Although the 2018 Shiloh excavations officially came to an end after week four, there was still more work to be done. Dig Director Dr. Scott Stripling inspected the newly excavated walls and, together with Conservation Team Leader Greg Gulbrandsen, identified and selected unstable walls in need of conservation. During week five, Greg led a team consisting of Dr. Charles Savelle, Durwin Kicker, Tim Lopez, Abigail Leavitt, and Charity Hebert.
The first step of the conservation process was to clean the walls. First, we used trowels to clean dirt from between the wall stones. Next, we employed stiff whisk brooms to remove any remaining dust. Finally, using a hose with a spray nozzle, we thoroughly washed the wall stones. After leaving the walls to dry overnight, we returned the next day and began the process of mortaring the wall stones. This involved mixing small batches of mortar, using a large caulk gun to insert the mortar between wall stones, and sealing the mortar against the stones with a paintbrush. The following day, after the mortar had dried overnight, we went over the walls once more, this time with a stiff brush, removing the rough edges from the mortar. In all, we conserved five Middle-Bronze Age storeroom walls and stabilized two other large wall stones.
The conservation team also doubled as the clean-up team. We cleaned the wet-sifting station and removed the hoses for winter storage. We tidied up the site and put away the excavation equipment for next year. We also covered our excavation areas with felt to protect them from contamination through the winter. Back at the hotel, we packed up the office, storing our supplies in the hotel basement. We organized our finds, sending bones to, Lidar, our zooarchaeologist and flints to Dudu, our flint specialist. We sent our pottery to Peretz and Liora, our ceramic typologists, and made multiple visits to Orna, our conservator, taking our coins and special small finds for cleaning and conservation. We made several trips to KAMAT, the regional Israel Antiquities Authority, dropping off finds at their storage facility. Our team of Israeli specialists will work throughout the year processing our material. Meanwhile, back at home, our staff members will write reports and prepare publications documenting our findings.
Between conserving, packing, and cleaning up, we also found time to visit archaeological sites. We visited two ancient altars near Shiloh and stopped at the Hizma stone vessel factory and Rachel’s Tomb. Finishing our work a day early, we took a road trip and visited Ekron, Gath, and Ashdod, three Philistine sites.
Meanwhile, Dr. Scott Stripling and Suzanne Lattimer led a tour for 65 people. They visited a variety of ancient sites in Israel including Joppa, Ashkelon, Masada, En Gedi, Qumran, Ceasarea, Megiddo, and Nazareth.
As we prepare to head home, we are already planning for next year’s excavation at Shiloh, and we hope that you will join us at Shiloh in 2019.
Dig Director’s Note:
In the final week, I also did a couple of final media interviews, and the piece aired on Jerusalem Dateline. (Off site link)
One tour highlight was the baptism of 12 people in the Jordan River, including one person who was watching our group being baptized and she chose to commit her life to Christ. I am extremely grateful for all who prayed, volunteered, and donated financially to make Season Two at Shiloh a huge success.
As we process our finds, the final season expenses will accrue. Please make a final Season Two donation as you are able.
Students from Lee University with Dr. Brian Peterson
(click on the image to view our Shiloh 2018 FaceBook Album).
We will be sharing more of our exciting discoveries in the coming weeks. Please continue to pray for the dig team. You might consider participating in the Shiloh Dig in the summer of 2019. If you wish to support the dig financially, simply follow this link, and specify in the “Instructions” section that you desire to fund the Shiloh Excavations.