Merry Christmas!

24 12 2008

Just wanted to wish everyone a merry christmas, happy hanukkah, krazy kwanzaa, and a fine “festivus for the rest of us”!  Hope you allenjoy the holidays with family, friends, and loved ones.

Busy Week

14 12 2008

Just finished grading the final exams in my intro to Archaeology class.  Now I have to finish a literature review for my dissertation proposal class.  Christmas break should be quite busy, I’ll be working on an application for an ACOR fellowship and on a book review of Eric Meyers Festschrift.   Oh, and the main thing coming in two weeks (hopefully) will be the birth of our first child (Jack David).

Curtain Around Gaza

5 12 2008

Living conditions in Gaza are getting worse and worse, hunger and disease are widespread.  Tim McGirk has a good post on this on Time’s Middle East Blog.  Israel is now even keeping international reporters out, in the name of “security”.   Having lived in Jerusalem for two years and being able to put human faces on the conflict going on between Israel and Hamas, really makes me feel for all those suffering in Gaza.  These problems are largely the fault of the Israeli government, but Hamas and Islamic Jihad must be held accountable.  Unfortunately the current tactics being used by Israel make this nearly impossible.

First Article Published

5 12 2008

Yesterday I received my copy of NEASB (Near Eastern Archaeological Society Bulletin) which contains my first article “Israelite Expansion Process in the Iron Age II: A Chalk Moat Perspective.”  A very exciting moment for me, although it was strange, in a way, to see it in published form.  I’m going to read through it today and see if it reads like I wanted it too.

I’ll be posting it on my publications page along with a book review of Richard Hess’ “Israelite Religions” and some conference papers.

Area F at Tell es-Safi

4 12 2008

Continuing the Philistine theme from yesterday I have to write about Jeff Chadwick’s paper on “Assyrian and Judean Presence at Gath of the Philistines in the 8th Century BCE.”  I dug in area F for two seasons and Jeff was (and still is) the area supervisor.

Excavations in F Upper have uncovered two distinct destruction layers; stratum F-8 dates to mid-to-late 8th century BCE and stratum F-7 dates late-to-end of 8th century BCE.  When Gabi Barkay visited the site he saw some pottery from the destruction level in stratum F-7 and immediately said that it was “Lachish 3.”  He has proven to be correct because typical Judahite torpedo-style storage jars and cooking pots were found.  25cm below this destruction level a second was found containing, amongst other pottery, distinctive black-burnished juglets.  During both periods the area excavated in F Upper was used for food preparation as distinctive areas for processing and cooking/baking were discovered.

These finds seem to indicate that there was a Judahite presence at Gath in the 8th century BCE (see 2 Chronicles 26:6, which states that Uzziah captured Gath ca. 750 BCE).  It is also now clear that there were two destruction levels in the 8th century BCE; one, F-8 which can be attributed to Sargon II in 712 BCE (see ANE 1:197) and the second, F-7, which can be attributed to Sennacherib in 701 BCE (see the Azekah inscription as interpreted by Rainey, 2 Kings 18:13, and ANE 1:200)

Random Day at ASOR

3 12 2008

For those of you unable to attend the annual meetings or who wonder what they are like I thought I would post a typical day from Boston.  This day was the longest for me and should help explain why I couldn’t post more during the meetings.

5:15 AM – Wake up, get ready, and eat breakfast.  My wife and I were staying with my sister who lives in Gloucester to save money.

6:15 AM – Drive in to the Westin Waterfront.  It normally takes 45 minutes from Gloucester but with traffic we were told to figure 1.5 hours.  Since I was presenting first session I wanted to make sure I wasn’t late (especially since we were using my computer).

7:50 AM – Arrive and park in the Convention Center lot ($10/day!).

8:05 AM – Walk into Harbor I, for Archaeology of Jordan I session.

8:35 AM – Session begins due to problems with first presenter’s Power Point.

10:00 AM – Present on “A Reassesment of the Excavations at Tall Safut.”

10:35 AM – Discuss some of the intricacies of the Safut pottery with Larry Herr.

10:45-12:15 PM – Individual Submissions II session including Kyle Keimer “The Bronze and Iron Age Fortifications at Jaffa”, Rami Arav and the infamous Kh. Qeiyafa presentation by Yosef Garfinkel (both of which I have already blogged about).

12:30-2:00 PM – Over lunch a roundtable on the role of Empires in the Levant run by Oystein LaBianca (one of my professors).  We heard about the new Digital Archaeological Atlas of the Holy Land which should be an amazing resource for Levantine archaeology (definitely check it out, if only for the PEF Maps, Google Map queries and virtual museum). I sat at Tom Levy’s table for discussion of Empires in Early Antiquity.

2:15-2:30 PM – Had a quick lunch.

2:45-3:05 PM – Heard Anson Rainey present on “Involvement of Tel Zafit (Tell es-Safi) in the Amarna Correspondence.”  Always interesting and lively, Anson also gave everyone an informative handout with his translations of the texts.

3:10-4:15 PM – Took a break from sessions to look at books and make plans for the evening.

4:15-5:45 PM – Archaeology of Religion II session, including papers on Phoenician Art and Religion, Terra Cotta Shrines from Iron Age jordan, and Judahite Pillar Figurines.

6:15 PM – Drove to Cambridge to meet friends for dinner and drinks.

7:00 PM – After finding free parking (yes, this took a long time), we met my sister and her boyfriend, and a good friend from college (working on his MA in Philosophy at BC) and his wife at the Middle East Club.

9:00 PM – Drove back to Gloucester and hung out at the apartment of my sister’s boyfriend.

12:00 AM – Eventually fell asleep after making plan of action for the session of the following day.

6:30 AM – Woke up and did it all over again.

Qubur al-Walaydah Excavations

3 12 2008

This paper was supposed to be read by Gunnar Lehmann, but he wasn’t there.  So being the Philistines II session, Aren Maeir read the paper (his second relief appearance of the morning).  The paper was a preliminary report of excavations in 2008.  The site is located near Tell el-Far’ah south along the Nahal Besor.  It is one of the few rural Philistine settlements to have been excavated.  The site is best known for a ostracon dating to the 12th-11th centuries BCE, published by Cross a few years ago.

The Philistine village consists of poor walls, agricultural installations, and grain/refuse pits.  Finds from this village include unperforated cylindrical loom weights, bichrome ware, and cooking pots all typical of Philistine settlement in the Iron Age I.

The village was built into the remains of a massive mud brick complex dating to the LBII.  The walls were up to 2m wide and the overall architecture is that typically identified as “Egpytian Residencies”.  There is now evidence for a chain of these buildings from Tell Jemmeh to Tell el-Far’ah South, approximately 5km apart.  This building was destroyed and there appears to be a 50 year gap before the site was resettled by the Philistines in the Iron Age I.

Excavations will continue next summer and they hope to expose more of the Egyptian-style building.  A fascinating site, which little was known about, hopefully will reveal more about rural Philistine settlement and about Egyptian presence in the Negev area.

Mt. Zion Excavations

2 12 2008

Yehiel Zelinger of the Israel Antiquities Authority spoke on “The Southern Fortifications of Jerusalem during the Hasmonean and Byzantine Periods.”  As most of you probably already know, this dig was carried out to reexamine the previous excavations of Bliss and Dickie in the late 1800’s.  The excavations revealed remains of the Byzantine wall (dating to the 5th century CE, the time of empress Eudocia) reported by Bliss and Dickie and a Hasmonean tower as well (dating to the end of the second century BCE).

The big news, which hadn’t been previously revealed, was that an Iron IIC wall had been recently uncovered slightly below and adjacent to the Hasmonean tower.  Associated with this wall was found a single wing LMLK handle and another handle with the inscription lmay nr’ (update: ayin added see comments, apologies the Hebrew font isn’t working).  This find just increases our knowledge of the fortifications of the southern hill during the end of the Iron Age.