Week 1


Day 5 / 20 (25%)

Sunrise over the Arab neighborhoods east of Ramat Rachel

Sunrise over the Arab neighborhoods east of Ramat Rachel

Today was a nice day on which to finish the first week of the season.  The heat wave finally broke and it was much cooler – foggy and pleasantly chilly in the morning and tolerably hot in the afternoon.

Presenting finds from week 1

Presenting finds from week 1

We’ve been making steady progress in all the areas.  Just today we made some more discoveries in area C4 (more on that later, if I’m allowed to write about it).

Advertisements

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

Day 2 / 20 (10%)

Opening a square in area C4 this morning.

Opening a square in area C4 this morning.

  1. Hit ground with pickaxes.
  2. Extract pottery shards, pretty rocks, bones and broken glass and put in bucket.
  3. Shovel loose dirt into other buckets with hoes, then toss in dump pile.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 until arrival at either:
    • richer layer

    or:

    • China

Day 1 / 20

Today was the first day of the first week of this year’s dig at the Ramat Rachel site.

It looks like we can expect a great season: we have an excellent staff, many enthusiastic volunteers and many many questions we hope to answer (or at least make steps toward answering) by the end of this summer.

Progress has already been made in the six different areas we’re digging in – some previously excavated and some completely new.

Here’s hoping we can match last year’s discoveries!

Keren