Preparations at the Tell!

Today, a group of team members were on the tell, preparing the various areas for the excavation. We had a tractor with us, which did a fantastic job removing thorns and cacti from around the various areas, fixing up soil dumps, and in general, making the excavation areas and surroundings into a much more easier to manage environment.

The areas are looking good – and it looks like we are going to have a really great season.

And we even had a nice find today – a very large olive oil press stone, found in a terrace near Area K.

Things are looking good.

Tomorrow, a bunch of the team will be at BIU and Kfar Menahem, setting up equipment for the dig.

And the rest of the team arrives on Sunday! Dig fever is definitely here!!


Some of the 2019 season objectives

So it’s just one week before the beginning of the 2010 season, and it’s a great opportunity to present some of the objectives (not all…) for this season.

As in the previous season, we will be excavating in several areas in the lower city, that is the relatively flat part of the site, to the north of the tell and up to the Elah Valley Riverbed. There will be several areas:

Area D East (directed by Jeff Chadwick): we will continue excavating in the gate area, attempting to better define the gate and its various phases, and understand the various features, rooms and other aspects in its vicinity.

Area K (directed by Eric Welch): after a one year break, Eric will be back in Area K, and will be expanding the area to the north, to try and connect the previously excavated features with the large wall just above the riverbed. We hope to try and understand that this is, how it relates to the features in Area K, and perhaps, get a good date for the activity in this area.

Area K2 (directed by Brent Davis): This area is also renewing work after a one year break. In the 2017 season, we excavated a portion of the monumental, multi-phased wall situated on the slope going down towards the river bed, just to the west of Area K. Previously, we excavated Iron IIA levels within this wall. This year, we will try and reach the top of this wall from inside the city, and try and see if there are elements that are built up against it.

Area Y (directed by Jill Katz): Continuing last year’s work, where some very interesting Iron I (not Iron IIA!) features were found, including what appears to be a brick kiln and an installation for the production of a plaster like chalk material. We intend to expand the area, particularly to the north and east, hoping to further understand these features, their function and date – and how they relate to other finds in the lower city.

Arean M (directed by Maria Eniukhina): last year we excavated 4 squares chock-full of finds from the 9th cent BCE destruction level  (wrought by Hazael). This year, we continue and expand in this area, in an attempt to further understand the phasing and architecture, and perhaps to uncover more rooms and possible alleyway, which was discerned in the remote sensing (by Andy Creekmore).

These are some of the objectives in the various areas, along with some others that we are thinking of – and those that will undoubtedly pop up as we start excavating.

And, as always, we are hoping from some truly astounding finds! (I wouldn’t mind an inscription, by Hazael, telling us about his conquest of Gath…:-).

I’m getting excited…


The 2019 shirt!

As you may already know, you can’t excavate without a good season t-shirt (:-), so here’s a sneak preview of the back of the shirt!

The motif is based on the design on the base of a scarab that was found (by Emily Warden of the CCU team – see here) in Area D East (Jeff’s area) last year…

Team members will receive their shirts when they arrive at the dig, and the various sizes and colors that were ordered will be available!

The 2019 season is about to start!

The 2019 season at Tell es-Safi/Gath starts in just 10 days – on Sunday, June 23rd. The team members will be converging on the site in the next week or so, and meanwhile preparations are in full swing!

We have quite a nice sized team this year, with about 100 team members in weeks 1-2, about 80 in week 3, and just under 50 in week 4.

The team will be comprised of archaeologists, students and volunteers from various institutions (including: BIU, HU, BYU, YU, Ariel, Kentucky, Melbourne, CCU, URI, GVSU) and countries (including: Israel, USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Switzerland, Korea, China, Australia). Quite a diverse group of people!

On Tuesday, a small group of the core staff (Maria, Vanessa, Yaniv and Aren) were on site to mark off new squares in Areas M, K, K2 and Y. While the areas themselves are not covered to badly in thorns, a lot of the spaces in between have “mega thorns”! In fact, it may very well be that for the first few days, we will all experience a “game of thorns”!

See here a short video that will give you an idea.

Next week, on Wednesday, we’ll be out in the field with a tractor, for further preparations. This will include fixing up some of the dumps, trampling some of the thorns, and getting rid of some nasty “sabra” (prickly pear) cacti near Area K.

Then, on Thursday, some of the staff will be at BIU and Kfar Menahem, to pack and send various equipment for the season.

This are already moving along for what’s going to be a great season.

Looking forward to the people, the finds and the fun!


English version of Haaretz article on making bread from our yeast

An English version of Nir Hasson’s article in Haaretz, on attempting (not that successful…) to make bread using our isolate yeast, has just appeared.

Check it out!

Just shows that we have just scratched the “tip of the iceberg” (or the edge of the loaf…) in applications of our ancient yeast study!


New article by Louise et al., on post-palatial memories in the Mediterranean

A new article, by Louise, Aren and Maddi has just appeared (see here). In this article we discuss possible manifestations of memory in post-Palatial cultures in the Iron Age Mediterranean, and how mnemohistory and nostalgia, contributed to symbolic behaviours in the transition between the Late Bronze and Iron Ages, in the Aegean and the Levant.

The full title is:

Hitchcock, L. A., Maeir, A. M., and Harris-Schober, M. 2019. Tomorrow Never Dies: Post-Palatial Memories of the Aegean Late Bronze Age in the Mediterranean. Pp. 543–49 in MNHMH/MNEME: Past and Memory in the Aegean Bronze Age. Proceedings of the 17th International Aegean Conference, University of Udine, Department of Humanities and Cultural Heritage, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Department of Humanities, 17–21 April 2018, eds. E. Borgna, I. Caloi, F. Carinci and R. Laffineur. AEGAEUM 43. Leuven: Peeters.