Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Gath Season 2008 Report

The season at Philistine Gath (Tell es-Safi) is concluded and archaeologist Aren Maeir has a great wrap-up of the season for all who couldn't be there. Gath is proving to be one of the most important excavations of recent times and Maeir's helpful reviews to the public should be a model for all excavations (and we get it straight from the horse's mouth and not garbled through a journalist!). Some highlights (from my perspective):

  • They excavated material from Early Bronze, Middle Bronze, Late Bronze, Iron I, Iron II, and Crusader.
  • Gath appears to have been a large, significant site in Early Bronze, before the arrival of the Philistines.
  • Remains were found related to the earliest arrival of the Philistines at the site, including locally made Mycenean IIIC ware.
  • Important discovery from the time of David/Solomon: "a well-dated fragment of a seal impression (of the late 21st Dynasty in Egypt, ca. mid-10th cent BCE), and several nice clusters of carbonized grape pips. This latter find should be able to provide nice 14C datings for this phase. One cannot overemphasize the importance of the finds in this level, since it may provide the first concrete, well-dated (from several perspectives) context from the early Iron Age IIA in Philistia."
  • Gath was a large site in the time of the first kings of Judah: "As such, it appears to mirror the role that Gath is portrayed as playing in the biblical text in the early monarchy, that of the major Philistine city, primus inter pares among the five Philistine cities."
  • More evidence was revealed of Hazael's destruction of the site in about 800 B.C.
  • Gath may have been destroyed twice by the Assyrians - first by Sargon II (712 B.C.?) and then by Sennacherib (701 B.C.).

Maeir concludes: "All told, the season was great, the team was fantastic and the find were extraordinary!"

Read the whole thing here.

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