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At 4:30 this morning, I believe we had the best early breakfast ready and waiting for us out of all the nine years I have been digging at Khirbet el-Maqatir and staying at Yad Hashmona! It made getting up before 4 A.M. almost worth it! Then the bus was loaded shortly after 5 A.M., and I think this might have been the most efficient first-day load-all-the-tools-and-take-to-the-site we ever had. I am not sure if it was because this group is smarter than most or because Dr. Wood wasn't there to get in our way! Either way, we got off to a great start this morning.

We officially opened seven squares today, one in the monastery, one in the Hasmonean fortress, and five in the Late Bronze fortress of Joshua's Ai. Everyone but square supervisor Suzanne Lattimer had a wall. While pottery is critical to dating an ancient site, pottery by itself is rather useless unless it is in association with architecture. So walls are good. Since we can see a wall leading up to Suzanne's square, only another foot or so deeper should get them to it. Sure hope she doesn't lose that wall!

The weather was quite cool this morning and stayed pleasant with sunshine and a nice breeze all day. And to finish things off, we stopped for ice cream at Dr Wood's favorite place on the way home.

The 2011 season of the Search for Joshua's Ai at Khirbet el-Maqatir is under way, and I think it will be a great dig. Thanks for your continued prayers and support for what we are doing here.

Gary Byers

Administrative Director

Walter Pasedag surveys the site and works at laying out the excavation squares.

Volunteers at Maqatir!

The crew working at squares Q21 and P20.

Gary Byers provides this year's team with their orientation.

The volunteer crew in Square G17, supervised by Jim Luther.

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