By 1899, Frederick J. Bliss was already a well-known archaeologist when he was asked by the Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF) to excavate the Shephelah mounds. Previously, he dug with William Flinders Petrie at Maidon and then replaced Petrie at Tell el-Hesi (1891-1893). Subsequently, Bliss excavated with Archibald Dickie in Jerusalem on behalf of the PEF (1894-1897). R. A. Stewart Macalister served as Bliss's assistant field director. He had some experience in archaeological excavations in England, considered himself a photographer, and was "engaged with the architectural profession" as he claimed (Bliss 1894: 2; Albright 1956: 24; Moorey 1991: 26-27; Tubb 2015: 6-7). The site of Tell es -Sâfi/Gath had been known to scholars for many years prior to the three seasons of excavations conducted by Bliss and Macalister from 1899 as part of the Shephelah mounds (Smith 1894: 142-43; Rey 1871: 123-25; Conder 1879: 153; Petrie 1891: 62; Waston 1915: 117).