This week went by too fast and what a week it was! Area O continues to be a bit of a puzzle as we’ve reached levels well below topsoil and are still churning up pottery varying in date from the Early Bronze Age to Iron IIb but mostly split between Middle Bronze Age Pottery and Iron II pottery. In addition, this week heralded exciting new finds as well as newly uncovered architecture. At this point most everyone working in the area has acclimated to the dig schedule in a way they hadn’t during the first week and those who have never dug before have come a long way in their technique allowing us to work much more efficiently, quickly and precisely. Although the original plan had been to excavate our area for only two weeks, due to our findings it seems as though we’ll be allowed to continue digging in the area until the end of the season. In any case though, it’s hard to believe that the season is already halfway over.
At the start of the week I was tasked with helping to dig down in the general area of the A-1 room. I had a chance to work both inside the room and outside of it. As was to be expected we found that the walls we had previously found continued downwards. We also found wall continuations where we had expected to find them. However, some of these walls are curious since some of them start at a much higher level and seem to contain far more courses than others. In some cases, we believe that this can be explained by stone robbing and wall dismantling that took place at some point in the past. In any case though it appears that we might have an entire room from A-1 although many questions remain that will hopefully be clarified by the end of the season. Foremost amongst these is how the A-2 wall which cuts through the A-1 level relates to the entire area. For now, I’m not entirely sure what to think of it. However, as always, only further excavation will give us answers.
In addition to the confusing architecture. Area O’s pottery continues to be completely odd. As I mentioned in the intro section most of the pottery coming out of the Area comes from the Middle Bronze Age or the Iron II period. In archaeology we always date to the latest pottery so more likely than not what was identified as a Middle Bronze Age level may likely in fact belong to the Iron II period. The question remains though of how we have so much mixed pottery. We’re well below the topsoil at this point and are only digging through what seems to be one stratum so this is all completely odd. I don’t know how to explain the mixed pottery but hopefully this too will reveal itself. If anything though this has been a good chance for me to see Middle Bronze Age and Iron II pottery in the field and to learn more about the ceramic wares of both periods. Area A where I’ve been digging for the last two years is most completely comprised of material from the Iron I period and I’m glad that digging in this new area is allowing me to start learning what the indicative sherds from these periods look like. That said though, I have a very long way to go in terms of learning pottery, but every little bit counts and will hopefully eventually result in me having a good understanding of the pottery used throughout the history of the Southern Levant.
This week was also a week of firsts for me as I managed to find my first bit of metal. While of course it doesn’t matter who finds something, it’s hard not to feel some sort of pride for managing to spot what’s a fairly small piece and what could’ve easily ended up in the dirt dump if I hadn’t been paying more attention. It surprised me just how heavy the object was compared to its size and the weight of the bones and sherds of similar sizes which we find on a regular basis. This could also be important archaeologically as we’ve actually managed to find material associated with the metal industry in our area. Last week we found a tuyere as well as a crucible fragment. Additionally, tiny bits of slag have also been found. Who knows, perhaps metal working took place lower in the area and this piece could’ve been made in the same general area as we found it. Hopefully the next two weeks might reveal a metal industry existed in our area perhaps like the one we’ve found evidence for in area A over the past two seasons.
In addition to that particularly exciting first, this week had other firsts as well. These ranged from the first time that I’ve had try to teach somebody how to dig from scratch (in hebrish) to my first time digging in temperatures exceeding 100° Fahrenheit (which was much less fun). In any case though I’m not sure how much more I really have to say. I’m hoping that I can provide more answers in my next post as the new week brings new finds and greater understanding.