First harvest of Olives at Gath for the year

So this afternoon, I’m giving a tour of Tell es-Safi/Gath to a group from the Freie University of Berlin, led by Prof. Dominik Bonatz, so I came a little early to the site, to check if any of the olive trees had ripe olives.

Indeed, some of them did, as the season usually starts from early September until around November. Other trees had olives that needed more time to ripen.

So I picked (in Hebrew מסקתי) a nice bunch of olives (a real life example of “low hanging fruit”…), enough for about 2 to 3 large pickling jars.

For those interested, the ripe trees were near areas K, B and M!

Here are some pictures:

“Crafting for the gods” workshop schedule

As previously mentioned, Vanessa, Shira and Laura are organizing a “Minerva School” workshop, next week, entitled “Crafting for the God(s): Dynamics of Cult, Craft Production, and Socio-Technological Identities”.

See below the detailed schedule. The organizers say that all are invited to join!

President of IAS in lab!

Today we had the pleasure and honor to host in the Safi lab Prof. David Harel, president of the Israel Academy of Science and Humanities, along with Prof. Margalit Finkelberg, vice president of the academy, and Prof. Arie Zaban, BIU president. At the same time, Prof. Philipp Stockhammer (LMU & MPI Leipzig) was in the lab as well.
I showed them some the fascinating finds and methods, from the Safi project.
Check out some pictures from the visit (taken by Maria):

ISF Funded conference on urbanization in the Iron Age

On Sept. 18-20, 2022, a conference will be held at Bar-Ilan University “Urbanization in the Iron Age Levant and Beyond.” In the conference, which will deal with diverse aspects of urbanism, primarily but not only in the Iron Age Levant, scholars from Israel and all over the world will present and discuss topics relating to ancient cities, urbanism and related phenomena, bringing together different perspectives and views.

The conference is funded by the Israel Science Foundation, with the participation of the Minerva Center for Relations between Israel and Aram in Biblical Times, and the Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies of Bar-Ilan University

See below for the conference schedule. The lectures on Monday (19/9) and Tuesday (20/9) are open to the scholars and students, but please confirm your participation with me (

Here is the conference poster:

Minerva School 2022: “Crafting for the Gods”

I’m happy to pass on about the fascinating “Minerva School”, organized by Shira Albaz, Laura Gonnermann and Vanessa Workman “Crafting for the Gods: Dynamics of cult, craft production and socio-technological identities”, which will be held at Bar-Ilan University, on Monday-Tuesday, September 12th-13th, 2022.

The workshop is funded by the Minerva Stiftung, along with the Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies of Bar-Ilan University.

An elephant of a find!

Reports are out that a joint IAA/BGU team is working on excavating a complete 1/2 million year old elephant tusk from the Revadim Quarry, which is just a couple of km north of Tell es-Safi/Gath. This is not the first evidence of elephants from this site (see here), but definitely is a very nice find!

In a hat tip to the great Groucho Marx, I do hope they will manage to Tuscaloosa it quickly and without damage…:-)

RIAB Minerva “Mini-MOOC”

Please note the following notice from the Minerva Center for the Relations between Israel and Aram in Biblical Times (RIAB), which includes several talks directly related to Philistine Gath:

As part of the RIAB Center’s public outreach, we have decided to put up a “Mini-MOOC” (=mini Massive Open Online Course) in which short video clips, by various members of the RIAB Center, on topics that are part of the Center’s activities, are presented. These clips (that are no longer than 10-15 minutes), aim to introduce these topics to interested lay people, students and researchers. This will provide an introduction to these topics, and give an idea about the breadth of topics that are broached as part of the Center’s activities.

Here are links to these clips:

* Prof. Aren Maeir (RIAB Center co-Director, BIU): Hazael of Aram at Philistine Gath

* Prof. Yigal Levin (BIU): Aram and Arameans in Chronicles

* Dr. Nava Panitz-Cohen (HUJI): Tel Abel Bet Maacah: A northern border city between Israelites, Arameans and Phoenicians

* Dr. Omer Sergi (TAU): State formation in the Early Iron Age Levant (11th-8th centuries BCE)

* Dr. Assaf Kleiman (BGU): The Wars of Aram Damascus against Israel and its Neighbors

Jewelry hoard!

So today, I’m sitting in a session at the 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies currently being held at the Mount Scopus Campus of the Hebrew University, and I get a WhatsApp message from Eden Rosenberg, who works with Ronen Hazan at the Dental School of the Ein Karem Campus of the Hebrew University. Eden, as part of her MA, was checking the contents of a juglet from the Hazael destruction layer in Area M in the lower city (Maria’s area; destroyed ca. 830 BCE), hoping to conduct microbiological analysis of this vessel’s contents (for previous research with Ronen, see here)

Eden informs me that as she started emptying the sediment in the vessel, more and more beads starting popping up, as well as a gold earing, a seal (with its bezel), glass beads, and other finds!

Needless to say, I immediately ran to my car, and drove Mt. Scopus to Ein Karem, to see the finds! VERY COOL!

See below Eden standing next to her discovery – and a slightly closer view of the finds. The finds will now be sent to the conservation lab, and then we’ll start working on studying and publishing the finds.

What’s quite noteworthy is that this is the first (!!!) hoard that we found at Gath, including in the Hazael destruction level.

That’s what’s so cool about archaeology – there is a potential surprise waiting everywhere!

Publish—or the finds will perish!

A short article that I wrote for Bible History Daily appeared recently, in which I explain why I’ve scaled down the excavations at Gath (no more big seasons!) in order to facilitate research and publication, and not leave the results to be published decades later (as often has happened with past excavations).

Instead of the famous “publish or perish” dictum, and I say “publish—or the finds will perish”.

Check it out!

For a more extensive discussion of this, see here my article in PEQ on this.