Today, a group of the Safi staff (there were about 13 of us), visited the excellent exhibition at the Eretz Israel Museum on the recently found Philistine Iron IIA cultic favissa from Yavneh (excavated by Raz Kletter of the Israel Antiquities Authority). I had mentioned this exhibit awhile ago, and now, we managed to finally visit it and received an in-depth explanation from Irit Ziffer, the exhibit’s curator.
The finds from this favissa are quite astounding and open up a completely new vista on Philistine cult. In fact, many of these objects represent types previously unreported from other Philistine sites (or in fact, any other sites). The include both mundane pottery (which Nava Panitz-Cohen discussed in our recent pottery workshop), unique rectangular cultic stands decorated with animal, human and architectural elements, as well as other cult related items. They represent a fascinating mix of local Canaanite, Cypriote, Syrian and other iconographic elements, witness to the eclectic nature of the Philistine culture in general, and cultic realm specifically.
Interestingly, during the visit, I realized that various “UFOs” that we had found over the years in our excavations and had not been properly identified, may in fact be bits and pieces of similar cultic objects. We can only hope that in the future we will find more complete examples, in a well-defined stratigraphic context at Tell es-Safi/Gath, so that we can more fully understand the role and meaning of these fantastic objects.
The catalogue of the exhibit is excellent as well and is well-worth purchasing. It is entitled: