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 It's hard to believe that nearly 9 months have elapsed since I made the new (still unpublished, publicly inaccessible) website, but have not had time to finalize it; nonetheless, it proved to be very helpful in this current project.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

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

15 Weeks to NEAS 2014

10:20 PM. Friday is going to be my last day on my current engineering contract, & I probably won't begin another till September. Looking forward to at least a couple weeks of ... non-stop work on my aggressive yard/jungle, mold-ridden bedroom, & this NEAS slideshow! It's now up to 69 slides.

By the way, last week I discovered a fully narrated slideshow I made back in February-April 2003. I never actually presented it to anyone, but did give a printout of the slides to someone at the time, & don't know if he or anyone in his organization ever made use of it. I doubt it. Anyway, if my NEAS presentation goes well, I'm thinking about also uploading this 2003 version to YouTube for comparison.

In completely unrelated news, one of the RIKEN Center scientists involved in the internationally publicized data-falsification scandal earlier this year committed suicide this week. Equally sad to hear about the declining mental state of Haruko Obokata, the (very beautiful) primary author of the paper, which was officially retracted from the journal, Nature.

To those who insist science & religion should not mix, I say:

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments..."--Psalm 111:10

"There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."--Proverbs 16:25

"Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts."--Zechariah 1:3

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."--1John 1:9

It's worth noting that Israel Finkelstein, editor of the Tel Aviv journal, never retracted the falsely attributed data published by Oded Lipschits; so neither of them has anything to be distraught over, do they?

10:55 PM.

G.M. Grena