Wednesday, December 31, 2014

ASOR 2014 Review

I finally have some time to share details of my interactions/observations from last month's conference. In a sense, it's a very limited view since I only attended about half a day's worth of lectures, representing a small fraction of what was available to attendees.

The day began in the hotel lobby with the president of Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, Nelson Glueck. He wasn't familiar with my work, but I thanked him for allowing me to use his library & examine/photograph his Nebi Rubin weight back in 2006.

Trooper that he is, LMLK VIP Andy Vaughn showed up before most other living humans, challenged me to a staircase race, & paid me a tremendous compliment on my LMLK research (the stuff I've done that David Vanderhooft called incompetent; shows how little Vaughn knows!), then autographed his dissertation paperback, & the chapter of Ussishkin's RAELv4 he co-authored with Gabriel Barkay. You can imagine what a thrill it is for me to finally see all 3 of their signatures in this landmark publication! Later in the day he also signed the chapter he co-authored with Carolyn Pillers Dobler in the Mazar festschrift. I had fun teasing him about provenance & my Lv1 first-impression of his dissertation: "Vaughn's book proved to be the most boring piece of material I ever forced myself to read." I was so happy to be able to show him how worn the pages were, because I've referred to it so many times over the past decade.

If the day had ended there, even before the first lecture, I would've been able to go home completely satisfied, but the fun continued when Steve Ortiz came by & introduced me to Sam Wolff of the IAA. I thanked him for all that their organization does to preserve antiquities.

Soon thereafter, A.D. Riddle & Jeff Hudon passed by. A.D. not only contributes to the heavily trafficked Bible Places Blog, but also made/maintains Riddle Maps Dotcom.

Jeff, of course, is famous in LMLKology for his NEAS article that follows Anson Rainey's idea on the 4 vineyards of King Uzziah. The genuinely "incompetent" portion of my brain forgot to bring Jeff's NEAS volume for him to sign, but I'm optimistic we'll meet again some day. I was very flattered that they both expressed interest in my LMLK research, & I briefly updated them on my Lv2 book (particularly the chronological "layer").

Since I planned to attend lectures by Yosef Garfinkel & Hoo-Goo Kang while Oded Lipschits & his team were simultaneously presenting lectures on their recent work at Azekah, I decided to visit him first, hoping he'd sign his Yehud Stamps tome, which he did. That was quite a thrill! When I first met him 7 years earlier at the 2007 San Diego conference, he had not yet published anything of interest to me; but now he's made multiple contributions to the field, with that book being the most important, so that's why I chose it.

He also updated me on his Ramat Rachel publications. A popular summary in Hebrew should be appearing any day now, with an English version to follow next year, possibly even a German edition. The excavation volumes will be numbered 3-6, with Aharoni's landmark books from the early '60s being 1-2.

Volume 3 is in press, & expected to appear next year (2015), & will contain photos of all the handles from his renewed excavations, as well as photos of all the ones previously unpublished by Aharoni, many of which were kept in Rome all these decades. I asked if it would include a CD-ROM, but he said the material would probably be posted sometime on TAU's website since it's all stored electronically anyway.

Volume 4 will be the official report summarizing the excavations (probably analogous to RAELv1), scheduled for publication near the end of 2015. Volume 6 will be published asynchronously about the same time, focusing on his specialty: Babylonian/Persian pottery. Volume 5 will be last, sometime after 2015, containing small finds that take the most time to document.

I apologized for not being able to attend his lectures, but asked about his current work at Azekah, & was surprised to learn that he's planning at least 11 more seasons because "it's such an unbelievable site". That's an impressive statement from someone who's conducted the most extensive excavation of Ramat Rahel (a royal estate)!

On the way back to the Qeiyafa/Lachish conference room, I met Dr. Garfinkel, & was thrilled to see him smile when he recognized me (after checking the name on my badge). Here's a great shot of us discussing whether my thumb could've made the marks seen on the jar handles his team excavated:

Ditto when I met Hershel Shanks a few minutes later, who also chose that room over the Azekah room. As the lecture was about to begin, I didn't have time to chat or camcord myself with him. I had hoped to schmooze with him again later in the day, but alas, it didn't work out that way.

I enjoyed the hour-long presentation by Dr. Garfinkel. He explained that they decided to halt work at Qeiyafa & excavate at Lachish because it does not have the Iron II occupation gap, hoping to connect finds from its Late Bronze & Early Iron strata with analogous ones already found at Qeiyafa.

He confidently explained why the rocks he excavated along Qeiyafa's south & west perimeter were definitely 2 gates, because the casemate openings in the adjoining walls faced away from the gate (a common architectural feature). This is painfully obvious from the illustrations he showed, but prompted the equally obvious question about what happened architecturally where the opposing casemates met. His team excavated one of the meeting points, but was not able to pinpoint the other one in the opposite wall. He humorously pondered if the other meeting point would have an inscription similar to the famous Siloam Tunnel one!

He only spoke for 2 minutes about the 3 Proto-Canaanite inscriptions, noting that one of them was on a jar smashed into "hundreds of pieces", which was exceptionally disappointing since they also excavated an in-tact, but inscriptionless specimen nearby. I'm grateful he granted permission for me to post the audio for everyone to hear:

Note especially that he implied how inscriptions at 3 sites represent evidence for the Judahite monarchy rather than a united one with Israel. (And never mind the Safi "Goliath" ostracon.)

He believes that the stone temple/shrine model with triglyphs & recessed frame/doorway is "the most important artifact from Qeiyafa" because it "clearly indicates royal construction was known in Judah in the early-10th century." He also believes that if Qeiyafa had been excavated by Albright, Yadin, or Benjamin Mazar, it would not have been considered an important site because "everybody knew King David existed." He explained how his views differ from those of Biblical maximalists & minimalists with regard to the United/Israelite/Judahite monarchies. I did not capture an image of the chart he showed, but it's something like this:

United 11th-10th
Israel 10th-8th
Judah 10th-6th

Israel 9th-8th
Judah 10th-6th

Israel 9th-8th
Judah 8th-6th

Those centuries might not precisely reflect the dates on his chart, but the basic differences are:
  1. Counter to Maximalists, he doesn't believe there was a united monarchy.
  2. Counter to Minimalists, he believes Judah preceded Israel.

He concluded by emphasizing 5 points to support his position about Qeiyafa being Judahite, & included a slide showing my H2D Wikimedia photo. My blog readers will recall that it was used in a slideshow by someone else at the 2007 conference, but that was a huge thrill to see it used by him in regard to this prominent subject. Interestingly, after Qeiyafa/Shaaraim was destroyed, he doesn't believe Judah ever had more than 6 administrative centers: Arad, Azekah, En-Gedi, Hebron, Jerusalem, & Lachish.

Next, Hoo-Goo Kang delivered a lecture on Negebite pottery to refute something someone named Israel Finkelstein wrote about Qeiyafa. I camcorded all of it, but he asked me not to post it since it hasn't been formally published, so I'm happy to comply with his request. I chatted with him later in the day about the Depression (a.k.a. fingerprint or thumbprint or thumbed) handles. He agreed with me that it would be interesting to know the relative percentage of unstamped handles of the same ware, but said those quantities were unknown (similar to what Bryant Wood had confessed to me at NEAS).

Last week I received a copy of the Qeiyafa v1 excavation report (I had ordered last summer from Eisenbrauns, but its delivery was delayed due to a postal strike), which includes his initial analysis of the first 76 handles (& restored jars) they found, along with a list of excavation sites. Next year the journal named Levant will publish his final report that includes 600 additional specimens & presumably an even more extensive distribution (e.g., see Plate 56 #59 from Azekah (Tell Zakariya) in Bliss/Macalister's "Excavations in Palestine, 1898-1900" tome); but so far they've been reported in Afula, Ashdod, Beersheba, Beth Shean, Beth Zur, Dan, Dor, Hazor, Jokneam, Kedesh, Megiddo, Mevorakh, Qeiyafa, Taanach, Timnah:

Hmmm... I can't seem to get the phrases "from Dan even to Beersheba" & "Israel Finkelstein" out of my head at the moment. Those skyscraper-staircase racing symptoms must be having a weird effect my brain. Meanwhile, it'll be interesting to see how my friend, Dr. Garfinkel accounts for this distribution within his No-United-Monarchy/Late-Israel paradigm. (As I said at NEAS, with friends like me, who needs enemies, right?!?!) This sure looks like stronger evidence for the united monarchy than the famous trio of Solomonic gates!

(Note: I deliberately omitted Maqatir & several other sites that were mentioned to me informally at the conference, just to emphasize that the ones shown in this map were already published 5 years ago; & yet I'm not aware of any "competent" scholar who's noticed their distribution relative to, as Andy Vaughn would say, "what one would expect" for evidence from the united monarchy.)

After Kang's lecture, I darted back to the Azekah room, just in time to hear Ido Koch lecture on the scarabs that they've found so far. By sheer coincidence, I ended up sitting next to Omer Sergi, & it was wonderful to see him smile back when we looked at each other's badges & realized who the other person was! Ido gave a very slick, professional presentation, & would easily have won the best-dressed scholar award had there been one for the conference!

I was surprised to see him using unprovenanced scarabs for comparisons since that's against ASOR's policy ... wait, did I just say I was surprised?!?! Remember, don't believe everything you read on the Internet! Anyway, some were old (Petrie-era possibly), but I also noticed that some had been published relatively recently by Othmar Keel. Anyway, I was thinking about asking a formal question during the brief Q&A, but since someone else asked one, I decided to simply go up to him privately after that. I introduced myself, & asked about the unlabeled color associations on one of his distribution maps. He apologized, & explained that one represented Egyptian estates, another represented Canaanite sites. There were other people waiting to speak with him, so our conversation ended there. Had I more time, I would've delved into a remark he made about Canaanite scarab motifs replacing Egyptian ones, thereby reflecting a "diffusion of religion."

Scarabs in Egypt & Canaan reflect religion, but when they're on LMLK jars, they reflect Assyrian taxes. Hmmm... I'll have to remember that one...

During this interlude I also met Avraham Faust, & got him to autograph his chapter in the Mazar festschrift. Then I spotted Robert Cargill of upside-down photograph fame. We actually had a cordial chat for several minutes, during which I thanked him for posting his video of Omer Sergi's impromptu LMLK lecture; & for crediting me with the correct identification of the seal type. I practically begged him to allow me to camcord us together while holding my camcorder upside down, but he jovially explained that it would violate a contractual agreement he has, so that was a little disappointing, but it was still nice to meet him & discuss the art of humor (I explained how most of my well-planned attempts had bombed during my NEAS lecture). And no, we did not discuss Noah's Flood; though I got a kick out of seeing him sipping a beverage while we were chatting, which would've made a great segue...

Next I met Oded Borowski, who also signed his chapter in the Mazar festschrift for me. I congratulated him on his own upcoming festschrift, & the lectures in his honor that I was not able to attend at Emory. I asked if he had an estimate on when it would be published, & he guessed it would be about 2 years hence. He reminded me that 2 LMLKs were excavated at Tel Halif in 2009, & last week I was thrilled to find excellent drawings of them online, courtesy of the Honors Thesis by Kathryn Rose Reynolds, Analysis of Remains from Field V Excavations at Tel Halif: An Archaeological Source of Identity. These are among the very best LMLK stamp drawings I've ever seen, in that they contain accurate renderings of the seal design, allowing them to be positively identified as H4C (possibly from the same jar).

(Parenthetically, last week I also received a copy of the final report on Aroer [ordered last summer along with Qeiyafa v1], & was extremely disappointed by the poor drawings of their LMLKs. Altogether 6 were excavated, 4 were drawn [no photos], & the other 2 are apparently lost. Such tragedies were common in the days of Bliss & Macalister, but inexcusable in modern times [i.e., 1970s onward].)

I had not expected these chance meetings, so I missed most of Michael Hasel's lecture on the renewed-renewed dig of Lachish. From there I proceeded to Jeff Chadwick's room, only to learn that he was unable to attend, so his Hebron paper was read by 2 of his students. Both young ladies were a little prettier to behold than he is (& in general, that's a good rule for all male scholars to follow; if you can't attend, be sure to send 2 pretty young ladies as substitutes), but I still had wanted to meet him & thank him in person for his important work on this subject. The paper did not mention LMLKs, & focused mostly on Bronze Age data. The most interesting tidbit was "contradictory reports" made by Ofer in an 87/88 ESI preliminary report & a later article in another publication.

As soon as that one concluded, I made a bee-line to Aren Maeir's room, arriving just as the previous presenter concluded. As soon as he stepped up to the podium, the exchange between him & the session moderator invoked laughter, as his sense of humor has a great reputation! It was a fast review of the recent excavation season at Safi, with the highlight being the ivory bowl. One of his slides showed a similar example from Megiddo dated to the "12th century", with his specimen dated to the "10th century", & a remark that although the material was not from the same animal, they were probably made by the same workshop. When I met him later on, I grilled him about that ... okay, I challenged him to clarify it, because a workshop that was in business for about 200 years should've left more artifacts for excavators to find. He said that the Megiddo & Safi strata were probably 11th century, & the bowl was probably sent from Megiddo to Safi & kept in the same family for a generation as a curio.

This is why I'm never shaken by ballpark dates presented in archeological literature. The current issue over half a century or even a century for the Israelite/Judahite monarchies is a non-issue. In some respects I believe the minimalists are closer to the truth than the maximalists. It ties in to the brief discussion I had with A.D. & Jeff about what I learned while writing Lv2. Most people who read literature about "absolute" dates based on eclipses don't realize those phenomena appear relatively frequently (depending on factors such as weather & location range), but I digress.

Dr. Maeir's lecture concluded on a humorous note, with Louise Hitchcock raising her hand for the Q&A, & him responding humorously that she wasn't allowed to ask a question! Bill Dever asked a serious question about Safi's citizenry being Judahite or mixed by the 10th century. Dr. Maeir said neither; it was "as Philistine as it gets", to which Dr. Dever said he must've misunderstood one of the slide-figure's captions. Great example of 2 prominent scholars interacting in a formal manner (unlike my harassment-laden interaction with him). After another question, Dr. Hitchcock was allowed to say what she wanted to say earlier, which was to invite everyone to her ivory-bowl-themed lecture. That's another one I would've liked to have attended, but I met her afterwards, explained my situation, & thanked her for her excellent work.

From there I moved quickly to the room where Jeff Zorn had already begun his lecture on the 61 Nasbeh pits. Sometime later I thanked him for working a "pit-iful" pun into the subject, & very interestingly he described sections of the site where future excavators could work. So there's still a chance that some of the rarest LMLKs remain buried. He humorously speculated that if he lives long enough, he might become an "Olga Tufnell figure" to them, the way she was to David Ussishkin's project! Enjoying our conversation, I forgot to get him to autograph his chapter of the Mazar festschrift.

The last lecture I attended was by Liora Freud, regarding Persian pottery at Ramat Rahel. She mentioned a "continuation" of Rosettes in the context of post-exilic jars such as Yehuds. In my notes (not always reliable, especially when the speaker has a heavy accent), her phrase was "same pottery production & tradition." Since no one else asked a question when the Q&A began, I decided to do so. I said that there was a long time between those 2 types, & asked if she knew of any jars found in Mesopotamia that could be viewed as intermediate between them; if not, how could she account for the Rosette generation of potters getting deported, dying, & their descendants returning & resuming the same practice. Where would they have learned the trade? She gave a lengthy answer that basically boils down to her belief that less than a generation elapsed between the last Rosette & the first Yehud, "about 20 years". I thanked her for the clarification.

It would've been interesting to hear Gabriel Barkay comment had he been there. I know he believes some Jews remained in the land, but I doubt he believes there was such a short gap between the stamped-jar types.

More than 5 hours had elapsed since I had anything to drink, so I took a break, posted my last blog entry for the day, & decided to head home rather than fight evening traffic, & risk driving drowsy. Many scholars were returning from lunch, so I decided to make one more lap around the mezzanine. I scored big-time when I spotted another of my online enemies, Morag Kersel. She turned out to be beautiful in person (when we argued about antiquities on the ASOR blog a couple years earlier, I had imagined the Wicked Witch of the West ... green face, pointy-black fingernails, surrounded by winged monkeys, etc.) It's a good thing I didn't know the truth, or I might not've presented my case so ruthlessly! After introducing myself, we only chatted a couple minutes, but agreed that the antiquities debate was an important one. It's a bummer that I didn't camcord the interaction, but it just didn't seem appropriate to make the request since she didn't really know me.

I decided that would be a great way to end the day, but alas, I noticed Larry Geraty, & decided to introduce myself. My brain was really having an exceptionally difficult time recalling information, & I wasn't sure if he or Larry Herr was the one whose autographed seal dissertation I owned. So I decided to just be honest & ask. He knew about Dr. Herr's work, & said he was nearby, but I explained that I was on my way out. Still it was nice to meet another friendly scholar. Had I a photographic memory, I would've been able to chat with him about his excavation work at Gezer with Darrell Lance & G. Ernest Wright. He definitely has an impressive background, which includes being president of La Sierra University as well as ASOR.

My final encounter was on the escalator ride back down to the lobby, noticing Rachel Hallote boarded right behind me! I explained my predicament of having to leave, & regretting not being able to attend her lecture, which was going to be on the provenance of antiquities at the Met, in the same session with Drs. Hitchcock & Kersel.

Definitely having a half-full/empty-cup moment here as I think back on the occasion, regarding all that I missed, but all that I experienced socially in such a short time.

Before going into the parking garage, I made a short video of myself, against a backdrop of 2 high-rise buildings in which I've raced. Most of the videos I recorded of me interacting with scholars were ruined by stupid things I said, or the embarrassing way in which I said them. I'm definitely not the Johnny Carson / Gordon Govier hybrid I imagined myself to be! For that & other reasons (e.g., unbeknownst to me at the time, Robert Cargill was in the background all the time Dr. Lipschits was telling me about the RR pubs; most of my clips play awkward since they don't include earlier remarks for context). So I decided to not post them in their entirety, & simply include the snapshots herein for proof of the historic occasion, & this brief montage of me introducing them.

G.M. Grena

P.S. After posting this, Michael Welch reminded me of the messages he wrote on Yahoo's Biblicalist 2 years ago (#2422 & #2304) regarding the United Monarchy jars.  As usual, he was way ahead of me on this subject!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

NEAS 2014: The Video

Without further ado...

I do not expect to have time to process & summarize the rest of NEAS & ASOR (including the videos of Vaughn & Lipschits) until the last week of December.

G.M. Grena

Saturday, November 22, 2014

NEAS Weight-Loss Results

Today I produced the first video from this year's conferences in San Diego (for those of you anxious to see my lecture, it's included in its entirety). Here's the scientific evidence to back-up my claim that research & scholarship do not necessarily produce overweight academicians. For my YouTube audience, I chose the title of "How to Lose 6 Pounds in 3 Days":

G.M. Grena

Thursday, November 20, 2014

ASOR 2014

If you can read this, it means I'm in the hotel lobby where the conference is being held! A short time ago, Dr. Ortiz (whom I met yesterday at NEAS) introduced me to Dr. Sam Wolff of the Israel Antiquities Authority! It was wonderful to be able to thank him for all that he & his organization does archeologically! But the BIG news is that shortly later, I FINALLY met one of my long-time LMLK heroes & ASOR Executive Director: DR. ANDREW G. VAUGHN! Wow! After the big disappoint of not being able to get together with him 7 years ago, what a relief! He not only graciously autographed his dissertation & RAELv4 chapter for me, but ... even allowed me to camcord it while paying me some not-necessarily-deserved flattering remarks. I'm ecstatic! Even if nothing else exciting happens today, I feel this was a very rewarding & successful day! Will post updates as possible, but my Internet access won't work upstairs in the conference rooms, & the hotel might only allow 30 minutes total, so we'll see how that works out.

Just welcomed Dr. Yosef Garfinkel back to San Diego!

Just chatted with A.D. Riddle & another LMLK friend, Dr. Jeff Hudon. Dr. William Dever just walked by. Gotta close laptop & get to the room. Later!

Incredibly fun morning! Won't have time to share all the details now, but ... (sorry, Hershel Shanks just walked past w/ Jim Eisenbraun) ... the highlights were getting to meet/chat w/ Hoo-Goo Kang about the Depressions, Jeff Zorn about stuff remaining for future excavations at Nasbeh, Aren Maeir about a misleading statement he made during his lecture mentioning the ivory dish, Liora Freud about the "continuation" of Rosettes into Yehuds (first time I ever asked an official audience question). Also said hello to Mr. Shanks, Bill Dever, Oded Borowski (who ... [sorry, just chatted for a few minutes again with Brian Janeway passing by] ... reminded me about 2 LMLKs from Halif published in 2009, & also Avraham Faust. Let's see ... what else ... oh yeah, I also met some guys ... what were their names again ... oh yeah, now I remember! Dr. Oded Lipschits, Omer Sergi, & Ido Koch!!! Dr. Lipschits graciously autographed his Yehud Stamps tome, & even allowed me to camcord it, & explained to my YouTube audience some publication plans for his Ramat Rahel material. WOO HOO!!! I sat next to Omer Sergi while listening to Ido Koch lecture on Azekah scarabs, & afterwards asked Prof. (?) Koch about the colors on one of his slideshow maps. Although I'd really, really like to spend the rest of the afternoon here, unfortunately I really need to head back to Redondo so I can take care of home-work & get a decent night's rest before going back to "my day job" tomorrow. This weekend I'll begin sharing as many details as possible from this fantastic occasion, but might not be able to get much of it online till the long Thanksgiving weekend coming up, which will include the annual Heritage Singers concert. Oh, & ... (just waved to Prof. Koch as he walked by) ... Yosef Garfinkel said the other TWO ostraca were submitted for publication to BASOR back in May, should appear in print very soon, & he won't say another word about them till then! Oh ... my slow brain kicking into gear again ... chatted cordially & humorously with "another enemy of mine" (quote from my lecture yesterday), Dr. Robert Cargill, about his Sergi video. I've really gotta go now.

G.M. Grena

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

NEAS 2014, Finally!

If you can read this, it means I'm awake, & ready to slay some dragons.

Just got back from a casual walk to the lecture room. Incredibly, met Bryant Wood in the parking lot as he was leaving the gym. He gave me permission to announce that IRON I ROYAL JAR-HANDLE IMPRESSIONS HAVE BEEN EXCAVATED AT MAQATIR. Yes, you heard me right: Iron I, not II. Details later. And 9 more chairs were added overnight to my room for a total of 50. Going back now on foot carrying all my stuff instead of driving due to logistics. Thanks to my friends for your prayers!

Dragons officially slain! Only about 30 people in attendance, about the same for Roden & Janeway; Conyers was AWOL. After I concluded, Douglas Petrovich entered with a posse of at least 40 fans, for a total of 70 in the room (seated, standing, & literally on the floor, lining the walls), undoubtedly with more outside the room who couldn't get in. To say that he's popular & captivating would be a gross understatement. Edwin Yamauchi was the only person express a comment to the audience following my lecture. He said he doubts that scarabs were of patriarchal origin. That's a paraphrase; I'll have to review the recordings for his exact words, which he later gave me permission to include in my YouTube video. Speaking of which, I had an extensive personal chat with Brian Janeway afterwards, & he recorded a 7.5-minute answer to a question by "Pithom" (Enapoletus Harding), which will also go to YouTube for all. It appeared that both camcorders worked okay, as well as my voice-recorder, but I'll now transfer the files & head back for Dr. Wood's lecture at 2pm. Here are the stats from my heart-rate monitor I had strapped to my chest: 6:51:27 duration, 2894 calories, 107 bpm average, 151 bpm max, 2:22:57 in-zone. I thirst. It is finished. Thank you, Jesus!

Quick notes while the files transfer: 1) I was so happy to see Dr. Steven Collins arrive & attend my lecture! 2) Dr. Janeway & I bonded, not just over our Biblical archeology interests, but he has also competed in a skyscraper staircase race! How cool is that?!?! 3) It was also nice to meet Dr. Charles Ailing & hear a 15-minute impromptu lecture he gave on late-date-Exodus proponents.

Had a fun time attending all the afternoon lectures, beginning with Dr. Wood, who noted that he recently learned the correct Arabic pronunciation of his excavation site is "MAH-kuh-teer" (similar to Disney mouseketeers) rather than "muh-KAH-ter" (like the 70s TV show, Welcome Back Kotter). Much of what he shared was similar to what he had informed me about during our private meetings, including his plans to research parallels to the 1st scarab his team found in 2013, namely those with breasted/collared falcon-headed, stick-legged (footless) sphinxes, leading to a technically detailed, peer-reviewed journal publication. I had a pleasant surprise when Dr. Steven Sanchez of Emmaus Bible College recognized me & introduced himself. Back in 2008 one of his students, Sarah Lepisto, found an S2U at Ramat Rahel, & provided photos for LRW. By the way, I just finished safely transferring the last of the files captured by my devices last night & today, totaling 13.6Gb! I really can't thank God enough for enabling all those electrons to cooperate for this event! Anyway, Dr. Sanchez then introduced me to Dr. Steven Ortiz of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, who graciously complimented me on LRW & Lv1! (And yes, at one time there were 3 Steven-friends of mine in the same room!) I've been anxiously awaiting news about his renewed excavations at Gezer, & he (again) graciously recorded a short video for me, which (again) I'll get up to YouTube with the others. The big news, however, is that he was able to say that the LMLKs they've excavated will probably not solve the questions caused by Macalister's work. But I'm going to remain optimistic until I can examine the photos when they're formally published. After Dr. Wood, Andrew Blatchley delivered an interesting lecture about "The Iron Chariots of the Canaanites", which he believes were probably figurative rather than literal, which in turn he believes doesn't compromise the integrity of the Bible; & he presented those reasons. Then Ralph Hawkins talked about "The Archaeology of Shiloh and Its Bearing on Joshua 18:1". Then Seth Rodriquez, a church planter, gave a really nice lesson & example on how to use (& why Christian leaders should use) visual media for teaching the Bible, since that's how parishioners are taught most effectively elsewhere (e.g., via entertainment & schools). His lecture title & methodological demonstration were "Spending the Night at the Threshing Floor: Archaeological Insights into the Book of Ruth". In particular, I enjoyed seeing his usage of images from His last slide credited that site as well as Finally, S. Cameron Coyle presented an update on the aforementioned Gezer excavations, with the most interesting find being that of a "4-12-4" game-board, which features 5 geometrically-spaced rosettes. In terms of attendance, there were over 50 people in the room at each one (because some were standing), but only about 40 during the last one. During one of the breaks, Douglas Petrovich returned, & I was thrilled to be able to compliment him. He'll actually be filling in for another absentee lecturer on Friday (11-21-2014) from 2:20-2:50 PM, lecturing on Joseph's chronology. Great day, much more to say, but gotta get ready for another important day at ASOR tomorrow.

P.S. For comparison to this morning, the results from my heart-rate monitor for this afternoon were 3:46:34 duration, (only) 786 calories, 85 bpm average, 137 bpm maximum, 0:13:05 in-zone.

G.M. Grena

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

NEAS 2014 Eve

If you can read this, it means I safely checked into my San Diego hotel, & my room has a decent Internet connection. Woo hoo! Now to see if I can extend it for an additional night, & then off to explore the conference area, hoping to get into the actual room of my lecture. I'll be updating this blog post as I'm able (assuming the conference hotel has decent WiFi too.

Just got back from the convention center. First I successfully extended my room here for another night, & unloaded all my junk. At the convention center, I entered the exhibition area, & the first booth I saw was AiG's, & was able to greet the workers, one of which was Dr. Terry Mortenson. That was fun! Then I picked up the printed program, thrilled over seeing my name in print as I always do, & my badge-holder, & found "my" room. I was expecting the 40-seat "theatre" arrangement, & that's what was there ... actually 41 chairs but with plenty of standing-room. The podium is in a corner of the room, so I set camcorder #2 in the opposite corner on the floor in front of the chairs, & began recording. I recited 2Ch31, & practiced walking around the chairs ... 3 rows with an opening in the center where the overhead projector resides. Then I moved it to the floor in front of the projector stand, & finally to the back corner of the room in a flyer-distribution stand/thing. I'm disappointed that the podium is only big enough for a laptop, & not for my paper-binder. Not sure how that's going to work out tomorrow. I haven't watched any of it yet, but will after posting this. I then began practicing my presentation, albeit without my paper/script (reading from the original PPT file. About a third of the way into it, the door opened, a head peaked inside, & I was ECSTATIC to see ... Dr. Bryant Wood!!! Ten years after the fact, I was able to express to him how grateful I was for the feedback he gave me on Lv1. It's funny, we were initially chatting for about a minute about what I was doing in the room, & he then said, "Oh, you're George..." I was so happy to see him, that I had forgotten to introduce myself! But after chatting a while, I told him about my atheist-friend Pithom, who was curious about whether the recent Maqatir excavations were going to be peer-reviewed. Dr. Wood said that aside from the lectures he's already done & the articles he's written for Bible & Spade, he still hasn't published anything formally for peers to review; however, he told me about the plans he has for his own in-depth research next year pertaining to the finds, & then he's going to submit a formal academic paper, which will be peer-reviewed. He also told me about an EXTREMELY exciting find from Maqatir that hasn't been announced anywhere yet, & I was so excited to hear about it, that I forgot to ask him if I could mention here in my blog. Sorry guys! I'll do my best to ask him tomorrow, & will post it after lunch with a wrap-up/aftermath-report of my lecture. The reason I can't do it live in the conference center is that there's NO Internet access for the public (only staff). Even conference attendees who are staying in that hotel will only have access in their hotel rooms. So I'm glad I wasn't relying on that for my presentation. Anyway, my 2 videos just finished transferring to my laptop, so I'm going to watch them now. It's very dark in the room & outside the room, so I'll have to crank up the brightness, but I'm anxious to see how they turned out, & if any of my conversation with Dr. Wood can be heard. By the way, after he left, I finished my rehearsal, & concluded with a prayer that all goes well for God's glory tomorrow. I'm so incredibly grateful that God has enabled me to get here & do this.

The rehearsal videos actually turned out great, & I'll probably make a separate YouTube video of them, or possibly just attach bloopers (there were many) to the end of the official video. It's funny to see myself deliver the lecture to a bunch of empty seats! And I was able to hear all of my conversation with Dr. Wood. Here's a photo of us:

G.M. Grena

Saturday, November 15, 2014

4 Days to NEAS 2014

7:21pm My tooth/jaw problem has persisted for the past few days, so I visited my dentist this morning, & learned that it's a mild form of temporomandibular disorder (a.k.a., temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD/TMJ for short). That was a HUGE relief to learn, because it means that I should be able speak normal on Wednesday. It hurts, but doesn't bother me now that I know it's not some sort of infection that could worsen or interfere with my schedule. It's like stubbing a toe during a stair-climb race. Not life threatening? Ignore it & keep going!

This afternoon, while preparing the 22-page handout for printing, I noticed a minor typo in one of my slides, which happens to be one of two that's repeated. I decided to leave it in since I don't want to bother the conference moderator over such a trivial detail. I doubt anyone will notice it during the presentation, & I'm omitting it from the handout. When I produce the video, I'll use a corrected version.

I was hoping to be able to get 40 copies of the handout printed in color for under $100, but was shocked to learn that it was more like $400. $10 each seemed a bit steep, considering that most of them will be ignored &/or trashed immediately afterwards. So I went with black-&-white for 20 of the pages, & color for 2 I want to emphasize, for $85. Had I known in advance that they were going to be that expensive, I would've printed 40 single-page flyers, & maybe offered $100 for anyone who could meet the challenge I'm making in slide #63. They should be ready for pick up tomorrow afternoon. I thought it was helpful at the 2007 meetings when presenters distributed handouts, so I'm hoping this will help attendees remember some of the key points.

Last night I skimmed over the 300-something-page draft copy of my "Volume 2" book (that I stopped editing in 2012), & didn't notice anything that I overlooked for the lecture. That was also comforting. I'm not going to go to bed tomorrow night until I finish reading the final chapter of Lv1, just to make sure I haven't overlooked anything. Then it'll be all-systems-go.

Time for another rehearsal...


G.M. Grena

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

1 Week to NEAS 2014

8:18pm I'm really looking forward to this occasion, but boy, I sure will be relieved when it's finally over. I'm happy to report that my heart-attack symptoms seem to be under control, & my knees have been gradually returning to normal; but last night a new ailment ... what seems to be some sort of tooth infection, an unusual soreness where my jaws connect.

Don't recall feeling anything like this since my teen years when my wisdom teeth were removed. So I decided to start making audio recordings of each of my remaining rehearsals, beginning with tonight. In a worst-case scenario, if I have to have some sort of emergency oral surgery & lose my ability to speak, I can at least play the recording while clicking through the slides & holding up the props, etc. Made several ordinary speech-impediment mistakes, but the biggest mistake of all was pressing the wrong button at the end so that the recording was lost. Ugh. That will NOT happen tomorrow night!

I decided that I'll only be attending the first day of ASOR (based on my engineering work), so it'll probably make sense to stay in the same hotel on Wednesday night; however, I'll wait to see what it's like; in a worst-case scenario, I'll simply drive home, & hope for the best traffic-wise Thursday morning. Garfinkel & Lipschits each begin their sessions around 8am, & the last lectures of interest end after 6pm. It's a real bummer that so many interesting lectures will be held at the same time on Thursday, so I'll just have to "wing" it.

Today I received a 25% discount coupon for making copies at Office Depot/Max, so this weekend I'm planning to make color copies of certain slides for the convenience of attendees (expecting about 40, but will make 50). I want to reduce the possibility of people complaining that I'm going too fast, & also lessen the likelihood of time-waster questions at the end of the presentation.

In other news, I received ASOR's 7-page "Policy/Guidelines on Professional Conduct":

"ASOR's Mission ... maintaining the highest ethical standards of scholarship..."

III.D.2: "ASOR members endeavor to ... acknowledge others’ material contributions and intellectual products with citation of the source or other appropriate courtesy;" & III.D.4: "obtain permission from project, archive, collection or museum directors prior to the publication or presentation of material from a project, archive, collection or museum."

II.2: "Stewardship of archaeological heritage, which is the limited, irreplaceable record of the human past. Stewards of archaeological heritage act as both caretakers and advocates."

Now compare that with III.B.10: "ASOR members endeavor to ... refrain from activities that contribute directly or indirectly to the illicit markets for antiquities and to the value of artifacts in such markets through their publication, authentication, or exhibition."

This policy is, these guidelines are, best summed up as follows: "Anyone accused of plagiarism is innocent until proven guilty (& don't bother us with evidence, we're not interested); all antiquities collectors are guilty (& don't bother us with tripe about stewardship), case closed."

Call me skeptical.


G.M. Grena

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Mazar's Mountain Mistake

This week I added the 162nd entry to my LMLK VIP autograph collection. It's the 3rd signature from Benjamin Mazar, but the 4th if you include his original name, Maisler. This one's in his 304-page 1975 tome, "The Mountain of the Lord" (published by Doubleday & Company, Inc.; Garden City, NY), signed "with best wishes" on June 18th, 1979.

The LMLK content is meager, just a photo caption on p. 55:

"Jar handle bearing seal impression with four-winged scarab; above it appears the word lmlkh ('belonging to the king'), and below, the place-name Socoh. Such an impression, as well as others bearing the place-name of an administrative centre, were stamps by royal officials guaranteeing the capacity of the jar or standard-sized container of oil and wine taxes."

Of course this final phrase is erroneous, as he undoubtedly drafted this book prior to Ussishkin's landmark Lachish excavation, where the capacity of this jar type was shown to be highly variable. However, the bigger problem is in the accompanying photo of a personal-seal handle of EUSOM HGY ("Hosheam Haggai"; Sass/Avigad 668, rotated about 120 degrees counter-clockwise here):

Ouch! Page 304 credits the pictures to Prof. Mazar; "to the Dept. of Antiquities & to the Archeological Museum, Jerusalem; to G. Cornfeld's photographic collection; to photographers Garo Studio, Jerusalem, & B. Carmasin, Tel-Aviv."

G.M. Grena

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

2 Weeks to NEAS 2014


Thanks to Todd & Mike & anyone else who might've said a prayer for my knees last week. They're still not back to normal (sharp pains only in certain positions), but I can walk okay, & more importantly, still climb skyscraper staircases ... when needed ... or when bored while on jury-duty breaks.

Monday night I found out I had to report to the 20-story "O.J. Trial Building" in downtown L.A. on Tuesday morning. So I walked a mile to rent a car, & got there a little early ... with enough time for my first climb of this (now infamous) building, which is officially titled, Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center. O.J. was acquitted of murdering 2 people on the 9th floor, which aside from the main entrance, has its own redundant security screening, so tourists are not welcome there. The 8th & 10th floors are also off-limits since that's (presumably) where the murderers (or possibly journalists) are confined (as well they should be!).

I was selected for a case on the 15th floor, & while on breaks, I climbed the entire 19-story Stairwell #1 eight times ... relatively slowly ... while monitoring my heart-rate. It increased the most when I lost control & began showing off for a beautiful lady near the end of the lunch break, who noticed what I was doing, & commented on it being excellent exercise. She then introduced herself as a judge! Of course, I thought of a bunch of clever things to say after she disappeared through the door to her floor. Story of my life... But it was a real shot-in-the-arm to engage a lady of her caliber in conversation for a few moments.

I was assigned #30 for our panel of about 5-dozen prospective jurors, so I wasn't questioned at all on Tuesday, but comedian/actor Orny Adams was. I had never heard of him before, but it was entertaining to hear a couple of his remarks while being questioned. God definitely gifted him with quick wit & impeccable timing/delivery. Some of his Twitter tweets were even funnier, & I'm still laughing aloud over the first one since I was thinking the same thing at the time:

"The Q and A at jury duty about getting excused is hysterical. A guy just got into a debate whether he understands basic English in English!

I thought I was hanging out with some of the defendants. Turns out these are all jurors in this room.

I'm the only one that applauded when they said we are getting paid $15 a day for jury duty.

Finally someone asks a relevant question-- is there a Starbucks nearby.

They just told us we'll be here all day so make friends with other jurors and I barfed on my right leg.

FYI I wanna go to the gym is not an acceptable excuse to get out of jury duty. Now I know."

This morning, the judge & 2 attorneys began dismissing jurors they didn't want (for whatever reason), & after Orny & several others were dismissed, I was called ... & promptly dismissed. (No big surprise since I told them I'd be biased, but I was initially concerned that if I were to get on the case, & it got delayed, that it could jeopardize my ability to be in San Diego on the 19th.) On the way out, I asked Orny if he had a website, & he wrote it down for me because I had difficulty understanding "Orny". (And no, he doesn't have a British accent.)

Unfortunately I can't share with you how coincidental his hilarious remark about the English debate is with a point I'm making in my slideshow. You'll have to wait for the video!

Another benefit from jury service was getting to finish re-reading most of my Lv1 book. Othmar Keel is the prominent scholar I couldn't remember last month when Pithom mentioned that not all scholars believe the icons were religiously neutral.

Anyway, because I was dismissed, I only ended up climbing Stairwell #1 twice today, but also inspected Stairwell #2, which contains 2 flights beyond floor #19, leading up to #20 & the roof. I'm hoping that someday I'll be able to return & do a formal sprint ... & maybe see the pretty judge again!

Before heading home, I thought it would be fun to rehearse 2Ch31 in one of the busiest places downtown at the busiest time of day, so here's a video of me at the Grand Central Market (for the record, this is Take #2 of 5; all of which were recited flawlessly, but this one had the best background imagery):


G.M. Grena

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

3 Weeks to NEAS 2014

8:09pm Wow! It's scary to see that only 3 weeks remain till the big day! I believe I've done the best I can to prepare, & feel very confident that I'll do a decent job of presenting it; however, I'm going to remain pessimistic about the expected reaction so that I won't be too disappointed on the ride home.

Today I received my NEAS conference badge, & promptly Paleo-Hebrewized it:

I made another rehearsal video last weekend, & here are 2 bloopers:

I've been yawning quite a bit during my late-night, before-bed rehearsals, so that one Saturday morning was unexpected. I think it's cute, & will have it in my arsenal in 3 weeks, but only use it if I sense the audience's mood to be appropriate. I'm hoping it'll be fun/pleasant.

Yesterday began on a fun/pleasant note, as can be seen in this video of me reciting 2Ch31 on my way to work in the morning, not missing a single word, even as I rode through a busy intersection (Aviation Blvd & Marine Ave):

Things went well at work, & I received my first paycheck, which covered the 2 days I worked in September. On the way home, I stopped by my financial institution to deposit it while singing one of my favorite Gospel Reformation hymns:

I continued singing, all happy & everything, minding my own business, but about halfway home, I crashed. It was by far the worst bicycle crash ever for me.

It happened along Redondo Ave, adjacent to the MBS Media Campus (formerly named Manhattan Beach Studios, click here for a list of films & shows recorded at this facility). On this occasion, there were no celebrities hitchhiking or any traffic at all when I fell. As usual, it happened so fast that I don't know what caused it. All I remember is that I was singing, riding in the gutter, slowing down from about 10 MPH as I approached a stop sign, began to stand up ... all of this totally normal that I've done a gazillion times over the past few years, 4,200 miles ... & then something happened. It's as if something pulled the bike forward out from under me, & I ended up going down face-first, landing hard on both knees & both hands.

My hands got scraped against the concrete & turned red, but never bled, & they're totally back to normal tonight, a day later. I have a long/wide but shallow trophy-scar running about 2/3rd's of my left forearm (just in time for Halloween), which I suspect was caused by it rubbing against a part of the bike as I went down. My right knee is scarred & sore, but usable. My left leg has several deep but small cuts, one of which was still bleeding a little when I went to bed last night, but I haven't removed the bandages today, so I presume it's scabbed by now. My left knee is in bad shape. It hurts no matter what position it's in, but I'm grateful to God that neither of my kneecaps was smashed, nor any broken bones. Great design on God's part, those kneecaps are!

I've been exercising to maintain my staircase racing skills, using my 40# weight-vest & 10# ankle-weights, which I occasionally switch to my wrists when going for short (half-mile) walks during work-breaks. I thought it was time to crank it up a notch, so last week I ordered a 20# set of ankle-weights, so I could keep the 10#ers on my wrists for a total of 70# overall. It's truly ironic that after limping home from the crash/injury last night, wishing I were about 150# lighter, the new weights were "waiting" for me on my front porch!


G.M. Grena

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Philatelic Historian on Drugs (PHD)

These 2 quotations (with numerous typos corrected so as not to interrupt the humorous aspect of what was written) came from customized placards currently for sale on eBay:

"The ‘Flying Scroll’ which is portrayed on all five stamps of this set leads us back deep into the history of Israel. It was the seal of the pious King Josiah of Judaea (644-608 B.C.) under whose successful reign the fifth Book of Moses (Deuteronomy) was discovered in the Temple of Jerusalem. ... The Jewish nation was under the sovereignty of a benevolent conqueror, Emperor Darius I (King of Persia, 521-486 B.C.). Darius waived tribute, ordering taxes collected among the Jews to be used in the rebuilding of the Temple at Jerusalem. An unknown potter during the reign of Ziph, a contemporary king of Judea, remembered Zechariah’s vision and used the flying roll as his mark in making vessels for the collection of taxes on wines and oils. The design on the stamps was taken from fragments of pottery and ancient woodcarvings found in an excavated temple in Trans-Jordan."

Can't help but wonder if this philatelist graduated from Tel Aviv University with honors...

G.M. Grena

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

4 Weeks to NEAS 2014

9:21pm Starting last Sunday, I've begun doing daily rehearsals. I made too many mistakes on Sunday, so now I'm reading my script as slowly as possible, & have been pleasantly surprised because it affords time for my brain to think up additional quips that entertain me. I'm still making mistakes (tongue just doesn't go where it needs to sometimes), but the quips should temporarily distract my audience from those occurrences. And my overall time hasn't suffered much, slipping from the usual 29.5 minutes to as long as 32--still comfortably in range. I enjoy pausing at certain points for dramatic effect, but the danger is that if I pause too long, my mind wanders, & I risk getting out-of-synch with my page-turning & PowerPoint clicking.

I did not send out my mailing-list announcement yet, because I'm still mulling over whether to include a sample slide. I probably will, just to pique everyone's curiosity. It's one I'm planning to distribute on paper to attendees.

I haven't had time to peruse the SBL schedule, so I'm still not sure whether I'll be attending any of those. Will definitely attend at least 1 day of ASOR though.

Will close tonight's post by simply recording my feeling that I was extremely discouraged about my presentation by something that happened this past weekend, but want to remain optimistic about the outcome.


G.M. Grena

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

5 Weeks to NEAS 2014

9:16pm Saturday's rehearsal went well again. I recited 2Ch 31:5-12, & then worked my replicas & FDC into the 2nd slide informally. Total time: 29:42. Since coming up with the idea of practicing 2Ch in public last week, I haven't been to any crowded, noisy place yet where it would be appropriate to do it, but I'm ready for the first opportunity!

Last week I forgot to mention that I had begun reading my Lv1 book a couple weeks ago, but alas, I got about halfway done, & haven't had time to proceed into the Ussishkin era. Up to that point, the only scholar who I quoted relevant to a non-neutral interpretation of the icons is A.D. Tushingham in BASOR 201, who viewed the x4X as a "device" (symbol/emblem) for the northern tribes, & the x2x for the southern. He also made an interesting statement about Assyrian kings relevant to the Lipschits et al. interpretation, but I'm not going to delve into it here. I attended 2 Heritage Singers concerts last weekend, so that ate up some time that would've been spent reading, but there's still plenty of time to finish it.

I received a couple of interesting E-mails this week, that I'll share via screenshots below. The first is confirmation of my ASOR conference badge, which upon receiving in San Diego I'll promptly add the Paleo-Hebrew version like I did in 2007!

The 2nd is an invitation to pre-register for the next USA championship staircase race (because at the time, I was still ranked in the Top 50, but since I forfeited the big L.A. race last month, I'm actually #58 right now out of about 16,000 men, & expect to drop out of the Top 100 after the next big local climb & the Sears/Willis climb in the coming month):

This weekend I'm planning to send out an E-mail to my LMLK mailinglist inviting LMLK VIPs to my lecture. Had I not encountered my chest problem(s), I would've challenged everyone to race me up the hotel staircase. Oh well. And since this weekend starts the 30-day countdown, I'll begin rehearsing my lecture daily.


G.M. Grena

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Comparing APLs and Eagles

On p. 21 of my Lv1 book, the note under Fig. 3 includes a homemade acronym for the 3 "almost-parallel lines" seen on the x2x icons: "APL". When I began writing it in 2003, my goal was to remain as objective/neutral as possible with regard to the various interpretations of the icon (sun rays, light beams, scroll folds, bird feathers, or something else). On the next page, Fig. 4 showed an eagle since the icon had been interpreted thus; in fact, my drawing came from an actual museum placard:

As I went for my typical walk around the block during a work-break yesterday, I was practically floored to see the following gigantic logo staring at me from the side of an 18-wheeler truck, which was making a delivery to a yoga-mat warehouse:

It turns out to be one of the oldest shipping companies in business, American President Lines (named thus after its ships, which were named after ... wait for it ... American presidents). That photo's cropped from their website since it resembles the blue truck I saw (& I pasted a blue-letter version from their website that isn't angled). Here's a direct link to a large, detailed version of their logo (protected by copyright) at WikiMedia.

G.M. Grena

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

6 Weeks to NEAS 2014

10:14pm Last weekend's rehearsal went well overall. 29:53, again on target. I attempted to improvise an informal intro, which didn't really feel right, so I'll have to modify or dump it. I'm taking Kris Udd's handle replicas & a 1948 FDC, but had written the 2nd slide not knowing the audience's familiarity with the subject.

An alternative intro I've been bouncing around in my head is simply reciting 2Chr 31:5-12 for general context since I already have it memorized. That's extremely risky though, because of the dynamic nature of the event. All this year I've been posting videos to YouTube to get comfortable with public speaking, but maybe this weekend I'll experiment with reciting this in public places. Should be entertaining. If I can do it each week at a different place/time before the big day, I'll probably go with it; but a single mistake, & it's out.

On the work front, things are going well at my new job with plenty of overtime available, so I'm happy about that; however, I received a jury summons last week, & might have to serve the first week of November, so that's going to be an interesting month!


G.M. Grena

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

7 Weeks to NEAS 2014

8:05pm My first full-paper rehearsal went well last Wednesday. The 1st reading was about 29.5 minutes, & the 2nd one 29.0 minutes ... both right on target. So that's with all props (books & journals quoted plus a special Halloween-themed one that arrived last week & looks killer ... pun intended), paper page-turning, & laptop slide-clicking. It should go without saying, I was quite pleased overall. The biggest thing I'm concerned about now is my incurable stuttering on various words/phrases (different ones each time I do a rehearsal). I expect this condition to abate during the final 4 weeks when I begin reciting my paper every single day.

Another thing I'm concerned about is my occasional delayed breath-catching (that's the best I can describe it). I noticed this during my first video a few weeks ago. It's like a slow-motion yawn that can't complete. Now that I think about it, it happened earlier this year during another video. Not much I can do about it, but it bothers me.

No matter how bad I sound next month, it's unlikely that it'll sound as bad as in this audio recording I made 40 years (yes, 4 decades) ago:

Somehow or another it'll come out pretty good, right?!?!


G.M. Grena

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

8 Weeks to NEAS 2014

9:02am Wow! Finally able to start a post in the morning! One of the many benefits of being unemployed!

This morning I realized that I didn't post the abstract for this lecture, which I submitted back in March. I'm actually glad I didn't, because after composing the lecture, it turned out not to match it. I'm not yet sure if we're going to have an opportunity to revise it prior to the conference literature getting printed, but I'll compose a new one for clarification if necessary.

Yesterday I printed all 100 slides & script on 50 sheets (front & back) for a 3-ring binder. Still need to get a hole-punch, but I'm planning to rehearse it after I post this blog. Having to flip physical pages in addition to clicking the computer will slow me down a little, but this has the advantage of giving the audience time to absorb the content of each slide that I'm not actually reading aloud.

This morning I received an opt-out notification regarding the professional recording that's made at ETS each year by WordMP3:

As in the past, ETS has partnered with WordMp3, to record sessions from the 2014 ETS Annual Meeting. This partnership will allow access to scholarship by students, faculty, and pastors. We would like to invite you to include your ETS presentation in the 2014 recording library. ... By including your presentation in the recording library, you grant WordMp3 a non-exclusive right to publish your presentation in the ETS recording library. You will retain the copyright of your content and this non-exclusive right does not preclude publication in other venues. The right only grants WordMp3 the ownership of the audio copy created, not your work. The benefits of this partnership have been warmly received and we look forward to this year's library of recordings.

It'll be interesting to hear how that turns out compared to my own recording. In any case, it's nice to know it'll be available indefinitely in case my YouTube account ever gets deleted.

I now have time to elaborate upon pithom's comments from a couple weeks ago.

"Not all scholars think the scarab and winged sun are “religiously neutral”."

True. Off the top of my head, I don't know their names (might mention them in an upcoming blog after re-reading my Lv1 book), but I constructed my presentation to contrast my interpretation with that of Lipschits, & both of our interpretations contrasted with the mainstream/consensus. It's not my intention to explain every single scholar's interpretation of every single facet of this phenomenon due to my allotted 30-minute presentation window. It's funny that pithom found a problem with the simplest, least controversial slide in the show! He'll need a hockey/catcher's mask to prevent a concussion from all the face-palm's he'll be doing when he hears the whole lecture! And boxing gloves might alleviate hand-injuries from hitting the face mask!

Here's a list of the scholars quoted in my slideshow (in the order of their appearance):

  • David Ussishkin: The Renewed Archaeological Excavations at Lachish (1973-1994); 2004, p. 2142
  • Andrew Vaughn: Theology, History, & Archaeology in the Chronicler's Account of Hezekiah; 1999, pp. 14 & 141
  • Anson Rainey: Wine from the Royal Vineyards; BASOR 245 (Winter 1982), p. 58
  • Jeffrey Hudon: NEASB vol. 55 (2010), p. 30
  • Lipschits et al.: Reconsidering the Chronology of the lmlk Stamp Impressions; Tel Aviv 37 (2010) #1, p. 7
  • Lipschits et al.: ibid., p. 10
  • Israel Finkelstein: Comments on the Date of Late-Monarchic Judahite Seal Impressions; Tel Aviv 39 (2012) #2, p. 76
  • David Ussishkin: The Dating of the lmlk Storage Jars and Its Implications; Tel Aviv 38 (2011) #2, p. 222.
  • David Ussishkin: ibid. 2004, p. 2145
  • Andrew Vaughn: ibid., p. 152
  • Lipschits et al.: Judahite Stamped and Incised Jar Handles; Tel Aviv 38 (2011) #1, p. 15
  • J. Baker Greene: Some Remarks on the Interpretation of the Impressions on the Vase Handles Found at the Foot of the Temple Wall; PEQ vol. 13 (October 1881), p. 308
  • Yigael Yadin: The Fourfold Division of Judah; BASOR 163 (October 1961), pp. 7-8
  • David Ussishkin: ibid. 2004, p. 2145
  • Andrew Vaughn: ibid., p. 116
  • Yohanan Aharoni: The Land of the Bible: A Historical Geography (Second, revised edition 1979), Map 32
  • Yigael Yadin: ibid., p. 10
  • Olga Tufnell: Reviews & Notices: Tell En-Nasbeh; PEQ vol. 80 (July-October 1948), p. 148-9
  • David Ussishkin: ibid. 2004, p. 110
  • Jane Cahill: Rosette Stamp Seal Impressions from Ancient Judah; IEJ 45 #4 (1995), p. 247-8
  • Jane Cahill: ibid., pp. 247-50
  • Lipschits et al.: Judahite Stamped and Incised Jar Handles; Tel Aviv 38 (2011) #1, p. 29
  • Jane Cahill: ibid., pp. 251-2
  • Alexander Fantalkin & Israel Finkelstein: Khirbet Qeiyafa: An Unsensational Archaeological and Historical Interpretation; Tel Aviv 39 (2012) #1, p. 56-7

I'm also quoting Clermont-Ganneau & a couple non-LMLK scholars, but want to keep that content private until the lecture. Maybe in an upcoming post, I'll list quotations from my book, &/or the Bible.

Posting that bullet list was useful because I spotted a typo in my 2nd Yadin citation (was "pp. 10", is "p. 10")! Speaking of typos, I'm a decent English grammarian, but in scrutinizing 1 of my slides, I'm perplexed by this:

"Again, a significant quantity were illegible."

I'm fairly confident it should be "was" since "quantity" is singular, but it sounds wrong to my ears. Why is that? When I read quantity, my brain thinks it's a plural amount, & says, "Gimme a plural verb!" For now, I'm planning to leave it as "were" since it'll go by so fast during the presentation that no one will notice, but astute listeners to the recording might catch it.

Pithom also said, "I hope it’s not at all like Evolution Science." Here's my response:

Maybe tomorrow, the good Lord'll take you away...


G.M. Grena

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

9 Weeks to NEAS 2014

8:40pm Ugh!!! Received a totally unexpected layoff notice today, so the time I had allotted to this blog tonight was consumed by resume distribution. I have several prospects, so I'm not in Panic mode ... I'm actually quite comfortable because my NEAS presentation content is stable ... & the special Halloween prop I ordered last weekend was shipped today, & is estimated to arrive next Wednesday, though I probably won't be revealing it till the day of the lecture.

This past week I found out that the lecture room's seating arrangement will be a 40-seat theatre style, which means no desks, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to set camera #1 on my chair or not ... only if I get there early enough to reserve a front-row seat, which I'm planning to do since I also reserved a ($59) hotel room not far from the conference location. And because the lecture room is so small, there won't be any microphone for voice amplification, so that's one less concern. Really, the only remaining concern I have is whether there'll be enough room on the podium for both the laptop AND my paper, which I'm planning to put into a 3-ring binder, again, as a safeguard against computer/projector malfunction. Aside from weekly practice readings, I'm anxious to print out a copy to ensure readable sizing & finger-tabs.

The only other to-do item is re-reading my Lv1 book to ensure I'm not missing any important/relevant quotations. Ideally, I'd like to re-read all the major players (Ussishkin's RAEL, Vaughn's book, & the Lipschits articles), but that will all depend on my work schedule.

Sorry, no time to comment on Pithom's comment from the previous post, but maybe next week.


G.M. Grena

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

10 Weeks to NEAS 2014

10:03pm Fun time recording my first fully wired rehearsal last Saturday! I was not expecting any of it to be shareable, but lo & behold, there's one "neutral" slide that doesn't contain any earth-shaking content; & the fact that it contains a minor blooper at the end, prompted me to put it on YouTube for the record:

Also last weekend I found out the size of the conference room we'll be using, & it's about twice the size of my racquetball room. It's slightly smaller than the combination of that room & the office/gym where I'm at right now on the other side of the wall to the right in the video. I also found out that a microphone will be provided, & (at least) the audio will be recorded professionally by the ETS hosts. Not sure if they'll provide a copy, but as I've learned working for 3 decades in the aerospace industry, redundancy is crucial. Just ask Elon Musk (one of SpaceX's test rockets exploded last month because it relied upon a single faulty sensor for one engine).

Been to a few stores recently searching for a particular Halloween prop to use during one of the most interesting slides of the entire show. Wasn't able to find a suitable one, but know of one on eBay, & will buy it this weekend.


G.M. Grena

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

11 Weeks to NEAS 2014

Last week I timed my full draft at 45 minutes for 177 slides, then whipped out a virtual axe, & began chopping till I got it down to 100 slides read in 24 minutes (Rollston/Barkay pace) to 34 minutes (casual pace), which is right on target per NEAS guidelines of 30-35 minutes. It is so painful to see so many important points falling victim to my Delete key, but life's full of tough choices...

Next step will be practice recordings to see what I look like, & hear what I sound like, possibly this weekend. That will be the most dreadful part of this preparation since I hate both of those elements about myself.

No time to elaborate or philosophize tonight, so I'll just include a snapshot of slide #2 (the only one I'm 100% sure will not change), & be off to bed.


G.M. Grena

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

12 Weeks to NEAS 2014

10:01am Since today is in the middle of my last week of vacation before beginning a new engineering contract, I'm indulging in the luxury of it by beginning this entry in the middle of the morning instead of just-past my bedtime!

I completed all the details of my slideshow reaching 177 slides. Unfortunately, the read-aloud timing turned out to be 45 minutes, which was more than double the previous timing when it was still in skeleton form. So now I've begun trimming the fat.

The first section to go was Incisions. I was using one of Todd Bolen's excellent photos of Sennacherib's garment in the famous Lachish relief palace-panel; but I'm also using the same photo for another purpose in another slide near the climax, so no big loss.

Next, I condensed the Icons section from a 2-part version (Usage & Symbolism) down to a single part. Both of these changes resulted in an underwhelming savings of 3 minutes, so obviously I have more hatchet-work to do over the next few days!

The BIG, exciting news is that during the course of doing the support-work for my argumentation, I was able to utilize the new version of my website to mine data published/used nowhere else (as far as I know). It's hard to believe that nearly 9 months have elapsed since I made the new (still unpublished, publicly inaccessible) website, but have not had time to finalize it; nonetheless, it proved to be very helpful in this current project.

In other news, an interesting amphora-laden Phoenician shipwreck has been excavated, & I can't help but wonder if one will ever be found bearing an intact, capped LMLK jar still holding its original contents. I doubt it, but can't exclude the possibility.

The physical phenomenon of Light plays an important role in my slideshow. Since visiting the 8th wonder of the world in Florida back in 1989, I've believed that there's no such thing as solid matter (the way the atomic theory was taught to me in grade school). Light, with its property of amazing speed, continues to baffle scientists; but this week I also read a fascinating article that indicates a convergence with my suspicions about how God's universe is a perception with which we interact rather than a "hard" (for lack of a better word) solid substance. Of course God could've spoken a hard/solid substance into existence, but if everything we experience results from The (spoken) Word of God, then this new Holometer project seems to comport with it.

10:53am (brunch time!)

G.M. Grena

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Farther Distances

I was sarcastically delighted when I received the current issue of Tel Aviv University's Friends Globally 2014 newsletter, bearing the cover-story headline: "TAU President Klafter Reelected":

"With a bountiful show of hands, Tel Aviv University’s Board of Governors ratified the election of Prof. Joseph Klafter, TAU President, for an additional five-year term. The Chairman of the TAU Executive Council, Dr. Giora Yaron, said before the vote: “The Search Committee unanimously voted to recommend Prof. Klafter for a second term; the TAU Senate overwhelmingly supported the resolution; and the Executive Council unanimously approved the Senate’s recommendation.” Prof. Klafter said that he would “work hard to take the University to greater heights and farther distances” and he thanked the University governors, supporters, leaders and managers for their commitment and caring in helping him succeed in his job."

Greater heights? I'm a nationally top-ranked skyscraper-staircase racer, who's climbed half the height of Mt. Everest in 8 hours, 15 minutes. I know a thing or two about heights. What's applicable here for TAU's president is the old joke about someone who is so low that he has to look up to see down.

Farther from what? TAU's Code of Honor? For those who are not aware of the Lipschits/Finkelstein Scandal, President Klafter did not even show the courtesy of responding to a TAU Professor Emeritus, who expressed a concern about a blatant violation of TAU's Code of Honor by 2 of its (aforementioned) staff members.

That there was "a bountiful show of hands" to reelect him, indicates that TAU has either a blissfully ignorant or despicably corrupt Board of Governors, Executive Council, & Search Committee.

Friends indeed, not in deed.

G.M. Grena

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

13 Weeks to NEAS 2014

Would someone please tell that I did not only get about 5 hours of sleep last night, & that the time is not already 10:11pm right now? Ugh! How is this happening each week?!?!

I'm really enjoying the way this presentation is coming together though. I could've written this article a couple hours ago & gone to bed on time, but I decided to finish the details for the Icons section. I ended this evening with 117 slides. Last weekend I finally did my first timed reading to see how close I was to my 20-minute target, & I was very happy to see that it took exactly that amount of time to read (without even looking at a clock while I was reading it). Of course this will fluctuate as I add/subtract details, but it's satisfying to know that I've got a workable draft at this point.

Robert Deutsch's new BAR article on JPFs prompted me to change "Judean" in my presentation's title to "Judahite". I requested a change to the NEAS abstracts brochure, but alas, it's too late; so I'll just do a quick explanation during my opening greeting.

I also finished the chronological section, but now need to crank up the details for the remaining sections, which involve the inscriptions & jar-relatives ... because I'm beginning a new, overtime-intensive engineering job the day after Labor Day, & from September to November, I won't have much spare time.

In other news, today I met the recruiter who coordinated the engineering contract. We chose a convenient spot to meet in El Segundo near the place where I do my staircase race-training. It's a food-court plaza near where the L.A. Kings hockey team & L.A. Lakers basketball team train. I'm not into professional sports (not since puberty when I stopped collecting baseball/football bubblegum cards after becoming ineligible for the final year of Little League baseball, which is a whole 'nother non-king-related story), but the recruiter noticed a fairly high-profile celebrity enter & exit one of the restaurants: the Lakers' GM (General Manager in this case), Mitch Kupchak.

Always fun to see someone famous, but would've been more fun to see a King!


G.M. Grena

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

14 Weeks to NEAS 2014

10:49 PM. Covered with splashed white primer paint, but at least I'll be sleeping in a mold-free bedroom tonight! Slideshow is up to 105 slides now. I had hoped to do my first timed read-through today, but the paint-prep took way longer than I had estimated.

In other news, according to the ASOR administrative assistant who sent out the Abstracts draft last week, several scheduled participants have either withdrawn or made significant changes to their submission; so there's a chance that a slot may open for me, but I admit that it's a longshot since I'm sure there are many other people whose submissions were rejected, & would seize the opportunity (I know of at least 2). At this point, I'll be happy if they simply allow me into the conference, so I'm not gonna push my luck.

Last year while working for SpaceX, I heard for the first time about 3-D printers. Super-expensive models have been around for decades, so I'm not sure how I missed hearing about them, but today I was reminded of something I knew about a decade ago: 3-D scanners. And I can now imagine that in the future, LMLK researchers will be able to 3-D scan a handle, & 3-D print replicas. If you are currently living in 2114, & this technology is already outdated, I envy you. By the way, did they also find a way to eliminate mold?

11:17 PM

G.M. Grena

Friday, August 08, 2014

ASOR 2014 Abstracts

I received the 209-page draft of upcoming lectures for the ASOR conference, & of course I can't list them all, but here are the ones of personal interest by LMLK friends/family &/or LMLK-related (my inclusion of abstracts by Israel Finkelstein & Morag Kersel is strictly for entertainment purposes):

Yosef Garfinkel (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), "The Khirbet Qeiyafa Excavations: End of the Project":

In the years 2007 to 2013 a large-scale excavation project was launched at Khirbet Qeiyafa, in the Judean Shephelah, some 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem. During seven excavation seasons the expedition examined six areas inside the fortified city (Areas A-F), and an additional small-scale operation took place in an area located some 100 m west of Khirbet Qeiyafa (Area W). The lecture will summarize the main results of the excavations and will concentrate on the contribution of the site for our understanding the early tenth century BCE and the rise of the Kingdom of Judah.

Hoo-Goo Kang (Seoul Jangsin University), "Negebian Pottery Found at Khirbet Qeiyafa and Its Implications":

This paper presents for the first time handmade Negebian ceramics discovered at Khirbet Qeiyafa during the 2011 excavation season. These forms all originated from Area C, an area close to the southeastern gate. This is a preliminary study of the nature and typological relationship of these handmade ceramics to Negebian forms to be followed by petrographic analysis. Based on these findings, as well as numerous typological parallels in general, some connections between Khirbet Qeiyafa and the Negev are undeniable. Town planning with casemate walls found at almost fifty forts or fortresses in the Negev might also be related to the fortress at Khirbet Qeiyafa. Khirbet Qeiyafa seems to have a closer relationship to Judah than any other area. Based on this evidence, the argument that Khirbet Qeiyafa is associated with the northern Israel is countered.

Anat Cohen-Weinberger (Israel Antiquities Authority) and Nava Panitz-Cohen (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), “‘Black is the New Orange’: Typology, Technology and Provenance of Iron Age II Black Juglets”:

Iron Age II “black juglets” are an ubiquitous ceramic form in Israel and somewhat less so, in Jordan, during the Iron Age II, appearing quite suddenly in the early tenth century and continuing until the beginning of the sixth century BCE. They are found in domestic, industrial, funerary and cultic contexts. These small black juglets share a distinctive shape and technology and comprise a group whose study can address various topics, such as the nature of relations between the different Iron II entities (Israel, Judah, Philistia, Phoenician, Jordan) and the development and transference of technology, as well as commercial, social and ideological aspects of ceramic production. A study encompassing a wide range of aspects relating to black juglets was conducted, entailing the formation of a typology, the compilation of a comprehensive database, examination of the technology, and petrographic provenance analyses. The results of this study indicate an evolution in the juglet’s shape, technology, distribution and production source during the long period of its existence.

Oded Lipschits (Tel Aviv University), Yuval Gadot (Tel Aviv University), and Manfred Oeming (University of Heidelberg), “The Canaanites of the Shephelah: A Reflection from Tel Azekah”

This paper will utilize the results of the excavations at Tel Azekah in order to explore the social, economical and political history of the Shephelah during the Middle and Late Bronze Ages. The new excavation at Tel Azekah unearthed strong Middle Bronze fortifications on the western side of the tell, and proved that the site has reached its zenith during the Late Bronze Age, with finds from this period revealed at five of the six excavation areas. All in all, it seems that the settlement at the site existed through the entire length of the Late and Middle Bronze periods. This seems to be ratification of the intensive ground survey prediction that has shown the Late Bronze Age to be the most dominant period at the site. Excavations at nearby sites as well as written documents show that Azekah was not an isolated site at the time. In fact, Azekah is part of a settlement wave in the Shephela, standing in contrast to other regions in Canaan. Combining the written and archaeological evidences allows us to recognize that at least four royal cities divided the region between them with many more small villages located in between. By integrating the new data from the many excavations conducted at the Shephelah with our own excavations at Tel Azekah we wish to present an updated vision of the Canaanite culture that dominated the region for over five hundred years and evaluate its reaction to largescale political events.

Omer Sergi (Tel Aviv University), “The Lost Middle and Late Bronze City of Azekah”

Although the political history of the Shephelah during the Late Bronze II is rather well documented in the Amarna correspondence, it fails to mention Azekah, and the site is not mentioned in any other historical source from the second millennium BCE. For this reason we were quite surprised to discover a thriving city dated to the Middle and Late Bronze Age in the site. The Lautenschläger Azekah Expedition has uncovered a wellbuilt city wall surrounding the top of the tell. During the Late Bronze Age the layout of the city grew larger and spread both on the top of the mound as well as its slopes and lower terraces; it included public and domestic buildings and rich material culture. Up till now we have unearthed at least three different layers of the Late Bronze Age city, and each of them was destroyed by conflagration. The aim of this paper is to present the different layers of the Middle and Late Bronze city at Azekah, their architectural layouts and the finds attributed to them. Consequently, they will be discussed in their spatial and chronological aspects, considering the geopolitical situation in the Shephelah and trying to identify the place of Azekah within it.

Ido Koch (Tel Aviv University), “Aegyptiaca from the Southwestern Levant in Its Historical Context”

Three hundred years of Egyptian rule over Canaan in the Late Bronze Age brought with them cultural interchange and mutual influence. It is not surprising, therefore, that a rich assemblage of Egyptian artefacts has been uncovered in various archaeological excavations conducted in the southwestern Levant. Of great prominence in the currently explored sites in the region is Azekah, where ongoing excavations have unearthed various Egyptian and Egyptianizing objects. These will be presented in this paper, together with archaeological context and contemporary comparanda from neighboring sites. Consequently, the entire corpus of Aegyptiaca from the region is reexamined in regard to historical and cultural background and its affiliation with the mid-Eighteenth to the mid-Twentieth Dynasties. Thus, the multilayer system of exchange between the imperial center in Egypt and the local elite of the southwest Levant is reassessed, in particular the mutual benefits of the participating cultures and the process of reception, adoption and imitation by both sides.

Shimon Gibson (University of the Holy Land), Joel Kramer (University of the Holy Land), and Titus Kennedy (University of South Africa), “A Newly-Identified Ninth Century BCE Israelite Cultic Building at Tel Dothan”

The top of a four-horned stone altar was recently found during a visit to the site of Tel Dothan among the structural remains that were exposed by Joseph P. Free in Area L of his excavations of the late 1950s. Owing to the location of this find within a well-dated building complex (labeled “House 14”), it can be dated with some certainty to the Iron Age II, i.e., to the ninth century BCE. Dated four-horned stone altars from this period from the northern Kingdom of Israel are extremely rare. In this lecture, we suggest that “House 14” had a very definite ceremonial cultic function. The focus of the building was undoubtedly the large central courtyard, which had an elevated stone-cobbled platform to its south. A step gave access from the level of the platform to a higher raised area (bamah) which was bordered by a curb of ashlars. Associated with the northern edge of this platform was a standing stone (maṣṣebah). Although we lack clear evidence for a wider cultic function for the rest of the building, the discovery of the four-horned altar fragment strengthens our suggestion that “House 14” had a religious rather than administrative function. Indeed, four-horned altars are usually taken to be clear indicators of sacred space. Not enough is known about ninth century BCE cultic ceremonial places in the Kingdom of Israel, but in general terms the Dothan religious precinct may be compared to the larger one known at Dan.

Avraham Faust (Bar-Ilan University), “The ‘Philistine Tomb’ at Tel ‘Eton: Culture Contact, Colonialism and Local Responses”

The “Philistine Tomb” (Tomb C1), excavated by Gershon Edelstein in 1968 near Tel ‘Eton in the eastern Shephelah, is an Iron I rock-hewn tomb, in which over 150 pottery vessels, along with many metal artifacts, seals and additional objects were found. The finds in this elite tomb (published by Edelstein and Aurant in 1992) included some well-preserved Philistine pottery, and these gave the tomb its “name”. Given the location of the tomb, as well as the other finds unearthed in it, however, it is clear that the interned were not “Philistines”. In light of the new information available from Tel ‘Eton itself, as well as from other sites in the same geographical region, it appears as if the population in these sites is best labeled “Canaanite”, and that during the Iron I it maintained a separate identity vis-à-vis the foreign settlers in the coastal plain on the one hand, and the emerging Israelites in the highlands on the other. When the finds uncovered in tomb C1 are compared with those in the nearby settlements an interesting picture emerges, and the similarities and differences between the assemblages seem to shed a new light on the changing forms (in time and space) of interaction and boundary maintenance between the indigenous population of the region and its “foreign” neighbors, between elite and nonelite within this Canaanite enclave in the eastern Shephelah, and on the role of elites in the process of social change during what should be viewed as colonial encounters.

Akiva Sanders (University of Chicago), “Fingerprints and the Leilan Ceramic Industry: A Case Study in the Function of the State in Establishing Gender Roles”

Through a study of fingerprint impressions on pottery, this paper elucidates the organization of ceramic production at Tell Leilan with respect to gender roles during the fourth, third and early second millennium BCE. The author’s own experimentally-tested technique will be utilized to analyze the distribution of epidermal ridge densities to determine the proportion of men and women who formed and finished vessels in a certain ceramic assemblage. The resulting data indicates that there is a discrete change in the gender of potters at Leilan with the rise of urbanism and state formation at the site, but there is no change during the various regimes that had hegemony over the site during the Early and Middle Bronze Ages. This result informs about the effect of state authority on the public and private organization of crafts, as well as the division of society along gender lines. Surprisingly, the kind of change seen with state formation at Tell Leilan does not occur at village sites in the Leilan Regional Survey. This result indicates that the changes in social fabric that occurred at urban sites with the rise of the state did not occur to the same extent in hinterland settlements, despite the fact that the state controlled some of the ceramic production at these sites at least during the Akkadian period. It is hoped that this research will provide a pilot study for further evaluation of the highly theoretical literature on the relationship of gender to craft production in the ancient world.


Michael G. Hasel (Southern Adventist University), “The Fourth Expedition to Lachish: History and Overview”

In 2013 and 2014 The Fourth Expedition to Lachish was launched as a joint project of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Southern Adventist University together with a number of consortium institutions. This paper examines the history and overview of the expedition including the research design, aims, and goals of the project. Emphasis will be placed on the methodology employed and the goals achieved thus far after the first two seasons of survey and excavation.

Jeffrey Zorn (Cornell University), “Bin There, Done That: Storage Bins at Tell en-Naṣbeh and the Role of the State”

W. F. Badè’s excavations at Tell en-Naṣbeh (12 km north of Jerusalem) between 1926 and 1935 uncovered about two-thirds of the entire site. Most of the building remains belong to the Iron Age II. One aspect of the site’s architecture that has not received significant discussion is the presence of 60+ intramural storage bins. When the site’s massive inset-offset wall was constructed down slope from the original settlement’s casemate-like wall the space in between was filled in and leveled with debris. The cobblestone-lined storage bins were dug into the fill around the southern half of the site. Their location, away from the town’s dwellings, raises the question of who owned the bins and their contents. Were they the property of the town’s inhabitants? While this remains a possibility, this paper argues that the interconnections between the fortifications, the intramural drain system, and the bins suggest that the bins were constructed as part of a single royal project, and thus were the property of the state.

Jeffrey R. Chadwick (Brigham Young University), Jillian Mather (Brigham Young University), and Christina Nelson (Brigham Young University), “The Late Bronze Age at Hebron (Tell er-Rumeide): A Reevaluation on the 50th Anniversary of the American Expedition to Hebron”

The American Expedition to Hebron (AEH) began excavations at Tell er-Rumeide in 1964, under the direction of Philip C. Hammond, when the site was still under Jordanian control. The AEH excavated for three summer seasons (1964–1966), opening six areas on the tell, and discovering evidence of the ancient city from the EB, MBII, LB, Iron I, Iron II, Hellenistic and Herodian periods. LB occupation was found in five of the six areas opened on the tell. LB wares included domestic vessels (cookers, store jars, jugs, juglets, bowls, kraters, chalices) and Cypriot imports. LB strata were securely dated both by ceramic evidence and identifiable Nineteenth Dynasty scarabs. Hammond’s initial assessment was that the LB settlement at Hebron was smaller than the MBII town. But a new and ongoing review of his finds, carried out by the AEH Publication Project, suggests a more robust LB population at Hebron than Hammond imagined, which may even have been larger than the MBII population. The total amount of LB ceramic wares recovered by the AEH in all areas at Hebron now appears to be larger than the total amount of MBII ceramic wares recovered. These results will be discussed at the 2014 ASOR Annual Meeting in San Diego. The AEH Publication Project is directed by Jeffrey R. Chadwick of the Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies of Brigham Young University (an ASOR member school), and involves and mentors BYU students studying archaeology and ancient near eastern studies, two of which are coauthors for this paper.

Liora Freud (Tel Aviv University), “An Early Persian Pottery Assemblage of Yehud Jars from Ramat Raḥel”

The Ramat Raḥel excavations have yielded the greatest number of Persian Period stamp impressions ever found in one site. Renewed excavations identified for the first time the type of jar which bore them, never before found with stamps, in marked contrast to the well-known late Iron Age Judahite ovoid four handle jars bearing lmlk or rosette stamp impressions. The rich pottery assemblage excavated from one sealed pit includes these new jar types, which were impressed with “lion,” Yehud, and “private” stamps on their handles or shoulders. Typological study of this assemblage shows that the former late Iron Age tradition is still present in most vessel types such as bowls, cooking pots and the jars. Despite a difference in raw material and a drastic decrease in the manufacturing quality, one can clearly see that the ancient potters continued to produce the same morphological features. In this paper I will present this new pottery assemblage and its position in the chronological sequence between the late Iron Age and the early Persian period. The consequent implications of this typology for stamp impression studies will also be discussed.

Aaron Brody (Pacific School of Religion), “Contextualizing the Sacred: Household Religion in Iron II Tell en-Nasbeh”

The topic of household religion is a theme emerging in recent studies of Israelite, Judean, and Near Eastern religions. Prior research has relied heavily on textual sources, which tend to be biased towards elite households, both royal and divine. Archaeological data fill out our understanding by studying the material remains from ritual practices of common people in their houses and family tombs. This research on Iron II Tell en-Nasbeh highlights household religion through a direct, contextual presentation of ritual artifacts from a large, fortified Judean village. Objects include female pillar figurines, animal figurines, horse-and-riders, model beds, rattles, incense altars, kernos rings, zoomorphic vessels, and amulets. Ritual aspects of stamp seals and scarabs, as well as profane objects that may have been ritualized, such as lamps, iron knives, pitchers, and beads will also be considered. Nasbeh has the second largest collection of pillar figurines after Jerusalem, yet these and other ritual objects have never been studied in relation to each other or to utilitarian artifacts from the same contexts. This paper will present a concentrated study of ritual objects from an Iron II housing compound made up of five conjoined pillared houses. A gendered approach to ritual at the site will add to our understanding of religious culture of women, men, families, and households at Nasbeh. This research will inform studies of the religions of ancient Judah and contribute to the theoretical discussion in the archaeology of religion, ritual, and household archaeology.

Yair Sapir (Bar-Ilan University) and Avraham Faust (Bar-Ilan University), “Construction, Destruction, and the Formation of Mounds: Tel ʿEton as a Test Case”

Tel ʿEton is a large mound located in the Shephelah and is currently excavated by Bar-Ilan University. The current paper is part of a larger study that aims at understanding the various cultural and natural processes that influenced and shaped the remains during the various occupation phases, as well as between them (processes of destruction, abandonment, re-occupation, agricultural activities, etc.) and that eventually created and shaped the current form of the mound and its interior. Various methods were employed in this endeavour, including granulometry, TOC, FTIR analysis, soil bulk density, biomass, and a 3D analysis of the provenance of the restored vessels’ sherds among others. The results include the identification of significant differences between the building materials of the occupation phases that sometimes assists us in dating features. We found evidence for the raising of floors during the settlement lifetime and we propose a new methodology for identifying dirt floors and pits. Consistent differences between the site and its surroundings were found in soil texture, sediment color, and vegetation patterns, and these, along with the pattern identified in the finds within the mound, enable us to reconstruct how the remains were transformed into the current material that forms the surface of the mound. Thus, we are now beginning to understand the mechanisms by which sherds from various periods arrive at the surface of the mound, and how the archaeological record is created.

Aren Maeir (Bar-Ilan University), “Update on the 2014 season of Excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath”

The seventeenth season of excavations was conducted at Tell es-Safi/Gath in July 2014. In this paper, I will briefly describe and discuss the results of this season, with particular focus on the Late Bronze (Canaanite) and Iron Age I and II (Philistine and Judahite) remains from the various excavations areas on the site. This will then be placed within the larger context—both of previous discoveries at the site, and of other sites in the region.

Beth Alpert Nakhai (The University of Arizona), “Women in ASOR: ASOR Leadership and CAP-Affiliated Excavations: Keeping Field Work Safe from Sexual Harassment and Physical Violence”

This component of Women At Work: Making One’s Way In The Field Of Near Eastern Studies offers some results and observations, which derive from three projects. The first two, under the rubric of “Women in ASOR,” discuss the history of women in leadership positions within ASOR, and as directors or codirectors of CAP-affiliated excavations. Leadership positions in learned societies and on field projects are two factors that promote women’s professional advancement in the academy and in other places of employment; concomitantly, women in leadership positions are well placed to support junior scholars, female and male alike, in attaining their professional goals. Recent studies indicate that men who are mentored by women are more likely to promote the advancement of women. The third project, “Keeping Field Work Safe,” has multiple components. The first is acquiring accurate data about the extent to which archaeologists are – or are not – safe when in the field. “Safe” includes freedom from sexual harassment, and from sexual and other forms of physical attack. Additional components of this project include: developing an ethics policy that includes protocols for “best practices,” to be adopted by ASOR and implemented by all CAP-affiliated excavations; providing trainings for excavation leadership to ensure that all members of their projects, whether professionals or volunteers, fully understand their legal obligations and their rights; and, creating mechanisms within ASOR to support individuals whose right to safety from sexual harassment and violence has been violated, including (but not limited to) providing information about reporting to the appropriate authorities.

Yuval Gadot (Tel Aviv University), “Taking out the Trash: Life in Early Roman Jerusalem as Seen through its Garbage Disposal Layers”

This paper will focus on the preliminary results of the Tel-Aviv University excavations on the eastern slopes of the Southeastern Hill (known also as the ‘City of David’ or ‘Silwan’) just above the Kidron streambed. Previous excavations have shown that from the Early Bronze Age and until the Iron Age this area served mainly for domestic quarters. Subsequently from the Hellenistic period onward, the area falls outside of the city limits and served first for agricultural activities and later for garbage disposal, similar to the rest of the Kidron’s western slopes. The first season of excavations was devoted to the study of the refuse layers dating to the Early Roman period. These layers are composed of dozens of spilled sublayers packed with an incredible amount of domestic waist [WOO-HOO!!! I FOUND A TYPO!!!] such as pottery sherds, stone vessels, coins, glass vessels, metal artifacts, animal bones, charcoal and seeds, plaster fragments and many other categories of finds. Careful sifting procedures in the field secured the retrieval of a statistically reliable assemblage. It is our understanding that these layers comprise an intentional human action and therefore can serve for understanding behavioral and ideological choices made by the residence of Jerusalem in regard to their trash and also for recreating life habits in the city itself.

Robert Mullins (Azusa Pacific University) and Nava Panitz-Cohen (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), “Results of the Second Season of Excavations at Tel Abel Beth Maacah”

During the first season of excavations in 2013 we opened two areas on the lower mound. Our assumption based on the pottery from the 2012 survey was that we would encounter tenth century BCE remains below topsoil. Instead, we found a domestic zone from the eleventh century in Area A on the eastern edge of the tell, and an apparent city wall and tower in Area F from the Late Bronze/Iron I transition at the southern edge. It was against the inside of this tower that we found the hoard of silver hidden in a small jug. In 2014 we continued work in both areas with the goal of clarifying the stratigraphy and trying to better understand the ethnic makeup of the population. Was it Aramean at this time as some have argued, or something else? In an effort to determine the latest phase of occupation on the lower mound, we opened a new area in 2014 in a higher part of the lower city where a ridge of bedrock protrudes. We also explored the possibility of opening a trench on the eastern slope of the upper mound. Understanding the stratigraphic history of the upper city is particularly important for determining the last phase of Iron Age II occupation, presumably in the time of Tiglath-pileser III (eighth century BCE). Our long-term goal is to better understand the borderlands nature of Israelite, Aramean, and Phoenician interaction at this major biblical site.

Oded Borowski (Emory University) and Thimoteus Frank (University of Bern), “Lahav Research Project, Phase IV: Summer 2014”

The Lahav Research Project: Phase IV returned to the field in the summer of 2014 for additional explorations in Field V. This paper presents the latest result of our fieldwork from last summer.

Erin Hall (Tel Aviv University) and Israel Finkelstein (Tel Aviv University), “Hoarding at Tel Megiddo in the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age I”

Hoards dating to the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages are widespread throughout the Eastern Mediterranean. Although a substantial number of hoards appear in the Southern Levant, few publications offer detailed analyses of single caches or focus on hoarding at the local level. The 2012 discovery of a metal hoard in Tel Megiddo’s Area Q calls for such a study since it is one of several caches buried in the site’s Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age strata. Because one of the major aims of this project is to bring the new hoard to light, attention will be given to its location, stratigraphic context, and content. Archaeometric and typological analyses conducted on its objects will determine their chemical compositions and supplement the stratigraphic and ceramic material available for dating the hoard’s deposition. The distribution, contents, and contexts of Tel Megiddo’s other hidden assemblages will then be presented so as to lay a groundwork for comparative analysis. The results will be considered in light of various theoretical models discussed in literature on ancient hoarding. This paper will bring forth a new understanding regarding hoarding behaviors at Tel Megiddo and present a basis for future studies on intrasite hoarding practices. It will also represent one of a limited number of studies to analyze a hoarded assemblage archaeometrically, offering invaluable information for macro- and microarchaeological investigations into precious gifts and commodities from the turn of the first millennium BCE.


Michael Millman (Tel Aviv University), Erez Ben-Yosef (Tel Aviv University), Oded Lipschits (Tel Aviv University), Lisa Taux (Scripps Institution of Oceanography), Ron Shaar (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem), “Archaeomagnetic Constraints on the Chronology of the Judean Stamped Jar Handles”

The debate over the exact chronology of the corpus of Judean stamped jar handles, known from the archaeological record from the Iron Age to the Hellenistic Period has gone on in archaeological scholarship for decades. Numerous studies have given insight into the typology, content, and length of use with regards to the context of these artifacts in excavation, and these enable laboratory methods to test the paleomagnetic values recorded in the pottery. This paper uses the framework of relative chronology as provided by previous studies to test how remanent magnetic intensity recorded in fired clay from samples taken from only Judean stamped jar handles places further constraints of the chronology of the different types of stamp impressions. Addressed specifically from the paleomagnetic results are close associations between different types of stamp impressions found proximally to each other in excavation and deal with previous theories regarding the chronology of the stamp impressions.

Rachel Hallote (Purchase College, State University of New York), “How’d That Get There? A Case Study of Objects from the Southern Levant in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art”

In recent decades, archaeologists have become vocal concerning looting, the antiquities trade, and the importance of provenance. Much has been written about how looted artifacts move from looter, to middleman, to collector. A last potential step in the process is the movement of artifacts from private collections to museums. This paper will engage in a case study of the various groupings of objects that originated in the Southern Levant that are currently in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. As a major museum in the Northeast, the Metropolitan Museum has particular potential for a discussion of trends of collecting and purchasing of artifacts. The collection of Southern Levantine material is particularly interesting, because although the region is at the “core” of the biblical world, for many decades of the twentieth century, archaeologists and collectors considered it less appealing than other parts of the Near East. The data from this case study will elucidate the identity of the donors of individual objects, and allow reasonable speculation regarding their motivations for both collecting and donating. This will lead in turn to examining how the story of collecting is part of the larger narrative of twentieth century American social history.


Morag Kersel (DePaul University), “Changing Lives: Object Biography and Law”

In 1986 Arjun Appadurai asked us to consider the “social lives of things” – he argued that objects are not static; shuffling in and out of different classifications of value and use over their duration. In that same pivotal volume on things, Igor Kopytoff examined the effects of commoditization on objects, contending that the commodity phase may be only one aspect of the life of a thing. Thinking about the multiple and varied lives of objects resulted in a disciplinary shift when studying artifacts, one which now included thoughts on agency and multivocality. Some 25+ years later I would like to examine the lives of things and law: how various legislative efforts (local, state, national, and international) have shaped, positively and negatively, the life of a thing. The objects of inquiry are Early Bronze Age ceramic vessels from the Dead Sea Plain in Jordan.

Eric L. Welch (Pennsylvania State University), Jeffrey R. Chadwick (Brigham Young University), Jill C. Katz (Yeshiva University) and Brian T. Stachowski (Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary), “The Early Bronze Age Fortifications at Tell es-Safi/Gath”

Two segments of the Early Bronze Age city wall have been revealed at Tell es-Safi/Gath. In Area F, on the tell’s upper west side, a 22 meter long stretch has been excavated since 2006. The wall has a uniform width of 2.7 meters (five cubits, using the 54 cm measure), is several courses high, and constructed of 30 to 50 cm size fieldstones. Exterior outsets 3.25 meters long (six cubits) protrude 54 cm (one cubit) from the outer wall face. Two outsets, one full and one partial, were excavated in Area F, and a third measured along the cliff north of the area where the wall line is visible. The wall line and outsets along the cliff were noted over a century ago by Macalister. During MBII the eroded EB wall was overbuilt, at the same width, by two to three new courses of stone and a brick superstructure. The outsets were not utilized, but covered over with a yellow sandy glacis. The MBII city wall, atop the EB wall, served the city of Gath throughout LB, Iron I, and Iron IIA. In Area P, on the lower east side of the tell, a 14 meter long stretch of the EB wall, some ten courses in height, has been excavated since 2012. Its features are similar to those in Area F, and include an identical outset. Dating of the wall’s lowest levels in Area F and foundation levels in Area P is secure from exclusively EB soil layers.

William Dever (The University of Arizona), “Towards New Histories of Ancient Israel and Judah– Without the Hebrew Bible?”

No mainstream history of ancient Israel and Judah has been written in the English-speaking world since Miller and Hayes’ History in 1977. That is largely because the notorious postmodern “literary turn,” exploited by biblical revisionists, has shaken the confidence of most textual scholars in their only source for history-writing, the Hebrew Bible (plus a few nonbiblical texts). Meanwhile, an increasingly professional and specialized discipline of archaeology in Israel and Jordan has produced an astonishing wealth of new information, well-published but largely inaccessible for nonspecialists. That is because archaeologists, although technically competent, are not historians. Yet the need for dialogue between our two disciplines has never been more urgent. This paper will illustrate the historiographical challenge by summarizing the methods and results of the author’s work in press, which utilizes the recent archaeological data as a primary source for producing a radical new approach to ancient Israel’s life and history, one in which the biblical texts play a significant but secondary role.

Gary Arbino (Golden Gate Seminary) and Samuel Wolff (Israel Antiquities Authority), “Macalister at Gezer: A Perspective from the Field.”

Since Macalister’s excavations in the early 1900s, considerable advances have been made in the science and method of archaeology—especially as it relates to the Near East. The current Tandy excavation at Tel Gezer offers a rare opportunity to compare Macalister’s work—both actually in the field and in his published reports—to that done using more modern field methods. Because Macalister did not dig to bedrock and left much of the architecture in place in the area west of the city gate, current excavations have been able to reexamine both his findings and his methodology in this area. This paper will provide a glimpse into the history of archaeology by illustrating the differences and similarities between the two excavations and offer insights into how Macalister did his work.

Paolo Xella (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche), “Near Eastern Roots of Carthaginian Child Sacrifice”

Phoenician/Carthaginian sanctuaries with child cremation burials, conventionally called tophet, are as of yet unattested archaeologically in the Levant, except for the doubtful cases of Amathus (Cyprus) and Achzib (Israel). Nevertheless, it is difficult to maintain that these cult-places were invented by the first Phoenician settlers in the West. Sparse evidence from the Levant provides limited–but decisive–support in favor of a Near Eastern origin for the custom. This support derives from the following:
- At Carthage, at Sulcis and Tharros (Sardinia), and at Motya (Sicily) the tophets were in use from the moment the settlements were founded; as a consequence, this must reflect an ancestral ideology brought by the Phoenician settlers from their homeland;
- A Phoenician inscription from Nebi Yunis (Israel) mentions a mlk-offering in honor of Eshmun that testifies to the existence of the rite in the East (a “Sidonian” variant?);
- Some classical sources locate the origin of the rite in Phoenicia (e.g., Philo of Byblos);
- Clitarchus and Curtius Rufus relate an episode during the siege of Tyre by Alexander the Great, during which the Tyrians proposed to reestablish the child sacrifices that had fallen out of use;
- The Old Testament testifies that Israelites and Canaanites (i.e., Phoenicians) sacrificed (and burned) their children in Tophet, near Jerusalem.
Even taking into account their different epochs and contexts, this evidence is consistent with the western phenomena, thus the Levantine origin of the mlk-rite must be considered a certainty, both in its ideology and in its formal characteristics.

Amanda Morrow (University of Wisconsin, Madison) and Erin Hall (Tel Aviv University), “Dueling Stamps: The Relationship Between Judah and Benjamin in Light of the Lion and m(w)ṣh Stamp Impressions”

Locally made stamp impressions on jar handles and vessel walls are important tools for investigating the commercial and administrative activities in Judah and Benjamin during the Neo-Babylonian and Persian periods. Although several publications discuss the date, typology, and distribution of individual stamp impressions from these periods, few studies feature detailed comparative analyses of contemporaneous stamp types. By comparing the distribution and date of the lion and m(w)ṣh stamp impressions in light of recent archaeological and archaeometric findings, this project responds to the need for such a study and provides new insight into the relationship between Judah and Benjamin under Neo-Babylonian and Persian rule. Specific topics to be addressed are whether the lion and m(w)ṣh stamp impressions are associated with a particular region, and if so, whether the ideology of each region is reflected in the subject matter of the stamps. The rivalry between Judah and Benjamin as depicted in the Bible will be assessed in light of distribution, date, and symbolic meaning of each stamp impression type. The results will inform future discussions on the roles of Judah and Benjamin under Neo-Babylonian and Persian rule and, more specifically, inspire further investigations into the changing geopolitical status of the urban centers at Tell en-Naṣbeh, Ramat Raḥel, and Jerusalem during the reign of these empires.

Aaron Demsky (Bar-Ilan University), “The Pithos Fragment from the Ophel in Jerusalem”

Hebrew inscriptions are an important noncanonical source for the study of Biblical Hebrew that shed light on paleography, vocabulary, syntax and onomastics in ancient Israel. In this paper, I will demonstrate the methodology of deciphering ancient documents, as illustrated in the pithos jar fragment found in the City of David, Jerusalem. The publishers of this text identified it as an enigmatic pre-monarchic, i.e., Jebusite, inscription, incised on the shoulder of a storage jar. In supplementary scholarly studies, this identification has been challenged with respect to the date, the direction of the script, the language, and the message of this inscription. The object of this paper is to clarify the archaic script incised on this jar collar and to determine the meaning of this inscription. Specifically, the inscription reflects administrative convention, in the time of the Judean Monarchy (Iron II), providing the name of the owner as well as the commodity contained in the vessel.

William Schniedewind (University of California, Los Angeles), “Linguistic Dating and the Break in the Hebrew Scribal Tradition”

A survey of the Linguistic Dating of Biblical Text with particular attention to methodology of linguistic dating and its challenges. The method of linguistic dating was advanced especially in the work of Avi Hurvitz, but it has been recently challenged by a variety of scholars. These challenges make it clear that the methods need to be refined (e.g., attention to linguistics of writing systems, dialect, register, style, textual criticism, and history), but they do not undermine the basic recognition of a break in the Hebrew scribal tradition that resulted in a distinction between Standard Biblical Hebrew and Late Biblical Hebrew.

Lester Grabbe (University of Hull), “Historiography and the Last Days of Judah”

This paper will explore the question of historiography and ancient Israelite and Judahite writings. It will use the final decades of the Kingdom of Judah as an example to illustrate what we know of actual history and the perspective given by the biblical writings. It is a useful example because in some cases we can reconstruct the history of Judah in the late seventh and early sixth century BCE almost year by year from external sources, which allows us to compare the history of the historian with the historiography of the biblical writers.

Chang-Ho Ji (La Sierra University), “All Roads Lead to ‘Ataruz: Excavations and Surveys of Khirbat ‘Ataruz and its Vicinity”

This paper pertains to an interim report of the ongoing research in the Khirbat ‘Ataruz region, focusing on the Iron II road system around the site and its vicinity. The excavation at ‘Ataruz shows that it was a prominent city with five phases of human activity during the Iron II period. Besides its religious salience, the surveys demonstrate that ‘Ataruz was also the hub of the region’s well-developed road network. From the site, four roads fanned out in four different directions. The city was linked with the Jordan Valley through its northern route that descended the ridge of Farsh al-Meshala northwest of ‘Ataruz. The employment of this route is evidenced by the series of Iron II sites running in a line from ‘Ataruz to the valley of Zarqa Main. For the south, a road led from the Sayl Haydan ascent to the region by way of Qariyat as does a modern paved road. The eastern gateway to ‘Ataruz was Rujm ‘Ataruz on the road that connected the city with the King’s Highway in the east. This route continued west past ‘Ataruz to Machaerus for those who wished to reach villages to the west. This complex road system supports the strategic location of ‘Ataruz, which meant that whoever controlled the city controlled the entire region. As in the Mesha Inscription, political struggles thereby centered on ‘Ataruz, and those who occupied the region set up religious installations at the site as a hallmark of military power and socio-economic dominance.

Eythan Levy (Ecole Supérieure d’Informatique, HEB-ESI) and Frédéric Pluquet (Université Libre de Bruxelles), “Computer Experiments on the Khirbet Qeiyafa Ostracon”

This article presents a new approach for computer-assisted decipherment of ancient alphabetic inscriptions. The method is based on regular expressions, a widely used computer science formalism for the symbolic representation of text strings featuring missing or uncertain characters. Our approach combines user-defined partial readings (in the form of regular expressions) with automated dictionary searches, in order to help identify lexemes. Furthermore, the problem of defective spellings, particularly acute in archaic West Semitic inscriptions, is dealt with by the automatic insertion of matres lectionis during dictionary searches. This method has the advantage of offering a systematic and exhaustive panel of readings (within the limits of the chosen dictionary) for damaged parts of the inscription, and is applicable to a wide range of languages and scripts. We apply our approach to the Khirbet Qeiyafa ostracon, a recently discovered proto-Canaanite inscription from the Judean Shephelah, featuring many archaic aspects such as defective spelling and scripta continua. These features, as well as the damaged state of the inscription, make it a natural case study for our methodology. An online software, applying our approach to the Qeiyafa ostracon, is provided in order to assist epigraphists in the decipherment process.

Arie Shaus (Tel Aviv University), Shira Faigenbaum-Golovin (Tel Aviv University), and Barak Sober (Tel Aviv University), “What Did the Scribe Have in Mind? Automatic Comparison of Scribes’ Hands and Character Prototype Derivation”

Identifying a single scribe’s hand, as well as the creation of paleographic tables, are classical and related problems in epigraphy. Commonly, an analysis is derived based on the epigrapher’s examination of the writing and scribes under consideration. The quality of such an analysis is difficult to estimate. Alternatively, we suggest automatic image processing and statistical methods, capable of aiding the epigrapher in both tasks, while providing quantitative evaluation of the results’ quality. The proposed approach may lead to a reconsideration of the current paleographical paradigms. Some examples of our techniques applied to Hebrew ostraca from the Iron Age are provided.

And that is only a small fraction of all the lectures! Truly my jar runneth over! I must confess that when I received the notice that my paper on computer-assisted reconstruction of seal-design details was rejected earlier this year, I had my doubts as to whether they really didn't have room/time for it; but now I'm convinced.

G.M. Grena