This week I found out more information about one of the sites that we drove past during our tour of Israel. I mentioned this site in my post North of Galilee and also posted a picture of it there. One of the interesting things that I like about travel is finding out more information later about places that I visited. It then means a lot more to me when I am reading about it if I can picture the place in my mind.
Here is a picture of Tel-Abel that I took while we were parked on a side road near the tel. The second and third picture below were taken while we were driving toward our next stop. McDonald’s for lunch :-).
First, to put the site in perspective I will give the account for which it is probably the best know. Here we have the wise woman of Abel, not to be confused with the wise woman of Tekoa, which is a different account :-).
And Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel of Beth-maacah, and all the Bichrites assembled and followed him in. And all the men who were with Joab came and besieged him in Abel of Beth-maacah. They cast up a mound against the city, and it stood against the rampart, and they were battering the wall to throw it down. Then a wise woman called from the city, “Listen! Listen! Tell Joab, ‘Come here, that I may speak to you.'” And he came near her, and the woman said, “Are you Joab?” He answered, “I am.” Then she said to him, “Listen to the words of your servant.” And he answered, “I am listening.” Then she said, “They used to say in former times, ‘Let them but ask counsel at Abel,’ and so they settled a matter. I am one of those who are peaceable and faithful in Israel. You seek to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why will you swallow up the heritage of the Lord?” Joab answered, “Far be it from me, far be it, that I should swallow up or destroy! That is not true. But a man of the hill country of Ephraim, called Sheba the son of Bichri, has lifted up his hand against King David. Give up him alone, and I will withdraw from the city.” And the woman said to Joab, “Behold, his head shall be thrown to you over the wall.” Then the woman went to all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri and threw it out to Joab. So he blew the trumpet, and they dispersed from the city, every man to his home. And Joab returned to Jerusalem to the king. (2 Samuel 20:14-22 ESV)
I had mentioned in the previous post that not much exploration had been done on the site. This weekend I found a link in the Weekend Roundup from Bible Places Blog to a report from the first season of digging at Tel-Abel.
The focus of the assessment was to determine where to begin excavations next year when they mount a full scale dig.
Just by looking at the shape of the mound in the pictures here you can see that there is an upper city and lower city.
The survey team found pottery dating back to the Divided Kingdom and were also able to inspect the remains of city walls that had been exposed by the construction of a military road. The walls show evidence of three cities built on top of each other. This is consistent with what is known about the site from history. They also found another wall that probably dates from the 13th Century Mamluke period.
In this third picture you can see the stepped pattern of the tel from a different perspective. You can definitely see the upper and lower city areas in this picture.
Another interesting find by the team was a nearly intact flask that was beautifully decorated. The find of the flask gives hope that they will find other similar items as it was most likely deposited during a time of sudden destruction.
Next year the plan is to mount a full-scale excavation to further explore the ruins from the time of the Assyrian conquest of 732 BC and also to look for artifacts from the time of David.
I will be watching the different archeology blogs and news sites next year during the dig season to find out what they find. I am rapidly adding sites to my watch-list :-). I am also interested in several sites in the Shephelah.