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.
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?
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.