Archaeological reports that have not included a basic study on spatial aspects have led many researchers to unproven conclusions. A review of many of the articles and excavation reports shows that in most of the studies the excavators avoid discussing the inhabited area of the site and particularly steer clear of trying to determine the occupied area during each of the settlement’s secondary periods. In the absence of this data, we are hampered in reconstructing the settlement landscape in antiquity and are denied important insight into the nature of the settlement patterns, the main demographic processes etc. For the purpose of illustration, out of 63 sites in which there are strata dating to the Iron Age 2 that were exposed throughout the southern coastal plain, we have reports from only 10 sites regarding the inhabited area of the settlement in general and in the secondary periods.
Another aspect that will be presented in the lecture is the tendency of researchers to present inflated area estimates due to faulty methodology. As an example of this two of the key sites in Philistia will be presented.
Tel Safit – based on the survey conducted by Uziel, the archaeological expedition at the site adopted a premise that during the Iron Age IIA the settlement extended over an area coverings 400-500 dunams. Uziel estimated the inhabited area of the tell according to periods based on dated ceramic finds gathered from the surface level. Uziel asserts there are factors that influence the scattering of the sherds across a broad surface relative to the inhabited area and he stresses that his estimates are maximal. Despite his reservations, the archaeological expedition adopted his area estimates. Reservations pertaining to Uziel’s methodology will be presented in the lecture and consequently questions concerning the validity of the spatial conclusions.
The excavators estimated the area in Ashkelon during the Iron Age I settlement to be in excess of 600 dunams. In this case too the estimates were derived based on very limited excavations in the area and mainly without having randomly located the probes across the surface of the tell. A reconstruction of the settlement patterns in Philistia in the Iron Age illustrates the development of settlement systems that are unique from a standpoint of space and their chronology.  The finds show one of the characteristics of the Aegean-Philistine culture that was meticulously preserved hundreds of years after the Philistines immigrated to the Levant. A study of the Philistine settlement patterns requires that we examine among other things whether the Philistine centers became huge metropolitan cities or perhaps the excavation expeditions tend to ascribe the cities a size that is significantly greater than the finds indicate.