Yesterday, 30/1/07, we had a great researcher’s workshop on the pottery of the Iron Age IIA in Southern Palestine (Philistia and the Shephelah). The workshop, which was organized by Dr. Itzik Shai (post-doctoral researcher at Bar-Ilan University, and director of the Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project lab), was held at Bar-Ilan University in the basement of the Faculty of Jewish Studies.
We had about 30 participants, including: Ami Mazar, Israel Finkelstein, Zeev Herzog, David Ussishkin, Lily Singer, Trude Dothan, Alex Zukerman, Itzik Shai, Aren Maeir, Joe Uziel, Nava Panitz-Cohen, Raz Kletter, Ayelet Gilboa, Ilan Sharon, Zvi Lederman, Shlomo Bunimovitz, Avi Faust, Haya Katz, Debi Cassuto, Alon de-Groot, Emanuel Eisenberg, Yardena Alexandre, Alon Shavit, Sam Wolff, Noga Blockman, Irit Ziffer, Ross Voss, Rona Avisar, Shira Gur-Arieh, and Amit Dagan. (apologies to anyone I missed).
The workshop was divided into two sessions of short lectures, followed by “hands-on” sessions with pottery from various sites.
The lectures included:
In the first session:
Avi Faust (Bar-Ilan) on the new excavations at Tel Eton.
Sam Wolff and Alon Shavit (both Israel Antiquities Authority) on the Iron IIA pottery from their excavations at Tell Hamid.
Itzik Shai (Bar-Ilan University) on the Iron Age IIA finds from Amiran and Eitan’s excavations at Tel Nagila.
Zeev Herzog and Lily Singer (both Tel Aviv University) on the Iron Age IIA pottery from Tel Gerisa.
In the 2nd session, the following papers were presented:
Ross Voss (director of the Ashkelon Excavations Laboratory) discussed the Iron Age II pottery from the excavations.
Nava Panitz-Cohen (Hebrew University) discussed the “plain-wares” from the fanstastic Philistine culitc favissa that Raz Kletter recently excavated next to Tel Yavneh.
Amihai Mazar (Hebrew University) spoke about the Iron Age IIA levels at Tel Qasile.
Alex Zukerman (Albright Institute) discussed the development of the Philistine pottery (and its definition) throughtout the Iron Age.
And finally, yours truly (A.M.M., Bar-Ilan University) discussed the Iron Age IIA pottery from Tell es-Safi/Gath.
Between the first and 2nd session we looked at choice examples of Iron Age IIA pottery from the Yavneh Favissa, Gezer (Dever excavations), Tel Hamid, and Ashkelon.
After the 2nd session, the group looked at the Iron Age IIA pottery from Tell es-Safi/Gath, in the adjacent Safi lab.
During, after and throughout the day the entire group has fantastic discussions. This included technical issues related to pottery typology, as well as “larger” issues, such as regionality of the pottery (and other aspects in the Iron Age), chronology (how could we not?), and other issues. For example, one of the “bigger” issues was can one define when and where certain aspects of the pottery (such as hand burnish, specific wares, etc.) appeared, and what one can learn (or cannot) from this on the cultural, economic and political structures of this period. Needless to say, the ongoing debate on the chronology of the Iron Age IIA, and the understanding of the historical processes during this period were in the background of these discussions.
The very focused and highly knowledgable character of the participants made this a very stimulating and enlightening day. The fact that we were dealing with the “nitty-gritty” details of pottery typology, stratigraphy, etc., in a closed-knit group, even if not everyone agreed on all issues, was a excellent opportunity to have in-depth discussions on topics that often the details are simply skipped over.
It was a great day and I hope we will be able to conduct similar workshops in the future!