Update: Qeiyafa Cult Finds

8 05 2012

So it turns out that my guess (see previous post) was pretty much dead on. The press conference this morning (via Jim West’s blog) has unveiled a stone and a ceramic temple model, which Garfinkel is interpreting related to the ark of the covenant and architectural features of the temple in Jerusalem (as described in the Hebrew bible).  This information is more or less third hand, as soon as there is a press release or more formal information I will have an update.  For now it appears that these models shrines are not anything too unique for this time period (Iron IIA), see these images of the Yavneh favissa.  The unique aspect of these finds are their interpretation, which I am withholding judgement on until reading a more complete explanation.

Model Shrines from Qeiyafa (from Jim West’s blog by way of Robert Deutsch)

More to come later in the day…

Update: Here is the official Hebrew University press release.  It contains much more information about the archaeological context of the cultic objects previously mentioned.  There is also a link to some high quality images of the finds and the shrine(s) in which they were found.  These finds are very important but I think the aniconic nature of the cult is overstated.  Maybe no figurines were found, but the one model shrine has examples of lions and birds on it.  Also this shrine (and the stone one as well, although I can’t find an exact parallel right now) has very close parallels.  The three birds on top of the Qeiyafa shrine are broken off, as is one of the lions, but the parallels should be clear.  Another almost exact parallel was first published by William Dever in BAR 34/2 where he compellingly argues that it should be associated with Asherah.

Iron Age Model Shrine from Private Collection

Qeiyafa Iron I/Iron IIA model shrine

































Update 2: Here are links to my previous blog posts on Finkelstein’s opinions on Qeiyafa and the matter of a separate Shephelan polity.

Finkelstein and Qeiyafa Part 1 and Part 2

The Lack of Lachish Part 1 and Part 2 (unfortunately I never finished this series as my daughter was born and then we left for Jordan)


Qeiyafa Reveal

4 05 2012

Some of you have probably already heard, but there will be a major announcement at a press conference on May 8th regarding Kh. Qeiyafa.  The press conference info was sent out by Joseph Lauer and mentioned on several blogs already.  The press release mentions the importance on the news for history, archaeology, and the Bible.  So…no pressure.  I’m trying to find out some hints as to the nature of the finds.  My guess would be some kind of cultic find supporting the Judahite origins of the site in some round about way.


10 04 2012

I can’t believe it has been over 6 months since I posted on this blog.  I would like to apologize for the time lapse and give a brief update on what I have been doing.

I finished my ACOR CAORC fellowship at the end of August of 2011, but had so many sherds to go through and scan that I stayed two extra months by myself (sans family).  My days consisted of 12-16 hours sorting through crates and using the 3D scanner.  In other words not too much to blog about.  After two weeks of being back in America I flew out to California for the annual ASOR meetings, then came Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then Safita’s 1st birthday, Jack’s 3rd birthday, etc…

At Mabrak, a LB/Iron Age site near the Amman Airport Temple. On a FOAH trip close to the end of my stay in Jordan.

Throughout this time I have been going through the 2,000 (!) 3D scans of sherds and whole vessels, converting them in meshlab, and making drawings of them.  Again this process is not terribly exciting for blogging purposes.  However, now I am back to writing the dissertation full-time with the hope of finishing by the end of the summer. I have completed my historical geography chapter, it has been edited by my wife, my adviser, another professor, and sent to the dissertation secretary for format editing.  I am in the process of fixing and editing my middle bronze chapter, and so hopefully I will have more to blog about each week.  At the very least I will share little details from my chapters or the dig notebooks as I delve deep into the minutiae of Tall Safut.

Jack and Safita with her gumball birthday cake.

2011 in review

1 01 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,400 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Exploring the Baq’ah Valley

16 09 2011

Apologies for not posting more frequently, but my time over the last few weeks has consisted of scanning pottery for 10-12 hours.  My wife and kids flew back to the States at the end of August.  So now all I do is scan every day.  Angela’s brother had come out to tour around Jordan so we had a car for his time here.  I kept it for a few days after to return whole vessels from Safut to the DOA warehouse and to explore the Baq’ah looking for some of the Iron Age sites.

I was specifically looking for the sites Pat McGovern had worked on in the early 1980’s, so I headed up to Umm ad-Dananir first.  The khirbet McGovern worked on consisted of a small Late Bronze and Iron Age settlement within the small village of Umm ad-Dananir.  Unfortunately this village has continued to grow over the last 30 years and I could find no evidence of the Iron Age settlement or perimeter wall.  Its possible that I wasn’t looking in the right place and its likely that some remains still exist in backyards of the town.  Despite not finding any ancient remains in this area it was my first time driving around that side of the valley.  One has a direct view across to Safut to the south and towards the Wadi Zarqa to the north through the wadi cut.  Its a very well protected ridge located where two wadis connect and run out towards the Zerqa.

After leaving Umm ad-Dananir I descended down to the valley floor and found Rujm al-Henu East and West.  The two Iron Age “forts” are located in a field next to the huge satellite dishes.  Rujm al-Henu West is not nearly as well preserved as East, but wall remains from each can still be seen.  I picked up a nice wheel burnished, red slipped late Iron Age bowl rim and the rim of what looks like a Roman krater.  These two Iron Age towers likely controlled traffic through the valley floor with the ancient road running between them, as well as acting as storage for the agriculture production being carried out throughout the valley.

Wall of Rujm al-Henu West

Corner of Rujm al-Henu East

It was very enjoyable to walk through the valley and experience the different perspectives offered, to imagine the landscape as the ancients would have experiences sans satellites.

Fantasy Football

12 08 2011

I really love playing fantasy football and planned on only playing in one league this year.  Somehow I am now in 3 leagues, two of which are drafting on the same day.  Being in Jordan I will have very little time for my teams this year, but I thought I would pay homage to my current hometown.  So, my team name in each league is “the Amman Citadels.”  Here is the team logo I whipped up:

Temple of Zeus and Goal Post


9 08 2011

I wanted to highlight some of the work I did for the last map from my previous post. One of my goals when doing the survey work was to get enough high quality photographs and corresponding GPS points to be able to georeference the pictures in Arcmap.  Georeferencing is the process of aligning spatial data (in this GPS points)  to an image file (in this case photographs of architecture).  By doing this I can check previously drawn top plans of architecture and make adjustments or if I want I can use GIS Arcmap to draw new top plans.  This ability is especially important because there are a few squares excavated where original top plans were never drawn.  Below is a picture of the photographs from Area C georeferenced.