Floods in the Elah River!

The recent extraordinary rainfall event over the last few days, with its blessings (much needed water) and its curses (several people lost their lives…), had its effect on the vicinity of Tell es-Safi/Gath as well.

Oren Ackermann, the Safi project geomorphologist, just sent me some photos and clips of the water flowing right now (Friday morning, Jan. 10, 2020) in the Elah River at the base of the tell, just to the north of the lower city. For those of you who know the site only during the summer, when the river bed is bone dry, here is a very different view of what the site looks like!

Check out these great photos and clips! (Thank you Oren!!)

As the height of these waters is so unusual, and almost “biblical,” let me “harp a little”, and here are a couple of things that come to mind… (and you’ll excuse my dramatization…)

Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters (Ex 15:10)

The river Kishon swept them away, the age-old river, the river Kishon. March on, my soul, be strong! (Judg 5:21)


Dig scholarships from the BAS!

If you are looking for financial assistance to join the Safi team this summer, why don’t you try applying for a dig scholarship from the Biblical Archaeology Society?

Give it a try! Check out the details here.

I can promise that the dig will be an experience, and memory, that you will cherish for many years to come!



New article on the scientific protocol for sampling and isolating yeast cells from ancient clay vessels

I’m happy to announce, and provide the link, for a just-published article, in which the protocol that we developed for sampling and isolating yeast cells from ancient clay vessels is detailed.
The full reference to this article is:
Aouizerat, T., Maeir, A. M., Paz, I., Gadot, Y., Szitenberg, A., Alkalay-Oren, S., Coppenhagen-Glazer, S., Klutstein, M., and Hazan, R. 2020. Isolation and Characterization of Live Yeast Cells from Ancient Clay Vessels. Bio-Protocol 10(1): https://doi.org/10.21769/BioProtoc.3473.
This protocol was successfully used by our team in a previously published paper (which has been mentioned previously):
Aouizerat, T., Gutmana, I., Paz, I., Maeir, A. M., Gadot, Y., Gleman, D., Szitenberg, A., Drori, E., Pinkus, A., Schoeman, M., Kaplan, R., Ben-Gedalya, T., Coppenhagen-Glazer, S., Reich, E., Saragovi, A., Lipschits, O., Klutstein, M., and Hazan, R. 2019. Isolation and Characterization of Live Yeast Cells from Ancient Vessels as a Tool in Bio-Archeology. MBio 10:e00388–19.
I hope this will be of utility to other archaeological teams!


Cool shots of me (Aren) holding the moon!

Brent Davis (Melbourne), long time core staff member of the Safi project (and currently directing Area B in the lower city) has been kind enough to send me two great pictures, taken at the end of the 2013 season at Tell es-Safi/Gath, when we were taking final pictures in Area A, in the late afternoon/early evening.

A full moon was out, in the sky to the east of the site, and Brent managed to catch me and the moon in two great views. In one, I’m holding the orb in one hand and in the other, I’m sort of posing as Hathor…

Thanks Brent! Great photos!

Safi is in more “end of year” lists! :-)

The Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project, and its finds, are in a few more end of year lists that have just come out.

In the Times of Israel, Amanda Borschel-Dan lists what she sees as the ten significant finds of 2019. And guess what? Safi is in two of them!! The first one is the massive fortifications of early Iron Age Gath; and the second one is mention of the joint study in which we isolated ancient yeast, including from beer vessels from Philistine Gath! 2 out of 10!!!

In an article in “Watch Jerusalem”, there is also a list, this time of six major finds, and Safi is also in them, with the massive Iron I fortifications.

Not bad at all!

Happy New Year to all!

And here is a picture of the massive Iron I fortifications:


Safi lab fun day in the City of David

Today, the Safi lab team had a City of David “fun day.” The Safi team met at the City of David in Jerusalem for a half day tour of some of the more recent finds in various parts of the site.

We started with a great tour of the “Givati Parking Lot” excavations, by Prof. Yuval Gadot (TAU). Particularly impressive were the recently discovered Iron Age IIB/C remains, including some really cool contexts of the 586 BCE destruction.

We then continued for about 4 hours in various parts of the City of David with Dr. Joe Uziel (IAA) and got a fascinating tour of MB, Iron II and Roman-Byzantine finds from various parts of the site.

Once the tour was over, part of the group went for lunch in the Mamilla mall, just outside Jaffa Gate.

Really nice day! See below some pictures in the various areas that we visited.