Some Tell es-Safi related things this week

This week, I participated in several events that related to the excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath.

On Tuesday, I was in Haifa to participate in the international meeting: THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST IN THE 12th-10th CENTURIES BCE: CULTURE AND HISTORY in which a large group of scholars from Israel and abroad came to, to discuss issues relating to, but also extending beyond, the history and culture of the ANE in the early Iron Age.

I gave a lecture on the trade and cultural relations of Philistia with the outside world during the Iron Age, stressing the now changing picture. As opposed to what was often assumed in earlier research, the present evidence indicates that although there was much less trade between Philisitia and other parts of the Levant (and beyond) during the Iron I, in fact, these contacts did continue during the Iron I.

In addition, there were various lectures on other issues, including several about the Philistines and the Sea Peoples, several that dealt either directly or indirectly on the Kh. Qeiyafa inscription (and in particular, Gershon Galil gave a talk detailing his new interpretation of the inscription).

The next day, on Wednesday, the group participants went on a tour of various sites in the Shephela and Philistia. In the morning, I gave them a tour of Tell es-Safi/Gath, and managed to show them most of the excavation areas (but we did not get to the siege trench in Area C6). Needless to say, many people asked about D. Ussishkin’s article in IEJ about the siege trench, and I explained to them (as noted already in brief here), quite clearly, why his suggestion is baseless…

Finally, yesterday,I participated in the annual meeting of the Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology of Bar-Ilan University (which was conducted this year jointly with the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies of Tel Aviv University). The meeting this year was in honor of Anson Rainey who is celebrating his 80th birthday. We heard a very interesting collection of talks relating to various fields in which Anson made important (and at times seminal) contributions, Bible, Historical Geography, Linguistics, Archaeology, etc.

Here is a very nice picture, by Boaz Zissu, of Anson Rainey, expressing his appreciation, and overview, of the papers presented during the very interesting day.

I gave a paper reviewing the evidence on the identification of Tell es-Safi as Gath of the Philistines, 35 years after Anson’s study (in Eretz Israel 12) in which he convincingly argued for a return to the ID of Gath at Tell es-Safi. Needless to say, I presented the evidence from our excavations at Tell es-Safi which supported this ID.

It was a rather intensive week…