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Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Dig Spotlight: Tel Rehov, Rising Again from the Dust

You will not find the name of the great ancient city of Rehov mentioned much, if at all, in the pages of the Old Testament. Yet, among the great cities of its time in ancient Canaan, it was well known. Egyptian texts list it among the other prominent cities of Canaan, and the evidence of greatness -- monumental architecture and the shear magnitude of its spatial layout -- testify that it must have been a place of great significance.

Located about a half-hour south of the Sea of Galilee by automobile, on the western edge of the Jordan River Valley, it is one of the largest tels in the Holy Land. Excavations there from 1997-2003 have revealed successive occupational layers from the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age I (12th - 11th centuries BCE) and large, well-preserved buildings from occupation layers dated to the 10th - 9th centuries BCE (the time of the United Monarchy of David and Solomon and the Divided Monarchy under Omri and Ahab). Remains of the 8th century BCE city that was destroyed by the Assyrians in 732 BCE include an 8-meter wide mudbrick wall surrounding the acropolis. Evidence of slaughter by the Assyrians was found in the destroyed houses of this time period. Other finds have included pottery vessels, pottery cult stands, clay figurines, seals, ivories and other objects from the Iron Age II city. Tel Rehov has became a major site for investigating the material remains of the Iron Age II in Israel and in answering questions about the chronology and nature of this period, which included the reigns of some of ancient Israel's greatest kings, such as David and Solomon.

This summer, Professor Amihai Mazar of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem will be leading a team of professional archaeologists, other experts, students and volunteers to continue the excavation work and reveal more of the significance of this important site.

Volunteers will stay in air-conditioned cabins at Kibbutz Nir David. Each cabin can accommodate up to five people and includes a bedroom, living room, loft, front porch, shower, toilet, kitchenette, and cable TV. As part of the excavation's general education program, all participants will acquire skills in excavation and artifact processing and analysis, and will attend bi-weekly lectures and have the opportunity to participate in field trips to other archaeologically significant sites.

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