Preparing 3D models of objects from the IMJ – for the biblical archaeology MOOC

As part of the preparations for the MOOC on Biblical Archaeology, yesterday, Maria, Vanessa and Aren went to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem to take photos of objects in the museum. These photos will be used to create 3D models of these objects.

These and other 3D models of archaeological objects will be used in the MOOC course. Since many students of this online course can’t physically touch the actual objects, these 3D models will enable them to virtually touch the objects, and get a feeling of what they look like from all sides!

Should be really nice!

Here are some pictures of the work at the Museum. Thanks to Maria and Vanessa for the photography and creating the models, and the museum staff for being so helpful!

Here are some pictures that I took yesterday of the work in progress:


Great one day mini-season in Area M!

Yesterday (Oct. 18, 2018) we were out for a one day mini-season in Area M – and it was great! Part of the Safi lab staff and a bunch of BIU students went out for a day of excavations in Area M, in the lower city (Maria’s area), to take down a balk filled with pottery, that was left standing after the season. We were afraid that if it was left open until the summer, people might poke at it and destroy it.

It was a great day! Not only did we have great weather, the team was excellent, and there were some really nice finds! This includes a whole bunch of restorable vessels, and always fun – 3 whole juglets (including one Black-on-Red, “Cypro-Phoenician” juglet)!

In addition, I walked around a looked at the other areas in the lower city – and they look happy!

Here are some pictures from the day, both of the work in Area M, views of the other areas, a view of the tell from the north, and of course, a group photo of the team at the end of the day!


New article by Daniel Pioske on Philistine Gath in the Book of Samuel

Daniel Pioske (Georgia Southern University), has been kind enough to pass on to me a very interesting article that he just published on the Gath of the Philistines in the Book of Samuel. Well worth reading!

The details of the article are:

Pioske, D. 2018. Material Culture and Making Visible: On the Portrayal of Philistine Gath in the Book of Samuel. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 43(1): 3–27.

Check it out!

New paper on all the donkey burials in the EB in Area E at Tell es-Safi/Gath

A new – and very interesting – paper has just appeared that deals with the very impressive collection of donkey burials/sacrifices that were found below domestic floors in the EB levels in Area E at Tell es-Safi/Gath.

Here are the full details of the paper:

Greenfield, H. J., Greenfield, T. L., Shai, I., Albaz, S., and Maeir, A. M. 2018. Household Rituals and Sacrificial Donkeys: Why Are There So Many Domestic Donkeys Buried in an Early Bronze Age Neighborhood at Tell eṣ-Ṣâfi/Gath? Near Eastern Archaeology 81(3): 202–11.

Check it out here!


Long-range trade with the Levant – another perspective

I’m just finishing a fascinating trip to Singapore, where I gave several lectures on archaeology (including to the Singapore Bible College and the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society). During my stay, I managed to tour around many of the beautiful sites in this small state – which is highly recommended for a very interesting visit.

Among other places, I visited the superb Asian Civilizations Museum (highly recommended!). One of the star exhibits at the museum are the finds from a shipwreck, dating to the 9th century CE – known as the Tang Shipwreck. This is the wreck of a ship that first set sail from the Persian Gulf, during the time of Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad, en route to Tang Period China, and then, on the way back, after loading up a cargo of mainly Chinese ceramics, made its way back towards the Persian Gulf. But when it was passing thru the Java Sea, east of Sumatra, it sank.

Excavations of the wreck produced an extraordinary collection of well-preserved finds, the vast majority being Chinese ceramics of various kinds, including 60,000 (!!!) identical bowls that were tightly packed in larger ceramic jars  (see pictures below).

Among the various finds there was also evidence of the multi-ethnic character of the crew, which included sailors from the Levant as well as from Eastern and South-Eastern Asia.

I purchased a copy of the very nice catalogue (see a picture of the cover below), beautifully illustrated with many very interesting chapters of a broad range of topics relating to the ship, the related cultures and the period.

While dealing with periods and cultures that are not often discussed on this blog, the uniqueness of the finds, the very nice evidence of long-term trade, and very attractive exhibit, warrant their mention!

And while in early periods there is no evidence of such extensive finds from the east in the Levant, the possible evidence of the trade in Cinnamon, found in Iron Age contexts, indicates that long-range trade of such distances, did already exist in earlier periods as well.



Online registration for the 2019 season is open!

Great news. All of you who are waiting, breathlessly, to register for the 2019 season at Tell es-Safi/Gath (June 23-July 19, 2019) – the online registration is open!

Go here to sign up – first comes, first served. Places are limited, so do try and sign up as soon as possible.

Looking forward to seeing this summer at Tell es-Safi/Gath – for an exciting, fulfilling and enriching season of excavations!


Safi staff dinner at the end of the 2018 season

Jeff Chadwick was kind enough to pass on to me a great picture of the very nice dinner that the staff (or at least most of them…) of the 2018 season at Tell es-Safi/Gath had, towards the end of the season, at the sushi restaurant near the “Kastina Junction” right next to the town of Kiryat Malakhi.

The food was good – the company even better! :-)