Here is an update on my experiences with the 2011 Khirbet Qeiyafa dig.
We have made good progress in our square, with some interesting discoveries during the past two days. We should learn more when we work at the site tomorrow, but these finds are interesting. Some details below:
Quick Qeiyafa primer: For those not yet up to speed, Khirbet Qeiyafa is the Arabic name for an ancient city located along the valley where David killed Goliath. The excavators believe it to be Sha’araim, mentioned in 1 Samuel 17:52. The city dates to the late-11th or early-10th century B.C., around the time of King David’s reign over Judah and Israel, but seems to have been destroyed in an attack around one generation later. The inhabitants appear to have been Israelites based on several arguments including 1) architectural similarities with other cities in Judah, 2) an inscription which numerous scholars believe to be Hebrew, 3) and the inhabitants’ diet (no pig bones discovered after four seasons of excavation = keeping kosher?). The destroyed city was abandoned for 7 centuries until Alexander the Great came through, inaugurating the “Hellenistic” period. A new city was built and existed for around 70 years +/- in the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C. The city was peacefully abandoned and has remained in ruins ever since, with only occasional dwellings on the site.
My current square in photos:
I posted this photo previously. It shows our square shortly after we arrived. Lots of dirt with a beautiful view. The question: What lies beneath our feet? Photo by Luke Chandler.
We eventually uncovered a significant stone collapse. Good things are often trapped and preserved under a collapse. In this photo we are cleaning the stones at around 5:45 a.m. for photography after sunrise. I am in the center of the photo and my friend Jaime Restrepo is in the white t-shirt in the lower left corner. Photo by Royce Chandler.
After cleaning, a nice pile of clear stones. Notice the top row. It is the inner part of the city wall. The collapsed stones may have resulted from an attack that broke through the wall at this location but it's too early to really know. We found a couple of Iron Age (David-era) arrowheads here. Others have been found in nearby squares, lying as if fired from outside the city. Photo by Luke Chandler.
After removing the collapsed stones we clarified the city wall and found an Iron Age floor waiting for us. This floor dates from the time of King David. We have found two interesting things in it so far, but I'll save that information for another time. Photo by Luke Chandler.
This one is for my lovely wife. She had noted in a FaceBook photo that I looked too clean to be working at the site. I was in fact dustier than the FB photo indicated, but this should erase any doubt as to my willingness to jump in. Out here we all dig biblical archaeology.
One more thing… a mostly-intact bronze bowl, possibly dating from the Iron Age, was discovered yesterday just a couple of squares over from mine. It may have been hidden intentionally (possibly during an attack?) since it was discovered in a hard-to-reach place. Such an item was valuable in ancient times, and some bowls have inscriptions. Does ours have an inscription? We don’t yet know but should fairly soon. I have a photo of it in situ and will post it
if archaeologists permit very soon.
Luke holds an M.A. in Ancient and Classical History and has been an adjunct professor at Florida College in Temple Terrace, Florida. Luke and his wife Melanie have five children. He serves as a minister with the North Terrace Church of Christ and has participated in multiple archaeological excavations in Israel. Luke leads informative, meaningful tours to Europe and the Bible Lands.
You must be logged in to post a comment.