As we noted – several of us were in the Galilee this weekend and we were able to catch a few of the other many archaeological projects in action. We visited the very interesting second temple (and later) site of el-Araj – which they suggest (and I am inclined to agree) is a much better candidate for the New Testament site of Bethsaida. Dr. Steven Notley gave us a very interesting talk on the various things that they have uncovered there including a Byzantine church and an Early Roman bathhouse. They also have a lot interesting evidence related to the level of the Sea of Galilee at various points.
After visiting el-Araj, we went to Megiddo just in time to catch a tour led by Dr. Matt Adams (one of the directors of the project) that covered various topics including the so-called Iron II stables, the unbelievable Early Bronze I temple, and many other topics – this was also a fascinating lecture that engaged a number of other historical periods in the Jezreel Valley. It was also very cool to see the Megiddo expedition renew the excavation of the very controversial (so-called) Solomonic six-chambered gate – needless to say there will be much discussion on this in the coming months and years.
Today – at the tel we were joined by a number of new participants and work continued in all areas.
In A2 – there is more and more evidence of at least two Iron IIB/8th century BCE phases and Debi is beginning to get down to the 9th century level where there is a very large pavement. They also had a very nice mini juglet come up as a complete vessel.
In B2 – the work continues in the 11th/early 10th century destruction – more vessels, lots of charcoal, and a very nice chalice. At the top of the section – Aharon is beginning to move down through the floor of the casemate wall/room to get down to earlier layers that should run up next to the inside of the fortification wall – this will hopefully allow us to provide a date of construction for the fortification wall – which up until now we can say was clearly used in the 9th and 8th centuries BCE. Here is a look at the area from this afternoon’s tour of the site by the Tell es-Safi/Gath team led by Profs. Aren Maeir, Jeff Chadwick and Brent Davis.
In C – Ian and Benjamin are almost finished with a square near the agricultural installations – interestingly in this area the pottery indicates that it was used during e Early Bronze and Middle Bronze – as well as in the Late Bronze and Iron II (the two dominant periods at the site).
In G – we are progressing through a very large collapse of stones – hopefully we will be able to get through it and have some clarity with regards to the Iron II casemate wall which seems to have joined the presumed gate in this area – we are removing a balk or two tomorrow – so we might find out more.
We also were visited today by Prof. Michael Hasel of Southern Adventists University and co-director of the Lachish Excavation (finished last season).