Monday, June 11, 2012

Day 11: Conservation and Preparing to Explore the Cistern Again

It has been a busy couple of days with a Saturday filled with a trip exploring the ancient areas of Tel Dan and Banias in the northern Galilee.  Tel Dan is a site where a 9th c. B.C.E. inscription references a king who claims his legitimacy from beit david - "the house of David."  This find set the archaeological and textual world of biblical studies in a near upheaval in that it called into question many of those who claimed David was merely a fictional character.  This debate still rages with many prominent scholars falling on both sides of the argument.  Banias is a site built during the Hellenistic period (between Alexander the Great and Rome dominance) that Herod Philip set as his capital of the north.  It is refereed to in the New Testament as Caesrea Philipi.

Our dig has continued to progress.  We have been progressing at approximately 20 cm a day and are nearly even with our squares from last year.  We have been digging in two squares but will spread to a third tomorrow.  I will remain in the square where I have been digging and the two other assistant square supervisors will be moving to our square from last year.

We just had an incredible lecture from Oren Cohen, the lead conservationist of the "Jesus Boat" discovered in the Galilee approximately 15 years ago (maybe 12 years ago?).  It is a boat dating to around 30 B.C.E., plus or minus 80 years (based on carbon dating).  The amount of work and dedication by people both paid and unpaid is amazing.  Tomorrow, we will be visiting the actual boat with her.

The other big news is that Enon has returned to the site and wants to again explore the underground network of cisterns on our site.  Josh, Jocelyn, and I will be joining Enon underground at approximately 11 a.m.  Our dig day ends at 11:45 a.m., but we will be staying a couple of hours later.  It is sure to be just as exciting an adventure as last year.  I hope that our explorations yield further evidence of what this network of tunnels was used for.  Water, storage, or hiding places during the First Jewish Revolt?  Hopefully tomorrow will shed a bit of light.  Even if not, it is sure to prove an exciting adventure as we crawl and dig through tunnels 30-50 ft. below ground left unexplored for nearly 2,000 years.