The Early Bronze Age III at Tell es-Safi/Gath

One of the interesting finds of the last few seasons is the Early Bronze Age levels at Tell es-Safi/Gath. These levels, which have been uncovered in Area E (directed by Dr. Itzik Shai), on the eastern ridge of the tell, just below Area A, have opened up a very nice window on this very important phase in the history of the site.


Previously (based on the surveys that had been conducted both before and as part of the present project) it was known that there was a substantial EB presence on the site, particularly of the EB II-III. Large quantities of EB pottery were found, particularly on the eastern side of the tell.

In recent seasons, in the excavations of Area E, just below the late LB levels (including a large, apparently public building, with interesting cultic and other finds), levels dating to the EB were discovered. These levels, which date to the EB III (and perhaps earlier as well), have produced nicely preserved architectural and other evidence. So far, there are at least 3 different levels (although only one, the latest has been extensively uncovered).

This includes several apparently domestic structures aligned along an alleyway, with various intallations within and around these structures.

The pottery from these levels is very similar to the late EB III pottery from nearby Tel Yarmouth, where impressive EB III levels have been found, including perhaps the largest EB palace known in the region.

It can be assumed, based on the wide-spread disperal of EB pottery throughout the site, as well as the remains that we have just begun to oncover, that Tell es-Safi/Gath was a large settlement of this period as well. Most probably, the site served as one of the city-states that were located in this part of the country during this time, along with sites such as Yarmut, Halif, Gezer, Dalit, etc.

Clearly, our understanding of the activity at the site during this period will have to wait until additional parts of these levels are uncovered, but for the meantime, the remains provide an interesting glimpse to this period, the first period of urban settlement in the Levant.


3 thoughts on “The Early Bronze Age III at Tell es-Safi/Gath

  1. Achish Melek Gat

    The Safi blog has been great these last few weeks, always presenting interesting new facts about the site, or introducing readers to another of the tell’s fascinating periods. Congrats to Dr. Shai (and his loyal staff – including Rotem and Josh the Chicago-ite) for revealing the very important EB in Area E at Tzafit! The high cost (i.e. the destruction of the historic Beyt Jiffot) was worth it.


    PS — Sorry Josh, Cowboys trampled the Bears! Packers are 3-0 !!! :)


  2. Karl

    How does the postulated size of Safi during the EB II-III compare to that of Miqne during the same time periods?

    Also, is the EB II-III pottery from area E thoroughly Philistine, or is it mixed with Canaanite (or any other combination)?

    These are great finds and I hope the information keeps flowing from the recent season.


  3. arenmaeir

    Hi! Miqne was not settled during the Early Bronze Age (4th-3rd mill. BCE). The earliest settlement there was during the Middle Bronze II (ca. 17th cent. BCE).
    The Philistines did not appear in Canaan until the Iron Age I (ca. 12th cent. BCE) – thus, one would not find any Philistine pottery during the EB at any site…


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