lipschits (TAU)

17:35 The fortifications of Philistine Gath: Between functionality and symbolism – Prof. Aren M. Maeir (BIU)

18:05 Discussion

Congratulations to Kristina (et al.) on OSL dating of Dolmens

Congratulations to Kristina (who just had her PhD approved at BIU) for the new article that she and colleagues published on OSL dating of Dolmens!

The full reference is:

Reed, K. S., Berger, U., Sharon, G., and Porat, N. 2023. Radiometric Dating of Southern Levant Dolmens – Applying OSL to Resolve an Old Debate. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 49: 104109.

Here is the abstract:

Many different chronologies have been suggested for the thousands of dolmens scattered in the Southern Levant. Almost 200 years after the first report of Southern Levant dolmens, the debate places their chronology from as early as the Neolithic to the Iron Age and even later. Not a single radiometric date has been available for these megalithic burials and the wide chronological range is typically based upon finds from excavated dolmen chambers, primarily pottery typology. We present here the application of Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) to date the sediments from inside dolmen chambers in two dolmen fields in Northern Israel – Shamir and Kela. The results demonstrate the applicability of OSL in achieving reliable dates for chamber sediments and set the chronology of the northern Israel dolmens to the Intermediate Bronze (IB). Furthermore, OSL is demonstrated to detect complex stratigraphic history of chamber infill, identifying the last phase of sediment accumulation, and even identifying different accumulation histories between dolmen fields.

First details of some of my views on the “Ebal curse inscription”

As mentioned previously, the lead object from the early Iron Age I cultic site on Mt. Ebal, with supposed curse inscriptions, was just partially published by Stripling et al.

As I already wrote, I have strong reservations about many things that the authors have claimed relating to this object. Some of my critiques, along with some of Chris Rollston, were just noted in a short piece by N. Steinmeyer in Bible History Daily.

These are just part of my comments, and Chris and I plan to publish a more extended critique, ASAP.

Check it out!


More on the Ebal inscription

At long last, an article about the claimed lead inscription from Mt. Ebal has been published.

While before the publication there were many questions, now, with the article, there appear to be even more.

See here something about this in the Times of Israel (with a few quotes of mine).

Hopefully, in the future, I’ll put out a more extensive discussion of this.

Briefly put – the suggested reading and interpretation are not without problems!