Tell es-Safi/Gath (Hebrew Tel Tsafit) is a commanding mound located on the border between the Judean foothills (the Shephelah) and the coastal plain, approximately halfway between Jerusalem and Ashkelon (Click HERE to check the weather at Tell es-Safi). At about 100 acres in size, it is one of the largest and most important archaeological sites in Israel. Tell es-Safi is identified as Canaanite and Philistine Gath, known from various ancient sources such as the El-Amarna texts from Egypt, and from the Bible it is known as the home town of Goliath and Achish (as mentioned in the book of Samuel). Archaeological excavations and surveys on the site indicate that the site was inhabited virtually continuously from the Chalcolithic period (5th millennium BCE) until 1948.
Since 1996, a team of archaeologists from the Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies at Bar-Ilan University,under the direction of Prof. Aren M. Maeir, has been studying the archaeology and history of Tell es-Safi/Gath (The Tell es-Safi/Gath Excavation Project). This project, which has become one of the major excavations currently being conducted in the Levant, has yielded extremely impressive and important finds. This includes rich remains from the Bronze and Iron Ages, including finds relating to the Canaanite culture (such as Early Bronze Age levels, Middle Bronze Age fortifications, and Late Bronze Age inscription), and rich finds from the various stages of the Iron Age Philistine culture. This includes the earliest known deciphered Philistine inscription (the so-called “Goliath inscription), cultic remains of various kinds, well-preserved destruction layers with hundreds of complete finds, and the world earliest known siege system (related to the conquest of Gath by Hazael of Aram, as mentioned in II Kings 12: 17-18). In the 2018 season we focused on the excavations in several points in the lower city, and had quite a few very nice finds. This includes continued work in the gate and fortifications, as well as two new areas (Areas M and Y). In Area M we found very impressive remains from the Iron IIA (Hazael) destruction, and in Area Y, we found very interesting – if not yet fully understood – Iron I remains. In the 2019 season, we plan to continue working in various areas in the lower city, continuing existing excavations areas and opening a few new ones as well.
The Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project welcomes volunteers and students who wish to join our team. There are several options for those interested in joining the excavations team:
1) As a volunteer, for minimum stay of two weeks. This includes participation in the various excavation related activities, as well as in the field trips and lectures that are given during the dig;
2) As a participant in the accredited field school program. Students that are interested can sign up for an accredited field school program that is run during the excavation. Credit from Bar-Ilan University (accepted at major school throughout the world, but please check with your institution) is offered, for 2 weeks (3 credits) or weeks (6 credits) of participation. Participants in the field school will learn techniques of field archaeology, including field registration, stratigraphy, pottery recognition, basic aspects of archaeological science, as well as participating in field trip and hearing lectures connected to the archaeology and history of the region.
During the excavation, the team lives at Kibbutz Kfar Menachem (in the regional school), which is located about a 10 minute drive from the site. Air conditioned rooms (ca. 4-6 people in a room; single and double rooms available for extra charge); food is kosher. Team members have full access to the pool, as well as other facilities.
WORK DAY (more or less)
4:45 am: Wakeup
5:45 am – 1 pm: Excavation
Afternoon: Various excavation related processes (such as pottery washing and “reading”, lab work) and field trips (twice a week).
Evenings: Lectures (2-3 times a week).
We work from early Sunday afternoon until early Friday afternoon.
Weekends are off.
June 28rd-July 24th, 2020
Price for one week (regular room) – $550 (minimum 2 weeks, plus $50 registration fee).
For details of costs of program (including various options of accommodations and participation in the accredited academic field school) see the “Excavation Application”).
Some of you who planning to join us this summer as students or volunteers may have financial limitations. It is suggested to try applying for scholarships and/or stipends that assist in travel for study abroad and/or to Israel. There are many options for people of different countries and origins, and we suggest that you conduct a careful search for this on your own.
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