Article on Edomite ethnogenesis

I’m glad to report the publication of a new article of mine, which deals with topics that although connected to the Philistines (sort of), deals more with various topics which I’ve not dealt with much in the past.

The article is:
Maeir, A. M. 2021. Identity Creation and Resource Controlling Strategies: Thoughts on Edomite Ethnogenesis and Development. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 386:


In this paper I suggest that the evolution of the control of natural resources and trade routes in the Arabah Valley and its environs was the basis for the formation of Edomite identity in the early Iron Age. Building on insights on ethnogenesis in Southeast Asia in the studies of Joseph Scott and James Warren, I attempt to align this with recent discussions on early Edom, and the role that this group played in the regional economic web of the Iron Age.

Hope you find it interesting! I definitely enjoyed writing it – learning a lot in the process!


Conference on “Jerusalem and other Chosen Places” (Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021

Save the date!

On Thursday, Sept. 30th, 2021, the Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies at Bar-Ilan University and the College de France will conduct a joint online meeting “Jerusalem and Other Chosen Places.”

In the meeting, scholars from various countries will present archaeological and textual studies on Jerusalem and other “chosen” cities in the ancient world. This will include papers on Jerusalem, Shiloh, Samaria, Gerizim, Haran, Assur and Thebes.

A detailed program will be published in the near future, along with the link for the online meeting.

Aren Maeir (Bar-Ilan University)

Thomas Römer (College de France)

Workshop/Seminar at the University of Haifa

A workshop/hands-on seminar on the interface between maritime and coastal archaeology was held at the University of Haifa on Thursday, June 3, 2021. Senior and junior members of the RIAB Center, along with staff members of the Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project, visited the University of Haifa, to the Institute of Maritime Studies, the Institute of Archaeology, and the Hecht Museum.

During the visit, our hosts showed us finds from various underwater and coastal projects (including Dor, Kabri, Akhziv, Ma’agan Michael, and others), discussed methods of excavation and analyses, and the challenges and methods used in preserving finds from water logged environments.

Particular emphasis was placed on discussing the various types of finds from various cultures and regions, and how this affects our understanding of the cultural interactions between cultures in various periods.

The shirt for the 2021 season

The most important facet of any excavation season is the t-shirt! Without it, the team is lost and without purpose!

So, here is the design for the 2021 season at Tell es-Safi/Gath – the 25th season of excavations of the project – and probably the last full summer season of the project (research will continue, including specific projects at the site).

The shirt has on it a very interesting bowl that was found in 2019 in Area M, which has on it an appliqué of a lizard (whose head is unfortunately broken off).

Check it out!

Article in Jerusalem Post on EB botanical study

A nice article has appeared in the Jerusalem Post, summarizing the joint study, led by Sue Frumin (who is also interviewed for the article) on the archaeobotany of the EB levels at Tell es-Safi/Gath.

The full study is:

Frumin, S., Melamed, Y., Maeir, A. M., Greenfield, H. J., and Weiss, E. 2021. Agricultural subsistence, land use and long-distance mobility within the Early Bronze Age southern Levant: Archaeobotanical evidence from the urban site of Tell eṣ-Ṣâfī/Gath. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 37: 102873.

Check it out!

NSF grant for the Safi project!

Great news! A US National Science Foundation grant has been awarded to Dan Cabanes (PI; Rutgers), Aren Maeir (co-PI; BIU), Elisabetta Boaretta (co-PI; WIS) and Yonathan Goldsmith (co-PI; HUJI) to study the ancient environment around Tell es-Safi/Gath.

The 4 year project, “Human-Environment Interactions in the Southern Levant (HEISL),” will utilize inter-disciplinary methods (including phytolith and isotope analyses, Carbon 14 and OSL dating and other methods) to study the human-environmental interactions over extended periods on and around Tell es-Safi/Gath. In addition to the PIs, we plan to collaborate with other researchers in this study. Without a doubt, some very interesting research – and results – will come out of this grant!

Work on grant related research will commence this summer and continue in the next few years.

Here’s a summary of the main objectives of the study:

This proposal will test if anthropogenic phytolith assemblages from multi-layered urban sites record human responses to environmental variability. The relationship between climate and urban sustainability is a perennial topic in archaeology with contemporary resonances. Yet, most investigations of past human-environment interactions try to correlate archaeological records with distant environmental proxy sources, producing challenging spatial and temporal mismatches. As a result, human-scale responses to environmental shifts remain elusive when studied with conventional archaeological approaches. To address this challenge, we will use fossil and modern phytoliths to investigate how the inhabitants of Tell es-Safi/Gath responded to environmental changes. This study will create a modern phytolith reference
collection in the region that correlates vegetation types with their phytoliths and the rainfall record. The modern reference collection will serve as a calibration curve for evaluating the environmental signal in archeological phytolith assemblages. This project emphasizes the use of geoarchaeological methods to identify site formation processes involved in phytolith accumulation. We will use stable isotope values from charred plant remains and a battery of 14C dating to exponentially improve the resolution of the climatic reconstruction. Then, we will compare our results to the regional proxies, the material culture record, and the textual sources to discuss how accurately phytolith assemblages reflect urban resilience strategies at multiple chronological, social, cultural, and household scales.

Article on identifying fingerprints by Kent Fowler in BAR

Kent Fowler (Manitoba) who has been involved with the Safi project for many years, and has worked on the ceramic technology of the EB at the site, has published a very nice piece in Biblical Archaeology Review, summarizing our joint studies and identifying fingerprints of the potters who made the EB pottery at Tell es-Safi/Gath, and what we can learn from this.

Check it out!

Safi lab team toast in honor of Vanessa’s new job!

As mentioned previously, we are all very proud that Vanessa has a job at the University of Pennsylvania. In honor of this, today, the Safi lab team got together (first time since Corona that we had such a large group), to raise a toast in honor the Vanessa’s new job. In addition to some “bubbly”, I brought chocolates that fit in with Vanessa’s research – ancient metallurgy. Crucible and slag shaped chocolates!

Here are some pictures!