During June –July 2007, the first season of the Lahav Research Project, Phase IV was conducted at Tel Halif (License No. G-19/2007; map ref. NIG 187/587–8; OIG 137/087–8). The excavation was directed by O. Borowski of Emory University (photography), with the participation of Emory University and Miami University of Ohio as consortium member institutions. Additional support was provided by the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University, the Heritage Fund of ASOR, the Cobb Institute of Archaeology at Mississippi State University, the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, the Joe Alon Center at Qibbuz Lahav and individual donors. The field staff included Professors D. Appler (Moravian Theological Seminary), J. Bidmead (Miami University), and J.W. Hardin (Cobb Institute), J. Bos (University of Michigan; area supervison trainee), M. Broida (Emory University; registration), aided by L. Abramson (Miami University), D. Kerges (Cobb Institute; drafting and supervision help in Area H7) and J. Rosenberg (AIAR; surveying). Eighteen undergraduate and graduate students from the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand participated in the program. The expedition wishes to thank Qibbuz Lahav for its hospitality and other services and to A. Navon who served as liaison with the qibbuz.
Work concentrated in a newly opened field (Field V; Fig. 1), south of and adjacent to the previously excavated Field IV, in Areas E7, F7, G7, H6, H7, I5 and I6, all located at the top of the southwestern slope (Fig. 2). The aims of the Lahav Research Project Phase IV have been to expose additional domestic units adjacent to the city fortifications from the end of the eighth century BCE (Stratum VIB), which were destroyed by a military campaign, possibly Sennacherib’s in 701 BCE, with the hope of recovering supplementary information that will shed light on daily life in that region. Furthermore, it has been hoped to uncover additional data pertaining to city planning, the economy and relationships between this site and other regions.
Major elements of eighth century BCE domestic architecture (Stratum VIB) were encountered immediately below topsoil in all excavated areas. These included parts of the city outer wall and rooms adjacent to it on the inside in a typical casemate fashion. In several rooms, floors of hard packed dirt, cobbles and crushed limestone, were found overlaid with large amounts of in situ crushed storage jars, many of which of the lmlk type, and other vessels covered with heavy destruction debris (Fig. 3). Evidence of the military action that caused the destruction was found in the form of ballista stones and iron arrowheads, whose preservation was aided by the collapse of the superstructure.
Many of the rooms yielded proof that Iron II inhabitants of Tel Halif were engaged in spinning and weaving. This evidence was very similar to the one recovered from Fields III and IV in earlier seasons. However, this season, Area E7 provided a dramatic illustration of the intensity of the Halifites’ engagement in these activities. This area seems to have been occupied by a weaving and dying workshop (Fig. 4), parts of which were not yet recovered since they lie below the east balk and the unexcavated Area E6. The remains in Area E7 included numerous loom weights, spindle whorls and fragments of bone tools, in addition to a large number of ceramic vessels, including jars, bowls, jugs, juglets and oil lamps, as well as grinding implements of different shapes and sizes, possibly for the preparation of dying pigments.
Several of the areas, e.g., F7, H6, H7, were occupied during the life of Stratum VIA––the ‘Squatters Phase’. Unfortunately, most of this stratum’s floors could not be traced, possibly as a result of root action that affected them, since they were in close proximity to modern surface. Another likely reason could be the fact that the packed-dirt floors did not ‘mature’ and harden due to the short duration of this phase, whose existence became nevertheless, very clear by the discovery of large quantities of flat-lying, restorable vessels associated with installations built well above the Stratum VIB floors.
Several cult objects from Iron II and the Persian period that were discovered this season indicate that cultic activities took place in the area. These finds strengthen the suggestion advanced in previous seasons that during these periods a cult center must have existed in close proximity to Fields IV and V. The finds included a zoomorphic vessel (Fig. 5), two horse and rider figurine fragments, and votive oil lamps (Fig. 6), all from Iron II. Two limestone incense altars (Fig. 7), two molded figurine fragments (Fig. 8) and a fragment of a third were all from the Persian period.
Typical Hellenistic-period potsherds, mostly in Areas H6 and I5, suggest that during that period the area of Field V was the subject of pitting, possibly for stone robbing from earlier structures. Similar activities were carried out in later periods, especially in the Byzantine period.
Future plans include finishing the recovery of the weaving workshop, continuing to uncover the plan of the city in this quarter and trying to determine the original date of the Iron II fortifications and the adjacent structures.