Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project receives 3-year NEH Funding

Aaron A. Burke and Martin Peilstöcker, the directors of The Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project, are pleased to announce the receipt of a 3-year National Endowment for the Humanities Collaborative Grant for excavations in Jaffa from 2013 to 2015.

Aerial photo showing the destruction of the Amarna period Egyptian gate complex in Jaffa

Aerial photo showing the destruction of the Amarna period Egyptian gate complex in Jaffa. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Burke)

The project is titled “Insurgency, Resistance, and Interaction: Archaeological Inquiry into New Kingdom Egyptian Rule in Jaffa.”

Since 2007 the Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project has brought to light the results of earlier excavations from 1955 to 1974 in Jaffa (Tel Yafo) by Jacob Kaplan, the municipal archaeologist of Tel Aviv-Jaffa. One of the primary objectives of this project was to provide a baseline for renewed archaeological exploration of Jaffa in which modern data collection methods and analytical techniques are employed to improve our understanding of the site and its population.

During the Late Bronze Age, for example, from ca. 1460 to 1150 BC Jaffa, on the coast of Canaan (southern Tel Aviv today), functioned as an Egyptian garrison, supply-port, and administrative center for Egypt’s New Kingdom imperial expansion into Canaan. Work on the earlier excavation records and the renewal of excavations in 2011 and 2012 have revealed an archaeological narrative for a period fraught with conflict and resistance to the Egyptian presence by the region’s Canaanite inhabitants, alongside evidence of increasing social interaction. Studies over the past five years reveal that Tel Yafo provides an ideal archaeological site for assessing the intensity and character of social interaction between the Egyptian military personnel and local communities as revealed in multiple destruction levels and changing percentages of various types of material culture over time.

Plans for the continuation of excavations at the site employing high-resolution recovery methods intended to obtain a wider array of material evidence such as botanical, faunal, shell and residue samples indicative of food production, consumption, and local economy during different periods. These samples offer the potential of revealing a narrative of social interaction at one of the most important fortresses within Egyptian imperial control of Canaan over a period of nearly 300 years. This narrative stands in stark contrast to the official rhetoric of the Egyptian crown that, while mentioning continuous efforts to pacify Canaanite settlements, carefully avoids reference to lost Egyptian fortresses, failures, and military losses that typify local resistance, which at times climaxed in outright insurgency. This project provides, therefore, a unique case study of insurgency and social interaction in antiquity that informs similar contexts up to the present.

The Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project (JCHP) is a joint project of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Johannes-Gutenberg Universität, Mainz, and the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). The project is an affiliated project of the American Schools of Oriental Research.

Aaron A. Burke is Associate Professor of the Archaeology of Ancient Israel and the Levant in the Near Eastern Languages and Cultures Department and a faculty affiliate of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA.

Martin Peilstöcker is a Research Associate with the Evangelisch-Theologische Fakultät at the Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Mainz, Germany and Research Archaeologist for Jaffa on leave from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

For more information on the project, please visit our website: http://www.nelc.ucla.edu/jaffa/.

The official announcement can be found among the list of current NEH funded projects state by state: http://www.neh.gov/files/press-release/july2012statebystatefinal.pdf

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