I am very grateful to ASOR for providing me with the opportunity to return to the Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project for 2011 excavations. Safi is located on the border area between the coastal plains and the Shephelah. It has been identified as the site of biblical Gath, one of the five major Philistine cities. Under Jeffrey Chadwick of Brigham Young University, I worked on the western summit of the Tell in area F. The unique element of this area is the extensive stratigraphic picture that terraces the hill from the Early Bronze to the Crusader period. My work focused in squares 16A and 16C as a continuation of last year, excavating the earliest Iron I levels in that sequence.
The season’s objective for these two squares was to dig through the Iron I and get to the Late Bronze layer, looking especially at the transition between the two. In 2010 we had uncovered the top of a large Iron Age storage jar in square 16A and used that as the basis for excavating in that square. As we came to find, the jar had been dug into a surface with the top purposefully broken in a clean line, though laying on its surface was an Early Bronze vessel apparently serving as a lid. It was an interesting indication of domestic habits; scientific analysis will show us what material was stored inside. In 16C, we worked quickly to bring the layer down to level on the Late Bronze surface. We also had some interesting finds as we came upon beautiful painted pottery sherds and what might be possible steles set inside a room.
In addition to this work, I also assisted in excavating around one of the most exciting finds of the season: a Philistine two horned altar. The 2011 season at Tell es-Safi/Gath was very eventful and rewarding. I learned a great deal, both in excavating procedure and the history of the land. I would again like to express my thanks to ASOR and the donors, I look forward to further opportunities to excavate at Tell es-Safi/Gath and the exciting work involved.
Brigham Young University