New paper on provenance of EB basalt ground stone vessels

A new paper by the Safi team has appeared (see here a link to the paper)!

The paper, spearheaded by Jeremy Beller, deals with a geochemical provenance study of basalt ground stone objects from the EB levels at Tell es-Safi/Gath, and attempts to place the results within the context of the EB exchange and trade networks.

Here is the abstract:

On-going excavations at the Early Bronze Age III settlement of Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel have recovered a small assemblage of basalt ground stone objects in a residential neighbourhood. As high quality basalt is not found within the Shephelah (the Judean foothills), the occurrence of basalt artefacts at settlements in this region has frequently been cited as evidence of movement of raw material or the exchange of commodities within the southern Levant. However, only a limited number of studies have connected basalt artefacts with sources through geochemical provenance from this area of Israel. Using the geochemical fingerprints from previous studies and an XRF analysis,
we attempt to identify the source of origin of nineteen basalt grinding stones using a meta-analysis of previously identified geological sources in the region and surrounding areas. The results demonstrate that the basalt artefacts originated from a wide variety of sources, including the eastern Dead Sea, Jezreel Valley, and Galilee-Golan regions, thereby supporting previously held hypotheses about the movement of basalt commodities
from sources within the immediate region. No artefacts were linked to more distant sources (e.g. Egypt, Sinai). These data provide evidence that EB urban centres, such as Tell es-Safi/Gath,were socio-economically connected even for quotidian commodities to other regions of the southern Levant through some kind of system for the non-local exchange of traditionally domestic commodities.

The paper is entitled: Beller, J. A., Greenfield, H. J., Fayek, M., Shai, I., and Maeir, A. M. 2016. Provenance and Exchange of Basalt Ground Stone Artefacts of EB III Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel. Journal of Archaeological Science Reports 9: 226–37.

The research on which this paper is based was funded by the joint grant to Haskel Greenfield and Aren Maeir from the Canadian SSHRC.


Great visit to Tel Azekah!

Yesterday, I had the great opportunity to visit the ongoing excavations at Tel Azekah, hosted by co-directors Oded Lipschitz, Yuval Gadot and Manfred Oeming. They gave me a great tour of the various areas – and the fantastic finds that are coming up.

We also laid the foundations for some exciting joint research between our sites – two close neighbors with ongoing relations, contacts and/or lack thereof in different periods! I’m sure that this will lead to some really interesting, and perhaps ground breaking research in the coming years!

Thanks to the Azekah team for the gracious hosting!


Great news for Brent Davis – a position at Melbourne!

Great news for Brent Davis, long-time member of the Safi team:

Brent has just been appointed to a salaried position at the University of Melbourne, where he’ll be in charge of teaching, restructuring and expanding the ancient Egyptian language program there. Over the next few years, Brent will (1) incorporate significant amounts of Online Learning into the program, (2) refocus the program toward Object-Based Learning, in which students learn extensively from actual inscriptions in addition to those in textbooks, and (3) expand the program from a single semester into a full two-year series of language courses (Egyptian 1, 2, 3 and 4).

Way to go Brent! Well-deserved without a doubt!

Maddi gives a lecture on Safi!

Madeline Harris-Schober (better known as Maddi), former team member at Safi (2014) has informed me that she just have a paper at the National Archaeology Student Conference (NASC), held at the University of Western Australia in Perth. The paper she gave was a shortened version her undergraduate project Demystifying the Philistines- A Comparative Study of IIIC Pottery from Crete and Philistia, whilst also adding in some general info about the site – including practical information about the dig itself.

Here’s a picture of Maddi giving the lecture – way to go!

Maddi lecturing on Safi NASC 2016

Kudos for Cynthia – “The Five Minute Archaeologist” volume about to appear

Cynthia Shafer-Elliott (William Jessup University – and a former Safi staff member) has sent out a flyer for the soon to appear “The Five Minute Archaeologist“, which provides an excellent intro to what archaeology is, based on short chapters on a wide variety of topics, covering the basics of “everything you wanted to know about archaeology but was afraid to ask”…

As you will notice from the table of contents in the flyer (Shafer-Elliott-5 minute archaeologist flyer) 22 of the 56 chapters are written by past or present “Safiites” – so I think it is safe to say that Safi rules…


Nice job Cynthia!


A third drone video clip from the end of the 2016 season

Here is a third aerial video clip from drone (taken by PW) at the end of 2016 season at Tell es-Safi/Gath. Clip starts with drone just to the east of Area K in the lower city, then flies northwards over the lower city moving west, passing Area D, and then and turns south and climbs up towards the peak of the tell and Area F. After circling around Area F, it turns north, northeast, and heads again towards Area D.

Now, with the three clips – one can get a view of the overall majority of the tell and its immediate surroundings!

Check it out – really nice!