Summer 2011 at Tel Zayit
Tel Zayit is a small site in the Shephelah of Judah best known for the 10th-century abecedary discovered in 2005. Tel Zayit is 5 miles (8 km) south of Gath (Tell es-Safi), 6 miles (9 km) southwest of Azekah, and 4.5 miles (7 km) north of Lachish. The excavator, Ron Tappy, has suggested that Tel Zayit is biblical Libnah, though for that identification Zayit is competing with Tel Burna (pdf), only 2.5 miles (4 km) to the east.
Gordon Franz joined the Tel Zayit team this summer and he has posted some of his personal reflections and experiences on his blog.
There were no spectacular small finds at Tel Zayit this summer. The most important discovery, however, was a clearer understanding of the stratigraphy of the site. In K-20 it was the newly discovered Persian period level as well as another phase of the Roman period. In O-19 all indications point to the abecedary being clearly dated to the 10th century BC. If this date is correct, it would demonstrate that Israelites living in this out-of-the-way city were literate and, therefore, not a bunch of hillbillies living in some little cow town!
I’ve heard that the team will not be in the field next summer, but you may want to consider joining as a volunteer in 2013.
Important sites in Shephelah. Source: Google Earth. For other images with marked routes, see Chris McKinny’s blog.