Day Seven

Today was hard, hard work. For the second time in a week Azekah East has walls that must be examined and then cut through. The relationship of the stones to a higher section which might be a tower, and to two neighboring squares, is everyone’s question. You regular readers know already what that means – clear and smooth the surface and rocks and crevices to perfection, a day’s work, for an early morning picture session that takes only five minutes! just after first light. What an effort….

Grinding stones appeared today, which is nice, but did not avoid this work!  On the upper level of Azekah East we see mud bricks in the “section”, the side of the dug out square area, but we do not understand it yet. That’s Parker’s report.

Omer in Lower South has 4 squares and running through his areas is a mud brick wall, large, thick and long. Tomorrow they will dig out to catch its face, and then cut a slice through it to understand it. And, there are huge boulders which look they like they create a wall.  Doris from Germany found a piece of pottery with a hole in the middle. It was originally thought to be a loom weight, but our pottery expert Leora says it was originally something else and is in secondary usage, but what that usage is is unclear.

Ido on top is having a field day! The “living surface” has facilities for processing food, whole pots, on the floor , perhaps abandoned and the earth of the “living floor” has to be carefully sifted, and sometimes wet sifted. This level gives information that helps us recreate, understand, and interpret life at this time. Two jars were found in situ lying on the wall. Two large stones, one hollowed for grinding apparently, are on the floor. And, scale weights, loom weights, 3 sets of mortar and pestle, 30 grindstones! Therefore it seems to be a cultural industrial area. The date seems to be 3rd-2nd century BCE, the Hellenistic period. Note that there are no historical writings about a presence here in this period. We know of it from Bliss and Macalister’s pottery, and from our own team and Shatil’s survey of the past few years.

Keren in Upper South is working steadily to seek fortifications shown in the geophysical study, and may have a wall, with 2 loom weights to keep people happy.

Boaz’s walls in Azekah West are becoming clearer, running across the hillside. One huge stone is dug out; it has to be examined and its context clarified. They brought their own coffee making kit to the site. Boaz runs a tight ship – when I walked by today he announced to his relaxing team to prepare themselves for work full blast in three minutes!  They are working to understand stratigraphy, cleaning prepare for photos before digging in further. Late Bronze pottery, a mud brick collapse covering a stone structure, a plastered floor, maybe a cistern inside. Now in fact he and Oded are discussing the overall view of the site and the best way to proceed. The constant interaction, the willingness to be open to different views, is the key to success.

Pottery wash today showed how this multinational group is jelling. Everyone pitched in to help everyone else when they had finished their own buckets. Jokes were going in around in French, German, and various dialects of the English language.

I am sitting at 10pm at night in the office. The area managers and their assistants are siting and compiling reports, discussing the challenges, goals, procedures, and requirement for their plans tomorrow. Leora is surrounded with piles of special finds in all types of carefully marked containers, after giving the TAU students a workshop in pottery, with Efrat getting them ready to begin recording archaeological information. The Socho team some feet away from us are reviewing their finds and plans. Ilan is waling around taking care of logistics for tomorrow. The volunteers enjoyed several lectures this afternoon and evening are relaxing with soft drinks and beers out on the huge picnic area outside. Simply a fantastic atmosphere.

And now, this day is over…until 4:40.

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