Ariel Workshop – Archaeology Life Science and Environment – June 14-15

Posted on

Itzick and Oren Ackermann have arranged an important workshop at Ariel University on the archaeology of life science and the environment. There are a number of papers/presentations dealing with materials from Tel Burna. The booklet is at the following link abstracts booklet – June 14-15.

Here is an excerpt:

The science of archeology does not stand on its own, but is a part of the triangle of Archaeology, Life Sciences and Environment. Advancements in the methodology and technology of the natural sciences, and their integration into the study of archaeology, enable us to glean rich information from the earth that is not obvious to the naked eye. Such information is preserved in various remains such as materials within ceramic shards, charred remains, bone remains and sediments in the layers of archaeological sites. Analysis of these remains allows for sophisticated insights into issues such as the diet of ancient humans and animals, the utilization of raw materials, soil fertilization material, and more.

In addition, archaeological research appreciates that the ancient site is not an isolated island; rather, it is an integral part of the landscape system around it. Research, therefore, has expanded into the environs around the sites, areas where ancient human activities took place on a daily basis, as well as areas where significant events in human cultural history occurred.

All of this has left its mark on environmental landscape history, as expressed in the development of anthropogenic landscapes. In fact, human activities over the past thousands of years have become an integral part of the landscape system today.

Social and landscape systems have undergone cycles of prosperity and decay for generations. Understanding and

analyzing these processes in the deep time perspective enables the development of insights for models of sustainability in future human environmental systems. Hence, the combination of archaeology, life science and environment in the study of the past is of great importance for planning the future.

A broad range of topics dealing with archaeological finds, human activity, life science methods and environment will be explored during this two-day workshop. The first day will be comprised of five sessions held at Ariel University. The second day will be a field tour of the Shephelah and Judean Mountain regions, during which will present and explore some of the methods and research questions which are the focus of this workshop.

We would like to thank all of the participants and speakers at this workshop, for their contribution and sharing of their knowledge and ideas. We also want to thank Ariel University and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space of the State of Israel for the generous funding they provided which enabled this exciting workshop to be held.

Wishing you an enjoyable, insightful and engaging workshop!

Dr. Itzhaq Shai
Dr. Oren Ackermann Ariel University June, 2017

Here are some related papers about Burna or by Burnaites (or Libnites 🙂


Tel tail comparisons: settlement size, location and consumption patterns through the metal ages – Jane Gaastra (UCL), Tina Jongsma-Greenfield (University of Manitoba)

Anthropogenic soils as cultural heritage and nutrient hotspots: a dialogue between Archaeology and Ecology – Ladislav Šmejda (Czech University of Life Sciences)

Development of flax cultivation and linen textile production in Bronze and Iron Age Palestine – Andrea Orendi (Tübingen University)

Reconstructing landscape and hydroclimatic constraints on agriculture at Tel Burna and environs – Kathleen Nicoll (University of Utah)


Pottery Restoration Video by Leah

Posted on

Check out this video of Leah restoring different vessels from Tel Burna – this short clip gives some examples of how pottery restorers put “humpty-dumpty back together again” 🙂

Nice work Leah (and Studio Jackie)!

Excavation Grid 2017

Posted on

There is still time left to sign up for this summer’s excavation at Tel Burna. The deadline is June 1! Don’t miss your chance to discover remains from the time of the Canaanites and Judahites!

We are excited to be working in several areas this season – Area A2 (going for 9th century and hopefully earlier centuries this year!), Area B1 (Late Bronze Temple), Area B2 (fortifications and metallurgical area), Area C (agricultural installations), and a new area – Area T (the mystery area 🙂

Take a look at the grid plan (below)

Hope you can join us!

burna grid large


Registration Deadline Extended to June 1

Posted on

We have extended the registration deadline for signing up to participate in this summer’s season at Tel Burna to June 1. This season promises to have very interesting discoveries – as we will be continuing to excavate a Canaanite temple, a metallurgical complex, the enigmatic fortifications (that may be earlier than we previously thought), and earlier Iron Age levels from the 9th and maybe 10th centuries BC on the summit of the tell.

If you have been waiting to sign-up – here’s your chance! The excavation application can be found here.

2014 Season Min with a complete Iron IIB bowl

Another New Article on Tel Burna

Posted on

A new article by  Šmejda, L.; Hickman, M.; Horák, A.; and Shai, I. dealing with the analysis of the “accumulation of nutrients in archaeological soils” at Tel Burna has just appeared in Catena. You can access the paper here. Way to go!

Here is the abstract:

“Human settlement activities are connected with the accumulation of nutrients in archaeological soils. We address the question of whether the large-scale mapping of the elemental composition of the topsoil in contemporary rangeland can be used for the detection of ancient settlement activities.

Using portable X-ray fluorescence (pXRF), we mapped the elemental composition of contemporary soils over an area of 67 ha in and around the Bronze and Iron Age settlement of Tel Burna (identified as probably corresponding with biblical Libnah).

Ancient settlement activities substantially increased concentrations of nutrients (P, K, S, Zn and Cu) in the contemporary topsoil owing to the deposition of biomass ashes and organic wastes. Increased concentrations of elements were detected 2500 years after the site was abandoned and we can therefore suppose that changes in the elemental composition of the soil caused by ancient settlement activities are irreversible on a timescale in which human societies operate. Ancient settlement activities increased concentrations of nutrients in contemporary soil to the same level as recent intensive fertiliser application on an adjacent arable field used for vegetable production. Concentrations of nutrients higher than those on the tell summit were recorded only in recent cattle resting areas with intensive deposition of cattle faeces. Changes in the elemental composition of the soil caused by ancient settlement activities consequently result in differential nutrient availability for contemporary vegetation, affecting ecosystem functions for thousands of years. Using pXRF, large-scale mapping of the elemental composition of the topsoil layer at archaeological sites can help to identify the extent and provide basic information on the character of past human activities in the affected landscape units.”

XRF - Michael at Burna

The Full Reference:

 Šmejda, L.; Hickman, M.; Horák, A.; and Shai, I. 2017. “Ancient settlement activities as important sources of nutrients (P, K, S, Zn and Cu) in Eastern Mediterranean ecosystems – the case of biblical Tel Burna, Israel.” Catena (156) 62-73.

New Article on Iron II at Tel Burna

Posted on

We are pleased to announce that a new article has just appeared in O. Lipschits and A.M. Maeir (eds.) “…as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the Shephelah” (I Kings 10:2) Recent Archaeological Research in the Shephelah of Judah: The Iron Age. Eisenbrauns: Winona Lake, Indiana. This paper (authored by Itzick) deals with the nature of Tel Burna during the Iron II.

The full reference is below:

Shai, I. 2017. Tel Burna – A Judahite Fortified Town in the Shephelah. Pp. 45-60 in O. Lipschits and A.M. Maeir (eds.) “…as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the Shephelah” (I Kings 10:2) Recent Archaeological Research in the Shephelah of Judah: The Iron Age. Eisenbrauns: Winona Lake, Indiana.

Way to go Itzick!

Spring Visit to the Tel

Posted on

Last week, Itzick and Debi visited the tel with Prof. Steve Ortiz of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and co-director of the Tel Gezer excavations (Tandy Institute). Besides discussing the remains at the site and enjoying the spring vegetation, they also discussed the possibility of future collaboration at Burna with the Tandy Institute.