The second week of our dig at Khirbet el-Maqatir has ended. Our early morning alarms have been turned off, and we are ready to relax for the weekend!
We graduated a new class of veterans Friday night. Some have been bitten by the archaeology bug and will join us again in the future, while others will be able to mark this experience off their bucket list.
Our weather has been beautiful all week, reminding many of us of San Diego. Since the weather has been clear, several days we were able to see into the Jordan Valley, across to Jordan and the minarets in Amman, and Jerusalem, as well as encounter the Judean desert. We praise God that injuries have been few and far between—mostly blisters and sore muscles complaining of the load we ask them to bear.
Ms. Ellen Jackson, our metal detectorist, has been sweeping the site, and between her scanning and sifting we found a whopping 114 coins this week. We had the Chinese film crew back on the site again. They were doing interviews with our scholars and getting B-roll shots. We all tried to look busy and productive! Overall, everything has been running smoothly and effectively.
Dr. Bryant Wood - Coin Count: 2
Square Theme: Rocks, Dirt, and Flints—Oh My!
Dr. Wood has a beautiful square of mostly dirt. Only a few large rocks dot the landscape, much like a zen garden. After a half meter of dirt, Dr. Wood's team has caught the edge of a possible domestic house that was built against the western side of the Late Bronze wall that he is attempting to trace. It's a bit difficult since the Late Bronze wall dodges under amodern agricultural wall into an olive grove. His team has been keeping busy finding flints numbering in the hundreds!
Dr. Mark Hassler - Coin Count: 26
Square Theme: Boulderdash and Your Token Piece of Pottery
Many squares have been complaining of the rock tumble they have had to move, but Dr. Hassler's square can lay claim tothe largest stones on the site to move. These stones, probably from our missing left side Late Bronze gate, are now tumble in our first-century tower/gate complex. His team has uncovered two chambers (2m X 2m) of a possibly eight-chambered tower that would have been at least five stories high. Pottery hasn't been abundant, but has consistently confirmed its first-century origin.
Ms. Abigail Leavitt - Coin Count: 29
Square Theme: What'll Ya Have?
Ms. Leavitt's square has been a whirlwind of activity. Her team has been working in a first-century domestic area of a house they affectionally call The Diner. They found our first in situ tabun oven at the site, as well as a textbook, a picture-perfect silo, and a possible pot holder or grinding area carved into the bedrock. They rounded out the week excavating a series of small walls, and closed out the square on Friday. Monday will be a new square with a new theme! Before this, Abby and her team excavated a mikveh.
Dr. Boyd Seevers - Coin Count: The Iron Age Doesn't Have Coins!
Square Theme: Rocks, Walls, and People Lived Here
Dr. Seevers has been uncovering our Early Iron Age houses on the northwest side of the site. Opening up a new square this week, his team has clearly identified the house's walls built into the Late Bronze city wall. These settling Israelites dismantled the interior part of the wall, using the stones to build their house, and used the exterior side of the filled wall as the back wall of their house. It makes for a jumbled, hard-to-distinguish context. There is a difference of opinion on whether this emerging culture was smart and clever using existing walls this way or just plain lazy!
Mr. Steven Rudd - Coin Count: 5
Square Theme: Rock Pile Gang
Mr. Rudd's small but able-bodied team has been moving quickly. They finished up last year's heavily looted square and moved on to a new square this week. However, one of the $20,000 questions is where to dump the dirt and rocks you excavate. Ideally, you dump in a previously excavated square, but sometimes that isn't possible and you add your rocks to a "naturally" occurring rock pile. Mr. Rudd seems to be chasing that rock pile from square to square, having to move it each time. Although, it could be possible that they've been sentenced to hard labor for their bad puns! Under that pile of rocks, they were treated to a silo to excavate. Unfortunately, it only contained a few inches of dirt and they had it completed in an hour. They have finished their squares and are planning on lending a hand to others.
Dr. Brian Peterson - Coin Count: 25
Square Theme: Ain't No Place Like a Hole in the Ground
Dr. Peterson's squares are the squares that keep on giving. They are by far the most stratified squares we have on the site; containing everything from our first-century villa to the foundations of our Late Bronze city wall, they've got it all. Walls crisscross in every direction. They have also had some beautiful small finds—earrings, bracelet, and beads. (He Went to Jared!) His team attempted to find bedrock this week, but there seems to be no end in sight.
Ms. Suzanne Lattimer - Coin Count: 26
Square Theme: The Walls Between Us
Our series of small walls have turned into a series of larger walls this week. Most cannot be crawled over anymore. It makes moving dirt a long process. We uncovered a doorjamb and threshold in situ in the beginning of the week. Today, we decided it might be a window instead due to other architectural blocks we found nearby. Next week we might decide it's something else. Stay tuned. Sometimes interpreting can be troublesome; digging is the easy part! Lastly, we discovered a silo on Friday just inside the threshold (only further confusing the threshold issue). It is almost completely filled with dirt, making it a tight fit for one person and a bucket. We made a dent, but have many more buckets of dirt to look forward to.