Day 3 of 2022 spring season

We had some great results today. In Area D East we are in the Iron I, and another complete lamp, a “spinning bowl, 2-3 tabuns and other finds. In Area M, we uncovered a very nice monolithic stone pillar in one of the domestic houses in this area, as well as other finds.Apo

The remote sensing team, consisting of Apostolos Sarris (Univ. Cyprus) and Nikos Papadopulos (IMS-FORTH), from Cyprus and Greece, arrived, and started working. Also, Yoav Vantin (archaeomagnetism) and Oren Ackerman and Yankees Schreibman (geoarchaeology), came out to do some sampling.

I mainly was driving around, and doing gardening (see the video below).

Great day!

New article on EB Games at Safi!

A new article on EB game boards and pieces from Tell es-Safi/Gath has just appeared.

The article, spearheaded by Shira Albaz, is yet another result of the joint grant that Haskel Greenfield and I received a few years ago from the Canadian SSHRC.

The full title is:

Albaz, S., Greenfield, H. J., Greenfield, T. L., Brown, A., Shai, I., and Maeir, A. M. 2022 Daily Life and Cultural Appropriation in Early Bronze Age Canaan: Games and Gaming in a Domestic Neighborhood at Tell Eṣ-Ṣâfi/Gath, Israel. Palestine Exploration Quarterly.

Here is the abstract: 

Discussions on daily life in Early Bronze Age society in the southern Levant often focus on subsistence or ritual phenomena, while aspects relating to entertainment and leisure are rarely discussed. This paper presents evidence for gaming behaviour, in the form of game boards and game pieces, that were recovered in the excavations of the Early Bronze Age (early to mid-3rd millennium BCE) residential neighbourhood at Tell eṣ-Ṣâfi/Gath, Israel. All the objects discussed are considered to be part of games (playing pieces, casting pieces, and boards) based on their resemblance to game boards and pieces published from various Early Bronze sites in the southern Levant (e.g., Arad, Megiddo, and Bab edh-Dhra), serve as the backdrop for: 1) a perspective on the social and cultural relationships reflected in these games; 2) an examination of the origins of the ‘Senet/30 Houses’ game; and 3) the appropriation of foreign cultural facets in Early Bronze Age Canaan.

Hope you find this makes you want to go play a game!

All the best


New BIU project – Tel Timna Excavations

This summer, Dr. Dvir Raviv of the Martin (Szusz) Dept. of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology is starting a new excavation project at Tel Timna (Tibna). This summer, the excavation season will be from July 24th to August 19th, with the possibility of credits through BIU.

If you are interested in joining them, check out their facebook page, and the information page below:

Article on the sourcing of Herod’s royal baths!

I’m pleased to provide the link (see here) to a new article (not Safi related) that has just appeared online in the prestigious journal Scientific Reports.

This study, spearheaded by Ayala Amir, and based on a portion of her MA thesis at BIU, examines the provenance of two alabaster baths of Herod the Great (from Herodium and Kypros). In this study we demonstrate, somewhat surprisingly, that the alabaster was not from Egypt, but is rather of local southern Levantinian origin.

The full title is: 

Amir, A., Frumkin, A., Zissu, B., Maeir, A. M., Goobes, G., and Albeck, A. 2022. Sourcing Herod the Great’s Calcite Alabaster Bathtubs by a Multianalytic Approach. Scientific Reports 12: 7524.

The article’s abstract is:

Herod “the Great”, king of Judea in the second half of the first century BC, was known for his building projects, wealth, and political power. Two of his personal calcite-alabaster bathtubs, found in the Kypros fortress and the palace of Herodium, are among the very limited archaeological evidence of his private life. It seemed plausible that they were imported from Egypt, the main source of calcite-alabaster in ancient periods. Yet, the recent identification of a calcite quarry in the Te’omim cave, Israel, challenges this hypothesis. Here, we developed an approach for identification of the source of calcite-alabaster, by combination of four analytical methods: ICP, FTIR, ssNMR and isotope ratio. These methods were then applied to Herod’s bathtubs demonstrating that they were indeed quarried in Israel rather than in Egypt.

Safi 2022 spring season begins!

Today, we started the short Safi 2022 spring season. The team got together early in the morning on a beautiful day!

We started excavating two squares inside of the gate in Area D East, and by the end od tbe day were on clean Iron IIA surfaces.

We also used our new battery operated weed wacker to cut down vegetation, in preparation for the remote sensing team.

Follow our work this week!

Here are some pictures from today:

New video interview on the Philistine phenomenon!

Check out this very nice video interview, conducted for the great “History Channel of Israel“, in which I discuss my ideas about the Philistines, their culture and their role in the Late Bronze/Iron Age transition and what happened with them during the Iron Age and afterwards.

I did have a little blooper at the end, where for some unexplained reason (temporary insanity?), I mention “Cincinnati” as a name of a Native American tribe…:-(

Short season at Safi/עונה קצרה בצפית

Next week (May 8th-13th), we will be conducting a short season at Tell es-Safi/Gath. It will include a small excavation in Area M, remote sensing in the lower city, aerial photography, and collecting samples for various analyses (paleomagnetic dating, brick composition study, and geomorphological studies). We will be out in the field from 6 am to 14:00 everyday. If you are interested in joining us (you have to get there on your own, and bring your own food and water), you can contact Shira (052-5221016) to coordinate this (please don’t come without first coordinating with her).

בשבוע הבא (8-13 למאי) אנחנו נבצע עונה קצרה בתל צפית. זה יכלול חפירת בדיקה קטנה בשטח M, חישה מרחוק בעיר התחתית, צילום אויר, ואיסוף דגימות לאנליזות שונות (תיארוך פליאו-מגנטי, חקר הרכב לבנים, ומחקר גיאומורפולוגי). אנחנו נהיה בשטח כל יום, מ-6:00 עד 14:00. אם אתם מעוניינים להצטרף (הגעה עצמאית, ולהביא אוכל ומים), צרו קשר עם שירה (052-5221016) ותתאמו את הגעתכם (אנא אל תגיעו ללא תיאום מראש)