MOOC on Biblical Archaeology – registration is open!

As previously noted, a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) by Aren entitled: “Biblical Archaeology: The Archaeology of Ancient Israel and Judah” is about to go online thru the EdX platform. The course is planned to start on December 5th, 2018.

As of this week, the registration for the course has opened! So those interested in taking this course (for free if one audits it), you can register for the course right now! Here is the link.

Try it out!


Workshop on Palace-Clan relations in the ancient near east – 12-13 December 2018

The Minerva Center for the Relations between Israel and Aram in Biblical Times will conduct a research colloquium on “Palace-Clan Relations in their Ancient Near Eastern Context” will be held on the 12–13 November 2018, at the Universität Leipzig, Campus Augustusplatz in the Neues Seminargebäude, Room S 203

Here is the schedule:

Monday, November 12th

14.00 Gathering, Coffee and Refreshments

14.30 Greetings and Introduction, Angelika Berlejung, Aren Maeir, Omer Sergi.

15.00 First Session: Palace-Clan Relations in Second and First Millennium BCE Mesopotamia

Brit Kärger, Universität Göttingen, Threats, Manslaughter and Gifts: Some Aspects of Political Control in the Kingdom of Mari in 2nd Millennium B.C.

Jacob Jan de-Ridder, Universität Leipzig, Family Companies and the Palace in Kültepe

16.30 Coffee Break

17.00 First Session – Continuation

Aaron Schmitt, Universität Mainz, Kinship and Palace-Clan Relations in Assyria during the Middle and Neo-Assyrian Periods: The Stela Site at Assur as a Case Study

19.00 Dinner

Tuesday, November 13th

08.45 Gathering

09.00 Second Session: Palace-Clan Relations in Judah and in Israel

Aren Maeir, Bar-Ilan University, Palace-Clan Relations in Iron Age Judah: What do we know? What can we assume?

Hannes Bezzel, Universität Jena, Beth Saul–Beth David–Beth Judah–Beth Israel: A Bipolar, Triangular or Quadrangular Relationship?

10.30 Coffee Break

11.00 Second Session – Continuation

Henrik Pfeifer, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, The Story of Ehud and the ‘Book of Saviors’

Assaf Kleiman, Tel Aviv University, Storage Jars, Inscriptions and Stamp Impressions: An Archaeological Perspective on Palace-Clan Relations in the Kingdom of Israel.

12.30 Lunch Break

14.00 Third Session: Archaeological and Historical Test Case in the Jezreel Valley, Israel

Karen Covallo-Paran, Israel Antiquities Authority, Ḥorvat Tevet in the Jezreel Valley as a Test Case for Palace-Clan Relations in Omride Israel.

Omer Sergi, Tel Aviv University, Palace Clan Relations in the Kingdom of Israel and the Case of the Tribe of Issachar.

15.30 Coffee Break

16.00 Concluding Discussion

Workshop on votive offering in the Bronze and Iron Ages – Dec. 19, 2018

On December 19, 2018, the Minerva Center for the Relations between Israel and Aram in Biblical Times will conduct a workshop on votive objects in the the Late Bronze and Iron Age Levant.

Here are the details of the workshop:

“Votive offerings in Ancient Israel, Aram and Surrounding Cultures”

The workshop will be held on Wednesday, December 19, 2018, at the Laboratory of the Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project and the RIAB Minerva Center, located in the basement of the Judaic Studies Faculty Building (#410), Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan.


8:00-8:30           Gathering and refreshments

8:30-9:15           Angelika Berlejung (Leipzig) – “Gifts for life”: Votive offerings in Ancient Israel

9:15-10:00         Itzik Shai (Ariel) – Canaanite Votive Gifts and their Importance within their context at Tel Burna

10:00-10:30       Refreshments

10:30-11:15       Shua Kisilevitz (IAA and TAU) – What’s the Cache? Cultic Vessels and Figurines from the Temple at Moẓa

11:15-12:00       Maria Eniukhina (BIU) – Votive objects from the Iron Age I/IIA Temple in Area D, in the lower city of Tell es-Safi/Gath.

12:00-13:00       Lunch for presenters

Behind the Scenes of the OT volume

Two days ago, I received a nice surprise in the mail – my copy of:

Greer, J. S., Hilber, J. W., and Walton, J. H., eds. 2018. Behind the Scenes of the Old Testament: Cultural, Social and Historical Contexts. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

The volume has a large collection of chapters on a broad range of issues relating to the study of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, by a very long and impressive list of scholars.

It will take quite a while to read through the contributions, but it looks like a very nice volume! Thanks to the editors for putting this together!

My contribution was on the archaeology of the Iron I:

Maeir, A. M. 2018. The Archaeology of the Iron Age I. Pp. 54–61 in Behind the Scenes of the Old Testament: Cultural, Social and Historical Contexts, eds. J. S. Greer, J. W. Hilber and J. H. Walton. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Here’s a picture of the cover:

The beginning of the end of an era – covering over areas on Tell es-Safi/Gath!

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:






New article by Itzik and Aren on the Administrative structure of the Judahite Kingdom

A new article, by Itzik Shai and me, has just been published.

This in fact is an updated and slightly expanded version, in Hebrew (but with an English abstract), of a previously published study, which appeared in the Festschrift in honor of Yossi Garfinkel (see: Maeir, A. M., and Shai, I. 2016. Reassessing the Character of the Judahite Kingdom: Archaeological Evidence for Non-Centralized, Kinship-Based Components. Pp. 323–40 in From Sha‘Ar Hagolan to Shaaraim: Essays in Honor of Prof. Yosef Garfinkel, eds. S. Ganor, I. Kreimerman, K. Streit and M. Mumcouglu. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society – a PDF of this can be found here).

The full title of the new article is:

Shai, I., and Maeir. A. 2018 Reassessing the Character of the Judahite Centralized Kingdom: An Updated Archaeological View (In Hebrew with English abstract). In the Highlands Depth 8: 29–45, 45* (once again, the link to this just-published article can be found here).