NOT a Great foto of Tell es-Safi/Gath from 1969

Update for March 6, 2008: Please note that based on the discussion in the comments, it turns out that this photo is not of Tell es-Safi/Gath, but of Tel Erani. This is a RATHER embarrasing mistake on my part …

Aren

Dr. Ferrell Jenkins (who has a great Biblical Studies site) has a great foto of the northeastern portion of Tell es-Safi/Gath posted on his blog, that was taken back in 1969 (looking SW).

Ferrell has given me permission to post it here as well.

safi-in-1969-foto-by-ferrell-jenkins-small-version.jpg

Not only is the foto very nice, it is very interesting, since there are quite a few changes that can be seen on the tell since then. In particular, the intense 4X4 vehicle activity has taken a toll on the site, and a current view shows various parts that have been eroded away.

Here is a view of the northeastern part of the tell from a different angle (looking SW from the middle of the Elah Valley [note that this picture was recently sent to me by someone, and having a rather extended senior moment, I can’t remember by whom. If someone recognizes the foto as theirs, please tell me and I will give the proper credit])

tell-from-north-east-with-goats-small-version.jpg 

The foto is a very nice illustration of the ongoing process of geogenic (natural) and anthropogenic (manmade) forces of erosion that have effected the tell and its surroundings over the ages, just as our study (O. Ackermann, H. Bruins, and yours truly) of the gradual filling of the siege trench has shown as well.

Ferrell  — thanks!

Aren

P.S. If anyone has other “old” fotos of Tell es-Safi/Gath that he is willing to share with me, I would be most grateful!

18 thoughts on “NOT a Great foto of Tell es-Safi/Gath from 1969

  1. arenmaeir

    Kevin,
    Thanks for the reference to the Matson collection, but in fact, these are two pictures of Kibbutz Gat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gat_%28kibbutz%29), in the year right after it was settled. The kibbutz was named (as later, the two Qiryat Gat), based on the assumption that Gath of the Philistines was located at nearby Tel Erani (as suggested by Albright). After the excavations in the 50’s by S. Yeivin at Erani, it became clear that Erani could not be identified as Gath, since it was not a substantial Philistine city during the Iron Age.

    Best,
    Aren

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  2. Oh, I see. I thought that was Tell es-Safi in the background there, not Tel Erani. You might still be able to find something in the Matson photos, though. The labels to the photos come from the old Matson sales catalogue , so the spellings aren’t standardized in any way, indeed are sometimes misspelled. It’s a mess to try to find anything, but the photos are fantastic! If you have a couple of spare hours sometime to browse through them, I’m sure you’ll enjoy them!

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  3. arenmaeir

    Jeff,
    Perhaps I’m wrong, but it looks to me like a view of the eastern part of the upper tell, just above area A and P, from the north.
    But perhaps I’m halucinating …
    Aren

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  4. I can’t find a picture at the moment to prove it, but I doubt that this photo is of Tel es-Safi. It looks more like Tel Erani, which, in 1969, may have been shown as Gath by a tour guide who hadn’t had a recent refresher course. The modern name of the nearby town would make abandoning this identification more difficult. The trees in front also fit with Erani.

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  5. Achish Melek Gat

    What gives me pause about the older photo is that it is taken from distant ground level (valley) location, so that the entire tell is visible in frame. Yet I see none of the features I am familiar with from Safi, such as the slightly “hunched elephant” shape of the tell as a whole (when viewed from the NE) and in particular I see none of the white chalk caves which are found about halfway up the tell on both the north and west sides of Safi. The top of the tell in the old photo seems to flat and uniform to be a picture of Safi taken from a distand wadi position. Of course, I can’t comment about whether it resembles Erani or not. But I can’t see features I would expect to see at Safi even in a photo 50 years old. (But it is a very nice photo! :)

    AMG

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  6. Aren —

    Sorry to be the center of a controversy. I think this photo was made very near Qiryat Gat. I have only been in this area a few times and was having a hard time identifying this tel with the photos of Tell es-Safi. Todd is probably correct in saying this was still the identification given by a guide back in 1969.
    I am away from home for a couple of days but what I have been able to locate on the Internet indicates that the photo is of Tel Erani.
    My recollection is that this tel is on the north side of the road leading from Bet Guvrin and Lachish to Ashkelon.

    Ferrell

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  7. Achish Melek Gat

    Ferrell, thanks for the description. If you remember the location correctly, then this is not Safi, and is very possibly Erani.

    AMG

    (PS – You’d think a guy like me could spell correctly, or at least spell check! :)

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  8. Pingback: Gath or Not Gath? « Ferrell’s Travel Blog

  9. arenmaeir

    Ohh! This is soooooooo embarrasing!
    I guess what happened here was my “wishful” thinking based on Ferrell’s initial description. Now that I have looked at this photo again and again, I must agree that this is not Tell es-Safi/Gath!
    Thanks to Jeff Chadwick and Todd Bolen for good sense of scepticism and reality!

    Aren

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  10. Pingback: The Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project « Ferrell’s Travel Blog

  11. At the end of the year when bloggers vote on the Best Biblical Archeology Revision for 2008, it’s gonna be a close race between Aren Maeir & Eilat Mazar!

    The year is still young…

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  12. Well, Aren, your point on erosion and so on still applies. Though the picture I linked to ends up being the same tel (completely by accident!), it does seem to have experienced erosional loss around the edges, if only due to agricultural encroachment. If you get the full tiff of the Matson photo, you’ll see some outlying lumps around the edges of the mound, and these are all gone in some 1959 aerial photos of the tel here.

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  13. I am also not quite sure about the authencity, since it has changed so much. One problem is that Tell es-Safi/Gath does only look from one perspective quite characteristic, so one needs another from the same perspective to make a judgement. The other one is too common, no?

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