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 11 / 20 (55%)

Sorry about missing Friday’s post.  Here are some pictures to make up for it:

Photographing the square

Photographing the square

Among last week’s finds:

Decorated oil lamp shard

Decorated oil lamp shard

Piece of mosaic floor

Piece of mosaic floor

And now, a brief word from our mascot:

aoeu

Aharoni (Aharona? Aharonit?) taking a break on our dirt pile

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 8 / 20 (40%)

Matt showing off yesterdays pottery haul

Matt showing off yesterday's pottery haul

Pictured are buckets of pottery from yesterday, soaking in water for today’s pottery wash.  In the background people are just finishing putting away breakfast.

Aharoni, a kibbutz dog and the digs mascot, making sure we do it right

Aharoni, a kibbutz dog and the dig's mascot, making sure we do it right

Eric displaying C4s dump pile

Eric displaying C4's dump pile

This is more or less all we found today in C4’s southern squares – dirt, some rocks, and more dirt.

Bullets from C4

Bullet shells from C4

We’ve been finding empty bullet shells in one of the C4 squares over the past couple days (none today though – looks like we found all the ones in the square).  Until this morning we assumed that they were from the Six-Day War (1967), but someone from the kibbutz came by and suggested that we look on the bottom of the shells and sure enough the date of manufacture was written there.  Turns out that they’re from the War of Independence or earlier – most are from ’48 and ’47, but there are a few from ’41, and even from ’38 and ’36.

Ramat Rachel, which is right on the edge of Israeli territory, was an important strategic outpost during the War of Independence and the Six-Day War.  The remains of an Israeli bunker are still visible on the hill directly above us, right where the ancient Assyrian fortress tower stood.  Finds from both periods are a potent reminder of the strategic position this hill held for many different peoples over the millennia.

(If only this were America.  Then we could just dig up the 1948 stuff and call it “archeology”.)

Day 7 / 20 (35%)

Shatil sketching rock positions in area D6

Shatil sketching rock positions in area D6

Work in area D6

Work in area D6

Slow but steady progress.  Nothing notable in the dirt (and there was a lot of it) that we dug out of our square today, but we’ve made progress on C4’s main purpose – to fill in the blanks on our map of the site.  That means finding walls, garden areas, water channels and so on, so we can get an idea of what the site looked like and what it was used for.

Measuring a new square in area C4

Measuring a new square in area C4

Today we found what looks like a “ghost of a wall” – an area of fill where a wall used to be.  The building stones of the original wall were dug out by people from a later period, and the resulting “robber’s trench” then filled up with dirt.  Since the new dirt is different from the soil surrounding it, it’s possible to tell where the trench – and therefore the wall – ran.

Theoretically, at least.  When we packed up for the day, we were still trying to figure out how exactly the hopefully-wall stood in the area we’re digging: whether it continued straight, curved to the left, curved to the right or simply stopped.  Got to leave more work for tomorrow, after all…

Part of todays pottery haul from C4

Part of today's pottery haul from C4

Day 6 / 20 (30%)

Today was the beginning of the second week here at the site. Seven dig members from last week left us, but thirteen new volunteers have come to help out. Several of them are in my square, C4, and it’s been great working with them in the day they’ve been with us so far.

Notable finds from C4 today:

  • Empty bullet shells
  • Small probably-bronze probably-Persian arrowhead
  • 2 broken light bulbs
  • 2 plastic spoons
  • Bomb

(No, it didn’t explode.) The remains from the Six-Day War have so far proved to be more… interesting than the actual antiquities we’ve found so far this week – we’re hoping for that to change tomorrow as we reach the richer layers of the new squares we’re opening.

In other squares, we’ve had a couple more seal impressions and some beautiful large fragments of pottery from the columbarium. During pottery wash today we also found a shard of pottery with writing on it in ink, though it’s likely that it’s a modern artifact.

Pottery wash, with view of the Jerusalem hills

Pottery wash, with view of the Jerusalem hills

The nice weather held over the weekend. It was actually chilly until the middle of the morning, making digging much more pleasant than usual. It’s supposed to hold through the middle of the week, and we plan on taking full advantage of it.

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).