At our final debriefing on Friday evening, June 8th, Dig Director Dr. Bryant Wood noted that this was probably the most productive season in our 10-year excavation at Khirbet el-Maqatir (KeM) in relation to illuminating all four occupation periods at our site—Late Bronze I (time of Joshua), Iron Age I (period of the Judges), Early Roman (New Testament time), and Byzantine (5th century AD).
While week 1 was great, good things continued to happen in week 2. The report on our first week's 24 excavated coins came back, and there were two coins minted by each of these three Roman governors mentioned in the New Testament: Pontius Pilate under Emperor Tiberius (Mt 27), Antonius Felix under Claudius (Acts 24), and Festus under Nero (Acts 25). There was also one King Herod Agrippa coin (Mt 26).
This week, we found another 28 coins, most apparently kept in a couple of glass bottles inside our first-century house excavated by Dr. Brian Peterson. While we were not able to be totally certain about the wall line found last week beneath that house, it does appear to be the eastern extension of the city of Ai captured by Joshua.
Dr. Scott Stripling also found the third arch in the Byzantine church of our monastery. The style of our three arches might be a new transitional form between the early one-apse and later three-apse churches.
Dr. Gene Merrill and I began excavating wall lines of one or two Israelite houses from the time of the Judges. As known from many other sites, when the Israelites settled down in the Promised Land they apparently did so in extended family groups, often creating their own new small villages in the midst of ruined Canaanite cities. An initial look at the pottery suggests our houses might be among the earliest.
Additionally, archaeological architect Leen Ritmeyer and geologist David McQueen joined us this week, and both offered wonderful insights into the nature of finds on our site.
I have never left KeM so excited and encouraged. Dr. Wood will publish a full report about this season later, but I just wanted to give you a quick preview. Next year will be very exciting. Maybe you can join us.
Gary A. Byers
For a picture slideshow of the 2012 excavation season, visit the ABR Facebook page.