Cover page and TOC of first NEA issue on Safi!

As mentioned previously, the first issue of Near Eastern Archaeology devoted fully to the Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project has appeared. The issue, NEA 80/4 (2017), includes papers by a large group of Safi team members, and covers various introductory issues and the Early Bronze through Late Bronze Age periods.

The 2nd issue (NEA 81/1 [2018]) will be out in late March, and will cover Iron Age and later periods.

Here’s the cover and TOC of this beautiful first issue – can’t wait for the 2nd one!

Maeir_ed_Special issue 1 of 2_The Tell es-Safi_Gath Archaeological_front matter_NEA 80_4_2017

New article on isotopic analyses of the Early Bronze fauna from Tell es-Safi/Gath

A new article (see here), spearheaded by Liz Arnold, has just appeared online. In this study, isotopic analyses of the Early Bronze Age fauna were conducted, which shed light on the pastoral economy and provisioning strategies at Tell es-Safi/Gath during this early urban period.

The full title is:

Arnold, E. R., Greenfield, H. J., Hartman, G., Greenfield, T. L., Shai, I., Carter-McGee, P. M., and Maeir, A. M. 2018. Provisioning the Early Bronze Age City of Tell es-Safi, Israel: Isotopic Analyses of Domestic Livestock Management Patterns. Open Quartenary 4(1).

Here’s the abstract:

It is often assumed that domestic animals in early urban Near Eastern centres either are a reflection of the local pastoral economy, or were raised at a distance by pastoral specialists. In this paper, we test these assumptions through detailed isotopic analyses (carbon, oxygen and strontium) of caprines (sheep and goat) from Tell es-Safi/Gath, an Early Bronze Age urban centre in central Israel. The isotopic analyses demonstrate that the bulk of the caprines were raised within the general vicinity of the site, suggesting that the majority of food resources were largely produced at the local level, within the territory of the city-state, and not at a distance by specialised pastoralists. It is the rare specimen that comes from a great distance and would have entered the local system through long distance trade networks.

Very interesting!

Sign up for the 2018 Season at Tell es-Safi/Gath!

Just a reminder to you all that the online registration for joining the team for the 2018 season at Tell es-Safi/Gath is up and running! The 2018 season will be the 23rd season in the field – and promises to be a very interesting one.

Don’t miss out the chance to have an extraordinary enriching experience of digging at one of the largest biblical period sites, with an international team of researchers, students and volunteers. Learn about cutting edge field archaeology, the material remains of the Bronze and Iron Age ancient Levant in biblical times (and in particular that of the Philistine culture), and related issues in history, archaeology and geography. In addition, have a unique field experience, meet people from diverse backgrounds – and get a chance to visit sites in Israel on the weekends and before and after the excavation.

This season, we will focus our work in several areas in the lower city, primarily working on Iron Age I and II finds (ca. 1200-800 BCE), but with possible remains from other periods as well. We will continue working in excavations areas that were opened in the past, and hopefully open a few more as well.

Based on our finds from the last seasons, we should be excavating remains of the city’s fortifications, domestic and industrial related structures, contexts relating to cult activities and many other things.

In addition to this, we will continue in our remote sensing work, using magnetometry and ground penetrating radar, and hopefully, terrestrial and aerial-borne LIDAR scanning and 3D imaging.

Do join us and have the experience of a life time (that is unless you are a returnee – than have yet another experience of a life time…).

If you have any questions – don’t hesitate to contact me (Aren Maeir, the director).

Hope to see you in the summer!

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship for Shira Gur-Arieh!

Great news!

I’m happy to pass on the news on that Dr. Shira Gur-Arieh, long-time member of the Safi team and a regular contributor to our research and publications, has been awarded a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, hosted by Prof. Marco Madella.

The title of her planned project is: “MapDung: Dung as Construction Material during the Emergence of Animal Domestication: A Multi-Proxy Approach”.

Here is an abstract of the research:

The project will focus on the use of dung for construction at the dawn of the Neolithic Period and early animal domestication. Ethnographic sources have demonstrated the importance of animal dung as a versatile resource that in some areas is extensively used for fuel, manure, and construction. While the importance of dung as fuel or manure is increasingly recognized and archaeologically identified in the last years, its use for construction is less studied and only rarely identified in archaeological sites. Therefore, it is important to understand if its absence from the archaeological record is the result of human preference or a research/preservation bias. The aim of MapDung is therefore to explore the possible early use of dung for construction as a proxy for understanding human-animal-environment relations and ecosystem. The project’s goals are: 1) To develop a new multi-proxy methodology for improved identification of dung, focused on construction materials; 2) Studying the post-depositional processes that affect archaeological dung used for construction; 3) Providing wide regional understanding of the utilization of animal secondary products during the Early Neolithic Period and the socio-cultural aspects related to its use.

Way to go Shira!

New paper on the Paleo-anthropocene and the genesis of the current landscape in Israel

A new and very interesting paper, spearheaded by Oren Ackermann, has just appeared. The paper is yet another example of the very nice paleo-environmental studies that have come out of the Safi project – in this case extended to the ancient landscape of Israel in general:

Ackermann, O., Maeir, A. M., Frumin, S., Svoray, T., Weiss, E., Zhevelev, H., and Horwitz, L. K. 2017. The Paleo-Anthropocene and the Genesis of the Current Landscape of Israel. Journal of Landscape Ecology 10(3): 109–40.

Here is a link to a PDF.

And here is the abstract:

Worldwide, human impact on natural landscapes has intensified since prehistoric times, and this is well documented in the global archaeological record. The period between the earliest hominids and the Industrial Revolution of the late 18-19th centuries is known as the Paleo-Anthropocene. The current study reviews key geoarchaeological, floral and faunal factors of the Paleo-Anthropocene in Israel, an area that has undergone human activities in various intensities since prehistoric times. It discusses significant human imprints on these three features in the Israeli landscape, demonstrating that its current form is almost entirely anthropogenic. Moreover, some of the past physical changes still dynamically shape Israel’s zoological, archaeological and geomorphic landscape today. It is hoped that insights from this article might aid in guiding present-day management strategies of undeveloped areas through renewal of human activity guided by traditional knowledge.