Photo by Sharon Herbert

An ancient Jackson Pollock at work? Dubbed spatter-painted ware, Tel Anafa’s oldest painted bowls, saucers and pots date to the third century B.C.E. Petrographic and chemical analysis indicates that the vessels were produced in the Hula Valley, although not necessarily within Tel Anafa: The residents may have purchased them from a local potter. That they procured so many of their household items locally suggests that the economy of Tel Anafa’s first settlers was relatively insular. But even from such modest evidence, author Berlin can coax much information: The ubiquity of grinding and mixing bowls indicates the first settlers were preoccupied with basic food preparation, while the paucity of serving vessels precluded them from playing host to large gatherings. The most luxurious items discovered were a mere handful of small perfume bottles, suggesting that Tel Anafa’s first settlers were of limited means. The absence of large transport jars indicates that they did not import wine or oil, and the shape of their cooking vessels—a round body and a narrow mouth—indicates that they subsisted on such simple dishes as lentil soup and porridge.