Astragalus bone at the bottom of krater..

Sue Frumin, who is working on the archaeobotanical remains from Area D, just wrote to me that yesterday, she dry sifted some sediments from a krater that was discovered in Area D last year. And while there were no botanical remains, she did find a single astragalus bone at the very bottom of the vessel!

The Astragalus bone, sometimes popularly called a “knucklebone”, is a small bone from within the “tarsal joint” of hooved animals such as sheep, goats and cows. In antiquity, these bones are used for various functions, including as game pieces and dice, and in cult and divination. Over the years we have found quite a few astragali bones at Tell es-Safi/Gath, including several substantial concentrations in the Temple in Area D, right next to the unique two-horned altar.

So now we have an extra “friend” to join those already found! Cool!

Below the vessel with the astragalus inside it, and two pictures of the excavations of the bowl – “in situ”.

Preparations for exhibition at the BIU library

As previously mentioned, a small exhibition on some of the finds from Tell es-Safi/Gath and their relevance for understanding various aspects of daily life reflected in the biblical text, will open this Tuesday at the Bar-Ilan University central library.

Here are some pictures of the preparations for the exhibit, taken by Amit – with Shira as the star:

Last call: PhD stipends through the Minerva Center

Last call: PhD Stipends from the Minerva Center for Relations between Israel and Aram in Biblical Times (RIAB)

The Minerva Center for Relations between Israel and Aram in Biblical Times (RIAB; is offering several stipends for PhD candidates in fields related to the center’s topics. The stipends are meant for students with an excellent academic record who are interested in conducting PhD studies at Bar-Ilan University, under the supervision of one of the center’s members who are on the BIU faculty (

The stipends are based on the BIU “President’s Stipends” (, which include: ca. $1000 per month for 4 years, travel to one international conference to present a paper related to the student’s PhD research, and full exemption from tuition.

PhD candidates associated with the center receive additions to the standard stipend, such as travel to academic conferences organized by the center (in Israel and Germany), and in some cases, additional monthly funding from a specific research project (such as the Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project;

Deadline for final submissions is May 30th, 2017.

If you are interested in submitting through the RIAB Center, please contact Prof. Aren M. Maeir ( in the next few days.

Archaeology and Bible exhibit at the BIU central library

A small exhibit on how archaeological finds can help in the understanding of biblical texts will open next week in entrance foyer of the BIU Central Library.

The opening ceremony will be next Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017 at 13:00, and the exhibit will continue until July 4th, 2017.

If you have a chance – do visit the exibit.

Here is the poster for the exhibit:

Safi and the Philistines in Science

This Friday (May 19, 2017), the prestigious journal Science will have an issue that will deal with various scientific angles on migration. As part of the issue, a very nice background article on archaeological and historical perspectives on migration (by Ann Gibbons) is included, and this article is already online.

In this article, the excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath, the Philistines – and yours truly – all get some really nice PR! :-)

Check it out!


Lecture on Iron I Philistines and other issues in Udine, Italy, at upcoming conference

On June 5-8, 2017, a very interesting conference will be held in Udine, Italy. The conference, Broadening Horizons 5, is aimed primarily as a forum for young scholars, but also has several keynote lectures by senior scholars. I am very honored that I was invited by the organizers to present one of the keynote lectures – “Group identities and interactions during the Bronze to Iron Age transformation: Complexity, entanglement and underlying mechanisms as seen in the Southern Levant.”

See below the preliminary schedule of the conference – that is comprised of 4 very intensive days of lectures that I’m sure will be very interesting! The detailed schedule will be published in the near future.

So, if you have to be in Udine at the time – pop by to hear my lecture! :-)


See below the preliminary program: