Operation on Renewing “Saga” Well in the Works

I am still confused on where in the Garden Tomb property BeckaAire’s videos were taken, and am working on writing a transcript of the relevant parts. See partially updated post here. If I find where those videos were taken, I will find where the “original” (not “first”; I know where that is) excavation took place.

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Reconstructing Samaria/Sebaste

The upper city (better, platform) of Samaria is well known. It is a sizeable platform built in the 8th century BC by either Joash or Jeroboam, as argued by Norma Franklin. However, its lower city, being unexcavated, provoked little analysis. Recently, Israel Finkelstein proposed that this lower city was bounded by the earthworks (which look like roads from Google Earth). Considering these earthworks’ size, Samaria was rather small and surprisingly compact, being hard to take by siege. Using the maps here and here, we can reconstruct the upper and lower city of Samaria as thus:

As we can see, as at Lachish (whose hill is shaped quite a bit differently), a vast “palace-fort” dominated over the modest “city proper”. However, at Lachish, no vast fill was made to make the palace-fort dominant. It seems as though Samaria was equally city and administrative center.

Finkelstein Shown Right Once Again

A petrographic analysis has shown the Negevite pottery did not come from the Southern Negev Highlands, but from the Northern Negev and Feinan. Effectively proof of Finkelstein’s contention that the Tel Masos chiefdom, under the influence of Gaza’s demand for copper, was responsible for the settling down of pastoralists, who began to work at the Nahas and Feinan mines, leaving behind the seasonal Negevite sites? You decide.

Speculations on the Qeiyafa Polity, and its Possible Conquest by Gath

The Qeiyafa Polity (my name) is a Late Iron I (late 11th C BC, extending into 10th; c. 1030-c. 970 BC; note that Late Iron I extends to c. 940 BC) non-Philistine polity proposed in several areas of the scholarly community. It was briefly mentioned in my previous post on Qeiyafa. The polity extended to Beth-Shemesh in the North, where pottery similar to that of Qeiyafa was found. Judging by Qeiyafa’s gates, the capital of the kingdom was likely at Socoh or Azekah, and very probably encompassed both cities. Qeiyafa was likely a lookout fortress of this polity, guarding the road and sending fire-signals to the two cities. Undoubtedly evidence of a strong Late Iron I settlement at Azekah will be found in a few seasons (the first beginning July 2012) if this hypothesis is to be sustained.

A map of the kingdoms in the east Shephelah area, the kingdoms’ territory being minimal.

There are also certain biblical passages which may have relevance to this hypothesis.

1 Sam 23, esp. v. 3-1 Samuel 22-23 seems to describe the caves of Adullam as being substantially free of Philistine influence, but Keilah being outside of Judah. Now, Keilah was disputed territory during the Amarna period between Jerusalem and Gath, and, with Jerusalem being generally out of the picture, it is quite likely that Gath would take control. However, since the Philistines in Samuel are described as raiding it, and it is outside of Judah, it seems the author of 1 Sam 23 thought of Keilah as being at the border of Judah, with Keilah having the same disputed status as it did in Amarna times. With the Judahite state establishment not having power before Late IIa, it is unlikely this story reflects Iron I conditions, but, rather, a period between 849 BC and c. 820 BC, with Libnah in revolt.

But, who took over the Azekah polity? The likely answer is Gath. Qeiyafa lasted a short period of time, and was not re-occupied until the Hellenistic Period. As for Beth-Shemesh, it was not re-occupied after its destruction until the Aramean period or later. While Gath remains the most likely option for the destroyer of the Qeiyafa polity, this hypothesis cannot be treated with certainty until the Azekah excavations reach to the Iron I levels (which should be in three years or so).