2016 Excavation Dates – June 19-July 15

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We are happy to announce that next summer’s excavation dates will be from June 19-July 15, 2016. This means that next summer’s season will be two weeks later in the year than this year’s season.

If you have not been following us on Bible History Daily – check out the most recent post that includes impressions from this season by Ira, Kay, Sandy and Teresa.

Ira with the jaws of a cow from A2

Daily History Post on Tel Burna – Volunteers

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We have had a very nice group of participants the first two weeks of the 2015 season at Tel Burna, with participants from all over the world, including Taiwan, England, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, South Korea, Rwanda, the United States, Israel, the Philippines and more. For both volunteers and staff, this multicultural experience is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the excavation process. At Tel Burna, this leads to people from all over the world from many different ethnic, political and religious backgrounds interacting (and sometimes debating) while cleaning broken Canaanite and Judahite dishes!

Read the rest here.

Week 2 Summary

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This week we had the largest group of volunteers and thanks to them we were able to make a great progress in all four areas. We also had a nice tour on Monday to Tel Erani and heard several interesting lectures from Antonio (Tel Burna epigraphic and gly[tic finds in their wider context), Michal (summary of past research relating to archaeological landscapes and ancient ecology) and Chris (the Historical Geography of the Libnah District – Joshua 15:42-44).

Team from Week 2

Area A2 – the remains of the Iron Age IIB building are expanding to the east and south and a nice complete tabun was also uncovered.

Sheila taking a level in Area A2
Working hard in Area A2

Area B2 – the outer wall of the Iron II fortification was clearly defined and it has the same width as was exposed 4 years ago in Area A1 (on the eastern side of the summit). In addition outside of the fortification wall one more Iron Age IIC silo was discovered. There is also an indication to metallurgical activity in this area (again outside of the wall)!!

Levi and Daniel from ICB removing the collapse of the Iron II fortifications outside of the walls in B2


Area B1 – more of the Late Bronze Age public building has been exposed including pavement, smashed vessels in situ and architecture.

Complete smashed pithos from B1
LB arrowhead from Area B1

Area C – this Area is located on the eastern slopes where agricultural installations are visible, but the date is unknown. A new square was opened in order to date the human activity in this area. It is clear now that this should be dated to the Iron Age.
In addition Drs. Michal Hejcman and Ladislav Smejda are sampling soil and features all over the site with the portable XRF and the results looks very promising. Dr. Tina Greenfield is analyzing the fauna (focusing in Area B) and Dr. Antonio de Freitas is studying the glyptic finds.

All in all great finds, great week and wonderful volunteers!

Write-up in Bible History Daily

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Check out our introduction to the site at Bible History Daily.

New Article on Tel Burna during the Iron II

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We are please to announce the new publication of an article that deals with the remains related to the Iron II city (Hebrew) in the annual series of Judea and Samaria Research Studies. Way to go Itzick, David, Debi and Joe!

Here is the full reference.

2015: Shai, I.; Ben-Shlomo, D.; Cassuto, D.; and Uziel, J. “Tel Burna in Iron Age II: A Fortified City on Judah’s Western Border.”  Judea and Samaria Research Studies 24: 27-34

Week 1 Summary

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We had a very nice group of volunteers this week with participants from all over the world including – Taiwan, England, New Zealand, the United States, Israel, the Philippines, and more. Here is a group shot of the whole crew from the first week.

Week 1 Participants

On Tuesday – Aharon and myself led the crew over to the Maresha National Park where we discussed the impressive ruins of the (mostly) underground city.

On Wednesday, we also had several visitors this week including friends who had participated in past seasons and even a film crew from Faith Life Bible/Logos Bible Software who interviewed our staff as part of their production of a mobile education course and documentary on the relationship between archaeological fieldwork and the biblical accounts (headed by Prof. Craig Evans). Later that evening – Ron (Area B2 supervisor) gave us a very nice lecture on the Lamp-Bowl deposits in the southern Levant from the Late Bronze and early Iron Age.

Sheila interviewed by Prof. Craig Evans and the Faith Life/Logos Bible crew
Sheila interviewed by Prof. Craig Evans and the Faith Life/Logos Bible crew

After spending the first couple of days dealing with the enormous amount of winter weeds (aka – the Forest of Libnah!) we have already started to witness the appearance of several nice finds and architecture.

In Area A2 we seem to have reached the upper level of the 8th century BCE occupation inside the large “four-room” house in both of our 2 new squares.

Kay cleaning a square in A2
Opening a square in A2 from earlier this week
The Shai family hard at work

In Area B1 we have already reached bedrock in both of our new squares and have begun opening another square towards the tell. In one of these squares we have two complete storage vessels and yet another locally made chalice – we are hoping that the context of this find will allow Dvory Namdar (our Residue Analysis expert) to determine the contents of the chalice.

A chalice from Area B1 with an “action” field shot of the PlanGrid/iPad registration

In Area B2 the complex architecture below the enormous collapse is starting to become clearer as several small walls have now been exposed – we will remove these later walls next week in order to determine their relation to the presumable fortifications beneath.

Ron and Andrew registering the finds in B2
Teresa, Daniel and Mike working hard on the Iron II fortifications

In sum – it was a great start to the season and we still have 3 weeks to go!

And We are Off! 2015 Season Begins

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Over the last two days, we have successfully broken ground in two new squares in each of the three excavation areas – A2, B1 (Area B in previous seasons) and B2 (new area). So far we have managed to make it through topsoil and are already finding a large amount of pottery.

In area A2 Debi Cassuto and her team are trying to determine the southern extent of what appears to be a very large “four-room house” on the summit of the site. In order to accomplish this we will be excavating through the Persian and late Iron II periods that we have encountered in past seasons.

Kay and Debi - opening new squares in A2
Kay and Debi – opening new squares in A2
Kay hoeing some weeds on the summit
Kay hoeing some weeds on the summit

In area B1 (B is for Bedrock!) we are continuing to expose the very interesting large cultic structure that is built directly on the bedrock. We are hoping to find the outer edge of the structure in order to have an architectural plan of the structure. Of course, we are also hoping to find many nice Late Bronze Age finds as in past seasons.

Benjamin hard at work clearing the winter weeds (some of which could be qualified as small trees!)
Benjamin hard at work clearing the winter weeds (some of which could be qualified as small trees!)
John and Casey raising the excavation tent in Area B1
John and Casey raising the excavation tent in Area B1

In the newly opened B2, which is supervised by Ron Lev, we are exposing a section of the Iron II fortifications on the western side of the tell – beyond the interesting 7th and 8th (and hopefully earlier Iron II) centuries that we will encounter – B2 is an important part of our long-term goal of creating an east-west cross-section across the center of Tel Burna. Ron’s team already has exposed some of the casemate walls.

Mike and Daniel working hard in the Iron II fortifications
Mike and Daniel working hard in the Iron II fortifications