Linda Olsvig Whittaker – new team member

Dr. Linda Olsvig Whittaker, who up till recently worked as an ecologist for the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, has joined the Safi team (welcome aboard) and will be working with us on several environmental studies of site and its close and far ecological environments. Linda has been invited to be a keynote speaker at conference which will be held in Antalya, Turkey on 23-25 October, 2014, entitled “Understanding Mediterranean Landscapes: Human vs Nature”, and she will present an initial report on the environmental studies at Safi – those conducted and those planned.

Here is the lecture abstract:

Ecology of the Past: Landscape Archaeological Studies in the Region of Tell es-Safi/Gath

Linda Olsvig-Whittaker, Liora Kolska Horwitz, Ehud Weiss, Oren Ackerman, and Aren M. Maeir
The Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project, The Institute of Archaeology, The Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology, Bar-Ilan University, Israel

The site of Philistine Gath, has been the focus of an integrated archaeological and environmental study for close to two decades, to understand past land use by Canaanite, Philistine, Judahite and later cultures which occupied this site over the last 6,000 years. Extensive inter- and multidisciplinary studies have been conducted on and off site. More than 200 species of wild and domestic plants have been identified from the archaeological material. Approximately 40 species of vertebrates and molluscs have been identified from the excavations, of which half are mammals. Geo-archaeological studies have reconstructed past landforms, environments and geo-processes. By analysis of current species associations with similar habitats in the region and a comparison with the archaeological plant and faunal assemblages, we are attempting to reconstruct past bioecology, habitats and vegetation in the area of the site. If successful, these studies will be extended to the entire Southern Coastal Plain (Philistia) and the Judean Foothills (Shephelah). The methodology developed in this project can easily be extended to understand the evolution of equally ancient landscapes such as found in Anatolia, where millennia of agriculture, pastoralism and urbanization have left a similar record in the landscape.

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