Ashkelon: The Seventh Century B.C. By LAWRENCE E. STAGER; DANIEL M. MASTER; and J. DAVID SCHLOEN. Final Reports of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon, vol. 3. Winona Lake, Ind.: EISENBRAUNS, 2011. Pp. xv + 817, illus. $99.50.
In recent years, fresh excavation data has been published from the primary Philistine sites in the southern coastal plain (e.g., Meehl, Dothan, and Gitin 2006; Stager. Master, and Schloen 2008; Maeir 2012). This new volume is an addition to this ongoing development, providing researchers with plenty of raw data to conduct studies on the Philistines. The current report is focused on the late Iron Age (seventh-century B.C.E.) remains at the site of Ashkelon, discovered mainly in two grids, 38 and 50. This is of great importance, due to the fact that when dealing with Philistines, we sometimes concentrate on the earlier stages, i.e., Iron Age I. However, the later stages, or in this case the final stage, of development are of no less importance in understanding the process they underwent. The report is comprehensive, including many illustrations and plans on the one hand and covering many aspects of the material culture on the other.
The book is divided into five main parts: the first deals with the historical background, the second is dedicated to the pottery, the third to other finds, the fourth to organic and microartifacts, and the last presents conclusions.
The first chapter is an updated version of Stager's 1996 paper on the 604 B.C.E. destruction of Ashkelon. One of the major points emphasized is the role that Egypt played in the economic life of Ashkelon in the seventh century B.C.E. and several additional chapters in this report demonstrate this thesis.
The second and the third chapters present a detailed stratigraphic description of Grids 38 and 50 (the winery and the market), accompanied by field photos and plans. The descriptions proceed room-by-room and give the stratigraphic data alongside the finds of each room. While these are very detailed, a few observations can be added: unfortunately the hydraulic plaster of wine press 777 was not analyzed; an isometric reconstruction would be helpful; no parallels were adduced for the building of the winery or similar wine presses.
Part two deals with the pottery. While provenance studies are commonly part of ceramic research, here they are used as a basic tool for typological definition throughout the various chapters. Chapter 4 explains the logic behind this...