Pigs, Pirates and Philistines at the 2017 AAPA!

This year, at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists in New Orleans, a poster was presented on a very interesting joint research project that included Safi materials.

The poster was entitled:

Kretzinger, J. A., Anders, D. F., Artzy, M., Finkelstein, I., Kolska Horwitz, L., Smith, P., Faerman, M., Meiri, M., Maeir, A., Stidsing, R., Grupe, G., Maran, J., Stockhammer, P., and Vohberger, M. A. 2017. Of Pirates, Pigs and Philistines: A Novel Perspective on the Late Bronze/Iron Age Transition in the Southern Levant. 86th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. New Orleans, 19th to 22nd of April, 2017.

Here’s a PDF of the poster.

In this study, isotope analyses of human and pig teeth from Tell es-Safi/Gath, Megiddo and Tel Nami are used to understand human mobility and intercultural dynamics in the Late Bronze and Iron Ages. A full paper on this will hopefully be submitted in the near future.

Here is a picture of the “two Marinas” (Faerman [R] and Vohberger [L]) at the meeting, right in front of the poster:

Safi team lectures at the archaeological congress in Israel

As mentioned previously, yesterday, Thursday, April 6th, 2017, the 43rd annual archaeological congress in Israel was held at the Hebrew University.

There were three lectures by Safi team members: Amit about insights on Philistine cult based on the finds from our excavations; I gave a talk about various new finds and research at the site, with a focus on EB and Iron Age materials; and Adi gave a talk about Iron production in the early Iron Age in the southern Levant in general.

All three talks went very well. In general, the conference was a conference, with some good talks – and some less…

What was particularly interesting, from a point of view of the sociology of knowledge, was the very different research narratives about the Iron Age that were particularly dominant in the lectures given at this meeting, as compared to what was presented just two weeks ago at the annual Aharoni day meeting held at TAU. “Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet…” :-)

I guess I was an exception – as I spoke at both meetings…

Here are some pictures of the Safi team lectures:


Jeff Chadwick in the Times of Israel!

Our own Jeff Chadwick (aka Achish Melekh Gath) is the star of an article in the Times of Israel, which deals with the model Passover Seders that he runs at Brigham Young. In addition to being extensively interviewed, the Safi excavations get a nice “plug” – including a great photo!

Way to go Jeff – munch on a matza with some chocolate spread out in the west!



An early Afikoman!

Looks like that this year, after many years of being too old to get one, I received the afikoman – and even before Pessach!

We just received two new total stations and two new differential GPSs, graciously funded by the Minerva Stiftung!

Woohoo! I love gizmos…:-)

Here are some pictures of our new toys – with Vanessa, Amit and Ibrahim (from the Etkes company who sold us the equipment)!!!

Delegation of Chinese Religious Studies Scholars Visits the Lab

This past Wednesday (March 29th, 2017) we were honored with a visit by a group of some 30 leading scholars of religion from various prestigious universities and research institutes in China. They were at Bar-Ilan University for a conference on Academic Exchange on Religion and Culture, which was held last week at Bar-Ilan. The highlight of the conference was the performance of the musical “Shimmer” – that tells the story of how the Jews were saved in Shanghai during WW II.

The delegation were invited by the Sir Naim Dangoor Program for Universal Monotheism (comparative religions) team,  headed and initiated by Dr. Danielle Gurevitch

In any case, the group came to the lab, and received an explanation of some of the research that we do on the Safi project. As many of the visitors expressed a lot of interest, I do hope that we may see in the future at the Safi excavations some Chinese students, and perhaps even organized groups from Chinese academic institutions!

Here’s a picture of my explaining about the Safi finds to the group:


David’s Sling

I’m sure you are all convinced that for the last two decades, we have been looking for David’s sling, or at least his sling shots, at Gath. Just be clear – we have not found them – and not even a skull with a hole in its head.

That said, today, the modern day “David’s Sling“, Israel’s latest anti-missile system has become operational.

Why does this concern the Safi project?

If, sometime in the future, the “bad guys” should shoot missiles at us and surrounding areas (as they did in the summer 2014…), we now have an additional layer of protection, in addition to the already existing (and fantastic) “Iron Dome” that protected us then (and provided great fireworks’ displays along the way – see below picture, courtesy of Jeff Chadwick).


Comic Book Depiction of David at Gath

Nathan P. Daniel is an artist who is preparing a series of comic books depicting the life of Biblical David.

Nathan has kindly sent me a few pages from his very impressive work (which he  hopes to publish in the near future), in which the biblical story of David arriving at the Gate of Gath and meeting King Achish (I Sam 21:10 ff.) is depicted.

Nathan informed me that he regularly visits the Safi blog to get information about the Philistines in general at Gath specifically. So, look at the first image and you can see how he depicts the fortifications of Gath. Notice that the region of the gate is quite similar to the area of the Gate that we found in recent seasons (see, for example, here), and the chalk cliffs of the tell. You’ll notice as well that the Philistines are selling pig (regarding Philistine pigs, see for example here), and their soldiers look like the “Sea Peoples” warriors in the Medinet Habu reliefs (see an example of the Sea Peoples in these reliefs here).

Notice that the Philistines are depicted using a closed oven. While in the early Iron Age the Philistine mainly used open hearths, from the early Iron II (ca. 1000 BCE), the closed “Tabun”/”Tanur” mudbrick oven becomes popular (for a picture, see here).

Check it out – VERY nice!