Lecture on the Late Bronze at Tel Burna at Texas A&M Corpus Christi

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I (Chris) will be giving a lecture at Texas A&M Corpus Christi on the Late Bronze finds from Tel Burna over the last 7 seasons. Here is the announcement and the flyer (Texas themed🙂.

NEW: Oct. 3: Religious Studies Minor Speaker Series featuring Professor Chris McKinney: The College of Liberal Arts welcomes all to the Religious Studies Minor Speaker Series. The first talk features Professor Chris McKinny, who teaches Biblical Archaeology at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. McKinny’s talk, “Beseeching the Storm God? Canaanite Cultic Activity at Tel Burna, Israel,” will take place from 1 – 2 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 3, in Island Hall, room 267. The talk is free and open to the public and includes a Q&A session. For more information, contact Dr. Jennifer Epley, Religious Studies Minor Coordinator, at jennifer.epley@tamucc.edu.

beseeching-the-storm-god_flyer

New Article – “Reassessing the Character of the Judahite Kingdom”

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A new article entitled “Reassessing the Character of the Judahite Kingdom: Archaeological Evidence for Non-Centralized, Kinship- Based Component” written by Prof. Aren Maeir and Dr. Itzick Shai has just appeared in the feschrift in honor of Prof. Yossi Garfinkel (From Sha‘ar Hagolan to Shaaraim Essays in Honor of Prof. Yosef Garfinkel). Besides the compelling background for describing the historical situation of the Kingdom of Judah, they also give a nice “shout-out” to Tel Burna (and Tell es-Safi/Gath) in the following quote.

“It would be safe to assume that various local elites most probably changed loyalties over time. Just as the רפא family, as noted above, may have been first associated with the Philistines and later with the Judahites, other clans might have changed sides over time. A hint at this might be found in the depictions of the relationship between the Judahite Kingdom and the town of Libnah (Tel Burna?). As noted above, Josiah’s mother is attributed to this town, while on the other hand Libnah supposedly revolted against and was besieged by Jehoram (2 Kings 8:22; 2 Chron. 21:10). Perhaps, then, this reflects the ever-changing relations between this specific site and the Kingdom of Judah, situated in a region that traditionally vacillated between Judahite and Philistine control (on this point, see as well Blakely, Hardin and Master 2014).”

Read the whole thing here.

Full bibliographic entry:

Maeir, A., and I. Shai
2016  Reassessing the Character of the Judahite Kingdom: Archaeological Evidence for Non-Centralized, Kinship-Based Components. In From Sha‘ar Hagolan to Shaaraim Essays in Honor of Prof. Yosef Garfinkel, edited by S. Galon, I. Kreimerman, K. Streit, and M. Mumcuoglu, pp. 323–340. Israel Exploration Society, Jerusalem.

Beautiful Drone Video

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Check out this beautiful video of the tell after the 2016 season, which was taken by PW with his drone. A lot of work went into each of these excavation squares in the last 7 seasons🙂 thank you to all of the participants of this season and the six before!

New Article in Bible and Interpretation

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Check out the new article by Aharon, Joe, Dvir, and Itzick that deals with different problems and solutions related to archaeological surveys. Way to go guys!

The full reference is below:

2016: Tavger, A., Uziel, J., Raviv, D., Shai, I. “Addressing Survey Methodology in the Southern LEvant.” The Bible and Interpretation, June 2016.

Heading into Week 4

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In this last week, we made excellent progress in all of the excavation areas. Area A2 closed down early this season because Debi’s son is getting married early next week – Mazel Tov!!!

In Area C (c. 70 meters northeast from the tell summit) – Casey, Ian and Sam have continued to expose more agricultural installations and it seems quite clear that this area was used for agricultural activity for thousands of years from as far back as the Chalcolithic period until the Iron II. This week, they exposed another installation with pottery only from the Chalcolithic period.

In Area B1 – Chris, Benjamin, Samuel and the Area C team (they join us after breakfast because they are digging without shade) are finishing up the new square related to the large public building “where cultic activity took place” – which is looking more and more like a temple/high place – and are focusing on the stepped trench/sondage. With regards to this stepped trench – things are getting rather interesting as we have nearly reached bedrock in the two lowest squares and it seems that there is a large (c. 2 meters deep so far) accumulation of either a purposeful fill or glacis/earthen rampart that is mostly comprised of medium-large sized stones and very loose soil. This feature can be clearly seen on the west and east of the tell as it creates a 5-meter wide step on both sides of the mound and runs the entire length of the site. Interestingly, the majority of the pottery is from the Late Bronze Age, but there is clear evidence of Iron II pottery from the 10th-8th centuries BCE (no 7th yet) – which seems to indicate that this large feature was added only in the 8th century BCE using primarily Late Bronze Age fill. Finding out its exact purpose will probably have to wait until next season – but we still have two more full work days – so stay tuned😉

In Area B2 – Aharon and Matt are continuing to go down in two squares connected with the fortification and it seems clear that that the outer fortification wall must pre-date the Iron II as the Late Bronze  (either 13th or 12th century BCE) metallurgical area clearly abuts the outer face of the wall. This discovery means that the outer fortification wall was most likely built during the Bronze Age – but we will have to wait until next season to determine an exact date since we still need to excavate the inside of the wall. In addition, and thanks to the hard work of this past week’s participants (including a great school group from the nearby town of Kiryat Gat!), we have successfully joined Areas B1 and B2 in the stepped-trench/sondage that now stretches 65 meters across Area B1 and B2! To mark the occasion, Matt and Chris “met axe to axe” to make it official! We have only just opened these two new squares and there are clear signs of large architecture.

Area A2 High-Res 3D Model

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As we mentioned a few days ago,  Adam Prins (Durham University) of the Jezreel Valley Regional Project  gave us a very interesting lecture on the use of 3D modeling in the day-to-day aspects of archaeology including creating models for each locus, significant find, and even pottery plates. Adam has just sent us a very nice model of the northern part of Area A2 (i.e., the large pillared 8th century BCE Judahite building), which now has very few balks remaining after the hard work of Debi, Caitlin, and Sheila’s crew this season. Check out the model. Thanks Adam and Matt for showing us the ropes!

Update for Week 3

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We have had a very nice week so far with lots of interesting finds in all three excavation areas (A2, B1, and B2 – C is starting again next week).

In Area A2 – Debi and her team have finished removing several balks and are now prepared to remove the large 8th century building in order to expose the earlier periods below. Today, they excavated a nice Iron IIB complete vessel.

In Area B2 – Aharon and Matt have exposed the fortification collapse in B6 (this year’s new square) and in B7 they have more evidence of the metallurgical activity and what seems to be a clean Late Bronze Age surface – just outside of, but leaning on the fortification wall. This is very interesting – because it has been our assumption until now that the outer fortification wall was constructed at some point in the Iron II – this new evidence may point to an earlier period for the initial construction of the fortification (Middle Bronze?)

In Area B1 – Chris, Benjamin, Casey, and co. are exposing a well-preserved layer within the large cultic building. Today and yesterday we had lots of finds including several complete vessels a large concentration of cypriot imports and a nice complete and decorated goblet. We may also (finally) have the northern wall/corner of the large courtyard/building. A little further up the slope, Benjamin is digging a deep probe into what appears to be a purposeful rock and fine soil fill – it is too early to determine if this fill is just a collapse or something more interesting… hopefully we will have more to write on this in the next week or so.

Besides all of the great progress in the excavations, we have had several interesting lectures over the last couple of days. Tonight – Adi Eliyahu-Bahar presented on the importance and fundamentals of “microarchaeology.” Yesterday – Adam Prins (Durham University) along with Matthew Adams (the Albright Institute) gave a fascinating lecture on the JVRP method for field plans and registration that incorporates 3D models simply using photos and software (look for more posts on this in the future). Finally – Casey lectured on the material culture of the Late Bronze Age on Sunday afternoon.