On Wednesday, March, 19th, I visited Tell es-Safi/Gath with a group of fellows from the Albright Institute in Jerusalem. The weather was great (not too hot, not cold at all) and although there was not the greatest view (due to a lot of dust in the air), we had a great time, and spent a full three hours touring around the site.
Several new things can be noted on the tell. First and foremost, the Nature and Parks Authority has almost finished its work on cleaning up the site, setting up paths, benches and view points, and setting up a whole series of signs around the site. The signs are mostly very nice, and include general information about the site, the excavations, and its natural environment, choice biblical passages relating to the Philistines, and some explanations about whom the Philistines, the Crusaders and other relevant historical events and peoples.
All told, what they did is very nice, even if they did not include the siege system near the tell (which is one of the most importart finds!) in the paths and signs.
The official opening of the site will be in the beginning of April, and it looks like it will be finished on time. The type of work at archaeological sites is very nice, and has been recently implemented at different sites, such as at Gezer. The only drawback to this is that there is no full-time presence on the site, and vandals do at time ruin the signs, paths, etc.
I hope things like this won’t happen here!
Another interesting thing is that due to the very small amount of rain that came down this winter, the site was not as green and heavily grown over as after most winters. Although this is VERY bad for the country’s water balance, it does mean that we will probably have a lot less thorns, thistles, etc. to clean up before the summer season.
What can I say – I’m looking forward to the excavation in the summer …
And by the way – thanks to Linda Meiberg (who has been a staff member at Safi for the last few seasons and is currently a fellow at the Albright) for the great fotos!!!