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THE EXCAVATION AT TELL EL-FUL 

With various interruptions the Director has continued into the summer 
the digging at Tell el-Ful. The work is now completed and he will report 
in full later. The nature of the excavator's work and its problems may be 
observed in some extracts in Dr. Albright's current letters. 

August 2: "For a number of reasons I wished to work on the Tell 
during the summer and alone. In the first place conditions are climatically 
at their worst during midsummer. Tell el-Ful is so high (2700 feet) that 
it usually has a breeze, though the direct rays of the sun are very hot. 
Lately, however, we have had a west wind almost constantly, blowing a 
perfect gale much of the time, enveloping us with_dust and burning our 
faces. In the second, I want to get fully acquainted with our fellah labor, 
without interference or interruption. I spend my whole time during 
working hours with the men, watching all operations and making sure that 
nothing escapes being recorded. I never sit down, but spend every minute 
with the laborers, either on the rujm or below it. When necessary I fall 
to with a pick myself." 

August 16: "Our work will soon approach its end. I have had a 
comparatively large force, over fifty men and boys. The larger number can 
be handled, I find, as easily as the smaller, since the area is compact and 
much time is saved thereby. We have entirely cleared away the later 
fortress, and have cleared out the middle one, which exhibits a partial 
restoration. We are now laying bare the foundations of the middle fortress 
and tracing the walls of the lower one as far as possible without tearing 
down the middle one. The upper fortress was comparatively easy to dis- 
tinguish, since it was built after the complete destruction of the middle 
one by fire, and shows a marked difference in the style of masonry. The 
middle one represents two partial restorations of the early structure, one 
being more complete than the other. Quantities of throwing stones, dis- 
covered in the debris of the early and the middle fortress, as well as 
around the outer edge of the revetment, show that the early one was 
destroyed by a hostile attack, and indicate that the burned fortress was 
subjected to the same fate." 

September 5: "On September 2 I brought operations at Tell el-Ful 
temporarily to a close, though some more work must be done there. I shall 
wait for some time, until the rent has been fixed, and then, if there is 
enough left over, I shall dig a few days more. I would like to dig also in 
the tombs, but that must wait for a time. In my letter of August 16 I 
gave a tentative account of the outstanding results so far attained. On 
August 26 I wrote that the difficulties had been largely removed by further 
work, and that we had reached the rock inside the fortress at one point. 
The last week's work, in which I reached the rock at a number of other 
points, and cleared out one room entirely down to the rock, proved unex- 
pectedly important, and brought a complete synthesis, which I have had the 
pleasure of demonstrating to a number of archaeologists. 

"The fortress of Gibeah presents an exceedingly interesting study in 
architectural stratification. First comes a fortress built of massive stone 
blocks, rudely shaped. The pottery resembles late Canaanitg rather closely, 
but shows unmistakable signs of later date. This fortress was completely 
destroyed by a fire, which is indicated by a layer of ashes about ten centi- 
meters in thickness, between a meter and a meter and a half above the 



rock. I have found this stratum of ashes at seven different points. Just 
above it are everywhere the foundations of the second fortress. The second 
fortress was the most elaborate and important of all, as well as being 
somewhat larger than the later ones. It was defended by a glacis and a 
massive outer wall about two meters thick. Among interesting architec- 
tural details are a remarkable series of niches in the wall, and a massive 
stone staircase, preserved for three steps. The pottery is characteristic of 
the early iron age, and contains numerous painted pieces, as well as some 
interesting incised fragments. A piece of an iron plowshare is the counter- 
part to a bronze arrow-head found in the first stratum. The second fortress 
was partly ruined and restored thereafter (2B). The third fortress, built 
on the ruins of the second, is characterized by a series of stone piers of a 
type common in the Jewish monarchy, and reminding one of the masonry 
of Ahab's palace in Samaria, though naturally much rougher. This fortress 
was also destroyed and restored once (3B). 3B was then completely 
destroyed after a short siege, indicated by numerous throwing stones and 
human skulls. Traces of the violent conflagration in which it perished 
were abundant. Finally, after the lapse of a period of time, a new fortress 
was erected on the little mound, showing both in its foundations and in its 
mode of architecture a complete break with the past. Late Jewish and 
Seleucid sherds showed that it belongs to the Maccabaean period, a con- 
clusion supported by the rude and wholly un-Hellenistic masonry. Before 
this fortress had been destroyed, but after it had ceased to have any military 
importance, houses were built around the base of the glacis, and grain-pits 
were dug. One large grain-pit or silo, nearly five meters long and two 
meters deep, was found in the excavations at the northern foot of the 
glacis. When the large stone was raised from its mouth, it proved to be 
entirely empty, except for a small amount of debris and four baskets of 
sherds, almost exclusively Seleucid. No pieces were later, and only three 
or four were earlier. 

"These seven periods of building between 1200 B. G. and 70 A. D., 
make our mound a most interesting archaeological study. Owing to the 
comparatively small interval of time represented by the first three fortresses, 
to the frequency with which Gibeah is mentioned in the Bible, and to the 
pottery sequences, I think they can all be identified with fortresses men- 
tioned or indicated in Holy Writ. The first, burned fortress may be 
identified certainly with the hold of Gibeah, which was destroyed by fire in 
the civil war between Israel and Benjamin (Jud. 20:40). 

"The second fortress, the most elaborate of all, almost certainly dates 
from the time of Saul. Among the finds were fragments of bronze trinkets 
and an imported potsherd. It was partially restored after the collapse of 
the massive stone staircase, but then fell to ruin, evidently after the rise of 
the Davidic kingdom. 

"The third fortress belongs to the Jewish royal period. Its pottery 
resembles closely that of Hielite Jericho. I would ascribe its foundation to 
Asa (1 Kings 15:22), but the combination depends upon the correctness 
of the identification of Mizpah with Nebi Samwil, for which strong new 
evidence will be adduced in the final publication. It was partly destroyed 
during the civil wars of the ninth and eighth century, and hastily restored. 
The restored fortress was burned by a hostile army, perhaps that of the 
Syro-Ephraimitic coalition, since Sennacherib advanced from the southwest. 
A full discussion of the facts and the probabilities will be given in the 
Annual." 

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