Field INW/SW – The Acropolis Summit
Fourteen seasons of excavation at Tel Miqne (1981 – 1996), under the direction of Professors Trude Dothan and Seymour Gitin, uncovered a series of superimposed settlements spanning the Middle Bronze, Late Bronze, and Iron I–II periods. Identified with Philistine Ekron, one of the five “pentapolis” cities mentioned in Joshua 13:3, the site is situated on the southern coastal plain of the modern state of Israel at the interface of Philistia’s eastern border with Judah.
Due to the extensive scope of these excavations, which revealed an uninterrupted occupational sequence spanning the 17th –7th centuries BCE, Tel Miqne-Ekron is an unparalleled source of information regarding the Late Bronze Age in the southern coastal plain, the transition to the Iron Age, and nearly six centuries of Philistine settlement at the site. Based on the various soundings on the mound, Late Bronze Age Ekron – the topic of this research project, was a modest settlement confined to ca. 10 acres of the northeast acropolis. The most impressive Late Bronze Age remains, a seven-room complex dating to the end of the 13th century, were documented on the acropolis summit. This structure, which included numerous in situ storage jars, complete with carbonized remains of food commodities such as grain and even figs, suggested that these rooms most likely formed part of a centralized storage facility for Late Bronze Age Ekron. Following the pattern of many late 13th century Late Bronze Age sites in the eastern Mediterranean, this complex was destroyed in a massive conflagration. The pottery repertoire of this structure, together with ceramics associated with earlier Late Bronze Age strata and the post-destruction assemblages from the summit, comprised the focus of my Tel Miqne-Ekron Late Bronze Age pottery research project as a National Endowment of the Humanities fellow at the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research this year.
During my tenure at the Albright, and with the invaluable assistance of Rachel Ben-Dov, the Late Bronze pottery from the summit was sorted, restored, processed, documented and sent for drawing. Essential to this project was access to the Tel Miqne-Ekron pottery, stored on the Albright grounds, and to the original field diaries, archived in the AIAR library. Preliminary results from this study reveal that the chronological extent of Late Bronze Age occupation spans the entire period (mid-16th – early 12th century BCE). The Late Bronze Age destruction on the summit was followed by a post-destruction re-occupation of the area, which continued the Late Bronze Age tradition. Unlike the excavations of the nearby eastern sondage, where an uninterrupted occupational sequence continued into the Iron I period (Strata VIII-V), the summit experienced a gap in settlement during much of the 12th century (Stratum VII). This missing phase of early Philistine occupation on the summit is characterized in the sondage and elsewhere on the tell by the appearance of large quantities of monochrome Aegean-Style pottery, variously termed “Philistine 1” or Mycenaean IIIC, and its associated assemblages. Following this lacuna in settlement on the summit of the mound, Stratum VI (late 12th – early 11th centuries) activities resumed on the summit, represented by pits, which cut through and disturbed the earlier Late Bronze Age strata.
The results of this research project will form the basis for an article (in preparation) on the Late Bronze Age at Tel Miqne-Ekron, to be submitted to a peer reviewed journal. The data, detailed analysis and narrative text will appear as components in the final excavation report of Field INW/SW: The Acropolis Excavation (edited by S. Gitin). The interpretive chapter in this final report will also integrate the results from the summit with those excavated in the sondage, including a previously unpublished statistical study of Strata IX–VIII Late Bronze Age pottery from the east slope (sondage) of Field INE.
I take this opportunity to thank AIAR director, Sy Gitin, for his encouragement and support of this project. I greatly appreciate his input and guidance throughout the process. Special thanks are due to Rachel Ben-Dov, who worked tirelessly on the sorting and mending of the Late Bronze Age assemblages. This project would not have been possible without her expert contribution. I am especially grateful to the AIAR office, administrative, library, kitchen and hostel staff, for their loyal service, kindness and generosity throughout my stay at the Albright Institute. My fellowship was greatly enhanced by the fellows residing at the Albright during the 2014 spring semester. It was a pleasure to share this experience with them and I will remember fondly our lively dinner conversations and their friendship.
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