Philistine Conference in Beersheva – and Grad missile attack!

Yesterday, I participated in a one day archaeological meeting organized by the Israel Antiquities Authority’s Southern Regional Office and the Dept. of Archaeology, Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies of Ben-Gurion University that focused on the “Philistines in South.” (see abstracts, mostly in Hebrew at this location)

As part of this interesting day, there were several very nice lectures on various aspects relating to the Philistines (as well as a few lectures on new excavations in the south of the IAA):

In the first session, the following lectures were given:
1) Avi Faust, BIU, spoke about the definition and meaning of the cultural, ethnic and ideological borders between the Philistines and the Israelites, based on both archaeological and textual data.
2) Irit Ziffer, Eretz Israel museum, discussed the finds from the Philistine cultic favissa at Yavneh, and noted, in particular, possible connections between the motifs and forms of the various cultic objects and Aegean cultic manifestations. See here for a description of the exhibition.
3) Pirhiya Nahshoni of the IAA, discussed the small Philistine temple that she has excavated a few years ago, which I had previously mentioned.
4) I gave a lecture on new insights on the Philistines based on the excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath. I discussed various issues in Philistine studies (origin, date, cult, language, diet, ethnic definition, etc.), which new light was shed on from our excavations.

In the 2nd session, the following papers were presented:
1) Eliezer Oren (BGU) and Svetlana Talis (IAA), discussed the Philistine finds from the Oren’s excavations at Tel Serah in the NW Negev, presenting previously unpublished data on the 11th/10th century Philistine level at the site.
2) Daniel Master (Wheaton) gave a paper in English in which he discussed the relations between Philistine Ashkelon and the outside world, comparing the situation in the 12th and 7th centuries, noting similarities, and differences between these two stages.
3) Zvi Lederman (TAU) discussed the finds from the various excavations at Beth Shemesh and how over the years the finds from the site were related, or not, to the Philistines, and what this can say about the cultural borders between the Philistines and the cultures to the east and NE of them (Israelites and Canaanites).
4) Gunnar Lehmann (BGU) gave a paper about the excavations at Qubur el-Walayda, discussing the terminal LB (Egyptian finds), the Iron I Philistine village, and the Iron II (Israelite?) site.

In the next session, there was a general discussion, which was opened by Assaf Yasur Landau (UCSC/Hafia U), who raised general questions and future directions in Philistine research, followed by some general comments on the lectures by Alon de Groot (IAA). This was followed by a lively discussion by the various participants.

After the lectures, and before the final session on the general IAA excavations, I joined David Ben-Shlomo, Jerry Rutter, Louise Hitchcock and Daniel Master and we drove the IAA offices in Omer, just outside of Beersheva, to see the materials from Pirhiya Nahshoni’s excavations at a small LB fishing village south of Ashdod (mentioned previously here). We all looked at the fascinating finds from the site, including imported Minoan, Mycenaean, Anatolian, Cypriote, Egyptian and other finds.

As we were wrapping up our visit, the air raid sirens went off! We all ran to the nearby air raid shelter and waited and we soon heard the two booms of the missiles landing. Unfortunately, we soon heard on the news that several people had been hurt in this attack, including a mother and her 7 year old son who were seriously hurt in this attack. This was a very clear reminder of scary life and unbearable situation, that people in the south of Israel have been living under for the last 8 years, and why the current military operation is being conducted (see here for my personal views and comments [read through the comments by various people, and note both of my comments] on this operation in reaction to some very unknowledgable and rather mean opinions voiced about this).

Here is a very low qaulity picture (from my phone) of us sittting in the air raid shelter after the siren was sounded, and after we heard the incoming booms.

Here is a much better quality picture of us in the bombshelter, courtesy of Louise Hitchcock:


6 thoughts on “Philistine Conference in Beersheva – and Grad missile attack!

  1. Achish Melek Gat

    Glad you are safe. Hope all is well with N. As the Melek of Gat I hereby condemn the rogue terrorist leadership of Aza, and my heart is with those Israeli families who have been injured by the rocket attacks. May the Cast Lead operation speedily result in an end to the rockets, and restoration of order and peace in the region.

    Now a question — what is the consensus of the experts you all met with in BeerSheva as to the ancient identity of Tel Sera? Are there any votes for Ziklag?



  2. janet levi

    I also participated in the conference yesterday. As the conference finished, but exactly, the exit door was opened and the siren went off. Those who attended the opening of the conference were informed by Prof. Carmi that the subterannean Philistine conference room also doubled as a rocket shelter so we just stood and waited it through. Prof Mair you mentioned in your lecture that you found dog bones at Tell es Safi that had been part of the human menu. Has this been published and do you have this phenomenon at other Philistine sites? The scapulae found at the site are they all denticulated? I have seen references to scapulae used in divination as late as 1950 A.D in Scotland and approximately the same time bracket in Greece. Your comments please. Nice lecture. Nice conference Janet Levi


  3. arenmaeir

    Most believe it is Ziklag.

    As to the scapulae – we have found other, un-notched scapulae, but that is nothing special. For a full description, see our article in BASOR. If you can’t access it, send me an email and I’ll send you a copy.



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