About Aren Maeir

Aren Maeir

Aren M. Maeir is a professor of archaeology and head of the Institute of Archaeology at the Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology at Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel. He has directed the Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project (gath.wordpress.com) for the last 25 years, co-directs the Minerva Center for the Relations between Israel and Aram in Biblical Times (RIAB; aramisrael.org), is director of the Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies at Bar-Ilan University, and co-edits the Israel Exploration Journal. Aren has written and edited some 20 books and close to 300 articles. Among his recent publications: Maeir, A. M., Shai, I., and McKinny, C., eds. 2019. The Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages of Southern Canaan. Berlin: De Gruyter; Berlejung, A., and Maeir, A. M., eds. 2019. Research on Israel and Aram: Autonomy, Interdependence and Related Issues. Proceedings of the First Annual RIAB Center Conference, Leipzig, June 2016. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck; Maeir, A. M., and Uziel, J., eds. 2020. Tell es-Safi/Gath II: Excavations and Studies. Ägypten und Altes Testament 105. Münster: Zaphon.

Presenter at

BAS Scholars Series, June 19, 2022
New Views on the Philistines: What Archaeology Reveals about Goliath and His Peers

Archaeological research in the last few years has dramatically changed our understanding of the Philistines and their culture. Archaeological finds have provided new insights on their origins and background, what their society was like, and how Philistine culture developed and changed during the Iron Age (c. 1200–586 B.C.E.), allowing for a much better understanding of the biblical texts that depict the Philistines. In this lecture, Professor Maeir discuss some of these new finds, with a particular emphasis on his 25 years of directing excavations at Tell es-Safi, biblical Gath of the Philistines.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XXIV, October 16 – 17, 2021
Twenty-Five years at Tell es-Safi/Gath: An overview and an update from the final season

This year marks 25 years to the Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project, which become one of the leading and groundbreaking excavations in the Near East, both as far as results, publications and methodological innovations. After a quarter of century of excavations, the large scale field component of this project is coming to an end. In my talk, I will present the results of the final field season in the summer of 2021, and try to give an overview of the main results and insights that have resulted from this long term project.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XXIII, October 24 – 25, 2020
So you thought you knew about the Philistines? How our understanding has changed in the last 20 years

The Philistine are one of the better known peoples of biblical times, extensively described in the Hebrew Bible (stories like David and Goliath, Samson and Delilah), and have been the focus on much archaeological research for more than a century. Recently though, a lot of what we know about the Philistines has changed. Due to modern excavations at Philistines sites, with teams using some of most sophisticated archaeology in the world, exciting new data and cutting edge analyses have overturned a lot of the previous assumptions about who the Philistines were, where they come from, how their culture developed, and what was the character of their relationship with the Judahites and Israelites. In my lecture, I will discuss these new developments, with a particular focus on the results of the excavations at Tell es-Safi, biblical Gath of the Philistines, which I have been excavating for close to 25 years.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XVIII, November 20 – 22, 2015
Report from Philistine Gath: Fortifications, a Gate and Other Cool Stuff

The 2016 season of excavation at Tell es-Safi/Gath, the 20th year of this project, has revealed yet more fantastic finds. The most exciting finds from this season are, without a doubt the remains of the massive fortifications of the lower city of Philistine Gath, dating to the 10th-9th cent BCE (the time of David and Solomon and slightly afterwards), which apparently include a very large, and well-preserved gate. In the vicinity of the gate there are various structures and features, including a temple and an area of metallurgical activities. These new finds helps us understand the role of Philistine Gath during this period, and most importantly, its status in relation the early Judahite Kingdom. In this lecture, these and other finds from the various excavation areas will be described.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XVII, November 21 – 23, 2014
From the Iron Age to the Iron Dome: News from the 2014 season at Tell es-Safi/Gath

The 2014 season at Tell es-Safi/Gath was conducted during June/July of this past summer. Despite the fact that the hostilities between Israel and the Hamas broke out in the midst of the season, the excavation team managed to keep on digging until the planned end of the season – and had some excellent finds. Even though some missiles landed quite near to us — and they saw many more being intercepted by the “Iron Dome” (a nightly “display of fireworks”) — the dedicated and highly motivated team persevered to uncover great finds from the Iron, Late Bronze and the Early Bronze Ages. This includes evidence of an earlier phase of the fortification of the site during the Early Bronze Age, cultic finds from various periods, and one of the few metallurgical production contexts known from Philistia (the only other one, which is slightly earlier, is from Tell es-Safi/Gath as well…). In this lecture, Professor Maeir will present the main finds from the 2014 season and see how they elucidate important issues relating both to the history of ancient Gath and the land of Israel in general.

Special lecturer for the Biblical Archaeology Society’s 2012 “Exclusive Israel” program, October 13 – 25, 2012

Bible & Archaeology Fest XIV, November 18 – 20, 2011
The Horned Altar of Gath: Recent Discoveries from Tell es-Safi

The 2011 excavation season at Tell es-Safi/Gath (Gath of the Philistines) produced some astounding new finds, including one of the largest and earliest stone altars yet discovered. The altar is reminiscent of the description of the incense altar in the Biblical tabernacle, but has a unique aspect apparently typical of the Philistines: It has two—not four—horns! This presentation will discuss this exciting find as well as several other new discoveries that came to light during the most recent excavations of the city that was home to the Biblical Goliath.

Bible & Archaeology Fest XII, November 20 – 22, 2009
Fleshing Out the Bible at Philistine Gath: The Interface of Bible and Archaeology

The ongoing excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath, which is Biblical Gath of the Philistines, home of Achish and Goliath and one of the largest sites in Israel, have yielded a wide variety of rich and—at times—surprising finds. Of much significance are the many finds from the excavations that have a direct and clear connection with the Biblical text. This includes explicit evidence of several events mentioned in the Bible such as Hazael’s conquest of Gath (II Kings 12:17/18), the earthquake during the reign of Uzziah (e.g., Amos 1:1) and Hezekiah’s westward expansion (e.g., II Kings 18:8), as well finds that have enabled a new, and more new nuanced understanding of various events, customs, and objects mentioned in the Biblical text. All told, the finds from the excavations provide many examples of how the archaeological discoveries from the Iron Age Levant can serve as excellent tools both for a deeper understanding of the Biblical text and provide a new and hitherto unknown perspective based on the material remains from the times in which the biblical texts were initially composed.