Gath Dig – Day 4 – Thursday, June 28

Gath Dig – Day 4

Iron Age wall Gath

Iron Age fortification wall at Gath

Today was another dig day. This means an early start at 5:20, arriving at the site by 5:30, and digging shortly before 6 a.m. The weather was again sunny, with morning/late morning temps in the high 80s.

Archaeological Approach

dirt pile Gath

Our growing pile of dirt at Gath

When we arrive at the site each morning, the procedure is this: Put up breakfast/break canopy; unlock chairs and tables and put them up too (seating for lunch and breaks); take all metal tools out of there trailer and that them to the area; raise the dig canopy over our area; map out a game plan for your square (in conversation with the area supervisor), and begin digging. Biblical archaeology is not rocket science, but it is science.

Archaeology is done in a way where there is certain way to dig, a certain time to use picks, hand tools, brushes, etc… There is a time to go down quickly (e.g. in order to find lower levels that may be stone walls, etc…) and a time to excavate more slowly. At all times, we are on the careful lookout for pottery, bones, and special objects.

grinding stone

A grinding stone

We also set loci (location levels) and gather pottery (and bones) into buckets from that locus. Based on the pottery and architecture uncovered (e.g. walls, whether they are mud-brick or stone), we gain a good sense of the stratification of each level we are digging through.

The Day’s Highlights

Today’s highlights in the square where I was working in were a few. First, we were able to dig through about a foot and a half of dirt today. Our objective is to hopefully find part of the gate structure that is believed to be still under us. Along the way, I have a basaltic grinding stone. This is classified as a special object. Levels were taken where it was uncovered, along with publishable pictures. Finding grinding stones is not that uncommon, but it was the first object found in our area so far.

Philistine pottery

Philistine flask

We continued to find lots of Philistine pottery as well. All totaled, we collected about 4 full buckets of pottery today, with lots of rims, bases, and bi-chrome ware. We even found a very nice top of a flash again (pictured). If we are digging in a chambered gate, the volume of pottery we are pulling from this area (maybe the gate?) should not be surprising. By the way, Philistine pottery is much different than Israelite pottery.

In our square and in the square next to us, we are hopeful that we both will be excavating down to the other side of the gate. This is at least the theory. While my last day is tomorrow, the dig continues for 3 more weeks. So hopeful some confirmation will eventually come to prove the theory correctly. 🙂

Pottery Washing & Reading

pottery from Gath

One day’s worth of pottery drying in the sun

After our watermelon break at 11 a.m., we continued to dig for another hour before packing it in for the day. We returned home for lunch and pottery washing in the afternoon. We also had our first pottery reading as well, with the experts (Dr. Erin Maeir) sitting around the table and identifying all the pottery food so far.

We also enjoyed a pizza party for dinner. Given how below par the food has been all week so far, the pizza was enjoyed by all!

Bedtime came early for most of us although some stay up and watch a World Cup soccer match. Not for this old guy! 🙂

Here are all the pictures from today.

Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018 Philistine pottery
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018 grinding stone
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018 grinding stone
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018 Philistine pottery
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018 pottery bucket
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018 fortification wall
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018 watermelon break
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018 bulk lines
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018
Gath es Safi excavation June 2018

 

Tomorrow is my last day to dig. An update will be shared.

 

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May 2018 Extensive Israel Tour Summary – Day 3

DAY 3 – MONDAY, MAY 7: GEZER, BETH SHEMESH, GATH, KH. QEIYAFA & ELAH VALLEY, BEIT GUVRIN, LACHISH, BEERSHEBA

(Theme of the Day: Standing strong in God) 

Today was our first full day in Israel. We were greeted with mild temps, with highs in the 70s. The morning was overcast (with a few brief showers), but the afternoon was partly sunny. Leaving our hotel along the Med Sea in Tel Aviv shortly after 7:30, we drove to the Shephelah (lowlands of Judah). We would spend the entire day here.

Gezer

Gezer

Gezer and Solomon’s gate (I Kings 9)

Tel Gezer was our first stop. Located along the Aijalon Valley, this archaeological site connects us to both the ancient Canaanites and Israelites. We read from Ecclesiastes 3 (“there is a season for everything) and I Kings 9 (about Solomon refortifying the city). Among the ruins we saw the Canaanite tower, wall, 6-chamber gate, and the water system. From the Israelite period we saw the 6-chamber gate attributed to Solomon. We even saw a replica of the Gezer Calendar discovered about 100 years ago here. Leaving the site we saw the standing stones of Gezer, most likely part of the Canaanite cultic practices.

Beth Shemesh 

Sorek Valley

The Sorek Valley from Beth Shemesh

Driving south to the Sorek Valley, we made a brief stop at Beth Shemesh. Reading from 1 Samuel 6 about the return of the Ark of the Covenant from the Philistines, we could see this incredible story come to life!  Samson was also from this area (Zorah). Although he married Delilah (from Timnah just a few miles west in the valley), God used him in amazing ways!

Gath

Gath

Gath, the Philistine city of Goliath

Continue south to the Elah Valley, we made a brief stop at Gath (Tel es-Safi). This was where Goliath was from. We also read from 2 Kings 12 about Hazael, the Aramean, who surrounded and conquered this city.  Here we saw some of the lower ruins of the city.

Qeiyafa

Qeiyafa

Qeiyafa and the Elah Valley (1 Samuel 17)

One of the newest archaeological sites is Kh. Qeiyafa. This was our next stop. Standing inside one of the city’s two chamber gates, we had a great view of the Elah Valley below. This was where David defeated Goliath. Reading from I Samuel 17, we took great joy in knowing that God helps us fight our battles of life when we entrust the difficult circumstances of life to His sovereign care. Passing by many of the ruins and casemate fortification wall, we exited through the other chambered gate. It is possible that this site was Shaaraim of ! Samuel 17:52.

Guvrin

Bell cave

The “bell cave” at Beit Guvrin

After eating lunch, we visited Beit Guvrin. This was our first national park. We walked to two caves. The first was the columbarium (designed for raising pigeons). The second was one of the bell caves. Here we listened to Shlomo share a song on his recorder. We also blended our voices together with two worship songs. The acoustics were fantastic! We also read form Micah 1 and 5 as this prophet was from this city (formerly called Moreshah).

Lachish

Lachish

Lachish

Our last stop was Lachish. This was both a Canaanite (conquered by Joshua in two days, see Joshua 10) and Israelite city. In the late 8th century BC, the city was conquered by the Assyrians. Over 100 years later, the Babylonians came and destroyed the city for good. We read from Jeremiah 34:7, a text that matches perfectly with what one of 20 ostraca (Lachish Letter #4) said. Climbing the site, we saw the double walls and gates as well as the palace (probably built by Rehoboam, see 2 Chronicles 12).

Beersheba

Following a drive of about 50 minutes, we arrived in Beersheba, the primary city of the Negev. We checked into our hotel and enjoyed dinner. We also met briefly for a time of worship.

DAY 4 – TUESDAY, MAY 8: BEERSHEBA, SDE BOKER, WILDERNESS OF ZIN, AVDAT, ARAD, JUDEAN DESERT

(Theme of the Day: Finding God in the Desert) 

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