Archaeology certainly keeps you busy.  I’ve been meaning to write this post about the second week since Saturday, but this week has been unusually action packed with lectures and pottery sorting every night. In addition, ever since my new roommate moved in this week, we’ve been going to bed about an hour later and so I’ve been using my afternoon time to just turn in and nap a bit. As a result, it’s Thursday and I’m writing about last week’s finds and some reflections about what took place in my second week digging.

My second week was completely different than my first. One of the first and biggest changes that took place was that our dig supervisor changed both the area I was working on and the partner that I would be working with. He explained that the previous area that we had been in had been divided into smaller projects and that it was no longer a job which required two people. I was reluctant at first to leave behind my previous area and partner, but I quickly adjusted to my new area and partner. It’s amazing how attached you get to the areas you dig in. The thing that creates this attachment is the sheer amount of time and work you put into an area.  It’s just amazing to see how much work you poured into an area at the end of a week and you can really look on it with both pride and with fond memories of digging through that area. The dig experience isn’t just about excavation and work. It’s also about meeting and making memories with people in a unique environment. 

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The Matzevah and where we were up to after around a day of digging.
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My new area

My new area was very different than my first area. While my first area was small and closed off, my new area was much larger and right in the middle of the area. When we started, we were on the floor of a layer which we referred to A4. Our goal was to go down and see if we could reach at least some indication of the lower level, A5. The most interesting thing about our section starting out was that it contained a large standing stone known as a matzevah. Since there are no inscriptions to identify what type of cultic practice it would have been a part of, we can only speculate as to what it was specifically used for. Another defining element of our area starting out the week was that it was right on the side of the hill. As a result of this, much of the soil on the edge was very eroded and as a result loose. This made it difficult to dig in precise levels, but we got better at it as the week went on.

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Me sweeping up the floors and clarifying the stones in the collapse.
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An example of the kind of pottery we were finding in groups.

After digging and leveling for awhile, we began to find great quantities of localized pottery. Most of this pottery was found around the stones in the middle of the room and in the corner. As a result of this great amount of pottery smashed around the stones, our supervisor told us that it seemed to be collapse either from a roof or from a different wall. In any case, we were finding amazing amounts of large pottery pieces all grouped together  around the floor stones. This was really exciting as while in my first week I had worked on some very cool architecture, the large amounts of pottery provided a welcome and interesting change. What was especially cool to see was when pieces of pottery found in different sections of what was deemed to be collapse fit together. This seemed to ensure that these pots had been smashed at some point.

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Another picture of the collapse

After digging in the area around the collapse, we started to dig in the collapse. This part was really fun because it involved the dislodging and throwing of many a stone. Also, it seemed as though under every stone that was overturned a new and exciting piece of pottery awaited. Pretty soon we already found around two buckets full of pottery, but the best find was yet to come.

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A rare view of area A without its shade cloth.

I’m lucky that my first real exciting find happened so early in my experience working on an archaeological dig. As I was working my way through the stones in the collapse, I happened upon one that didn’t look quite like the others. In fact, it looked like pottery. I worked my way around it and brushed and out popped an iron age i pyxis. I quickly showed it to my supervisor who showed it to one of our dig directors, Nava. She excitedly explained that it was a personal vessel known as a pyxis and that it was used for the storage of oil. The piece of pottery was just beautiful and I was really excited. It also happened to be the day that my digging partner for the week was away and she jokingly chided me for not waiting for her to find it.

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Nava explaining the pyxis
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closeup
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just about where I found the pyxis in the wall.

The rest of the week went by pretty averagely. My digging partner and I continued to dig down deeper into our section. The only real thing worth mentioning was my other discovery. I found an oddly shaped rock which I dubbed ‘fetus rock’ because it looks like a fetus. That’s about it. I’ll write about this week soon and I’ll try to get these out sooner than I have been. Thanks for reading.

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my beloved fetus rock

Julian Hirsch

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