Provenance and exchange of basalt grinding stones of EB III Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel

Jeremy A. Beller, Haskel J. Greenfield, Mostafa Fayek, Itzhaq Shai, Aren M. Maeir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


On-going excavations at the Early Bronze Age III settlement of Tell es-Safi/Gath, Israel have recovered a small assemblage of basalt ground stone objects in a residential neighbourhood. As high quality basalt is not found within the Shephelah (the Judean foothills), the occurrence of basalt artefacts at settlements in this region has frequently been cited as evidence of movement of raw material or the exchange of commodities within the southern Levant. However, only a limited number of studies have connected basalt artefacts with sources through geochemical provenance from this area of Israel. Using the geochemical fingerprints from previous studies and an XRF analysis, we attempt to identify the source of origin of nineteen basalt grinding stones using a meta-analysis of previously identified geological sources in the region and surrounding areas. The results demonstrate that the basalt artefacts originated from a wide variety of sources, including the eastern Dead Sea, Jezreel Valley, and Galilee-Golan regions, thereby supporting previously held hypotheses about the movement of basalt commodities from sources within the immediate region. No artefacts were linked to more distant sources (e.g. Egypt, Sinai). These data provide evidence that EB urban centres, such as Tell es-Safi/Gath, were socio-economically connected even for quotidian commodities to other regions of the southern Levant through some kind of system for the non-local exchange of traditionally domestic commodities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-237
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016


  • Basalt
  • Early Bronze Age
  • Ground stone
  • Provenance
  • Southern Levant
  • Tell es-Safi/Gath


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