Israel Archaeological Dig #9

2018 Israel archaeological excavation at biblical Gath (home of Goliath)
by John Stringer, Tell es-Safi, west of Jerusalem.
Into a the East Bulk and a Stairway Revealed

In the previous post (#8) I discussed soil stratigraphy and how it helps us understand the architecture of a site and its possible usage.  This image above looking into 82D (where the rocks are) shows the bulk between us and 82C west and reveals this stratigraphy very clearly. You can see the quickly erected clay brick wall at far right, then a clear large hole of grey ‘fill’ matter of dumped rubbish in-between, and then more clay brick work on the left. Our finds are all coming out of this grey matter in-between, stretching from foreground bulk to background bulk.  The image shows the lowered wast side bulk, but before that, we are redirected to remove the bulk on the far side in the photo, between us and 82C east.

And so we set to this…

Photo (above) 82C East (left) and 82 D (right). Me at work with heavy pick. We have to ‘process’ all this soil by hand with trowel, brush and bucket and cart it away up hill.  Pic (below) Erika from 82C East and I processing the bulk material ’fill’ between our two squares which will merge as one.

Below: after several of us (John and I, Erika and Ahuva) have removed the East bulk, we discover this very important brown layer at the back, inside the bulk.  Dr Jeff takes particular interest and it has a special string set across its base.  It is carefully photographed.  This is the termination of one of those rapidly constructed clay brick walls.  It’s also clear it has no stone foundation.  During the process of removing the bulk, I uncovered the large rock at centre.  This matches the rock at far left, and we establish these as ‘sitting stones’ that mark each side of an ascending stairway uncovered in 82C by Ahuva and Erik’s careful excavation.

Below are some further photographs of the bulk and the clay wall, as 82C merges into 82D. We are speculating all the way with each find and what it potentially means in relation to everything else.  Constant theorising and testing hypotenuses with more careful digging and trowelling.  And moving so much soil we recover bucket-loads of finds, which excites the rest of the dig site above us. 82C east – 82 D is now one square, carefully cleaned for photographs and site tours.

The Finds in 82C-D Keep Coming.  

At bottom left (below) is a small flint knife of three we discover.  After 3500 years it is as sharp as any razor and will slice your skin open as easily as a paper-cut.

The photo bottom left below is an oil lamp fragment, still with burnt soot on its edge. We find two of these, perhaps part of the same piece. And bottom right below is the pierced pourer from a juglet of some description.

And this nice large rim and painted bichrome Philistine handle I uncovered (Iron Age 1). There is rich red paint under the rim not so clear in the photo.

Here is a selection of some of the finds excavated at Tell-es-Safi Gath.