D4


Day 20 / 20 (100%)

Season 4 is over, at least for us volunteers.  There’s still a lot of work to be done in analyzing and publishing the findings – but that, at least, is all up to the staff to handle.

Old army bunker next to areas D4 and D5

Old army bunker next to areas D4 and D5

Turns out that we did some digging after all in a last-minute attempt to fill in some of the blanks remaining – such as one of C4’s walls.  This meant that at least some of us had a full day of work as we had to wash and read the pottery that we dug up, in addition to the actual digging.

I came down with a horrible cold that morning and spent most of the working time helping out with pottery washing and watching the pottery reading next to the containers.  I also set out some of the shards selected from the reading to dry so that they could be stored in bags without dissolving into mud:

Drying pottery

Drying pottery

We packed all the tools into the container for the last time this season.  Note the interesting method of wheelbarrow stacking:

Packing up the tools

Starting to pack up the tools

The last month was a lot of fun.  It was great getting to participate in the dig and meet fellow volunteers from all around the world.  It’s a little sad that it’s over, especially as I won’t be able to come back next year.

View from the top of the water tower

View from the top of the water tower

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Day 12 / 20 (60%)

We found another bomb today – thankfully not in my area.  This time it was in one of the Ds (D4 or D5), toward the north-east corner of the site.  The bomb squad was called in and digging in the nearby areas was stopped until they got rid of it.

At our request, the bomb wasn’t detonated on site for fear it might damage something.  Instead it was picked up by the robot, put into the secure chamber in the police car and taken to be detonated elsewhere.

Policewomen from the bomb squad at the site

Policewomen from the bomb squad at the site

Pottery reading

Pottery reading

“Reading” pottery – identifying its period and type – from a given locus enables us to date the locus and figure out how the different layers that we dig through relate to one another.  If pottery from a certain locus is Byzantine, for example, it’s pretty safe to assume that the layer itself accumulated during the Byzantine period.  Aside from giving smaller finds context, it also helps us date structures and get an general picture of past events in a given area.

Day 9 / 20 (45%)

Afternoon silhouettes from this weeks summary tour

Afternoon silhouettes on this week's summary tour

There’s been a lot of progress in the western squares, B2 and C4, over the past day or two.  We’ve reached walls in several different areas, enabling us to fill in some of the blanks regarding the layout of the fortress.

Here’s the B2 wall:

Oded with wall in B2

Oded with wall in B2

We’ve also found walls in C4, one in a square that’s been depressingly finding-less up until now, and the other in a square excavated last year – only 10 cm. below where they stopped last season!

Northern C4 square

Northern C4 square

Wall corner in southern C4

Wall corner in southern C4

And here are some pictures from other areas:

Area D6

Area D6

Finally, some love for area D1

Finally, some love for area D1

Partly collapsed church wall from area D4

Partly collapsed church wall from area D4

Day 4 / 20 (20%)

Prof. Lipschits in area C4

Prof. Lipschits in area C4

This rectangle of area C4 has been excavated down to the bottom.  The part on the right – the white surface that was under the garden soil – is clearly different from the left part of the trench, which goes down lower.  This was either a channel contemporary to the original Assyrian structure – perhaps a channel leading water along the west face of the citadel – or a “robber’s trench” – dug by people from later times who wanted to extract building stones from the ground to use in their own buildings.

Oded in area D4 - the Byzantine monastery

Oded in area D4 - the Byzantine monastery

Living quarters, including the remains of a kitchen, have been found in this area of the monastery.

Prof. Lipschits in area D6

Prof. Lipschits in area D6

At the bottom of this picture the layer of rich garden soil from the Iron Age period is visible.  Area D6 is in a different part of the site from C4 – the Assyrians had extensive gardens in their citadel.

Part of a casemate wall, also in area D6

Part of a casemate wall, also in area D6

Here are some of the finds from this week, cleaned up and on display:

A Byzantine coin horde uncovered today and yesterday, containing approximately 350 coins

A Byzantine coin horde uncovered today and yesterday, containing approximately 350 coins.

A Byzantine coin horde uncovered today and yesterday, containing approximately 350 coins

Various seal impressions on jar handles from several Biblical periods - Assyrian, Persian and perhaps even pre-Assyrian.

A very fine lmlkh (to the king) seal impression, which also bears the name of the city of Hebron

A very fine lmlkh - "to the king" - seal impression, which also bears the name of the city of Hebron. Second from left in the row of handles above.

Shard of Byzantine oil lamp, with writing in Greek

Shard of Byzantine oil lamp, with writing in Greek

The writing on the lamp is a Christian religious inscription – or at least it was meant to be.  Because the Byzantines who made it did not know Greek, they copied the inscription from somewhere else by sight, introducing errors into the text and rendering it jibberish.

Day 3 / 20 (15%)

We made considerable progress today, at least in my area (C4).  We went down half a meter in parts of one of the squares today, and finally reached the layer of garden soil – brought up from the valley by (according to the current hypothesis) the Assyrian occupants of the Ramat Rachel citadel – that we already knew was there.  Hopefully we’ll get down to the surface underneath tomorrow or the day after, and be able to make some kind of guess about what the structure looked like.

The difference a day makes:

South square of area C4 on day 2

South square of area C4 on day 2

South square of area C4 on day 3

South square of area C4 on day 3

We also found (in the locus above the garden soil) two seal impressions on jar handles (reading Y-H-D and Y-H) – indicating Yehuda, the ancient name of this region.  Ramat Rachel is a primary source for seal impressions of this kind, and they give valuable insights into the periods of occupation by various empires and names of individual officials.

Here are pictures from some of the other areas today:

Area B2

Area B2

Staff discussion at area D5

Staff discussion at area D5

View of the already-excavated monastary next to area D4

View of the already-excavated monastary next to area D4

Afterward we cooled off a bit during the pottery wash at the site.

The whole group heard a very interesting lecture in the evening by Prof. Roni Reich on the water pools and channels built to utilize the Gihon spring, in the Bronze and Iron Age and Herodian periods.

Roni Reich speaks to his adoring public

Roni Reich speaks to his adoring public