A unique human‐made trench at Tell es‐Sâfi/Gath, Israel: Anthropogenic impact and landscape response

O. Ackermann, H. Bruins, A. M. Maeir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Tell es-Sâfi/gath is situated in the semiarid foothills of central Israel, adjacent to the coastal . plain. An enigmatic landscape feature, noted on aerial photographs, encircles the tell on three sides. This unique feature, unknown from other Near Eastern tells, was investigated. Methods of analysis include aerial photographs, field surveys, excavations, soil analyses, chronotypological ceramic classification, and radiocarbon dating. We concluded that (1) the peculiar landscape feature is a huge human-made trench, over 2 km long, 5–6 m deep, and more than 8 m wide, cut through bedrock; (2) the trench was excavated during the Iron Age IIA (ca. 1000–800 B.C.E.), apparently as part of a siege system; (3) the extracted rock and soil material was dumped on the Iron Age landscape surface on one side of the trench, forming an elevated “berm”; (4) erosion processes transformed this landscape scar, as the trench filled with sediment; (5) stratigraphic analysis indicates two major phases of filling, separated by a period of landscape stability and soil formation (A horizon); (6) the two filling phases, exhibiting Iron Age IIA and Byzantine pottery (ca. 324—638 C.E.), appear to coincide with more intense human activity; and (7) the possible effect of climatic variations seems less obvious.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)303-328
JournalGeoarchaeology: an international journal
Volume20
StatePublished - 2005

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