Tuesday, June 16, 2009

First Day of Digging!!!

Today we woke up at 4:15 am to head to the Tel to start our dig. We went down to the dig house for breakfast of bread, nutella and peanut butter..its not traditional breakfast food but when you are about to spend 7 hours digging you need something to get you started. Its still dark outside but as we drive to the Tel you can start to see the sunlight. Dr. Sam Wolff, an archeaologist who lives in Jerusalem and works for the Israel Antiquities Authority is one of our directors and he takes us on a tour of Tel Gezer. He started digging here in 1976 as a student and knows the Tel by heart. There are two main people who are known for digging at the Tel...McAlister who dug in the early 1900s and Dever...who was Dr. Ortiz (Adams soon to be professor ) mentor. McAlister did not use proper archeaology methods to dig and over the last two days we have heard his name become synonomous with either dumps that he left or wrong assumptions that were made about the layout of the Tel.
As of the 2008 dig season some parts of the outer wall, inner wall, adminstration buildings, domestic buildings and what is thought to be a solomic gate have been found. Tel Gezer is believed to have been fortified by Solomon.....largely because of the casemate wall and six chamber gate that are found at Tel Gezer. The same wall and gates are found at Hazor and Megiddo where we know Solomon had some control. Tel Gezer is between Tel Aviv (Joppa) and Jerusalem and therefore was part of a major trade route and became an important city. The Tel is high on a hill that overlooks the coastal plains and begins the shephalah (rolling hills) of Israel. You can see out over all four directions with the Meditterean in the West, Tel Aviv to the Northwest and Jerusalem to the southeast and the Aijalon Valley runs from the West around Gezer on the north to Jerusalem.
The volunteers are divided into three groups. One will be connecting the domestic buildling to the admin buildings and excavating the rampart that held up the city walls. Another will be digging to study the Assyrian Destruction and another will be taking down baulk walls to get down to get below the Hellenistic level. (baulk walls are the one meter areas around the seperate dig suares)
Adam and I are both part of the Sandodge team which is working on the rampart of the city. He is on the high part of the wall and I am on the lower side. After we eat our second breakfast ( cheerios, sandwiches, yogurt and fruit) we get in our groups and get to work.
We first have to carry all of our tools up the Tel, most of them will stay there the entire 5 weeks but some must be brought back down the container every day. We set up shadecloths over our squares which brings down the temperature considerably ( dont worry we still sweat buckets worth). Setting up shades takes quite a while b/c you have to readjust the poles and tie down stakes. We then start cleaning out our square, getting rid of overgrowth and any trash.
To continue I need to tell you the names of our tools so you can follow along with my descriptions.
Bucket= Goofa Water Container=Cacareim Hoe= Terea Pick= Makoosh
So then we use our Makoosh to go about 10-15 cm down into the ground to loosen up the top soil. Then we go back with our terea and scrape over it to see if we found anything of interest and to keep it level. As we scrape we put the fill dirt into goofas and then wheelbarrow what we find out into a dump pile.If you find pottery you put it in to a bucket marked for the appropriate locus ( layer). Bones for right now we are tossing.
My team is looking for the continuation of a sloped rampart so therefore we will digging in this process for a while. We get about two 10 cm. layers dug and leveled before our fruit break. Today is watermelon and its very good!!!! After fruit break we have another hour to take measurements, level up our ground, clean up our baulks and get our tools back down the hill into the container.
Adams team is doing the same thing but on a higher level and will more than likelyhit some parts of buildings. Adam has already found an embellished peice of pottery that Dr. Ortiz will be keeping to add to thier collection of Middle Bronze Age peices. He is working alongside Ghassan, a palestine student from Al Quds University.
We arrive back to Neve Shalom around one, just when the sun is killer!!
We eat lunch, go swimming and upload pictures ( we aren't napping today so that we can get on a solid schedule....i haven't been able to sleep through a solid night yet). Then we head to lecture which is on Israel's geography, then dinner and then to bed.
As usual I will add pictures and then post a link for you to see them....we are still working on Jerusalem pictures though so I will get our dig pictures up asap.

Dig Pictures


  1. Did you get to sketch the piece of pottery Adam found or only pictures?

  2. Couldn't follow the tools - descriptions of each one - or even photos would be helpful