Initial Pottery Results from Khirbet Arai

A new excavation at Khirbet Arai, an ancient site some 40 miles (61 km) SW of Jerusalem, may produce new data on the origins of the Philistines. I posted previously on some early test pit finds by excavators Yosef Garfinkel and Saar Ganor. They have now completed a new two-week excavation.

Khirbet Arai is less than 2 miles from Lachish, a well-known city in both Biblical studies and Archaeology. The history of these two sites likely correspond in some way. Results from Khirbet Arai may illuminate our understanding of Lachish, particularly during the transition from Canaanite to Judahite habitation. Its location along the Judah/Philistine border may provide insights into the Philistines’ arrival into Canaan and their relationship with the later Kingdom of Judah.

Garfinkel and Ganor have allowed me to share results of the initial pottery reading from their recent two-week season. Below are five photos from the ceramic assemblage with analysis from the excavation staff.

Ninth century BC handles with figure-impression. At Khirbet Qeiyafa 693 handles were found, but most of them had only one impression.

Ninth century BC handles with finger-impressions. At Khirbet Qeiyafa 693 handles were found, but most of them had only one impression. (Courtesy of Khirbet Arai Expedition)

Group of pottery from the early 11th century BC building.

Pottery assemblage from the early 11th century BC building. (Courtesy of Kh. Arai Expedition)

Pottery sherds decorated with classical Philistine painted style.

Pottery sherds decorated with classical Philistine painted style. (Courtesy of Kh. Arai Expedition)

A pottery sherd with classical Philistine spiral motif.

A pottery sherd with classical Philistine spiral motif. (Courtesy of Kh. Arai Expedition)

A pottery sherd with the classical Philistine bi-chrome painted style.

A pottery sherd with the classical Philistine bi-chrome painted style. (Courtesy of Kh. Arai Expedition)

Aren Maeir, director of the Tel es-Safi/Gath excavation project, posted a comment on my earlier post regarding the painted ware from Khirbet Arai. It will be interesting to see how this discussion develops.

The “finger-impressed” handles in the first photo above struck me in their similarity to the hundreds of similar handles found at late-11th/early 10th century BC Khirbet Qeiyafa, as the caption notes. Will we gain further insights into this phenomenon?

Late-11/early-10 century BC finger-impressed handles from Khirbet Qeiyafa. (Courtesy of Khirbet Qeiyafa excavation)

Late-11/early-10 century BC finger-impressed handles from Khirbet Qeiyafa. (Courtesy of Khirbet Qeiyafa excavation)

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About LukeChandler

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 in English and Spanish with the North Terrace Church of Christ and participates annually in archaeological excavations in Israel. Luke also leads tours to Europe and the Bible Lands.
This entry was posted in archaeologists, General Archaeology, Khirbet Arai, Khirbet Qeiyafa, Lachish, New Discoveries, Philistines and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Initial Pottery Results from Khirbet Arai

  1. arenmaeir says:

    Luke – now this looks much more like it. The pottery looks very similar to the mid and late Iron I and early Iron IIA pottery from Safi, including the handles with finger impressions (which are definitely not unique to Qeiyafa – they appear at other sites in Philistia and the Shephela). What I don’t see so far (although it is only one picture of a part of the pottery…) is 9th cent pottery. The photo you say is 9th cent looks more like the phase before the 9th at Safi.
    In general, the character of the pottery is VERY similar to that of Safi, and tentatively (again, not based on actually seeing the materials first hand), I would think that a close connection between Safi and this new site, Kh. Arai, is worth checking out.

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