2023 is nearly over and, once again, it’s been quite a season!
Our international team has become even more global, including staff and faculty from Tel Aviv, Israel, Prague, Czech Republic, Osnabruck, Germany, Graz, Austria, and Malta, and sprinkled with students and volunteers from the Dormition Abbey in Jerusalem, Israel, as well as individuals from South Africa, Czech Republic, England, Spain, Canada, the USA, and Israel.
We continued to focus our work in Area B, at the center of the site, the location of the cultic precinct of the Iron Age (10th–6th centuries BCE). This year, we discovered the full extent of the early (small) temple (Temple 8528, built in the 10th c. BCE), and retrieved intact vessels found in situ on the floor fronting its entrance – including a white slipped chalice with possible organic residue inside (can’t wait to find out what the scientific analysis reveals about that one!!). We also fully exposed the remains of the (subsequent) large temple (Temple 4601, built in the late 10th/early 9th c. BCE), and while the southwestern part is, unfortunately, not preserved, we were surprised and elated by the discovery of the northern edge of its courtyard – and the discovery of an intact bowl and adjacent installation associated with the consecration rituals that were involved in refurbishing the courtyard during the 9th century BCE. To the south of the temple complex, excavations of the annexes of the cultic precinct revealed multiple phases of the (thus far elusive) Iron IIC (7th–early 6th centuries BCE), which we had been hoping to find for the past few years, and it is now clear that the potential of this area and its implications for the final phases of the cultic precinct are of high importance. Finally, an unexpected revelation was the discovery of a massive, tiered terracing system from the Persian-Hellenistic period (4th-3rd centuries BCE), which seems to have supported a massive structure, probably a fort, that overlooked the gateway into Jerusalem and was situated atop the (defunct) Iron Age cultic precinct.
The remains and finds discovered during this season are extremely exciting and will keep us busy researching year-round, and we are already excited about the thought of returning to the field and further exposing and understanding the various phases of the cultic precinct and, perhaps, surrounding structures in September 2023!