ASOR Updates

25 11 2008

Having now returned from the annual meetings and being done with class until after break I thought it would be a good time to write up my notes on some of the more interesting presentations I heard.  Also I will be putting up a version of my paper with pictures, beginning with the Middle Bronze period at Safut.

First up is the always (over)confident Rami Arav, director of the Bethsaida excavations.  His paper was titled: Bethsaida Stratum V: The Four Chamber City Gate: Its Origin, Function, Date, and Implication for Dating Megiddo IVA.  His presentation took on a slightly different form than his title would suggest.  Basically his thesis was that the four-chamber gate is modelled after a granary and not after any previous gate systems (such as those from the MB with their large towers and multiple entrances).

Bethsaida Stratum V dates from 850-732 BCE and was destroyed by Tiglath-Pileser III.  Over 1 ton of barley was part of that destruction level, located in chamber 3 of the 4 chamber gate.  The previous stratum had a granary directly inside of the gate area and so perhaps the granary was incorporated into the gate in the next period.  Arav sees the chamberd gate system as architecturally very similar to granaries from various Iron Age sites.

His presentation centered on this idea and he only briefly mentioned Megiddo IVA at the very end.  But based on his abstract:

The four-chamber city gate of Megiddo Stratum IVA is a smaller version of the Bethsaida gate and must have been contemporary with it.  Therefore, contrary to those advocating the Low Chronology, Megiddo IVA was probably constructed by Ahab in the mid-9th century BCE and destroyed by Tiglath-Pileser III in 734-2 BCE.  Megiddo VA-IVB, with the six-chamber city gate, must have been destroyed no later than 850 BCE.

So, unfortunately we saw no pottery and didn’t get a detailed comparison of the stratigraphy  between Bethsaida V and Megiddo IVA.  As it was the lecture was very interesting but not very well received.  There were several questions about the validity of Arav’s thesis (i.e. if the inner gates were used for grain storage why do some have benches?), including from Ami Mazar and the excavators of Tel Kinrot, but Arav brushed them all aside as if they didn’t matter.  Suffice to say that archaeologists will have to look elsewhere for the origin of this gate style.

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