A Sense for Incense

pic 008.jpgThis week’s find is the Chalice. The chalice is a unique type of vessel. The chalice is basically a bowl on a tall leg. it is not a very common vessel, although at Tell es-Safi, we have discovered quite a few of them (there are seven complete examples – see three nice examples in the picture – and many more that are only portions of such vessels). There are several general explanations given for the function of the chalice. Some think it was used for ceremonial drinking, sort of like a modern-day wine glass, although the rim of some of these vessels seem to make this unlikely, as it would be quite uncomforable to drink from them. Others suggest it was used to burn incense, which would make sense considering the burn marks that were found on some of our chalices. Another possibility is that it served as a vessel for a cultic offering, in cultic contexts.

Most the chalices from Tell es-Safi/Gath derive from the Iron Age IIA levels, and have a very interesting combination of a painted design (quite unusually, painted on AFTER firing), and a petal-like decoration. Many of these latter vessels from apparently “mundane” contexts, while others may derive from “cultic corners” within otherwise non-cultic buildings. In a recent article by Aren and Itzik Shai in the Bietak Fs, these vessels were discussed, and a possible conntection with Philistine and Canaanite/Phoenician elements were raised (such as a relationship the goddess Asherah; see: Maeir, A., and Shai, I. 2005. Iron Age IIA Chalices from Tell es-Safi/Gath. Pp. 357–66 in Timelines. Studies in Honour of Manfred Bietak, Vol. II, eds. E. Czerny, I. Hein, H. Hunger, D. Melman and A. Schwab. Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta, 149. Leuven: Peeters). The middle example in the picture above is of interest, since it seems to be connection between the early material culture of the Philistines and the chalice. While the bowl-form of the other examples is related to chalices that are common in the region during the Iron Age I and II, the bowl in this example, which is dated to the Iron Age I, is in the shape of a bell-shaped bowl, the typical Philistine bowl of the Iron Age I. This appears to combine Philistine and local elements in a unique manner.The middle example in the picture above is of interest, since it seems to be connection between the early material culture of the Philistines and the chalice. While the bowl-form of the other examples is related to chalices that are common in the region during the Iron Age I and II, the bowl in this example, which is dated to the Iron Age I, is in the shape of a bell-shaped bowl, the typical Philistine bowl of the Iron Age I. This appears to combine Philistine and local elements in a unique manner.Joe and Aren

The middle example in the picture above is of interest, since it seems to be connection between the early material culture of the Philistines and the chalice. While the bowl-form of the other examples is related to chalices that are common in the region during the Iron Age I and II, the bowl in this example, which is dated to the Iron Age I, is in the shape of a bell-shaped bowl, the typical Philistine bowl of the Iron Age I. This appears to combine Philistine and local elements in a unique manner.Joe and Aren

3 thoughts on “A Sense for Incense

  1. It’s neat how similar your specimens are in shape to the ones depicted in Sennacherib’s Lachish relief (center-left of panel #9 [V]; see online drawing at Website link I’ve provided). Can you give us an approximation of their size? There is no scale in your photo. Thanks for all of your interesting progress reports!

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