Some archaeology (!) at the tell

Yesterday (Oct. 28, 2020), I drove down to Tell es-Safi/Gath, to meet Yoav Vaknin, a PhD student at HU, who is conducting research on paleomagnetism. Yoav, who has already carried out previous sampling at the site (see here), was back to take extensive samples from the unique burnt brick Iron I wall in Area Y. This wall is quite outstanding, due to the fact that the bricks are totally baked (hard as stone), through and through. We are still not sure whether they were baked prior to construction (very unusual), or that they were baked due to an intensive fire.

It was super cool to be back on the site. Here is a picture of Yoav as he’s sampling from the wall. In another post, I’ll describe what else I did on the site yesterday, less archaeological, but nevertheless very interesting and fun!

BAS Bible Fest, Oct. 23-25, 2020

On Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020 (11:05 – 12:05pm EDT), I’ll be giving a lecture “So you thought you knew about the Philistines? How our understanding has changed in the last 20 years”, at the annual Bible Fest of the Biblical Archaeological Society, which this year will be held online.

See here for details on the event and the various speakers.

Hope to “see” you at the lecture!

Blessings for the new year – ברכות לשנה החדשה

This Friday night marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah), and the traditional blessing is “Shana Tova u-Metuka” (have a good and sweet year).

In light of the rather difficult year that we have all been through, I thought it would be good to add a prayer that is traditionally said on the holiday (part of the Avinu Malkenu prayer):

אָבִינוּ מַלְכֵּנוּ מְנַע מַגֵּפָה מִנַּחֲלָתֶךָ – which translated into English is: Our Father, our King, withhold the plague from your inheritance.

Wishing you all a safe, healthy, happy and productive year, a year in which all of us, across the world, will rebuild all our communities, friendships, health and well-being!

Aren and the Safi team!




The real function of the Ashdoda figurine

The so-called “Ashdoda” (“the ‘doda’ [aunt] from Ashdod” in Hebrew, as it was first found in the Ashdod excavations) figurine is one of the better known cultic items of the Philistine material culture. The very interesting combination of local and non-local attributes, Aegean and Levantine) make it very unique.

There have been many suggestions on it’s meaning and function.

Now, with the 3D printer in the lab, Noam was able to print a model of an Ashdoda figurine, along with the beautiful two headed bird chalice from Safi!


Once the Ashdoda model was printed, it became obvious that previous scholarship had not sufficiently considered all possible functional interpretations.

See below Noam’s new suggestion!

I see a whole new line of accessories here! Perhaps, we can call this “iPhilistia”! :-)


Sea Peoples, or not?

See attached the Hebrew and English versions of an article by the indefatigable Nir Hasson, that appeared today in Haaretz, about my attempt (so far unsuccessful…) to get access to information on sunken ships in the Leviathan Natural Gas Field, off the the northern coast of Israel (in Israel’s economic waters).

Without getting into more details, this is a complicated and interest-laden story…

As I see it, I’m just exercising the Sea People’s rights…:-)

Dates for the 2021 season – July 4-30, 2021

Although we are all still somewhat disappointed that the 2020 excavation season didn’t materialize, due to the Corona Crisis, we are all hopeful that by next summer, things, throughout the world will have improved, and travel and summer programs will once again be possible.

In light of this, we have set the dates for the excavation season in 2021:

From Sunday, July 4th, until Friday, July 30th, 2021!

So pencil in these dates in your calendars – and we hope to see you all on the team in just under a year!