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Tomorrow we begin the first day of excavation at Khirbet el-Maqatir, 10 miles north of Jerusalem in Israel's West Bank. Directed by Dr. Bryant Wood, this is the dig's ninth season, all nine having been sponsored by the Associates for Biblical Research.

Today, our dig staff went to the site and laid out a dozen squares in preparation for tomorrow. This year, our team will be working in three different areas:

  1. The 15th-century BC fortress of Ai from Joshua's time
  2. The Hasmonean fortress from the 2nd1st century BC
  3. The Byzantine monastery from the 4th6th century AD.

We are all ready to go tomorrow, except…, Dig Director Bryant Wood is still at home recuperating from a recent stem cell transplant procedure and chemotherapy. His health continues to improve and his spirits are good, but after starting and leading the dig for nine years, he is sitting this season out. So the rest of us have two major thoughts in mindfirst, don't screw anything up for Dr. Wood, and second, let's find all the good stuff while he is gone! But, I assure you, he is still directing things from home and will be processing and publishing all the results from this season. I will just ask you to continue to pray for him and his speedy recovery.

Many of you have been praying both for Dr. Wood and for our whole team for months. Well, D-Day (Dig Day) is now here and we will be reporting for duty tomorrow at 4:30 A.M.! Thanks for the support; we will keep you posted.

Gary Byers

Administrative Director

Pile of tesserae uncovered by the excavation team led by Scott Stripling in January 2011.

Floor and walls of the Byzantine monastery structure.

Surveyors and diggers work hard at preparing the site for excavation work. L to R: Suzanne Lattimer, Titus Kennedy, Joel Kramer, Brian Peterson, Jim Luther.

L to R: Suzanne, Joel, Jim, and Brian.

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