Israel Archaeological Dig #8

2018 Israel archaeological excavation at biblical Gath (home of Goliath)
by John Stringer, Tell es-Safi, west of Jerusalem.
Digging thru 3500 years of History in 82D

In 82D John and I are not yet at parallel ground level with the stone ‘E’ construction immediately behind the photo, so we will be digging down to this level carefully, analysing what we find as we go – and we find LOTS!

After the left hand side (pic 2 top right above) is more closely examined by one of the senior archaeologists to understand if it is a compacted clay floor, it is decided to remove this as well and extract all artefacts (below). We use the pick and the tourea for this (pictured), and then process the loosened soil with hand trowel and bucket. As each phase is completed it receives its own bucket with two tags, which are confined to this layer only.  That is an important part of the documenting process.  We then square off the floor and level it with tour, trowel and brush.  New tagged buckets will then be allocated by Eitan before John2 digs down into a new 20 cm layer with the pick and start troweling afresh.

Stratigraphy and Layers

If you look closely at the back wall and left bulk (above), you’ll notice some of the soil is a browner stain. The grey material (like ash) is ‘fill.’ This indicates compacted brick walls have been built across this area, and this find becomes significant. After 3500 years we are even able to carefully extract intact clay bricks from their surrounds and photograph them.  They can just be made out in situ to a trained eye.  We find no artefacts inside compacted clay bricks (obviously) but there are lots inside the grey material. What this means to us, is the Philistines quickly erected clay brick walls across this area, but with no important stone foundations, and then filled the gaps in-between with rubbish and old tip fill.  We speculate this is to secure this vulnerable point in the wall from Hazael of Aram’s attack in 830 BC in which he circled the city with siege works. In other words, the Philistine s very quickly blocked off the ‘Nixon Watergate’ with rapid brick walls, and filled the gaps in-between with rubbish and soil.  It is why we find so many artefacts in 82D compared to other squares 9and my older Bronze-Age Canaanite juggled from pre-1200 BC, another pic below).

The images below with the ‘Bedouin’ shade cover removed for some drone video capture, clearly shows the brown brick wall structures and the grey ‘fill’ in-between, pointing across the area of the gate (bottom left).

Observing best practice, John and I take great pride in finishing each day’s dig with as clean a square as can be managed in the time before back down and departure for the kibbutz 7 min away by bus.  We leave at 1 pm and lunch is at 1:30 pm at the kibbutz. Just time for a really quick shower (often in our clothes) as an all in one ‘semi-laundry.’ We then lay our ashes clothes on the grass for drying ready for tomorrow.  After lunch it is pottery cleaning, ‘pottery reading,’ and lab work, followed by lectures, and dinner later in the evening, about 7 pm.

The Food

The kibbutz serves us kosher food, which means we cannot bring independent food from elsewhere into the food area.    t is very nutritious and is mainly clean fresh vegetables served in a variety of different ways (see below). There is also chicken, other meats, and fish. I find it energises me, and there is no flatulence (quite helpful in dorm conditions). I drink copious amounts of water yet only pee once a day (most of it expires via evaporation or dripping heavy sweat).  The kibbutz also serves a pomegranate fruit juice like insipid Methodist communion ‘wine.’  But I drink lots of it. Pomegranates are everywhere in Israel and there are bushes of them in the kibbutz school. The roast spuds are to die for.  None of the kibbutz staff speak English, so it’s just ‘point’ what you want at the servery.  They do all our dishes, which is awesome.

A great find in Israel is a 500 ml bottle Aloe bits in water.  I recommend this as my favourite fluid intake in Israel.





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