Only 13 more days until the beginning of our summer season on June 2 (through the 21). If you are in the area come out and join the fun
We had a great final day in the field today – beautiful weather and more nice finds.
Here is a group shot of the spring team – Thanks guys!
In Area A1 – we are continuing to pick up hints of the Iron Age IIA city at Burna, as we are finding some burnt pottery similar to the destruction level of Hazael at nearby Tell es-Safi/Gath (2 Kings 12:17 - ca. 830 BCE). Could this level be related to the insurrectionist city of Libnah mentioned in 2 Kings 8 (ca. 845 BCE)?
“So Edom revolted from the rule of Judah to this day. Then Libnah revolted at the same time. Now the rest of the acts of Joram, and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?” (2 Kings 8:22–23 ESV)
In Area A2 – we are also finding bits of evidence for a possible destruction level related to the end of the 8th cent. BCE (Sennacherib???). Additionally, today we found a very strange fragmentary figurine(?) with decorations similar to Philistine Bichrome. Could this level of a walled-city in the 8th cent. BCE be related to Sennacherib’s great sweeping conquest of Hezekiah’s Judahite kingdom in 701 BCE?
“As for Hezekiah, the Judean,7 I (Sennacherib) besieged forty-six of his fortified walled cities and surrounding smaller towns, which were without number. Using packed-down ramps and applying battering rams, infantry attacks by mines, breeches, and siege machines,8 I conquered (them). I took out 200,150 people, young and old, male and female, horses, mules, donkeys, camels, cattle, and sheep, without number, and counted them as spoil. He himself, I locked up within Jerusalem, his royal city, like a bird in a cage.9 I surrounded him with earthworks, and made it unthinkable10 for him to exit by the city gate. His cities which I had despoiled I cut off from his land and gave them to Mitinti, king of Ashdod, Padi, king of Ekron and S¸illi-bel, king of Gaza,11 and thus diminished his land. I imposed dues and gifts for my lordship upon him, in addition to the former tribute, their yearly payment. (William W. Hallo and K. Lawson Younger Jr., eds., Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World (COS 2; Accordance electronic ed. Leiden: Brill, 2003), 303.)
In Area B – we found an amazing 9 full buckets of Late Bronze Age pottery (of various types) from 1 square! We also found additional architecture that seems to clarify the nature of this occupation level during the 14th or 13th cent. BCE. Our prize find for the day was a heavy, well-preserved axe-head (see picture below). Could this level be related to the Canaanites living at the site around the time of the biblical account of Joshua’s conquest of the Shephelah?
“Then Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Makkedah to Libnah and fought against Libnah. And the LORD gave it also and its king into the hand of Israel. And he struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it; he left none remaining in it. And he did to its king as he had done to the king of Jericho. Then Joshua and all Israel with him passed on from Libnah to Lachish and laid siege to it and fought against it. And the LORD gave Lachish into the hand of Israel, and he captured it on the second day and struck it with the edge of the sword, and every person in it, as he had done to Libnah.” (Joshua 10:29–32 ESV)
Remember – you can help us answer those questions and many others by joining us this summer! The deadline is May 1st – so now is the time to secure your spot for digging up (possible ) biblical Libnah!
Today we made some serious progress in all of our excavations areas – removing balks and continuing the excavations of our newly opened squares.
Here are a few highlights from each area:
In Area A1 – we found a very interesting piece of a store jar with a snake head on it. This phenomenon is well-known as far back as the Early Bronze Age (ca. 3000 BCE). While this find does not indicate cult activity (it seems to be simply, popular iconography) it is interesting that we have a biblical text that mentions the depiction of a snake (hebrew – nehushtan) during the time of Hezekiah (ca. 715 BCE).
“He (Hezekiah) removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan).” 2 Kings 18:4
In A2 – the team found two more fragments of Israelite Fertility Figurines (though not quite as nice as our flagship lady (below), see another one here). These finds along with the pottery and the well-built architecture from the center of the tell – continue to give us a clearer picture of the Iron Age IIB settlement of Tel Burna. Which would be relevant for a biblical text such as this,
“Then Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria fighting against Libnah, for he had heard that the king had left Lachish.” (Isaiah 37:8)
In Area B – we found a very nice weapon head (either a small spearhead or an elongated arrowhead), in addition to loads of LB pottery.
Check in for more great finds from our last day of excavating!
We had a much smaller group today – ca. 20 people total, as the TMC group made their way to the always-interesting Samaritan Passover. We still made do – enjoying the excellent weather.
In Debi’s area (A1) we continued work along the casemate fortification. We also re-opened a new square from our very first season (2010) in which we had previously found a plastered floor with a destruction level that included complete vessels and a significant amount of ash (Iron IIA – 9th cent. BCE). It will be very interesting to see if we have earlier levels beneath this level related to the Iron Age IIA. For more on the significance of the dating of these levels see Itzick, Joe, Debi and Amit’s recent article (I guess that’s why they created et al here.
In Chris’ Area (B) – we harvested a ton of pottery from the new squares some Byzantine, but mostly clean Late Bronze Age material. In addition, we found a nice small, votive vessel and a significant concentration of mother of pearl near where we previously found many chalices, pithoi and bowls.
Here are some pictures from today’s work:
Today, we had better weather than yesterday – although it was still cold, windy and drizzly (at one point).
I say a slight dripping of the nose in April > a full body sweat drip in June
We were able to begin excavations in all areas with help from ICB, TMC, some new volunteers and some old friends of the excavation.
In Area A1 – Debi’s team, in addition to working in several squares from previous seasons, began defining what seems to be a large tower in the northeastern corner of the Iron II fortifications.
In Area A2 – Amit’s group opened a new square to define the western side of a well-built Iron IIB (8th cent. BCE c. time of Hezekiah) structure with exceptionally large pillars. They also continued to work their way through a collapse (destruction?) from the same time period – the pottery so far seems consistent with the 8th cent. BCE.
In Area B – Chris’ group began dismantling a balk connected to the large Late Bronze Age (1550-1200 BCE – Canaanite era) structure down on the lower terrace. Inside of the balk we found several sherds of Cypriot imports – milk bowl/white slip and base ring. In addition, we continued to work our way through the top soil of our two new squares – all signs point to promising finds in the coming days. Hopefully, by the end of the week we will have a better idea of the layout of this building.
Here are a few pics from Area B today:
Today, we had some great dig participants from The Master’s College and Israel College of the Bible. They all had to brave the wind, rain and cold. Despite the conditions, we were successful in removing all of the winter weeds and debris from our old and new excavations squares. We did this despite encountering a good deal of moisture throughout the day.
Among the notable initial finds for the opening day of the season, were a couple more chalices from Area B (thanks must go to the cows of Tel Burna since they helped us find them by destroying the balk ) and a nice spindle whorl. Tomorrow, we will be carrying out full excavations in all areas – that is if we are not rained out… Drop by if you are interested in finding some amazing finds related to the Canaanite and Israelite period!
Here are a couple pictures from the day (thanks Debi for photos):