Thank you for a great first season!

We finished our fourth and last week of the Austro-Israeli Expedition to Lachish. We continued our deep section next to our massive Late Bronze Age Phase S-3 building in Square C/9, uncovering more courses of the foundation, currently standing approximately 1.7 m high. Further, we were able to uncover wall remains of an even earlier phase, currently termed S-4. Pottery retrieved from baskets next to our new S-4 wall contained predominantly Late Bronze Age I pottery, but also occasional Middle Cypriot White Painted imports, Middle Bronze Age cooking pots and double handles, substantiating our expectation for Middle/Late Bronze Age transitional levels below. A younger pit in the C/9-C/8 baulk contained a broken capital similar to those found in the Egyptian Acropolis Temple. Lyndelle took last short-lived samples for radiocarbon analysis, which will be analyzed in September in Groningen in cooperation with Michael Dee.

We are thankful for four exciting weeks excavating at Tel Lachish. We are grateful to the Israel Antiquities Authority and its director Israel Hasson as well as to the Nature and Parks Authority and its chief archaeologist Tsvika Tsuk for their support and advice. We would also like to thank the former excavator of Tel Lachish David Ussishkin for his encouragement and company. Further, we felt honored by the interest and support of the Embassy of Israel to Austria and its Deputy Head of Mission Hadas Wittenberg Silverstein and the Austrian Embassy in Israel and its Ambassador Martin Weiss.

Special thanks go to Ilan Sharon from Hebrew University of Jerusalem for his advice and support of this project.

Further, we would like to acknowledge the hard work of all our staff and volunteers who stayed with us for our first season, we very much enjoyed having you around and we very much hope to welcome you back in the future.

Photos by Jellie to whom we are most grateful for his work and commitment!

Tel Lachish Open Dig Day 2017

Yesterday we had the honor to host the first open dig day of the Austro-Israeli Expedition to Lachish. For the past 3 weeks, we excavated Late Bronze Age remains in David Ussishkin’s Area S and we were honored to welcome many friends and colleagues to the site to show them our progress. We were especially happy to welcome the Austrian ambassador Martin Weiss, the director of the Israel, the chief archaeologist of the Nature and Parks Authority Tsvika Tsuk, Ilan Sharon, Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and, most importantly, David Ussishkin, Professor emeritus of Tel Aviv University, former incumbent of the Austria Chair for Archaeology of the Land of Israel in the Biblical Period and excavator of Tel Lachish from 1973 to 1994. Also other colleagues who were involved in the expedition of Tel Aviv University and published in the five volume end report followed our invitation, such as Eli Yannai, Yehuda Dagan, and Lily Singer-Avitz, and we used the opportunity to discuss with them future excavation strategies and had fruitful discussions about the local and imported pottery excavated during the season. We would also thank Dothan Traubman for his invaluable logistical support and are looking forward to a next open dig day in the coming season 2018.

Third week of the Austro-Israeli Expedition to Lachish

The third week of excavation has been successfully completed. We went down in several squares next to the substantial Phase S-3 building and started a deep probe in C/9 to reach the earlier levels. Fragments of Late Bronze Age I cooking pots have already been uncovered and we hope to get more early Late Bronze Age material this coming week. In the westernmost Square C/11, a smashed Late Bronze storage jar in a corner of the building complex next to the substantial Phase S-3 building has been uncovered and north of some enigmatic wall remains in C/8, we uncovered a thick plastered floor. Finds included more Cypriot White Slip and Base Ring material and our first Mycenaean import from a stratified context. Continuing her work focusing on radiocarbon sampling, Lyndelle took in situ Phase S-2 sediment blocks from the southern section of D/11 for micromorphological analysis. We are very much looking forward to our fourth and final week of excavation and will keep you updated on our progress!

Photos by Jellie.

Second week of the Austro-Israeli Expedition to Lachish

Our second week of excavations in Area S has been completed. We continued cleaning the wall of a substantial building of Stratum S-3 (Late Bronze II) and started excavating two additional walls that seem to pre-date the S-3 phase. Lyndelle sampled additional contexts preserved in the old baulks of the previous excavation that originally were interpreted as threshing floors, rich in short-lived material for radiocarbon dating, and started retrieving a cedar (?) beam from the Lachish Level VII destruction visible in the southern section of Square D/11, which will be analyzed by Brita Lorentzen (Cornell University) later this year. This beam might be suitable for wiggle-matching and could potentially serve as a terminus post quem for the destruction of Level VII.

Finds included more fragments of Cypriot White Slip and Base Ring imports, one rare neck fragment of a Black Lustrous Wheel-Made Ware juglet from a Stratum S-2 context, and two imported Egyptian Nile B2 body sherds (unfortunately without any context).

We also welcomed several visitors, local and from abroad, such as Ilan Sharon (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Aaron Burke (University of California, Los Angeles), Aaron Greener (Albright Institute), Paula Phillips (University of Melbourne), Nadia Knudsen (Tel Aviv University and University College London), and Eli Yannai (Israel Antiquities Authority) to whom we are most grateful for his advice on excavation strategy and Late Bronze Age pottery analysis.

On Friday, volunteers and staff went on a well-deserved trip to Jaffa, visited the Egyptian gate complex of the Late Bronze Age, excavated by the Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project directed by Aaron Burke and Martin Peilstöcker (see their preliminary report here), and enjoyed the beach and the old city of Jaffa in the afternoon.

We are very much looking forward to our third week of excavation, and will keep you updated in our next blog post next week.

Photos by Jellie

First week of the Austro-Israeli Expedition to Lachish

Our first week of our first campaign to Tel Lachish is over. Almost 30 volunteers and staff from 14 different countries and 3 continents began cleaning and excavation of David Ussishkin’s (Tel Aviv University) Area S on the western edge of the Tel. Here, the former expedition excavated down to Stratum S-3, dateable to the Late Bronze Age IIA. So far, we cleared two squares down to the Stratum S-3 walls and we will continue to go down in the next week. Our squares are in the capable hands of Ann-Kathrin Jeske and Vanessa Becker (both University of Vienna), while Lyndelle Webster (Austrian Academy of Sciences) is sampling the area for short-lived material suitable for radiocarbon dating. Week 1 also presented us with some nice imports and small finds, such as Cypriot White Slip Ware, Mycenaean pottery, some beads, and one possible Assyrian sling stone of the 701 BC siege by Sennacherib.

Photos by Jellie