Special issue of IJES – Archaeological Science in Israel

Today, the special issue of the Israel Journal of Earth Sciences (56 (2-4): 2007) dedicated to “Archaeological Science in Israel” has appeared. This triple issue, which was edited by Elisabetta Boaretto, Ruth Shahack-Gross, Sariel Shalev, Ehud Weiss and Steve Weiner, contains a collection of articles that summarize what’s happening in Israel in some of the main fields of archaeological science (see table of contents here).
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Tenure for Indiana Jones!

In the latest issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (34/5, Sept/Oct 2008) there is a humorous short piece that I wrote on why I strongly believe that Dr. Jones should recieve tenure at Marshall College.

Basically, I argue that although archaeology is represented in the Indiana Jones movies has little to do with actual archaeological practice, these movies have served a very important role of igniting the public’s interest in archaeology. Something, that unfortunately, many of my colleagues do not take seriously enough.

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The Genetics of the Druze population – very interesting

One of the most fascinating, and probably promising avenues for the study of human antiquity is the study of ancient human genetics. These studies have opened up fanstastic windows to the past, relating to diverse aspects such as unique populations groups, origin of modern humans, development of language, etc (see an example of these studies here and here). As usual, along with the interesting and important studies, there has been a lot of “bunk”, which some of you may have already come across..

In recent years there has been quite an intense ongoing discussion, and debate, regarding studies on the genetic origins of the jews and other related populations. In fact, even Nadia Abu el-Haj (know from other aspects) has been involved in this … (see some of these discussions, here and here). Also in this case, a lot of good science, and lot of very bad science, has been intertwined …

Just now, a fascinating study on the genetics of the Druze has just appeared (and summarized briefly here), which demonstrates that they are a unique, and very old “genetic refuge” – which offers a fascinating glimpse of the genetic makeup of the near east thousand of years ago.

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Free download – Harris’ “Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy”

One of the most useful tools for the analysis of complicated archaeological stratigraphy is the well-known “Harris Matrix,” developed by Edward Harris, and well-known through his important book:
Harris, E. C. 1989. Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy. 2nd ed. London: Academic.

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Bi-weekly lab talk on Kfar Menachem site

This last monday, Amit Dagan, one of the regular Safi staff, and graduate student at Bar-Ilan University, gave a talk about his MA thesis research, one of the regular bi-weekly talks at the lab.

Amit is researching and will publish the finds from a small site that is located about 1.6 km to the east of Tell es-Safi/Gath, which was excavated about 5 years ago by Yigal Yisraeli of the Israel Antiquities Authority. This site is apparently a small rural site dating to the Iron IIB (ca. 8th cent. BCE).

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Article on Philistine cooking pots has appeared in AJA

At long last, as mentioned before, the article by David Ben-Shlomo, Itzhaq Shai, Alex Zukerman and yours truly on Philistine cooking pots has appeared in the newest issue of the American Journal of Archaeology (aka AJA).
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Two noteworthy events: Shira’s B-day and Alex gives a talk

Yesterday (10/2/08) we had two noteworthy events in the lab.

The first one is that we celebrated Shira’s b-day (I believe she was 18 years old … :-), and here is a picture of her happinly cutting her b-day cake.

image_00011.jpg Shira and her cake

Following that event, Alex gave a very interesting talk about problems and issues relating to the publication of archaeological excavations. This is VERY relevant to what all of us on the Safi staff have and will continue working on for a long time, how to publish, in the most efficient but meaningful manner, the finds from an archaeological excavation. In particular, he discussed the problematic issues of the different emphases that can be placed on stratigraphic and/or architectural analysis, and how this effects the character of the archaeological report. He also discussed the very well-known, but extremely complicated issue of why and how we make typologies of various classes of archaeological finds – in particular relating to pottery.

image_00012.jpg Alex – enthusiastically waiting to start his lecture …

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