Lecture to be followed by a barbecue dinner, sponsored by OREA, the Austrian Academy of Sciences
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The Austro-Israeli Expedition to Lachish: First Results after Two Seasons of Excavations
Felix Höflmayer, Research Group Leader, Institute of Oriental and European Archaeology, Austrian Academy of Sciences
Katharina Streit, Post-Doctoral Researcher, The Martin Buber Society of Fellows in the Humanities and Social Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
In 2017, a joint team of researchers from Hebrew University, the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and University of Vienna have started new excavations at Tel Lachish as part of the project ‘Tracing Transformations in the Southern Levant’ hosted by the Austrian Academy of Sciences. The project focuses on the Middle-Late Bronze Age transition, exploring chronological aspects, material culture and political history of this major site in the Shephelah.
In the first two seasons 2017 and 2018, two excavation areas on the western slope (Area S) and north of the Judean palace/fort (Area P) were explored. First results include substantial architectural remains from several phases within the Late Bronze Age phases of Area S, the continuation of the late Middle Bronze Age palace in Area P, and a rich assemblage of both local and important pottery and small finds.
This lecture summarizes first results and discusses them in light of the prevalent historical narrative of Egyptian-Levantine connections. Finally, open research questions of the project, as well as the excavation strategy for future seasons 2019 and 2020 will be outlined.
Many thanks to all our team members, especially to Miroslav Pleska, Anna Gosden, Ann-Kathrin Jeske, Vanessa Becker, and Agnes Woitzuck; and many thanks to Viktor Schaider (camera), Uros Zuraj (camera assistent), and Christoph Petrik (director) from Querschuss Film for making this possible!
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.