D5


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

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 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