Half a million hits!

Today marks a nice little mile stone in the Safi blog – we have passed the half a million (that’s 500,000) hits since it was opened several years ago. While this does not match up to the really popular blogs and sites, but nevertheless, that’s not too bad for a blog which deals with an excavation!

So thanks to all of you, out there, that have been following the blog over the years!


And yes, another great day…

So the finds keep on popping up…

In Area F, there are two beautiful LB floors rich with finds, and we now have clear stratigraphic evidence of several LB stages. The EB in F is also quite impressive, and the pre-fortification levels are slowly expanding.

In P, the EB wall continues to grow and we are beginning to wonder whether we have the location of a turn in the wall. The LB levels are also of interest – with a possible plaster installation built inside the wall.

In A, they are digging in the 8th and 9th cent levels, and some nice finds (wall, vessels, etc.) were discovered.

In E, we have several nice floors and walls, including a nicely preserved phytolith and ash level which will provide some good samples for dating. It appears that we now have good datable samples from at least 5 phases in the EB!

In D, the fun continues as well. We now have close to 30 meters (!!!) of the wall leading towards the gate, as well as all kinds of additional built features. We still are very far from understanding them. Very nicely, we seem to be getting very close the actual production location in the 9th cent metallurgical area in D, and we may have begun to uncover a floor level with evidence of intense heating. This should be VERY interesting. From the metallurgical area we also exposed a rather complete jaw of a cow. Needless to say, the 9th cent. destruction level continues to produce all kinds of rich finds…

Here is a picture of the cow jaw, and a view of another section of the city wall, which Michael Asband and Oren Ackermann found in the Elah River valley bed, about 100 m to the east of the gate!

Cow jaw in situ section of wall in wadi 1


Update for July 14th, 2015

Another great day on the tell, with a lot of very interesting finds, and here are a few of them:

In Area D, in addition to continuing to discover more and more aspects of the fortifications and gate, and more and more finds from the 9th cent. BCE destruction, we have to very interesting finds: 1) we now have clear stratigraphic, architectural and ceramic evidence for a substantial Iron I phase in Area D, below the Stratum D4 (10th cent. BCE). This is the first clear cut evidence that there is a significant stratum from the Iron I (with Iron I Philistine 1 and 2 decorated pottery!). This means that the lower city of Gath was settled not only in the 10th and 9th cent. BCE – but already during the Iron I! 2) It appears that the area with metallurgical activity dates to the 9th cent destruction level – and not to the post-destruction squatter’s phase.

Some other interesting points:

In Area F, we have nice LB and Iron I levels, and really nice evidence of an earlier phase of the EB, before the fortification. This fits in well with the picture in Area P!

Great day! Great finds! Great team!


Update for July 13th

The start of the third week of the excavation went very well and the finds from all the areas were very exciting!

In Area D, new finds of all kinds were appearing. The new fortifications and gate are becoming more and more impressive, with many lines of massive, megalithic stones now seen, both in the fortifications near the original excavations in Area D, as well as in the vicinity of the gate. Among other things, we have what appears to be a stone built glacis of megalithic stones, and several walls which already have three courses of stones! The various features related to the excavation are getting larger and larger! In addition, the other part of G, interesting remains dating to the 9th cent BCE destruction and the earlier 10th cent layer were discovered – and it appears that there is evidence of 3 pre-destruction architectural phases in this area, making the use of the lower city even more impressive!

In Area A, Louise and her team came up with some nice finds from the LB levels, including a bottom of a vessel in which a dried fig was found (!), and a very interesting fragment of a non-local shell.

In Area P, the EB fortification and the pre-fortification EB remains are being further exposed. In the LB levels, a plastered installation, utilizing the inside of the EB wall was found and will be further investigated. A nice little find from the LB level was a Egyptian style glass pendant of grapes!

In Area F, a new phase of the pre-fortification EB levels was defined – meaning that there are at least 2 architectural stages dating to the EB which precede the construction of the EB wall!

And finally, in Area E, major work was done on taking apart walls to go down to the earlier EB phases, as well as defining some EB floors and walls. In addition, some interesting LB and Iron Age contexts were excavated.

An interesting aspect which went on at site today was a seismic analysis conducted by Prof. Amotz Agnon (HU) and his student Yatir. The laid out geomicrophones at various points on the site, to check how different parts of the site, and off site locations react to seismic energy.

We also has a visit of the head of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, Mr. Shaul Goldstein, who was very impressed by the gate remains – and hopefully will assist in developing and excavating these remains.

Here are some pictures

geophone analysis Shaul Goldstein on site July 2015 Vessel in Area D working on the gate Amit and Caspar Carl and some complete vessels

View of the gate area from the 1940s!

Here is a really nice picture of the area of the new fortifications and gate, taken by the late photographer David Perlmutter (one of the founding members of Kibbutz Kfar Menahem and a well-known photographer), sometime in the 1940s.

The picture, which is so good that it’s as if it was taken with excavation in mind (perfect angle and details), shows the area of the gate and fortification, and as, most importantly, the almost total lack of modern construction in this area. The building with the arches on the left is the modern water wheel (“antiliya”), whose remains can be seen until today. You can also see the path, leading up to the tell and village, which we believe may retain the path of the Iron Age gate entrance!

1940s view of lower city


All rested and revved-up for the 3rd week!

I assume that all the Safi team had a restful and relaxing weekend, and are all revved-up and waiting for the beginning of the 3rd week. I have no doubt that some very interesting finds are in store for us!

And just for fun, here is what the biblical text has to say about the city gate of Gath (I Sam 21:11/10-15/14):

יא וַיָּקָם דָּוִד, וַיִּבְרַח בַּיּוֹם-הַהוּא מִפְּנֵי שָׁאוּל; וַיָּבֹא, אֶל-אָכִישׁ מֶלֶךְ גַּת. יב וַיֹּאמְרוּ עַבְדֵי אָכִישׁ, אֵלָיו, הֲלוֹא-זֶה דָוִד, מֶלֶךְ הָאָרֶץ; הֲלוֹא לָזֶה, יַעֲנוּ בַמְּחֹלוֹת לֵאמֹר, הִכָּה שָׁאוּל בַּאֲלָפָו, וְדָוִד בְּרִבְבֹתָו. יג וַיָּשֶׂם דָּוִד אֶת-הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה, בִּלְבָבוֹ; וַיִּרָא מְאֹד, מִפְּנֵי אָכִישׁ מֶלֶךְ-גַּת. יד וַיְשַׁנּוֹ אֶת-טַעְמוֹ בְּעֵינֵיהֶם, וַיִּתְהֹלֵל בְּיָדָם; וַיְתָו עַל-דַּלְתוֹת הַשַּׁעַר, וַיּוֹרֶד רִירוֹ אֶל-זְקָנוֹ. טו וַיֹּאמֶר אָכִישׁ, אֶל-עֲבָדָיו: הִנֵּה תִרְאוּ אִישׁ מִשְׁתַּגֵּעַ, לָמָּה תָּבִיאוּ אֹתוֹ אֵלָי. טז חֲסַר מְשֻׁגָּעִים, אָנִי, כִּי-הֲבֵאתֶם אֶת-זֶה, לְהִשְׁתַּגֵּעַ עָלָי; הֲזֶה, יָבוֹא אֶל-בֵּיתִי.

10 David rose and fled that day from Saul; he went to King Achish of Gath.11 The servants of Achish said to him, “Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances, ‘Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?” 12 David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of King Achish of Gath. 13 So he changed his behavior before them; he pretended to be mad when in their presence. He scratched marks on the doors of the gate, and let his spittle run down his beard. 14 Achish said to his servants, “Look, you see the man is mad; why then have you brought him to me? 15 Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to play the madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”