Tell el-Hesi
Tell el-Hesi is a 25-acre archaeological site
Archaeological site
An archaeological site is a place in which evidence of past activity is preserved , and which has been, or may be, investigated using the discipline of archaeology and represents a part of the archaeological record.Beyond this, the definition and geographical extent of a 'site' can vary widely,...

 in Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. It was the first major site excavated in Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

, first by Flinders Petrie in 1890 and later by Frederick Jones Bliss
Frederick Jones Bliss
Frederick Jones Bliss was an American archaeologist. After training under Flinders Petrie in Egypt, Bliss became involved with the Palestine Exploration Fund working in the field of Biblical archaeology at the site of Tell el-Hesi between 1894 and 1897, while cuncurrently leading an expedition...

 in 1891 and 1892, both sponsored by the Palestine Exploration Fund
Palestine Exploration Fund
The Palestine Exploration Fund is a British society often simply known as the PEF. It was founded in 1865 and is still functioning today. Its initial object was to carry out surveys of the topography and ethnography of Ottoman Palestine with a remit that fell somewhere between an expeditionary...

 (PEF). Petrie's excavations were one of the first to systematically use stratigraphy
Stratigraphy, a branch of geology, studies rock layers and layering . It is primarily used in the study of sedimentary and layered volcanic rocks....

 and seriation
Seriation is a way of situating an object within a series:*Seriation *Seriation...

 to produce a chronology
Chronology is the science of arranging events in their order of occurrence in time, such as the use of a timeline or sequence of events. It is also "the determination of the actual temporal sequence of past events".Chronology is part of periodization...

 of the site.
A tell or tel, is a type of archaeological mound created by human occupation and abandonment of a geographical site over many centuries. A classic tell looks like a low, truncated cone with a flat top and sloping sides.-Archaeology:A tell is a hill created by different civilizations living and...

 el-Hesi is located southwest of the modern Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i city of Qiryat Gat
Qiryat Gat
Kiryat Gat , is a city in the Southern District of Israel. It lies south of Tel-Aviv, north of Beersheba and from Jerusalem. According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics , at the end of 2009 the city had a total population of 47,400....



The site was occupied from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 period to the Hellenistic period
Hellenistic period
The Hellenistic period or Hellenistic era describes the time which followed the conquests of Alexander the Great. It was so named by the historian J. G. Droysen. During this time, Greek cultural influence and power was at its zenith in Europe and Asia...

, though not continuously.
The city reached a size of 25 acres in the Early Bronze Age during the middle of the 3rd Millennium BCE. It then fell into disuse until the
middle of the 2nd millennium during the Late Bronze Age when it
was rebuilt, staying in use for around a thousand years.
A military trench system was dug into the top of the mound
during the 1948 Arab –Israeli War.
Petrie identified Tell el-Hesi as the Biblical site of Lachish
Lachish was an ancient Near East town located at the site of modern Tell ed-Duweir in the Shephelah, a region between Mount Hebron and the maritime plain of Philistia . The town was first mentioned in the Amarna letters as Lakisha-Lakiša...

, and Bliss accepted this identification, but it is no longer accepted. In 1924 W. F. Albright proposed that Tell el-Hesi was Biblical Eglon, an identification still accepted by Yohanan Aharoni
Yohanan Aharoni
Yohanan Aharoni , was an Israeli archaeologist and historical geographer, chairman of the Department of Near East Studies and chairman of the Institute of Archeology at Tel-Aviv University.-Life:...

 in the 1970s. This identification, too, is unlikely and the site should be considered unidentified.


The site was first described in 1839 by Edward Robinson
Edward Robinson (scholar)
Edward Robinson was an American biblical scholar, known as the “Father of Biblical Geography.” He has been referred to as the “founder of modern Palestinology.” -Biography:...

. It is 200 feet above the land in the East and 60 feet high in the other directions. The mound was roughly square with 200 feet on a side in Robinson's time but has been reduced by
excavations and military action.

It was originally excavated between 1890 and 1892 by the PEF during five excavation seasons. After brief training under Petrie at Meydum in Egypt, Bliss began two years work at Tell el-Hesi. Using Petrie's ceramic sequence and the pioneering concept of a sequence of 'cities', Bliss was able to establish not only the archaeology of this specific site, but the sequential framework for Levantine archaeology. The final reports were published in 1891 and 1894. Among other discoveries was the remains of what was identified as an iron blast furnace
Blast furnace
A blast furnace is a type of metallurgical furnace used for smelting to produce industrial metals, generally iron.In a blast furnace, fuel and ore and flux are continuously supplied through the top of the furnace, while air is blown into the bottom of the chamber, so that the chemical reactions...

, with slag and ashes, which was dated to 1500 BC. If the theories of experts are correct, the use of the hot-air blast instead of cold air was known at an extremely early age. Aside from some inscribed pottery of
various periods, the significant epigraphic find was a single
cuneiform tablet. This tablet is closely related to the Amarna Letters
Amarna letters
The Amarna letters are an archive of correspondence on clay tablets, mostly diplomatic, between the Egyptian administration and its representatives in Canaan and Amurru during the New Kingdom...

 and mention a person noted as the governor of Lachish in those letters.

A second series of excavations began in 1970, at the behest of the American Schools of Oriental Research
American Schools of Oriental Research
The American Schools of Oriental Research, founded in 1900, supports and encourages the study of the peoples and cultures of the Near East, from the earliest times to the present. It is apolitical and has no religious affiliation...

 and its President G. Ernest Wright
G. Ernest Wright
George Ernest Wright , was a leading Old Testament scholar and biblical archaeologist. Expert in Ancient Near Eastern archaeology, he was especially known for his work in the study and dating of pottery.-Biography:...

, the Joint Archaeological Expedition to Tell el-Hesi. The original core staff of directors for the project included John Worrell - Director; Lawrence Toombs - Senior Archeologist, Phillip King
Philip King (historian)
Philip J. King is an American theologist, historian, and academic.He graduated in 1945 from St. John Seminary College in Boston, and earned higher degrees in 1954 from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., in 1957 from Pontifical Biblical Institute and 1959 from Pontifical Lateran...

 - Administrative Director, Tom Frank - Education Director, and W. J. Bennett, Jr. and Lawrence Stager
Lawrence Stager
Lawrence E. "Larry" Stager is Dorot Professor of the Archaeology of Israel in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University and is Director of the Harvard Semitic Museum...

 as Field Directors. The team excavated at the site from 1970 to 1983 for eight summer seasons. The project emphasized excavation in two parts of the site: the acropolis
Acropolis means "high city" in Greek, literally city on the extremity and is usually translated into English as Citadel . For purposes of defense, early people naturally chose elevated ground to build a new settlement, frequently a hill with precipitous sides...

and its associated wall system (Fields I and III), and the Early Bronze III (EB III) wall system of the lower city (Fields V, VI, and IX).

External links

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