People are sinking into their squares and their work flow, and developing sensitivity and skills. Mine so far is sandbag filling and placement. I hope to open a company servicing the industry. More important is the sensitivity of the people excavating with pickaxe, trowel and brush who notice the color of the earth or the consistency of the earth changing, and alerting the square manager. This results in changing the locus number, signifying another layer of history is being encountered, or at least changing the “basket number” (we now use plastic buckets, but we still use the original term of a century ago) for the finds/pottery coming up. Young Elah Gadot, Director Yuval Gadot’s daughter, was part of the team in our area that said, “This is harder packed than before.”
A variety of finds and architecture are starting to appear. Late Bronze pottery in one area, Middle and Late Bronze cooking ware and a sling bullet in another, a second sheqel weight, charcoal and bone in another, an interesting decorated piece looking like an animal, datable organic material, imported Greek ware, grinding stones, a nicely shaped pestle made from a local soft stone, a floor of kurkar sandstone someone shlepped some distance to install, walls connected to fortifications just starting to reveal themselves, and more – I see I have to write down notes when I get the “exit polls” to retain it all. The destruction layer identified on the top is coming along nicely – and this was the area of the greatest gamble.
We hope to have you meet the various excavation leaders as we go, like Boaz who has his wife and baby Gideon here in the office cooing. Our “Meet the Diggers” feature will start today with the amazing Gili!
Azekah East experienced a twin series of crushed hopes in both upper and lower sections, which most of us found humorous, but were like first loves being lost for some of the old hands. In our lower section a wall appeared at the bottom of a hill and hopes began to be pinned on it, because everywhere along the slopes is fair game for ancient fortifications here, and their outlines can even be seen form the air. As we dug it became a “floating wall”, not connected to what was underneath. The professors came and took pictures, the surveyor came and drew it, it was cleaned and double checked that there was nothing under it – and permission was finally granted to dismantle it. As the first stone was pulled up, a crushed metal can became visible, which means- it ain’t Rehoboam’s walls!
The upper level was the heartbreaker. We were called up in the early morning to learn technique and diagnosis. The diggers noted the change in color in the earth. A swath of a smooth material appeared. Moreover, this was the deepest square of our current five squares, and everyone was eager to match their pace and worked harder all morning-useless, for Graham can out-dig everybody. this was also a time for social binding in the team, since at present we are physically separated by a hill slope.
Breakfast came and went, our scorpion count rose to 70, and six hours after beginning the day it was time for the “fruit” break – three kinds of popsicles. We again all sat together the upper section. Efrat and Parker exchanged looks, and Parker accepted the task of telling us the truth. Working feverishly and enthusiastically on the floor, using brushes delicately to avoid damage, a spot of color appeared- an Osem brand snack wrapper at a depth of over meter – expiration date, May 1988! Apparently the Jewish National Fund or the Park Authorities created a path on top of the tel 25 years ago, and pushed earth to the side. This literally changed the shape of the tel’s surface, and we are digging their construction fill! While we search for original maps, this may change our direction. Zero for two on ancient walls! Bummer!
As the heat wave continues, we again shut down early, and stopped heavy labor even earlier, moving lunch time up as well, and lengthening the rest period. The consideration for our well being is exceptional.
All the square leaders- Efrat, Omer, Boax, Ido, and Keren, are upbeat, pleased by the efforts of their teams, patient, and very optimistic.
Ido Koch yesterday was square leader from early morning to afternoon, organized and led to the tour to Tel es-Safi with Aren Maeir, organized the weekend tour, and gave a major lecture to the assembly in the evening on the Judean Foothills and ancient Judah. Whew!
The different communities represented here are organizing to share their thoughts and images on the Azekah mesh of this blog, Facebook, website, and YouTube, and communicate through the email account firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch for it soon!
Pottery washing and reading (identifying the type of pot and the period) begins now – gotta go!