With our dig team of almost 40 people, this may have been our most productive and interesting week in the ten years of our excavation. With 15 squares open, we have found stuff from the time of Joshua (15th century BC) to the Byzantines (5th century AD).
Dr. Gene Merrill (Dallas Theological Seminary) and I have been tracing the continuation of the western wall belonging to the city that Joshua destroyed. It is slow but important work.
Dig Director Dr. Bryant Wood is back in the field after health problems last season. He and Suzanne Lattimer both dug squares to bedrock inside the ancient city this week. While finding no architecture, both had lots of interesting pottery from the dirt they moved. Dr. Wood also had two sling stones and a coin. Both are trying new squares next week.
In the monastery on our site, Dr. Scott Stripling continues making wonderful finds. He found an intact eight-foot-high stone pillar lying near the pillar base it once stood upon. A damaged two-foot-high stone Corinthian pillar capital was also found nearby.
Dr. Brian Peterson continues to clear the first-century (BC and AD) house he discovered last year. Beyond 15 coins from the dirt within the house, on Friday he found a cistern cut into the floor of one of the rooms. It has been buried for close to 2,000 years, and he can't wait to see what is down there!
But, even more significantly, I think Dr. Peterson has also identified the northern wall of Joshua's city sitting on bedrock right beneath the floor of his house! While we already had 50 feet of the city's north wall on the city gate's west side, this would be the first part we have found to the east. Dr. Wood won't say this is it yet—so when he decides next week, just remember you heard it here first!
Good weather, great people, wonderful finds—just another week in the West Bank.
For a picture slideshow of the 2012 excavation season, visit the ABR Facebook page.