Professor Seymour (Sy) Gitin (born 1936) is an American archeologist specializing in Ancient Israel, with a focus on the late Israelite and late Philistine periods. Professor of Archaeology since 1979, in 1980 he became Director (Dorot Director from 1994) of the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem (AIAR).
He attended the University of Buffalo, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Ancient History, and then went on to the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Hebrew Letters in 1959 and a Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters and Rabbinic Ordination in 1962. During this period, Sy spent a year studying at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he took a course in archaeology taught by Yigael Yadin, and subsequently had his first field experience, working with Nelson Glueck (AIAR Director from 1936 to 1940 and 1942 to 1947) on the archaeological survey of the western Negev. These two experiences sparked his initial interest in archaeology, although during his year in Jerusalem, he was given the opportunity to pursue a different career entirely: Sy had the unexpected and extraordinary experience of starring, together with Topol, in "I Like Mike", an early full-length Israeli movie. Sy played the lead role of Mike, a rich Texan “new immigrant”.
From 1962 to 1964 Gitin served as a US Air Force Chaplain stationed in Anchorage Alaska and then as a Rabbi and Academic Administrator at two congregations in Southern California. From 1968 to 1970 he was the Director of Admissions at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in Cincinnati during which time he began a doctoral program in archaeology under the supervision of Nelson Glueck. In 1970, he continued his studies in Israel, under the supervision of William G. Dever, taking courses at the Hebrew University. Subsequently, he served as coordinator and then director of the Gezer publications project at the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology in Jerusalem as well as Senior Lecturer and Curator of the Glueck Museum at HUC-JIR Jerusalem. From 1979 to 1982 he held the joint positions of Director of the Brandeis/ASOR Archaeological Program in Israel; and Adjunct Associate Professor, Brandeis University, Department of Classical and Oriental Studies, Jerusalem.
In 1980, Gitin completed his doctoral dissertation, A Ceramic Typology of the Late Iron II, Persian, and Hellenistic Periods at Tell Gezer and earned a Ph.D. in Syro-Palestinian Archaeology from the Hebrew Union College –Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Seymour Gitin and the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem
In 1980, Gitin assumed the directorship on the Albright Institute, formerly the American Schools of Oriental Research in Jerusalem (ASOR). Renamed after William Foxwell Albright (ASOR Director from 1920 to 1929 and 1931 to 1936), AIAR was a small research center housed in a beautiful historic building in East Jerusalem. Under Gitin’s leadership, the Institute’s fellowship program has grown from three to 64 annual appointments with 22 AIAR funded fellowships, 13 awards of administrative fees, and 29 associate fellowships.
In 1981, Gitin and his colleague, Trude Dothan of the Hebrew University, launched the long-term joint Albright/Hebrew University Tel Miqne-Ekron Excavation and Publications Project, conducting 14 excavation seasons at the site through 1996. Gitin’s research based on the excavations has cemented his reputation as an expert on the late Philistine period and the interconnections between the nation-states of the Levant in the Iron Age II. He has demonstrated that, contrary to the previous scholarly consensus, the Philistines flourished in the eastern Mediterranean littoral until the late 7th century BCE, thus extending their documented history by 400 years. He has also shown that the extensive olive oil industry at Ekron in the 7th century BCE, the largest production complex of its kind in antiquity excavated to date, was the direct result of Ekron coming under the control of the Neo-Assyrian Empire and becoming part of its new commercial “world order” His excavations at late Philistine Ekron have led to his innovative interpretation of why the Philistines gradually disappear from the historical record after the Neo-Babylonian destruction of their cities at the end of the 7th century BCE: namely, as a result of the cumulative effect of the process of acculturation, whereby they remained without a sufficiently strong core culture to survive deportation and captivity.
The most significant find of the Tel Miqne excavations is the 7th century BCE Ekron royal dedicatory inscription, in which the name of the city is mentioned, confirming the identification of Tel Miqne as Philistine Ekron. The inscription also contained a list of five of the kings of Ekron, two of whom are mentioned in the Neo-Assyrian Royal Annals of the late 8th and 7th centuries BCE. This makes the inscription one of the primary documents for establishing the chronology of events relating to the end of the late biblical period, especially the history of the Philistines
The inscription is, therefore, one of the most important archaeological finds of the 20th century in Israel. Currently, Professors Gitin and Dothan are finishing the preparation of the materials from 14 seasons of excavation at Ekron for publication. Previously, Gitin excavated in Israel at Tell Gezer, Jebel Qa’aqir and Tel Dor.
1956 - Bachelor of Arts in Ancient History, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York
1959 - Bachelor of Arts in Hebrew Letters, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), Cincinnati, Ohio
1962 - Master of Arts in Hebrew Letters and Rabbinic Ordination, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), Cincinnati, Ohio
1980 - PhD, Syro-Palestinian Archaeology, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), Cincinnati, Ohio
Fellowships, research grants, and honors
(52) inter alia
1991/92 Fellow, Annenberg Research Institute, Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, Philadelphia
1992/93 Samuel H. Kress Traveling Research Grant (US, England, Spain, Greece, Crete) for the 7th century BCE Neo-Assyrian project
1995 International Research & Exchanges Board, with funds provided by the U.S. Department of State (Title VIII) and the National Endowment for the Humanities for Travel Grant (Russia) for the 7th century BCE Neo-Assyrian project
1998 Distinguished Alumni Award, University of Buffalo
2003 Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Jerusalem
2004 Margo Tytus Visiting Fellow, Department of Classics, University of Cincinnati
2004-06 Shelby White-Leon Levy Publications Grant
2004 The Percia Schimmel Award for Distinguished Contribution to Archaeology in Eretz-Israel and the Lands of the Bible, Israel Museum, Jerusalem
2007 “Up to the Gates of Ekron” ( 1 Samuel 17:52) Essays on the Archaeology and History of the Eastern Mediterranean in Honor of Seymour Gitin. eds. S.W. Crawford, A. Ben-Tor, J.P. Dessel, W. G. Dever, A. Mazar, and J. Aviram W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research and Israel Exploration Society: Jerusalem
2008-14 Dorot Foundation Publications Grant
2009 ASOR’s P.E. Macallister Field Archaeology Award for outstanding contributions to ancient Near Eastern and Eastern Mediterranean archaeology
2009-11 Leon Levy Foundation Publications Grant
2012-13 Seymour Gitin Distinguished Professorship, an endowed appointment at the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, Jerusalem
(190) Academic (131); Activities of the Albright (59)
Books and Monographs, author and contributor and editor (30) inter alia
1990 Gezer III: A Ceramic Typology of the Late Iron II, Persian and Hellenistic Periods at Tell Gezer, Text and Data Base and Plates, Vol. III author, Annual of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology, Jerusalem: Hebrew Union College ISBN 965222202X
2006 Tel-Miqne Ekron Excavations, 1995–96 Field INE East Slope: Iron Age I (Early Philistine Period) author with M. Meehl and T. Dothan, and editor, and contributions by A. Zukerman, L. Mazow, A. de Vincenz, D. Ben Shlomo and J. Lev-Tov, Ekron Final Field Report Series 8,Jerusalem: Albright Institute and Hebrew University.
2012 Tel Miqne-Ekron Excavations, 1985–1995, Field IVNE/NW (Lower): The Elite Zone, Iron Age I–II, author with Y. Garfinkel, and T. Dothan, and editor, with contributions by A. Zukerman, David Ben-Shlomo, Alexandra S. Drenka, Amir G, Baruch Brandl, J.P. Dessel, Ianir Milevsky, Edward F. Maher, Laura Mazow, Brian Hesse, Omri Lernau, Dalet Regev, Jay Rosenberg, Eric Steinbach, and Kathleen Wheeler, Ekron Final Field Report Series 9/1, 9/ 2, 9/3A, 9/3B, Jerusalem: Albright Institute and Hebrew University (in press).
Articles (69) inter alia
1989a Tel Miqne-Ekron: A Type Site for the Inner Coastal Plain in the Iron II Period. Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research 49:23–58, figs:15–22.
1989b Incense Altars from Ekron, Israel and Judah: Context and Typology. pp.*52–67 in Eretz-Israel 20 (Yadin Memorial Volume), Jerusalem: Israel, Exploration Society.
1997a The Neo-Assyrian Empire and its Western Periphery: The Levant, with a Focus on Philistine Ekron. pp. 77–104 in ASSYRIA 1995, 10th Anniversary Symposium of the Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, Helsinki, eds. S. Parpola and R.M. Whiting, Helsinki: University of Helsinki.
1997b A Royal Dedicatory Inscription from Ekron. (with T. Dothan and J. Naveh), Israel Exploration Journal 47/1–2:1–16.
2001 The Tel Miqne-Ekron Silver Hoards: The Assyrian and Phoenician Connections (with A. Golani). pp. 25–45 in Hacksilber to Coinage, ed. M. Balmuth, New York: American Numismatic Society.
2002 The Four-Horned Altar and Sacred Space: An Archaeological Perspective. pp. 95–123 in Sacred Time, Sacred Space (Archaeology and the Religion of Israel), ed. B.M. Gittlen, Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns.
2003 Israelite and Philistine Cult and the Archaeological Record in Iron Age II: The `Smoking Gun’ Phenomenon. pp. 279–295 in Symbiosis, Symbolism and the Power of the Past: Canaan, Ancient Israel and their Neighbors, Proceedings Volume of the AIAR/ASOR Centennial Symposium, May, 2000, Jerusalem, eds. W.G. Dever and S. Gitin, Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns.
2012 Temple Complex 650 at Ekron: The Impact of Multi-Cultural Influences on Philistine Cult in the Late Iron Age.” In Temple Building and Temple Cult: Architecture and Cultic Paraphernalia of Temples in the Levant (2.-1. Mill. B.C.E.), ed. J. Kamlah, Abhandlung des Deutschen Palästina-Vereins 41Tübingen: Wiesbaden:Harrassowitz.
Chapters in Books (12) and Encyclopedia (11) inter alia
2001 Miqne (Tel; Muqanna, Khirbet el-). (with T. Dothan). pp. 339–340 in Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land, eds. A. Negev and S. Gibson (revised and updated edition), New York: Continuum Publishing Group.
2008 Miqne, Tel (Ekron). (with T. Dothan). pp. 1952–1958 in The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, 5, Supplementary Volume, ed. E. Stern, Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society.
2010 The Philistines,” pp. 301–364, Chapter IV.A.4 in the Book of Kings:Sources, Composition, Historiography and Reception, eds. A. Lemaire and B. Halpern, Leiden: Brill.
- Friedman, Matti (August 9, 2011). "Unearthing the Bible’s bad guys: Excavation of Gath helps scholars paint a portrait of the ancient Philistines". The Washington Times.
- W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research. "W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research Page". AIAR.
- UBToday. "Alumni Profile".
- IMDb. "I Like Mike".
- ed. D.R. Clark and V.H.. Matthews. "TEL MIQNE-EKRON - WF Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, pp. 57–85 in 100 Years of American Archaeology in the Middle East". American Schools of Oriental Research.
- Gitin, Seymour. Recent Excavations in Israel: Studies in Iron Age Archaeology. Eisenbrauns. ISBN 9780897570497.
- Zuckerman, S., Late Bronze Age Scoops: Context and Function. In: S. Crawford, A. Ben-Tor, J.P. Dessel, W.G. Dever, A. Mazar, and J. Aviram (eds.) (2007). "Up to the Gates of Ekron": Essays on the Archaeology and History of the Eastern Mediterranean in Honor of Seymour Gitin. ASOR and IES Publications.
- Seymour Gitin,, Trude Krakauer Dothan, Mark W. Meehl, Alexander Zukerman (2006). Tel Miqne-Ekron Excavations, 1995-1996: Field INE East Slope, Iron Age (Early Philistine Period). W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological research and Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. ISBN 9789657114018.
- MAUGH II, THOMAS H. (March 13, 1997). "Archeologists Rewriting Definition of a Philistine". Los Angeles Times.
- Wilford, John Noble (July 23, 1996). "Inscription at a Philistine City Shows: This is the Right Place". The New York Times.
- Amnon Ben-Tor, Seymour Gitin,, Sidnie White Crawford (2007). "Up to the Gates of Ekron": Essays on the Archaeology and History of the Eastern Mediterranean in Honor of Seymour Gitin. ISBN 9789652210661.
- Gitin, Seymour (Mar–Apr 1990). "Ekron of the Philistines, Part II: Olive-Oil Suppliers to the World". BAR Magazine.
- Archeology. "Special Report: Ekron Identity Confirmed".