Pottery Provenience at Tell es-Safi/Gath

Quite a while back you asked me something about pottery during your period.  There is apparently quite a bit of data on it, mainly coming from Tel es-Safi (Gath).  Most of the detail on it is membership or paywall protected, but here’s a general overview that will give you some general insight into what’s been found and how it’s been analyzed.

New article on pottery provenience at Tell es-Safi/Gath

As I mentioned a few days ago, “we are on a roll!” In last few days/weeks, quite a few popular and scholarly publications have appeared that deal with the finds from the dig.

Today, I would like to briefly mention the following recently published article:

Ben-Shlomo, D., Maeir, A.M., and Mommsen, H. 2007 [in press]. Neutron Activation and Petrographic Analysis of Selected Late Bronze and Iron Age Pottery from Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel. Journal of Archaeological Science 35.


The article, which has appeared online at the site of the Journal of Archaeological Science, is a study on the origin (provenience) of a selected group of pottery finds from Tell es-Safi/Gath, dating from the Late Bronze, Iron Age I and Iron Age II (for those of you with online access to JAS, the article appears here). The study combines Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis (INAA) with Thin Section Petrographic Analysis (TSPA) to determine the origin of these objects. Basically, each method enables us to determine the composition of these objects and to determine if they are locally made, and if not, attempt to ID where they originate from.

The study was carried out by David Ben-Shlomo (who has done quite a lot of petrographic analyses of finds from Tell es-Safi/Gath and just published a book on the decorated Philistine pottery), Hans Mommsen (a physisist, an expert on INAA from Bonn) and myself.

Among the various objects that were examined we can mention the following:

1) A Mycenanean sherd from the Late Bronze Age – the production location was somewhere in the Argolid, Greece.

2) A Syrian-Style, Late Bronze Age figurine, which is locally produced in the region of Tell es-Safi/Gath.

dscf0001.jpg The LB, Syrian-Style figurine from Tell es-Safi/Gath

3) A Phoenician-style, fluted bowl, dating to the late Iron Age IIA, is locally-made as well.

4) A sherd of a unique, proto-geometric Greek vessel, dating to the 10th cent. BCE – possibly the earliest imported proto-Geometric vessel in the Levant.

5) A Late Bronze Age sherd with an incised Hieratic Egyptian inscription, has been shown to be locally-made as well.

hieratic_temp.jpg The LB local sherd with an incised Egyptian Hieratic inscription

This study, which combines a variety of analytic procedures, has provided some very interesting and important results. It serves as an excellent example of the inter- and multi-disciplinary facets of modern archaeological research, and how all archaeological research should be conducted today. Needless to say, as I have mentioned often before, we are trying to implement a wide range of such inter-disciplinary work in the Tell es-Safi/Gath excavations.


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