Now that we are on the verge of the end of the season, I would like to give a short, quick summary of main points of the 2012 season:
EB: Extensive evidence of at least 3 EB IIIB phases in Area E, and below it, perhaps 1-2 EB IIIA phases and even late EB II. The planning of the EB neighborhood in Area E seems to continue throughout several strata, as well from later strata are built on earlier ones. We hope have some good radiocarbon dates from the various phases, supplementing the already available dates from previous seasons. In addition, a lot of data on the function of the spaces in and around the various houses was revealed. In Area A1 (below the Iron I/IIA temple on the western side of A), evidence of EB architecture was discovered, with more or less the same orientation as in Area E. This indicates the extent of the EB levels on the eastern side of the tell. Some of the interesting finds: a bull figurine; worked ivory pieces.
LB: A 15 m section of what appears to be a LB city wall was discovered in Area P. Various rooms and strata with rich LB finds appear to be related to this wall, with finds from various stages of the LB. This is additional evidence of the significant status of Gath during the LB, as seen in the el-Amarna letters and in previous archaeological finds throughout the tell. Among the interesting finds: several “lamp and bowl” deposits; a large collection of imported Cypriote and Mycenaean pottery;
Iron I: In Area A2, extensive evidence of various phases of the Iron I were discovered, spanning the late Iron I in two new squares, and other phases, perhaps even including the late LB as well, in other parts. Several well-stratified clusters of olive pits from several of these stages may provide good radiocarbon dates for this sequence. Among the interesting finds: several complete bowls; a seal; a bulla
Iron IIA: Extensive evidence of the Iron IIA continued to be exposed in Area D, in relationship to the building in which the stone altar was found last year. Concentrations of vessels, loom weights and other finds, in and around the building, are an indication of the building’s apparent cultic function, as well as additional rich evidence of a the “Hazael” destruction. Noteworthy finds includes a short incised inscription (2 and ½ letters), a unique chalk dog figurine, 120 loomweights in situ, many complete vessels of various types, etc. In Area F, a small section of this destruction level was discovered as well. In both Area F and Area D, evidence of a pre-“Hazael” Iron IIA level seems to be appearing, evidence of the size of Gath even before the late 9th cent. BCE (in particular, the fact that the lower city was apparently settled in the 10th/early 9th cent. BCE as well).
Iron IIB: Evidence of the 8th cent. BCE Judahite level which is destroyed, was found in Area F, continuation of the same level found in previous seasons.
Crusader Period: Impressive evidence of the outer fortification wall of the “Blanche Garde” castle, dating to the 12th cent CE was discovered in Area F, a continuation of the corner of a tower that had been discovered in previous seasons. The section, over 10 m long, connects to the tower at a point with several well-preserved courses of masonry.
We started using a computerized data input system in the field which worked quite well, even if all the possible applications of this program were not ready to be used. All in all, the experience of in the field data entry and backup was very successful (as well as in pottery reading, writing summaries, etc.). Likewise, the move to carrying out all measuring in the field with Total Stations in all areas was very successful.
A Leica 3D scanner was used in the field this year, mainly in Area E in the EB levels, but also in other parts of the tell. While still being “experimented” with, it appears that this has enormous potential for recording, analyzing and retrieval rich and various data sets – architecture, features, levels, finds, etc., in a manner which is several steps above what is now being used in most excavations.
The Archaeological Science (“microarchaeology) applications in the field were very successful. In addition to the WIS team led by Steve Weiner and Elisabetta Boarreto, which dealt with a large range of analyses (carbon 14 dating, materials science, phytolith analysis, metallurgy, etc.), we had many other specialists with us in the field, including botanists, zooarchaeologists, a pollen expert, a phytolith expert, geomorphologists, OSL dating experts, etc., etc. Among other aspects, one can note the extensive in the field testing of various materials (such as defining plasters for other surface materials; defining sediments that had been burnt). In addition, we substantially expanded the amount of sifted sediments (using fine 2 mm sifters) and obtained much information relating to microfauna, botany and other micro-artifacts. Also – we expanded the amount of sediments for flotation – and retrieved a lot of botanical data. Two different labs were running at the kibbutz – the WIS lab and the combined (fauna and flora) bioarchaeology lab! The combined efforts and perspectives provided many interesting insights and enable a deeper understanding (and the creation of many new questions) of various issues.
Finally, but most importantly, the excellent team that was on site this year was simply fantastic! This was the largest team we ever had (in weeks 1-3 around 150 team members!) and they all worked with enthusiasm, great spirits and in a highly professional manner. Despite that fact that we were such a large group, I believe a very “cozy” and friendly atmosphere prevailed and many friends were made.
Also, the staff of the excavation worked very hard – but very successfully, and even though we had the largest team ever, the technical and logistics of the excavation were, for the most part (save for a “glitch” here or there) extremely smooth!
All in all – it was a great season of which I am very proud!
GREAT SITE, GREAT FINDS – AND GREAT TEAM!!!!