Team manual for 2015 season!

Just sent out to all the members of the 2015 team at Tell es-Safi/Gath the manual which explains various technical, logistical, archaeological and other issues relating to the upcoming season. It includes (at the end), the schedule for lectures and field trips during the season.

Just in case and of the team members did not get the mail, I’m posting it on the website as well.

Those of you who are not joining the team (for whatever excuse this is due to…) can get an idea of what’s to be expected as well.


This is a definite sign that we are about to start! The 2015 Safi fever has officially been diagnosed! :-)

drooling in front of bowl


Website of the Minerva Center for the Relations between Israel and Aram in Biblical Times (RIAB)

Check out the new website, which is slowly being expanded and content added, of the new Minerva Center for the Relations between Israel and Aram in Biblical Times (RIAB).

Here’s the new symbol of the center:

Minverva new symbol smallest

The center’s 6-year term officially begins on July 1st, 2015, and we have already begun updating the site with information regarding the center itself, center members, forthcoming activities, grants, publications, relevant links and other relevant materials and activities.

Check it out!


Lecture by Raymond Ackerman on how to run a compassionate business

Raymond Ackerman, who just received an honorary doctorate from BIU, and who along with his wife, Mrs. Wendy Ackerman, are primary supporters of the Ackerman Family Bar-Ilan University Expedition to Gath, gave a talk two weeks ago at BIU, on the occasion of the BIU International Board meeting, on how it is possible – and advantageous – for a business to run in a compassionate manner. Very inspiring talk!

Interesting take on the Philistine Favissa at Yavneh

The Israeli media is reporting (see for example here) on the analyses conducted on vessels from the Philistine cultic favissa found in Yavneh, with particular focus on the drugs with psychoactive properties that were identified in the organic residue analyses of some of the vessels.

Although this is hardly fresh news (this appeared in the excavated report which we mentioned quite a while ago), it nevertheless is an interesting tidbit – which clearly catches the medias’ and the public’s attention.

As far as the title of the article (“Sex, drugs, and Philistines”) goes – I can only promise the latter of the three this season at Tell es-Safi/Gath… :-)


P.S. But it would be nice to find a cultic favissa at Gath…

Congratulations to Dr. Eric Welch – on PhD and position at KU

Eric Welch (aka Chris…) has some great news to share:

His PhD dissertation, whose title was “God, Oil, and Politics: Hebrew Prophetic Texts and Dynamics of Regional Economy in the Southern Levant During the 8th and 7th Centuries B.C.E.” has been officially OKed at Penn State. So, as of the coming season, we will have to call him Dr. W.

And to top off the great news, Dr. W has been awarded a new position at the University of Kansas as Visiting Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies!

Way to go Eric!!

Here’s what Eric looks like when he gets something nice… :-)


Update on work in feature south of Area A

Amit, Emuna and Dina continued to work today in the interesting feature (water system? cave?) south of Area A, and things are getting interesting – and still not too clear.

What now is clear is that this is a typical cave for the region – with a hard nari (calcrete) roof and sides of soft chalk. Very often, as in this case, the roof collapses, creating a depression. What is interesting though is that in the depression there are some walls, as well as a plastered area. So, most probably in addition to have served as a cave – it was reused for other functions at some stage.

So far, more than that is hard to say….

Here are some pictures from today. Note that the temperature outside today was unbelievably hot – something like 44 degrees centigrade in the shade!

Here are some pictures – as you can see – even though they were working in a depression – they were not depressed…

Amit et al in shade 27_5_15excavating depression south of A_general view_27_5_15 close up of wall and plaster in depression south of A_27_5_15 Emuna and Dina in depression_27_5_15

Updates on today’s work at the tell

As mentioned yesterday, today we are doing some work at the tell at a feature that might be water system. So far, the tractor is digging out a lot of modern fill in this depression, and it’s hard to tell what this is. It be a water system going deeper, but it also might be cave with a collapsed roof…

We will wait and see.

Here some pictures from today’s work:

IMG_3673 IMG_3674 IMG_3677 IMG_3679 IMG_3680