After three years we are back in the field! After a great season back in 2019 we returned with a highly motivated team to Tel Lachish and our new accommodation is in a wonderful 18th century AD Ottoman building in Kibbutz Bet Guvrin. First, the most important thing. The dig house is next door to this:
Rubbing occurs. In great quantity. Doggie heaven ensues.
After several days filled with logistics which included retrieving tools (and a wooden box of a Sacher cake for small finds) from our shipping container at the W.F. Albright Institute in Jerusalem, we started our fourth season at Lachish on 17 August 2022.
The season began, as such seasons tend to do, with gardening. By which I mean that twenty-or-so highly educated people with MAs and PhDs spent a day clearing weeds. It’s been three years since the last season at Lachish (bloody virus!) and so the area of work this time – Area P – was covered with a veritable forest of what we assume is carnivorous grass.
The squares that the team worked in 2019 had suffered a predictable degree of deterioration due to weathering, and this too had to be cleared, including the removal of vegetation and the eviction of wildlife, which included scorpions, snakes, praying mantises, crickets, ants, centipedes, and spiders. But we also made new friends, especially with a tortoise we named Herbert.
By now Area P looks like an archaeological site again, and in the coming weeks will come to resemble a series of artfully constructed ditches. The plan is to dig stuff, find stuff, identify connections between stuff, and hopefully not put pick-axes through too much stuff. There’s an Iron Age feature to examine, connections between Bronze Age walls to clarify, and dirt to shift via bucket chains in 35° heat.
We are happy to announce that after a two year break we will be back in the field this summer! The excavation will take place July 18th to August 11th 2022. An open day is foreseen for August 9th 2022. We will be excavating mainly in Area P, north of the Judean Palace, continuing to uncover the earlier phase of the Middle Bronze Age palace structure, as well as exploring yet to be understood Iron Age IIA features in the same area. Additionally, the potential of geomagnetic imaging will be tested, and an architectural survey aims to contextualize results especially of the British expedition to Tel Lachish and will help to achieve a more detailed understanding of already excavated features at the site.
Due to travel restrictions and still very unpredictable situation as result of the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak, we feel unfortunately forced to cancel our excavation season for 2020. We hope that all our staff and volunteers are safe and are looking forward to seeing you all the next season foreseen for July/August 2021.
It’s ASOR time again! Don’t miss our two sessions on Saturday, 23 November 2019 at 2:00-4:05pm and 4:20-6:25pm at the Emerald Ballroom at the Westin San Diego!
CHAIRS: Felix Höflmayer (Austrian Academy of Sciences) and Katharina Streit (The
Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
PRESENTERS: 2:00: Introduction 2:05: Katharina Streit (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and Felix Höflmayer (Austrian Academy of Sciences), “The Austrian-Israeli Expedition to Tel Lachish—Results from Three Seasons of Excavation” 2:30: Lyndelle Webster (Austrian Academy of Sciences), “The Middle to Late Bronze Age
Transition from a 14C Perspective: The Contribution of the Tracing Transformations
Project” 2:55: Vanessa Becker (University of Vienna), “Beyond Scarabs—Regional and Interregional Seal Production in the Levant during the Middle and Late Bronze Ages” 3:20: Felix Höflmayer (Austrian Academy of Sciences), “A New Historical Model for the
Transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age” 3:45: General Discussion
4:20: Introduction 4:25: Susan Cohen (Montana State University) and Jana Mynářová (Charles University),
“Context and Text: The Epigraphic Evidence for the Middle–Late Bronze Age Transition
in the Southern Levant” 4:50: Jana Mynářová (Charles University) and Susan Cohen (Montana State University), “Text and Context: The Epigraphic Evidence for the Middle–Late Bronze Age Transition in the Southern Levant” 5:15: Ann-Kathrin Jeske (University of Vienna), “wA.t-Hr.w, DAhj, rTnw, xt mfkA.t:
Different Region, Different Strategy? Egyptian Functionaries in the Southern Levant and
on the Sinai Peninsula during the 18th Dynasty” 5:40: Wolfgang Zwickel (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz), “Low Chronology in
Galilee? The Thutmosis III List and the Settlement History” 6:05: General Discussion
Since 2017, a joint team of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and Hebrew University of Jerusalem are excavating at Tel Lachish. A key aim of the excavation is to gain a better understanding of the Middle and Late Bronze Age at the site. Two excavation areas, Area P in the northern, and Area S in the western part of the site are currently being excavated.
Felix Höflmayer studied Egyptology and Archaeology at the University of Vienna and joined the Austrian Academy of Sciences in 2006, working on his PhD in the framework of the SCIEM 2000 project and graduated in 2010. Felix teaches at the Institute of Old Testament Studies and Biblical Archaeology, the Institute of Oriental Studies, and the Institute of Egyptology at the University of Vienna and serves as an editorial board member of the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research.
Katharina Streit is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Martin Buber Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, researching development and changes in material culture from the Middle to the Late Bronze Ages. She co-directs the Tel Lachish excavations with Felix Höflmayer and Ilan Sharon.
Lyndelle Webster is currently a PhD candidate of the University of Vienna and Area Supervisor of Area S. Lyndelle comes to the project from Australia, with a multi-disciplinary background in physics, engineering and archaeology. Her research interests lie at the intersection of these disciplines.
…And that’s a wrap! Thursday marked the end of our 2019 season at Tel Lachish with our excellent volunteers leaving us on Friday morning to either begin their journey home, to start a tour of the country, or even head straight to another project! We made sure they were busy in their final week though with a lecture given by Jared and Lyndelle on Tuesday night about our digital documentation system. Meanwhile Katharina gave a presentation about our current excavation at Moshav Lachish. Wednesday was our Open Day which was very successful with a large turnout from many colleagues within academia as well as friends from throughout the country including the Austrian Ambassador Martin Weiss, who after three years will not be returning to Tel Lachish as he moves on to Washington D.C. at the end of this year, as well as Consul Johannes Korherr and Cultural Attaché Arno Mitterdorfer. On Thursday night, after our last day of excavating, we held our traditional end of season barbeque which was enjoyed by all.
In addition to our open day we had a lot of visitors to site during our last week. These included Angelika Berlejung from the University of Leipzig, Gunnar Lehmann from Ben Gurion University, Manfred Oeming who is from the University of Heidelberg and is the co-director of the Lautenschläger Azekah Expedition, Tsvika Tsuk who is the head archaeologist of the Israel Nature and Park Authority, Eliezer Oren professor emeritus of Ben Gurion University, Aren Maeir from Bar-Ilan University and the excavation director of Tell es-Safi/Gath, and Omri Barzilay from the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Despite how busy our week was socially we managed to have a very productive and exciting week of archaeology. We reached floor levels in the Middle Bronze Age palace in Area P and in the early Late Bronze Age in Area S. In typical excavation style Area S also had some great small finds in the last few days of digging. They found not one but two scarabs and as if that was not enough they also found a hieratic inscribed bowl fragment. Perhaps less glamorous but just as interesting, over in Area P the Iron Age retaining wall is getting bigger – we stopped excavating for the season at c. 2.20 m!
This season was a success and lots of fun but now it’s time to begin our staff week, finish documentation, take last aerial pictures, prepare walls and features for conservation and finally start planning next year!