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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Gath Dig – Arrival Day – Sunday, June 24

Gath Dig – Arrival Day

Today was “arrival day” at the Gath (Tel es Safi). This is the 23rd season for this archaeological excavation. The Director for the dig is Israeli archaeologist Dr. Erin Maeir. Gath is located in the Shephelah of Judah.

Arrival

Philistines at GathWe arrived at Kibbutz Manachem. Most arrived at around noon. Some of the projects of the afternoon were to transfer the tools and equipment for the site from the storage containers near by. We also checked into our rooms, met some of the staff of the excavations, and lunch.

Tour of the Site

At 3 p.m., we bussed to the site of Gath. The tour of the entire tel was led by Dr. Maeir. We walked to the top of the site from the northern side. The site has occupation levels from Early Bronze/Canaanite (3,500 – 2,050 BC) through the Late Bronze/Canaanite (2,050 – 1,500 BC) and Iron Age I & II/Israelite periods (1,200 – 586 BC). The site of Gath was a massive city occupied by both Canaanites and Philistines. When the Philistines were here (from 1,200 – 830 BC when the city was destroyed by Hazael, the Aramean king from the north (2 Kings 12:17). The tour took nearly two hours.

Tel Gath

Tel Gath / es Safi

We returned to the kibbutz for dinner. Since we bus to the site at 5:20 a.m. tomorrow morning, it’s early to bed for most of us!

The area of excavation will be on the lower portion of the site, concentrating on Iron Age/Israelite. It is a privilege and honor to dig here this summer!

Below are more pictures from today’s tour of the site.

Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018
Gath - Tel es Safi Excavation June 2018

 

Updates will be posted every day.

 

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The David and Goliath Story Re-Visited

How many of you remember learning about the David & Goliath story as a young kid in Sunday School?  It’s one of the coolest stories in the Bible, simply because it’s an underdog who defeats a Philistine giant.  Everyone cheers for the underdog, right?  Being a short person myself (currently 5’8″ and shrinking I think), cheering for the little guy was something with which I could always identify.  Well, what’s neat about this story is that you can pin-point where it took place. The story takes place in 1 Samuel 17.  The setting is the Elah Valley in the Shephelah (or Judean lowlands).  When I take groups to the Elah Valley, besides driving through parts of the valley itself, the best vantage point is to view the valley from the heights … Continue reading