The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon was the original pilot project for the database system now know as OCHRE. This database system was developed by David and Sandra Schloen of the University of Chicago and is used in the field and in the laboratory by the Leon Levy Expedition. The link published here provides access to the publicly viewable portion of this database, and an instruction manual to access the database can be downloaded here.
The database includes further information on objects or contexts published in Ashkelon Volumes 1 through 3 and all of the raw field records from the 2007-2011 field seasons, including layer and features descriptions, preliminary pottery readings, and object identifications (many with photographs).
Final Report Volumes
Since 1985, the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon, directed by Lawrence E. Stager of Harvard University, has been a leading American archaeological project in Israel. Now, the work of the project is being collected in ten final report volumes published by the Harvard Semitic Museum. The first volume, Introduction and Overview (1985-2006), spans more than 700 illustrated pages, many in full color, and includes subjects ranging from microscopic DNA to monumental architecture. In addition, Volume 1 includes plans and descriptions of every architectural phase excavated during the course of seventeen field seasons and reveals the archaeological sequence of the site and aspects of the city plan from the Bronze Age to Crusader times, with special emphasis on Canaanite (Bronze Age) and Philistine (Iron Age) Ashkelon. The chapters in this volume, by more than three dozen contributors, combine to describe Ashkelon's cultural constants and contingencies over la longue durée (3000 BCE to 1500 CE). As a result, Ashkelon 1: Introduction and Overview (1985-2006) will be an indispensable resource for investigating the maritime and terrestrial history of the southeastern Mediterranean littoral.
The seaport of Ashkelon flourished under Roman and Byzantine rulers. Its far-flung maritime connections are reflected in the imported pottery found by the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon. Dr. Barbara L. Johnson brings a wealth of expertise and many years of experience to her study of this material, presenting and identifying a diverse array of vessels that illuminate the trading networks that knitted together the Mediterranean world.
The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon continues its final report series with a study of the city destroyed in the campaign of the Babylonian king Nebuchadrezzar in December of 604 B.C. In this era, Ashkelon’s markets linked land routes from the southeast to a web of international Mediterranean merchants, and this volume describes the Iron Age bazaar where shopkeepers sold the goods of Egypt, Greece, Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Judah. In addition, in another part of the city, a winery produced a homegrown vintage for distribution abroad. This volume spans more than 800 full-color pages illustrating the range of imported and local artifacts recovered by more than ten years of excavation. The twenty-eight chapters, by more than two dozen contributors, combine to describe Ashkelon’s pivotal role in the economy and politics of the late seventh century B.C. As such, Ashkelon 3: The Seventh Century B.C. is an indispensable resource for those interested in the Iron Age history of the Eastern Mediterranean and the study of trade and economy in the ancient world.
The PDF version of Ashkelon 3 is enriched with OCHRE content.
Click here for a review in the American Journal of Archaeology, April 2013
In this volume, Dr. Michael D. Press publishes the complete Iron Age corpus of terracotta anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines from the Leon Levy Expedition. Adapting a methodology of typology, iconography, and iconology, Press lays out his theoretical framework for analyzing and understanding the figurines of Ashkelon and those from Philistine cultures. Throughout this study, which covers nearly six centuries of Philistine life, the well-dated archaeological contexts of the figurines are stressed as much as their form and decoration. With an uncanny eye for form and detail, Press succeeds in changing our understanding of Philistine iconography while providing a model of method and theory that could be applied to the coroplastic art of many cultures.
Excavation of Grid 38, located on the South Tell, is led by Joshua Walton, Ph.D. Candidate at Harvard University. Excavated continuously since 1985, this grid has produced one of the most complete occupational sequences on site, Middle Bronze Age through Crusader. Notable discoveries in this grid include a large Byzantine building, sewers and streets, a Roman bath, Persian period dog burials, and a Philistine residential neighborhood. Currently, work in this grid focuses on a Philistine period house. Upon completion of work in Grid 38, the Philistine house will be conserved and the area developed as an archeological park
Excavation in Grid 44, a new area opening on the top of the South Tell in the 2013 field season, will be lead by Dr. Tracy Hoffman. Preparation for excavation in this prominent area of the ancient site began with a GPR survey conducted in February 2013 which indicated the presence of extensive archaeological material near topsoil levels. When work commences in June, staff archaeologists expect to deal primarily with Islamic/Crusader, Byzantine and Roman period levels.
Excavation of Grid 51, located on the South Tell, is led by Dr. Kate Birney, Assistant Professor of Classical Studies at Wesleyan University. First excavated in 1997, work in this area has uncovered dense domestic occupation in the Persian and Hellenistic periods, a Byzantine period wine press and extensive pitting and robbing during the Islamic period. Currently, work in this area focuses on the excavation and interpretation of Persian period domestic buildings. Grid 51 is scheduled to be expanded and excavated over the next five years during which time it is expected to reach Philistine levels.
The Geoarchaeology Mapping Project is led by Dr. Stephen Moshier of Wheaton College. Geoarchaeology applies methods of investigation and knowledge of earth sicences to archaeological studies. Recent geoarchaeological projects at Ashkelon include a drilling program to reveal the subsurface stratigraphy of the site beyond areas of excavation leading to a physical model of the landscape before it was settled and built upon by successive cultures. Hypotheses have been tested about the existence of an inland harbor and changes in the natural landcape by human activities, including quarrying and rampart construction. Geologists on site work with archaeologists to identify artifacts and building materials composed of rocks and minerals and to distinguish and interpret naturally deposited statra among the archaeological layers. Chemical analyses of natural and cultural deposits, as well as dating methods, contribute to interpretations of their orgins.
At the conclusion of every season, the staff of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon prepare a report recording initial impressions of the season. These reports include plans, hand drawn sections, images, and the first attempt at synthesis. Since the preliminary reports are prepared in quickly at the end of the season, they do not represent the final conclusions of the Leon Levy Excavation. Still, they are a valuable first-impression from experienced stratigraphers.
A Photo Archive of more than 6000 images from the the 1985-2000 excavations seasons of the Leon Levy Expedition is presented in a Google Picasa archive. The images are tagged according to the descriptions entered in the original photo record, and further analysis may change their attribution. Higher resolution images will be released through the OCHRE database system as the artifacts are published in the Ashkelon final report series. This archive is presented as an aid to researchers looking for particular artifact types in the unpublished collections of the Leon Levy Expedition.
The Ashkelon online bibliography was compiled from a variety of sources in order to provide a starting place for students and scholars researching the ancient history of Ashkelon. In order to faciliate the aquistion of these resources, each source has been given an electronic link. Items in books are linked to WorldCat (WC). Articles are generally linked to a Google Scholar (GS) search, those some may link to Google (G) or directly to the resource (DL). Any feedback on broken links or incorrect citations is appreciated.