Fourth Week of the Austro-Israeli Expedition to Lachish 2018

We finished our final week of excavations this year. Volunteers are on their way back home or travelling the country and staff will stay one last week to finish up documentation, take the finds back to Jerusalem, update tool and inventory list and do final photography and photogrammetry.

Our last week has been quite intense. In Area S, we continued to explore earlier (pre-Stratum S-3) phases and discovered an earlier building phase. In Area P, we started to excavate the Middle Bronze Age rooms of the palace and a massive Late Bronze Age pit that not only contained completely preserved pottery vessels, but also an almost complete Mycaenean straight-sided alabastron. Finds from the Middle Bronze Age palace rooms included inter alia an imported Middle Cypriot Red-on-Black bowl (the earliest import that we have so far) and fragments of stone vessels.

On 31 July, we welcomed many distinguished friends and colleagues to our Open Day, presented the highlights of our finds this year and discussed the scope and future of the project. We were honored to welcome David Ussishkin and Lily Singer-Avitz, Gunnar Lehmann from Ben Gurion University, Gili Drori and Yigal Bronner of Hebrew University, Amir Golani and Ron Be’eri from the Antiquities Authority, Avi Shoket, former Israeli ambassador to UNESCO, our dear friend Chanan Cohen from Moshav Lachish and a very special friend Menachem Neumark from Kibbutz Hazorea, who worked together with Katharina Streit in the Ein el-Jarba project.

On 1 August, we welcomed Eliezer Oren from Ben Gurion-University and had the pleasure of discussing our future plans with Tsvika Tsuk, head archaeologist of the Nature and Parks Authority. Finally, on 2 August, the very last day of excavations, we had the honor to welcome Austrian ambassador Martin Weiss and deputy ambassador Andreas Lins to the site and to present our achievements of this year.

We would like to thank our volunteers and staff for their dedicated work and four exciting weeks on Tel Lachish and we hope to welcome them back next year!

Photos by Jared Dye.

Third Week of the Austro-Israeli Expedition to Lachish 2018

We survived the heat wave of week 3 and are looking forward to our last week of excavation in this season. In Area P we opened a new square (G/11) to uncover the eastern extent of the Middle Bronze Age palatial remains and found a new early Iron Age surface in square E/10. In Area S, we found earlier (Stratum S-4) walls and continued to excavate the structural remains on the edge of the Tell.

Enjoy the time-lapse video of Area S and stay tuned for our update on the last week of our 2018 season!

Video and images by Jared Dye.

Second Week of the Austro-Israeli Expedition to Lachish 2018

The second week of our 2018 season saw some great results both in Area S and Area P. In Area S, we continued to go down from the Late Bronze Age IIA levels of the Tel Aviv University’s expedition at the westernmost squares (C/12 and D/12), and in Area P, we reached Middle Bronze Age layers in squares F/10 and G/10. We already see mud-brick walls coated with plaster in the soil of these squares which we can identify as the continuation of David Ussishkin’s Middle Bronze Age palace, and found a new entrance to the easternmost flight of rooms. Further, we continued to explore the later structures of presumably Late Bronze Age date.

Last week was rich not only in architectural features, but also in small finds. Our very first scarab was found in a context from the end of the Late Bronze Age, and in Area P, we unearthed a completely preserved Late Bronze Age chalice. Further, on the plastered floor of the Middle Bronze Age palace we found the charred remains of a wooden beam, carefully retrieved by Lyndelle for further analysis. Other complete vessel shapes, mostly from Area P include bowls and lamps, we continue to uncover substantial amounts of Cypriot White Slip and Base Ring imports, and, for the first time, fragments of Red Lustrous Wheel-Made Ware spindle bottles.

Our afternoons are busy with pottery reading, marking and drawing and special thanks go to Miroslav Pleska for his awesome drawings of our best pieces. In the evening, staff members give lectures about their current work in the project.

We are very much looking forward to our next week and hope for nice finds, especially when we start to excavate the continuation of the Middle Bronze Age palace rooms in Area P!

Images by Jared Dye, Vanessa Becker, and Felix Höflmayer

 

First week of the Austro-Israeli Expedition to Lachish 2018

Our team has arrived and we have concluded our first week in the field. We are happy to work with a highly motivated international group from thirteen different countries, including Austria, Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The excavation in Area S continues and we opened four new squares east of Area P, north-east of the Judean palace-fort. In the first days we set up shadecloths in both areas, removed the topsoil and the erosion from the last year and went straight down on archaeological remains.

In Area P, square F/10, we already excavated some walls of presumably Late Bronze Age date (Stratum P-2?), which were documented photogrammetrically. In Area S, excavation of Strata S-2 and S-3 continued, the finely laminated ashy layers of S-2 being rich in pottery finds including Cypriot imports such as White Slip Ware and Base Ring Ware and also an almoste complete Late Bronze Age bowl and S-3 yielding the continuation of previously excavated walls.

In the afternoons, we worked in our camp in Sheqef and set up an efficient process for pottery reading, marking and drawing. Square and area supervisors worked at the same time on 3d-models and photogrammetry and we experiment with daily digital top plans.

We were also happy to welcome Prof. Michael Hasel from the Southern Adventist University and former co-director of the Fourth Expedition to Lachish, to show him our current work and discuss Middle and Late Bronze Age chronology.

We are very much looking forward to our second week and will keep you updated on our progress and finds.

Tel Lachish 2018: The last weeks before the excavation

We are very much looking forward to our upcoming second excavation season at Tel Lachish. This year, we will continue to excavate in Area S in order to reach the transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age. Additionally, we will open new squares in Area P, next to where the Tel Aviv University’s expedition under David Ussishkin uncovered the Middle Bronze Age palace.

The last weeks have been extremely busy for all of us. Our new (used) shipping container has been delivered to the Albright Institute, our current homebase for the project, Felix joined the Austrian delegation of the visit of the Austrian Chancellor Sebastan Kurz and the Minister of Education, Science and Research Heinz Faßmann to the State of Israel and met with a delegation of Hebrew University, among them Katharina Streit, Ilan Sharon and Katja Cytryn-Silverman.

Our core team arrived on 30 June and 1 July and while Katharina and Felix restocked tools and supplies, Lyndelle Webster, Ann-Kathrin Jeske and Vanessa Becker went for a brief visit to Tel Dan to check for potential radiocarbon dates with David Ilan and Aaron Burke. On 3rd of June, we welcomed our new square supervisors and prepared the site for excavation, rescued a chamaeleon, set up the excavation’s office in our accommodation in Sheqef and tested our new drone.

Besides preparing the excavation areas, on Thursday, Katharina and Felix joined a reception marking the beginning of the Austrian EU-Presidency in the Austrian Ambassador’s Residence hosted by Ambassador Martin Weiss and on Saturday the whole team joined the traditional 4th of July BBQ hosted by the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research.

We finished the preparations for an exciting excavation season. Tomorrow, on July 8th, volunteers from many different countries all over Europe and North America will join us on our second season of the Austro-Israeli Expedition to Lachish.

 

Tracing Transformations at the Radiocarbon Conference in Trondheim

Lyndelle Webster is currently representing Tracing Transformations at the 23rd International Radiocarbon Conference in Trondheim (Norway). Lyndelle presents new radiocarbon results for Late Bronze Age Lachish and Azekah and we are very much looking forward to get new samples in our upcoming season!

Drones over Tel Lachish

 

Last week, Matthew J. Adams of the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research helped us to conduct a drone survey of Tel Lachish. The DJI Mavic Pro Platinum drone took over 1000 high-resolution aerial pictures, and using Agisoft PhotoScan, a detailed, geo-referenced 3D-model of the site was created. This model helps connecting past, current and future excavations.

Check out the 3d-model and enjoy a bird’s-eye view of Tel Lachish (be sure to turn on the sound!).

 

We are most grateful to Matt Adams, the Albright Institute, and the Jezreel Valley Regional Project for sharing their technical knowhow and equipment!