An ivory bowl from Early Iron Age Tell es-Safi/Gath (Israel): manufacture, meaning and memory

Aren M. Maeir, Brent Davis, Liora Kolska Horwitz, Yotam Asscher, Louise A. Hitchcock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abstract: In 2013, an ivory bowl was discovered in a chalky matrix in the Early Iron Age (Philistine) levels in Area A at Tell es-Safi/Gath. Conservation revealed it to be a shallow vessel with a single lug handle, decorated in the interior and on the base with an incised twelve-petal lotus-rosette surrounded by five concentric circles. Applying an object biography approach, we investigate the history and far-flung socio-cultural connections of the Tell es-Safi/Gath bowl, which is unique within Philistia. Specific reference is made to parallels in the ivory hoard from the Late Bronze/Iron Age transition (c. late twelfth century/early eleventh century bce) palace at Megiddo, Stratum VIIA. It is proposed that the Tell es-Safi/Gath bowl was one of a set manufactured somewhere in Canaan. The vessel became separated from the set, ending up as a foundation offering at this Philistine site.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-438
Number of pages25
JournalWorld Archaeology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 27 May 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Taylor & Francis.


  • Aegean
  • Canaanite
  • Late Bronze/Iron Age transition
  • Levant
  • Philistine
  • elephant ivory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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