Yesterday, Friday, July 21st, 2017, was the last day of the 3rd week of the season. While we are still in the field next week, main activities will be a bit of excavation, and a lot of cleaning and photography – and not to mention packing up and sending materials and equipment to BIU and for storage.
Thus, what we have uncovered by now is more or less what we will have for this season – and all in all it has been a great season!
Here are some of the main points in the various areas:
Area A: In the two squares that were excavated by Louise and her team, in the eastern square then went through the early Iron I levels in what seems to be a courtyard, and had some nice Iron I finds. And on the very last day, the got through to the EB levels below this, including a restorable complete EB platter bowl. Area A, which had been excavated from the very first excavation season (1997) will be closed after this season.
Area D: Amit and his team had quite a season! In the western side, excavations in the metallurgical area revealed more and more evidence of the metal working area, including a large fragment of a bronze crucible, many tuyerres, slag, hammer-scale, and quite a nice amount of bronze and iron objects. Just next to the metal working area an additional section of the Iron IIA destruction was revealed, including an additional collection of astragali bones. And on Friday, right next to the astragali, a very unique figurine was uncovered (see pictures below). In the eastern side of the area, the area of the fortifications and possible gate continued to be excavated. These features are turning out to be so large and so complex (with at least three phases) and with many finds, that it is clear that it will take some time before we fully understand what is going on here. This is real monumental stuff! The excavations in Area D demonstrate clearly that the lower city of Gath was settled from the late 12th/early 11th cent. BCE and onwards, to be destroyed ca. 830 BCE by Hazael. And one of course should mention the very interesting inscription that was found in this area.
Area E: Shira and Haskel and their team had a very successful season. In addition to the complete donkey skeleton (the 5th or 6th that we have found) that was deposited below one of the floors of the houses in this neighborhood, we dug a deep sounding in the area. Surprisingly, even though we reached a depth of over 2.5 meters, we did not yet reach bedrock – and in fact we still were in the EB III levels! In addition to this, numerous floors, walls, contexts and installations relating to the various levels in this area were uncovered, as well as some very interesting finds (such as two bulla and a sheep figurine). Area E will also be closed after this season – although a small team may return sometime in the next few months to complete the sounding.
Area F: Jeff and his team attained all the objectives this season – and more! Levels dating to the Iron IIB, Iron IIA, Iron IB, Iron IA, LB, MB and EB were excavated. In particular, the MB and EB levels were important, as they clarified the relationship between the inside of the city and the city wall. This includes, in the last few days, clear evidence of any EB structure within and abutting the EB wall. Area F will also be closed at the end of this season.
Area J: Jill’s team opened this area this season, with the aim of defining the possible line of fortification that was seen on surface. And in fact, this is just what they did! The excavated the width of the wall in two squares, and while they did not reach floors of structures within the wall, the plan of the wall, and the clean EB pottery, enables to ascertain that this is the wall of the EB city – all the way at the bottom of the eastern side of the upper tell! And in addition, Jill’s team found a beautiful Iron Age bronze bowl near surface. Area J will also be closed at the end of the season.
Area K: Eric’s team expanded the area that was opened last year, and discovered additional walls, features, and finds relating to the final phase (Iron IIA) of the lower city. The extent of the finds makes it clear that the Iron IIA city extended far to the eastern side of the lower city. It is not clear yet whether there are earlier levels (as in Area D) below this, but time will tell. There were quite a few interesting finds from this area, including a scarab found in the last week. Needless to say, we will continue working in Area K in future seasons.
Area K2: Brent and his team worked on what looks more and more like the monumental fortifications of the eastern side of the lower city. It is comprised of three lines of almost cyclopean like stones. Interestingly, between the lower and middle lines, Brent and his team excavated strata of collapsed mudbricks and other deposits, dating to the Iron IIA destruction, possible evidence of a structure (a casemate?) between these walls. This is only the very beginning of the work in this area and we will continue working on this in future seasons.
Remote Sensing: Andy and his team did some great work this season, using magnetometry to help us understand the plan of the lower city, as well as other features in and around the site. Several very interesting features were seen the lower city, between Areas D and K, indicating the high potential future excavations in other portions of the lower city! We hope to continue conducting various remote season in and around the site and in particular in the lower city.
All in all – some great results of the season (and perhaps some more by the end of the coming week) with much promise for future seasons.
If all goes as planned, this will be the last season of excavations in the upper tell, and as of next year, we will focus on work in various areas in the lower city.
Needless to say – all the excellent work and results was possible only due to the excellent and dedicated work of the team!
Here is a field photo of the figurine: