Iron and bronze production in Iron Age IIA Philistia: New evidence from Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel

Adi Eliyahu-Behar*, Naama Yahalom-Mack, Sana Shilstein, Alexander Zukerman, Cynthia Shafer-Elliott, Aren M. Maeir, Elisabetta Boaretto, Israel Finkelstein, Steve Weiner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


A metallurgically-oriented excavation in Area A at Tell es-Safi/Gath yielded evidence for iron and bronze production dating to the early Iron Age IIA. Two pit-like features, which differed considerably from one another in colour, texture and content, were excavated. Evidence shows that each feature represents a different in situ activity related to iron production, inferred by the presence of hammerscales, slag prills and slag. An upturned crucible was found on top of one of the features. Analysis of the crucible slag showed that it was used for bronze metallurgy. Tuyères, both round and square in cross-section, were found in and around the two features. The presence of the two industries together presents a unique opportunity to explore the relationship between copper and iron working. This is especially important against the background of the scarcity of evidence for iron production in the Levant during the early phases of the Iron Age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-267
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank Dr. Yishai Feldman for help with the XRD analysis, and Dr. Lior Regev from the Kimmel Center for Archaeological Science for help with the interpretation of calcite grinding curves. This study was undertaken under the auspices of the European Research Council under the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013)/ERC grant agreement no 229418. Laboratory work was undertaken in the Kimmel Center for Archaeological Science, Weizmann Institute of Science.


  • Bronze crucible
  • Iron Age IIA
  • Iron production
  • Microarchaeology
  • Philistia
  • Philistines
  • Slag
  • Tuyères

RAMBI Publications

  • Rambi Publications
  • Industries -- Eretz Israel -- History
  • Manufacturing processes -- Eretz Israel -- History
  • Philistines
  • Eretz Israel -- Antiquities
  • Safi, Tell es- (Israel)


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