Barnea Levi Selavan is a Rabbi, Tour Guide, Lecturer and Educator who has been associated with excavations in Jerusalem. He is a part of Foundation Stone, an educational organization focused on Jewish Culture and the Land of Israel. Dr. Yusef Garfinkel, who is excavating Khirbet Qeiyafa (aka the Elah Fortress) invited Foundation Stone to help develop the excavation site for educators and visitors.
Mr. Selavan contacted me on this blog in regard to my November 17 post on Khirbet Qeiyafa.
I am a codirector of the development project at Elah Fortress. I appreciate your caution in coming to conclusions. Prof Garfinkel is quite sure of [its identification as the city of Shaaraim], for many reasons. Either way the dating is well grounded, from the pottery typology and the carbon-14 dating of burnt olive pits in the destruction layer context. Dr Haggai Misgav is hard at work on reading the ostracon. We all await further developments. We will also be preserving and restoring the first gate so the public can walk through it.
I also posted on Khirbet Qeiyafa here. This excavation has generated a lot of interest due to 1) its dating to the time of King David in the Iron Age, (around 1000 B.C) and 2) the discovery of what is said to be the oldest Hebrew inscription yet found.
In regard to the first point, a number of scholars have expressed doubt about the existence of an Israelite kingdom of any note during that period. The reason for their conclusion has been a lack of extant material evidence, such as inscriptions or monumental buildings, that supports the existence of a powerful Israelite monarchy. The Elah Fortress has rekindled the debate, being too large to have been constructed by (or to defend against) a weak political/military entity.
As for the inscription, it consists of 50 ink letters on an ostracon (pottery fragment). Publication of the inscription is pending, as Barnea Selavan mentioned above, but it could prove insightful into the culture and politics of that time. Regardless of what it says, its age and rarity make it highly significant.
Dr. Garfinkel and his team are planning further excavations this summer. It will be interesting to see what develops.
Here is a promotional video on the excavation from Foundation Stone. Hope you enjoy.