Update for Thursday, July 22, 2021

Very nice day today! Some great finds, visits and we finished off the day with a great visit and party!

In Area D West, Jeff and his team continued to expose more of the enormous earlier fortifications in the riverbed. To check out where they reach, we brought in a backhoe that dug down to the side of the existing wall, deep down, so as to reveal the extent of the wall. In addition, they continued working on the section in the brick walls to the west of the gate – may have evidence of another path leading into the city! Time will tell what this is!

In Area S, Shira and her team excavated several more contexts related the large building, including an apparent tabun/oven (which was sampled extensively), and a new area with tons of pottery.

Maria and her team, in Area M, continued revealing the 9th cent BCE destruction. Among other things, we now have the complete plan of one of the houses in this area, which may very well enable us to understand the basic house plan used in this and other houses in this area. In addition, several large vessels, and other cool finds were excavated, and we began removing the concentration of loomweights (which of course, as always, as soon as you remove one layer, more appear…).

A group from the Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology dept at BIU joins us today for a few hours and helped on the dig.

In the late afternoon, we went to Tel Azekah for a tour, led by Oded Lipschits (TAU). After that we were invited for a really nice end of the week bar-b-que party with the Tel Azekah team (at Kibbutz Netiv HaLamed Heh), which ended with a jazz concert! Thanks to Oded and the Azekah team for hosting us!

Great day!

Update for Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Very nice day today in the field, with a lot of finds and a bunch of visitors.

In Area M, Maria and her team are deep in the 9th cent BCE destruction level, with oodles of finds, including a large collection of various vessels and objects in the new stone tub (olive press). This includes jars, loomweights, a “beer jug” and other things.

In Area S, Shira and her team are uncovering more and more vessels and walls relating to the large building.

In Area D East, Jeff and his team had some really nice finds. This includes the earlier part of the fortification which gets bigger and bigger (and more and more complicated to understand) and the section with the great phytolith layer(s), which now has a pavement underneath it! This area is going to provide a lot of information!

We had quite a few visitors, including some of my family (including my mother and brother in law), Amir and Vladi from the IAA, Ido, Helena and others from TAU, and a bunch of old friends including Toni and Meir.

Finally, Maria caught a great shot of a lizard (apparently a skink), eating a grasshopper (see below). A real National Geographic shot!

Update for Tuesday, July 20

Very successful day on all fronts! Super hot day – but worth the effort…

In Area D, we had some nice developments. Dan and Johanna were on site sampling the various phytolith concentrations, brick features and surfaces in Area D, and came out with some great contexts and oodles of samples. We expect great results from this analyses.

Down at the bottom of D, the massive earlier part of the fortification is becoming larger and larger, and the possibility that the well was included in the fortification is becoming a real possibility. This is really cool. Also, Yaakov, from the RATAG (Nature and Parks Authority) cleaned the thorns from around the well and it is much clearer and easier to see.

In Area S, additional parts of the large structure are coming out, as well as more contexts with the 9th cent. BCE destruction.

In Area M, many more vessels, lots of bricks, several jar stoppers, as well as various other finds, made this a very interesting day!

Finally, our neighbors, the Azekah team, came for a late afternoon tour of the various parts of the lower city.

And see some pictures below!

The rest of the day…

So, after the not so great beginning of our day, after an hour or two, and thanks to the great team, damage control went into action, and we more or less returned to normal work!

Quite soon, some great finds starting coming out!

In Area D East, Jeff and his team had some nice finds. In Jill’s squares, sections of an early brick wall relating to the fortifications west of the gate was found. Later in the day, a really well-preserved surface, covered in a thick layer of phytoliths (with a grinding stone as well) was found in the same area. Needless to say, Dan Cabanes is quite happy with this, and will sample it to death! In Brent’s squares, the continuation of the large wall with monolithic boulders north of the gate continues to be exposes. And Jeff (along with Jill) worked on clearing around the well and have located all kinds of lines of walls that may be early – perhaps fortifications around the well from early periods?

In Area S, Shira and her team continue to expose the large building and several more contexts with assemblages of vessels appeared.

In Area M, Maria and her team, as in previous days, are in the 9th cent destruction level, with very nice finds, including more of an additional olive press, various unique vessels (including a large shallow platter), the bead mentioned in the previous post, and other finds. Ronen Hazan (HUJI) and his lab team joined us for the day, and helped out in Area M.

Finally, in pottery reading today, several fragments of a very unusual decorated shell were found. Hopefully more fragments will come up in other baskets.

So, despite the rather maddening beginning of the day, it was quite an overall success. We won’t let little “blips” get us off track! :-)

Update for Friday, July 16, 2021, last Friday of 2nd week

The 2nd week came to end today, with great finds that wrapped up a great week!

We started out the day with a group activity that was a lot of fun – which we will post about in the future! :-)

We also had a lot of visitors today, including family members of various team members, volunteers and and people who stopped by to see the excavation.

Jeff and Area D East team made great progress today. In the section along the massive fortification wall that is probably an earlier phase of the fortifications, they found the continuation of this wall running towards the wadi. It is not clear whether this continues and surrounds the well, including it into the city’s fortifications, or if this is connected to another entrance in the city. Hopefully, more answers on this in the coming week. In the other part of the Area D’s work, the deep sections in the mudbrick features of the wall that leads west from the gate area, additional portions of brick and disturbances were found, once again seemingly supporting an interpretation that we have a breach here.

Shira’s team in Area S found 3 assemblages relating to the 9th cent BCE destruction associated with the large building(s). Interestingly, this includes 2-3 vessel types not seen in other areas, perhaps indicating the unique status of this building. Among the finds in this areas today was a bronze disk, perhaps part of a cymbal.

In Area M, Maria and her team continued finding tons of materials from the 9th cent destruction level. This included another group of loomweights and many vessels. Most interesting is the discovery of an additional stone tub, similar to the two others in the this area, which we interpret as olive presses. This seems to prove our previously raised suggestion that this area had a concentration of houses, each with its own olive press, and most likely, this part of the site produced large quantities of olive oil.

Dan was busy moving between the different areas and parts of the sites, sampling for phytolith analyses.

We finished off the day with a team tour of the various excavation areas and popsicles.

And on Monday morning, bright and early, we start the 3rd week.

Finally, for those marking the fast of the 9th of Ab (which marks the destructions of the 1st and 2nd Temples in Jerusalem), I wish you a easy and meaningful fast!

Update for Thursday, July 15th, 2021

What a scorcher it was today, and we had some really cool finds!

In Area S, Shira and her team finally came down on the 9th cent BCE destruction level associate with the very large building in this area. Interestingly, some of the vessels appear to be of types not seen in other areas, perhaps hinting to a different function of this area.

In Area D East, Jeff and his team are working on sections of the fortifications. As of now, it appears that the “breach theory” is still relevant, as there may be a missing part of the wall here. In addition, the very large section of the earliest phase of the wall is built of two courses of enormous stones – and we hope to have a date for this by the end of the season.

In Area M, Maria and her team continue exposing the 9th cent destruction level in many squares. Interesting finds today include a lot of pottery, loomweights, and perhaps an additional stone “bathtub” – which is most likely an olive oil press. Possible support for this came from a large complete jar situated near one of these installations, which when excavated contained large amount of sediment that were dark and “oily”. Many samples were taken and hopefully, various analyses will be able to check out the content.

We had quite a few visitors today, including Omer Sergi (TAU) and Johanna Regev (WIS).

And one more day to the end of week 2!

Check out the photos below: