I guess you can look at this as the beginning of the end of an era – close to a quarter of a century of the Bar-Ilan University excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath!
While (have no fear!) we do have a few more years to go on the project (both in the field and working on research and publications) – today, a serious step towards wrapping up the project officially began!
In coordination with the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Israel Antiquities Authority, several of the excavation areas on the tell, areas that we have finished excavating and will not be conserved and developed for visitors – are going to be covered over.
This includes, as of now: the western part of Area D West in the lower city; Area J with a section of the EB fortifications on the eastern slope of the upper tell; Area E with the EB neighborhood on the eastern side of the upper tell; and Area P with EB and LB finds.
In the future, additional areas will be covered over as well. The main reason for this is to protect the remains – and protect the site from excessive erosion. The method of covering over is rather simple: Excavation areas are covered with “geotech” tarpaulins; then, you spread a few plastic bottles in each square – something that we more or less stay for ever; and then you fill in the squares, up to surface, using a tractor, with sediments – taken from the excavation dumps that we made during the excavations.
This way, if someone will ever decide to re-excavate these areas, it will be easy to identify the squares already excavated – and the levels at which the excavations has stopped.
Here’s a couple of pictures from the first day of work in Area D West: