Levant - Southern

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AshdodBeershebaGezerTel Goren / en-GediHar SaggiTell el-Hesi / EglonTell Jemmeh / Arza / Yurza Kuntillet AjrudLachishMalhataMareshaNabatean Spice RouteTel NagilaJebel Qa'aqir / Be'er Resisim QumranRamat Rahel Ramla Safadi / Abu MatarTel Sera' / Ziklag Shiqmim YarmuthYavneh


Ashdod (T. Dothan & D. Ben-Shlomo, 2000)

Excavations at Tel Ashdod, Israel

The site of Ashdod was settled continuously from the end of the Middle Bronze period until the Arab period. During the Iron Age and the Hellenistic period both the upper and lower city were settled; in other periods only the upper city was settled. Area H can be considered the "elite zone" of the Early Iron Age Philistine city of Ashdod. This area exemplifies the well-planned and organized city. Some of the buildings, built on both sides of a main street, show Aegean affinities and are possibly public or "high-class" buildings. The finds in this area also show many Aegean affinities. Of special importance are a rich and varied assemblage of monochrome MycIIIC1b and Philistine bichrome pottery; a large group of Aegean-style anthropomorphic figurines, "Philistine" seals, ivories, jewelry etc.

Beersheba (Ze'ev Herzog, Itzhaq Beit Arieh & Anson F. Rainey, 1997)

Iron Age II Material From Tel Beersheba

The unusually rich assemblage discovered at Tel Beersheba may serve as a basis for the analysis of the administrative, economic and ceremonial aspects of the ancient Judahite city. The proposed project will process the find and analyze the excavation results to the benefit of the scientific community. The potential of modern computerized processing methods combined with the elaborate theoretical basis of the social-archaeology paradigm assure the most fruitful result of the study of the material (Renfrew and Bahn 1991). The proposed project will concentrate on determining the administrative roles of the settlement at Tel Beersheba, as reflected by the structures and objects uncovered in each of the strata. Spatial analysis of the artifacts and ecofacts will reveal the site's economic basis regarding land cultivation, animal husbandry, and exchange. Petrographic analysis will provide data about the short- and long-distance trade contacts and will indicate the origin and scale of imported craft specialized objects. This information will be essential for the understanding of the role of Beersheba within the royal administration of Judah during the Late l0th to Early 6th centuries.

En-Gedi (Ephraim Stern, 2002)

The Archaeological Excavations Directed by the Late Professor Benjamin Mazar at Tel Goren (En-Gedi)

The excavations at Tel Goren, located in the desert oasis of En-Gedi, were unique and of great importance. This isolated oasis was inhabited (aside from a Chalcolithic settlement of which a temple remains, providing an important key to understanding the culture and cult of that period) only during the end of the First Temple period and during that period apparently functioned as a royal estate of the Kings of Judah for the production of balsam. This settlement was destroyed shortly afterward by the Babylonians. The rich assemblage of finds from this period is therefore from an extremely brief and well defined period: 650-582 BCE and as such, is a chronological and cultural marker of the utmost importance. Following the destruction of the First Temple, the tell was resettled during the period of the Return to Zion (the Persian period) and was also found to have been once more a part of the new Jewish state that was established by the returned exiles. From this period as well, an exceptional architectural and ceramic assemblage emerged, including written texts. These finds are of importance in the study of the material culture of the Judean state during the late Persian period, known until now from very few excavations.

Gezer (John S. Holladay, Jr, & Stanley Klassen, 1998)

Excavations in Field III at Gezer: The Solomonic Gateway

Apart from the very considerable interest of the architectural succession, the great archaeological appeal of the excavations is the tight control exercised in excavation, the detailed stratigraphic sequence that resulted in a long series of independent "close chronological horizons," and the systematic collection of almost all diagnostic pottery-of unprecedented value for, among other things, filling in the sparsely documented ceramic chronology of Israel, Judah, and the Hellenistic period. A small part of this stratigraphy was usefully exploited in Holladay 1990 ("Red Slip, Burnish, and the Solomonic Gateway at Gezer," BASOR 277/78, pp. 23¬70). This publication is specifically designed to illustrate the "balk-controlled debris-layer analytic" (true "Wheeler-Kenyon") mode of archaeology in the Middle East and in so doing will differ materially from other volumes in the Gezer series.

Gezer VII (James W. Hardin, 1998)

Synchronic and Diachronic Studies of the Middle Bronze Age and Later Fortification Systems in Field IV at Tell Gezer

Gezer's strategic location, substantial size, and significant remains attest to its importance throughout antiquity. Revealed in Field IV were 1.) the well-preserved remains of an massive "inner-wall" fortification system from the Middle Bronze age, with an outlying crushed limestone glacis, a massive tower/building, and a three entry-way monumental gate; 2.) an associated late MB III domestic/storage complex destroyed by fire and preserved under the collapsed debris of the "inner wall" yielding nearly two hundred pottery vessels and a variety of other cultural remains; and 3.) elements of a subsequent system of fortifications (the "outer-wall"), dated by the excavators to the Late Bronze II in its earliest phase, with rebuilds during the Iron II and the Maccabean periods.

Har Saggi (Benjamin A. Saidel & Mordechai Haiman, 2003)

Life and Death in the Desert: The Excavations at Hameara and Har Saggi in the Western Negev Highlands, Israel

The 10 sites slated for publication include five habitation sites, four concentrations of cairns and burial tumuli, and an open air shrine. The study of such a range of site types, including both the secular and the sacred, will contribute towards a better understanding of the socio-economic organization of arid land pastoralists as follows. First, data derived from the study of the material culture at these sites can provide information on the cultural and commercial relationships between the inhabitants of the encampments located at Hameara and Har Saggi and the population of the town of Tel Arad, the gateway to urban Palestine in the Early Bronze Age. Second, analysis and publication of this group of sites will provide information on activities carried out in domestic, burial, and ritual contexts. Third, the publication will involve submitting for testing and analysis selected material, the results of which will substantially contribute to our understanding of issues such as diet, health, and technology in the Early Bronze Age. Fourth, the location of the sites at Hameara and Har Saggi is important for reconstructing the seasonal movements of pastoral nomads during the Early Bronze Age. As part of this research sites will be entered into a geographical information system (GIS) in order to examine the distribution of various types of sites on the regional (central Negev) and interregional (southern Sinai) levels.

Tell el-Hesi / Eglon (Jeffrey Blakely, 2002)

Tell el-Hesi: Fields I and III (Neolithic to Modern)

Tell el-Hesi is located southwest of the modern Israeli city of Qiryat Gat. While stratified remains of the Chalcolithic/Early Bronze Age, the EB III, the entirety of the Late Bronze Age (LB), the second half of the Iron Age, the Persian Period, and the Ottoman Period are known, as well as residual Neolithic and Chalcolithic materials, the vast amount of excavation effort was directed towards the Iron-Age, Persian-Period, and Ottoman-Period remains. Lawrence E. Toombs published the Bedouin Cemetery of the Ottoman Period as well as the modern military trenching (Strata I and II) in 1984. W. J. Bennett, Jr., and Jeffrey A. Blakely published the Persian-Period remains of Stratum V in 1989. This report would complete these earlier efforts by publishing the massive Judahite fortress (Stratum VIII) as well as the extensive late Persian-Period occupation of Stratum IV.

Tell Jemmeh / Yurza (Gus W. Van Beek and David Ben-Shlomo, 2001)

Smithsonian Institution Excavations at Tell Jemmeh, Volumes I-III

This project is part of an effort towards the final publication of excavations at Tell Jemmeh. Tell Jemmeh (Tel Re'im) is in the northwestern Negev desert about 10 km south of Gaza (map reference 097.088), on the southern bank of Nahal Besor (Wadi Ghazzeh). The major fieldwork for this project, directed by G. Van Beek and sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution, took place from 1970-78, with smaller problem-solving exposures during 1982, 1984, 1987 and 1990. In many respects, Tell Jemmeh has become a bench-mark for non-biased field sampling methodology and remains at the forefront of total retrieval and curation of archaeological materials at historic tell sites in the southern Levant.

Kuntillet Ajrud (Ze'ev Meshel, 2006)

Kuntillet Ajrud (Horvat Teman): An Iron Age II Religious Site on the Judah-Sinai Border

Kuntillet Ajrud is a small, single-period Iron Age (Israelite) site from the early eight century BC, whose ancient identification is unknown. The site contains two single-period buildings. The main building and the most important one, is a rectangular structure (15x25 m.) approached through an outer courtyard, an indirect gate-room and a narrow broad-room, all of them surrounded by stone benches and plastered with white, shiny lime plaster. The narrow broad-room, termed "the bench room", was the most important part of the building and contained most of the sits's unique finds: fragments of wall plaster bearing colored murals and Hebrew inscriptions written in black ink, two large pithoi decorated with inscriptions and drawings and several stone bowls bearing the names of their donors. The room's plan and content, in particular the inscriptions, attest to its function: to house vessels and objects offered at the site by donors asking for blessing.

Lachish (David Ussishkin, 1997)

Tel Lachish and Its Importance

Tel Lachish is one of the largest, richest and most important archaeological sites from the Old Testament period in southern Palestine. It covers an area of nearly 40 acres. The site is located in the Shephelah, near one of the main routes leading from the coastal plain to the Judean hills. Lachish was continuously settled from the Chalcolithic period in the 4th millennium BCE till the end of the Persian period in the middle of the first millennium BCE. The accumulation of debris in parts of the mound reaches 12 m. (about 35 feet).

Malhata (Itzhaq Beit-Arieh, 2005)

Horvat ‘Uza and Horvat Radum: Two Fortresses in the Biblical Negev

There is no doubt that the extensive area of Tel Malhata, its impressive fortifications and the richness of its finds, which many are of Edomite origin , make it one of the most important key sites for historical research of the Judean kingdom and its settlement pattern in the south. In the excavations, building complexes, a large storehouse and a fortification system were uncovered. The finds include a large and varied assemblage of pottery vessels, marked weights, figurines, stamp seals, incense altars, remains of wooden furniture and inscriptions, most of them in Edomite.

Maresha (Gerald Finkelsztejn, 2010)

Maresha is one of the most important sites in the history and archaeology for the Iron Age to the Hellenistic period in the Southern Levant. It is mentioned several times in the Bible (Torah), the Books of the Maccabees and Josephus Flavius. Since the Persian period (6th-4th c. BCE), it was the main city of Idumea/Western Edom, south of Judea, and it owes its fame and prosperity to its location on the main routes from the East to the Levantine coast (Ascalon, Gaza; part of the perfume road), and from Egypt to Syria. It also produced oil on an industrial scale and most probably also cereals. It had a political role in the frame of the relations between the Levantine ethnies and the central powers, mainly the Greco-Macedonian ones in the Hellenistic Period.

Nabatean Spice Route (Yizhar Hirschfeld, 2004)

Nabatean Perfume and Spice Road in the Negev Desert

The demand for perfumes and spices in the Greco-Roman world was enormous; and it is this demand that made the fortune of the Nabateans. After the Roman annexation of the Nabatean Kingdom in 106 AD the Roman army took over control of this area which it maintained until the 3rd century AD. This particular section of the road was an essential part of the Nabatean trade route and constitutes a missing link in our knowledge of the subject. Given the location of the sites within an extremely arid region the conservation of structures and small finds, including organic materials, is outstanding.

Tel Nagila (Joe Uziel & Aren Maeir, 2006)

The Tel Nagila Publication Project

Tel Nagila is a multi-period site situated on the western bank of Nahal Shiqma in the southern coastal plain. The most intensive occupation occurred during the Middle Bronze Age IIB-C period, when a fortified city occupied the site. A section excavated on the northeast side of the tell revealed an elaborate rampart system made up of an earthen embankment with a mudbrick wall perched atop it. Various layers of earth and crushed chalk were laid against the wall to form a glacis. The mudbrick wall was found to continue above this glacis and a mudbrick tower was integrated into it. Four to five strata dating to the MBIIB-C were unearthed at the center of the mound, including a residential quarter and parts of two public buildings. The plan of the settlement reveals systematic planning of the residential quarter along a series of parallel streets, with other streets intersecting at right angles. The finds include pottery (including tens of complete vessels), a number of scarabs, ostrich eggshells used as vessels, metal objects and a unique ceramic zoomorphic vessel. Of particular interest is a sherd with a fragmentary, two-line Proto-Canaanite inscription. Two rock-cut tombs were found south of the tell, near the riverbank. The first is a small tomb dating to the Early Bronze Age II or III. The second dates to the MBIIB-C and is made up of three chambers containing the remains of 50 individuals, 150 pottery vessels, Egyptian alabaster and faience vessels, 48 scarabs and bronze objects.

Jebel Qa'aqir / Be'er Resisim (William Dever, 1998)

Jebel Qa'aqir and Be'er Resisim

The Jebel Qa'aqir and Be'er Resisim materials constitute one of the fundamental databases for our understanding of the still enigmatic EB IV period, ca. 2400-2000 B.C., often considered a "Dark Age" between the great urban Early and Middle Bronze Ages in ancient Palestine. Excavated with fully modern methods, and the basis for much of modern theory, these materials are even more significant in some ways than when they were first brought to light a generation ago. Yet only a small proportion of the basic data has been published, and these only in preliminary reports. Obviously the Jebel Qa'aqir and Be'er Resisim materials must be fully published and discussed comparatively in the light of today's theories and knowledge.

Khirbet Qumran and Ain Feshkha (Stephen Pfann, 2000)

Synthesis of Roland de Vaux's Field Notes : Khirbet Qumran and Ain Feshkha

Few archaeological sites have raised so many questions and excited so much interest and heated discussion, sometimes touching on controversy. Roland de Vaux himself had, of course, counted on producing the definitive publication on the work executed on the site and its surroundings. He first gave the essentials of the archaeological data in his preliminary reports, interwoven with an historical framework that he wanted to test. Therefore, the most urgent thing for him was the scrolls. One cannot say, however, that the archaeology of Qumran has not been published. Season after season, de Vaux published preliminary reports in the Revue Biblique. If they were bound together, they would form a considerable volume: 153 pages of text, 41 photographic plates, 249 drawings of complete pottery items, and 6 foldouts suggesting an architectural evolution. An archaeological description of the caves appeared in the Discoveries in the Judaean Desert series. The preliminary results were not only published but treated perhaps even more comprehensively than in many final reports that have appeared since, in the economic manner that sometimes seems to prevail today. However, de Vaux would not have wanted the sum of his work to be compared in this way. De Vaux's preliminary reports, together with the result, of the dig as the stages of the work unfolded, furnished first-hand documentation that bore testimony to his intuitions and hesitations, but above all, to his progress in understanding the intricate nature of Qumran. De Vaux, however, died at the height of his powers without having completed his work.

Ramat Rahel (Dr. Oded Lipschits, 2006)

Volume III of the Ramat Rahel Excavation Report

The site was first excavated by Y. Aharoni in a small salvage excavation season in 1954. Between the years 1959 and 1962, Aharoni conducted four seasons, but the material from the excavations was published only in a preliminary manner without detailed plans, or section drawings. Most of the material was not published at all, and only small part of it was published, but in a way which does not permit further research. Preliminary studies of the material shows that the publication of the data and a careful study of it, as proposed in this application, may shed new light on the history, stratigraphy and chronology of the site. We intend to publish a new research on the site, based on all this material.This proposal also includes the publication of the final results of two of the excavations conducted at Ramat Rahel in the 1980s and 1990s.

Ramla (Anna de Vincenz, 2006)

The Islamic Period in Ramla

In recent decades the field of Islamic archaeology has gained in importance and the study of various aspects of the material culture has begun. Hence, next to the unearthing of desert castles and the residences of Muslim rulers, the glazed ceramics they used have attracted the attention of different scholars, also because of their beauty (One of the most outstanding books about Muslim ceramics is Jean Soustiel's La Céramique Islamique, Le Guide du Connaisseur. Fribourg. 1985). However, Islamic archaeology is still in its infancy, especially regarding aspects of daily life. More and more sites associated with the Islamic periods have been the object of excavation projects: Elia (Jerusalem), Taburiyye (Tiberias), Qaimun (Yokne'am), 'Akko (Acre) and of course also at Ramla. Ramla has traditionally been associated by Christian pilgrims with St Helena and a large cistern known as Bir el-Aneziye.

Safadi / Abu Matar (Frederic Guyot, 2007)

Safadi and Abu Matar, excavated during ten years, have provided the main part of our knowledge concerning what is commonly designed as the "Beersheba Culture". These sites, as well as Shiqmim, 20km west from Beersheba, have revealed settlements of an ancient agro-pastoral civilization in what is now the semi-arid northern Negev. The study of these settlements offers a good opportunity to reconsider the development of South Near East at the turn of the 4th millennium, from a technical, socio-economical, anthropological and cultural point of view. The project submitted here is to produce a precise study of the architecture from Safadi and Abu Matar. It intends to analyse the stratigraphic sequences of both sites and then the various ways the dwellings were built as well as the organization of the settlements. A comparative study between the dwellings from Abu Matar and Safadi will be made. Their results will be compared to the neighbouring sites of Shiqmim and K. el Bitar.

Tel Sera' / Ziklag (Eliezer Oren, 2001)

The Publication of Tel Sera': The Bronze Age Strata (Area A), Israel

Identified with Biblical Ziklag - King David's city of refuge, Tel Sera' is located on the north bank of Nahal Gerar, ca. 7 km upstream from Tel Haror and about 18 km east of Gaza. This region with its dense cluster of major Bronze and Iron Age tells (ancient Gaza, Tell el-Ajjul, Tell Far'a, Tell Jemmeh, Tel Haror, Tel Sera' etc.) played significantly in the political, cultural and economic history of Canaan, i.e., intensive contacts with Egypt, widespread Philistine settlement, Assyrian administration on the border of Egypt, etc. Large-scale excavations from 1972 to 1978 by Ben-Gurion University expedition under the direction of E.D. Oren uncovered the rich settlement assemblages (strata I -XIII), with some gaps in habitation, from the Chalcolithic through the Byzantine periods. The results of the excavations contribute significantly to the study of political history and cultural exchanges with Egypt as well as to certain pivotal issues in the chronology of the Bronze and Iron Ages in Canaan. Tel Sera' played importantly in the settlement history and economy of the western Negev, particularly during the Hyksos period (Middle Bronze Age III), the period of Egyptian domination (Late Bronze Age II-III), the Philistine (Iron Age I) and Assyrian period (Iron Age III). The proposed publication project will focus on the rich settlement strata XII-IX, from the Middle Bronze Age III to Late Bronze III, ca. 1600-1150 BCE.

Shiqmim (Thomas E. Levy -PI, Yorke M. Rowan, & Margie M. Burton, 1999)

Desert Chiefdom: Dimensions of Subterranean Settlement and Society in Israel's Negev Desert (c. 4500 – 3600 BCE) Based on New Data from Shiqmim

This proposal seeks support to prepare a book-length publication concerning the Phase II excavations at Shiqmim, the largest and most deeply stratified Chalcolithic (ca. 4500 - 3500 BCE) site in Israel's Negev desert. The major field work for this project took place in 1987 -1989 and was sponsored by the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology (NGSBA) of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem. In many respects, Shiqmim has become a bench-mark for social evolutionary studies in the southern Levant.

Yarmuth (Michael Jasmin, 2005)

A monograph on the excavation of the acropolis of Tel Yarmuth in Israel from the Early Bronze Age to the Byzantine period
(XXVIIth century BC - IVth century AD)

The Tel Yarmuth acropolis provides the unique opportunity to study a site on the longue durée, with a quasi continuous occupation covering more than thirty centuries from the XXVIIth BC (Early Bronze Age) to the IVth AD (Byzantine period). It is usually thought that only major regional sites knew long continuous occupation. Tel Yarmuth is an original and instructive example: it shows clearly that after the impressive Early Bronze city, the renewed occupation on a village scale on the upper tell lasted for two millennia.

Yavneh (Raz Kletter, 2008)

Yavneh I: The Excavation of the "Temple Hill" Repository Pit and the Cult Stands

A dramatic discovery was made in 2002 at Yavneh, Israel, a Tell close to the Mediterranean coast (roughly 25 km south of Tel Aviv). The salvage excavation was made after bulldozers hit an ancient site on top of a hill north of the Tell during gardening works. This hill is unofficially (but amply) called "the temple hill" since the 1960s. Excavation revealed a repository pit (favissa in Latin or Genizah in Hebrew) with thousands of temple objects. In the pit there were thousands of broken chalices (cup-like vessels) and bowls, many showing traces of burning, probably from use as incense burners. We also found fire pans— a type of Aegean incense vessel never before encountered in Israel/Palestine; some large round offering vessels (thymeteria) and several altars of various shapes. The most startling finds were 120 cultic stands, rich with figures of humans, plants and animals. These are crucial for understanding Philistine art and religion from a period, which left almost no written sources (c. 9th century BC). It is a spectacular discovery, being the richest and best-preserved repository pit even found in the southern Levant. The finds from the pit also shed light on the use of incense in the cult and on 'western' features in Philistine material culture.