From Beach to Desert – TB&TS 2015 Tour Report #2

Leonardo Hotel Beach View

Leonardo Hotel Beach View

Waking up on the first day of vacation is always a thrill, especially with a Mediterranean beach out the window.

Mediterranean Beach Walk

Mediterranean Beach Walk

After a short walk and a nice breakfast buffet we were on our way.

Campaign poster

Campaign poster

Driving out of the Tel Aviv metro area, we were reminded that there was an election the next day.

Walking up the Gezer Tel

Walking up the Gezer Tel

Soon we were walking up the side of Tel Gezer, our first stop of the day.  Gezer was a city fortified by Solomon (I Kings 9).

The hat illustration

The hat illustration

Our leader, John DeLancey, used a pile of hats to illustrate how tels, ancient cities, were built up layer upon layer, and providing a rich mine of resources for modern archaeologists.

Bronze Age Gezer Gate

Bronze Age Gezer Gate

We walked through the Bronze Age gate, adjacent to the Bronze Age water system, which has been excavated over the past few years.

Iron Age Gezer Gate

Iron Age Gezer Gate

Then to the Iron Age gate, Gezer gate, where my friends Sam Wolff and Steve Ortiz have been excavating.

Gezer wildflowers

Gezer wildflowers

In March, everything was green and the wildflowers were beautiful.

Cities on the horizon

Cities on the horizon

On the horizon, the modern coastal cities of Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Gaza, where ancient Philistine cities of the same name were located.

Gezer's Standing Stones

Gezer’s Standing Stones

And finally, the Standing Stones at Gezer.

Ancient pottery shards

Ancient pottery shards

We stopped at Beit Shemesh, and some folks picked up some archaeological souvenirs from the shard pile, discarded by archaeologists. Here we read from 1 Samuel 6 about the return of the Ark of the Covenant given back by the Philistines.

The Elah Valley

The Elah Valley

At Azekah, we looked out over the Elah Valley, the same view that the ancient inhabitants had over the battle of David vs. Goliath (I Samuel 17). In the middle of the photo, the site of Khirbet Qeiyafa, where archaeologists in recent years have excavated what was apparently a border fortress of King David, and where they found one of the earliest examples of Hebrew writing.

Tel Azekah dig site

Tel Azekah dig site

Nearby, watch your step. In these pits archaeologists this week are beginning the 2015 excavation season at Azekah.

Tel es-Safi/Gath on the horizon

Tel es-Safi/Gath on the horizon

In the distance, another Philistine city and the site of another important ongoing excavation: Tel es-Safi/Gath.

Beersheba mud brick wall

Beersheba mud brick wall

At Tel Beersheba we saw an example of ancient construction, a mud brick wall on top of a stone foundation. Here we read from Genesis 21 about Abraham and the “well treaty” made with Abimelech.

Beersheba portrait

Beersheba portrait

A quick self-portrait, after emerging from the Beersheba water system.

Tel Arad in the Negev

Tel Arad in the Negev

Tel Arad appeared on the horizon, into the desert area.

Negev Iris

Negev Iris

On the drive up to the tell we spotted some extremely rare, Negev Irises.

The Arad Temple

The Arad Temple

At Arad we saw the Early Canaanite city that was destroyed by Joshua, as well as the temple that was built here, complete with a replica of the altar that was found when archaeologists excavated Arad.

Desert shepherds

Desert shepherds

All day long we had been spotting shepherds and sheep, even in the desert. In the background, a sliver the Dead Sea. And beyond that, the mountains of Moab.

Kfar Hanokdim

Kfar Hanokdim

Soon our destination for the night was in sight, the Kfar Hanokdim oasis.

Charlie and me on the camel

Charlie and me on the camel

Everybody got a chance to ride a camel.

Camel close-up

Camel close-up

And every camel got a chance at a close-up.

Bedouin life for me

Bedouin life for me

We learned about the bedouin life, and we slept in a tent.

Singing under the stars in the desert

Singing under the stars in the desert

After singing under the stars.

Jump ahead to TB&TS Tour Report #3

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