The last few days have been a whirlwind. On Wednesday, we had our last day of actual digging. Our square had come down on a foundation trench the previous day and had excavated down about 40-45 cm along one of our walls.
Every building, ancient and modern, requires a foundation. Sometimes bedrock can be used as a foundation. Since we are still a sizable distance (presumably) from hitting the bedrock on our site, a different construction method must be used. Instead of using a natural foundation, the people who inhabited our site from ancient times had to create one themselves. To do this, a trench would be dug into the ground into which rocks (and usually some form of sealant) are poured. Once this foundation has solidified, a small trench remains on each side of the beginnings of the wall. This area is filled with soil to flatten the area. This is very, very common and easy to spot once you know what to look for. In our case, the soil changed from a medium brown to a darker brown and was very loose. We removed this loose layer of soil until we hit a more compact layer on both the side and bottom. As I have said before, you always want to stay level in archaeology. Foundation trenches are one of the times when this rule is broken. Why would we break such a hallowed rule of archaeology? Because we must stay in the same occupation level with each pass. If we were to ignore this and continue to excavate down, we would have a majority of a square in an earlier occupation level while the foundation trench would continue to spit up later pottery and coins.
Wednesday was supposed to be a day to clean up dirt and to level out all the squares for final pictures. We were down 40-45 cm because of our foundation trench along a wall and were told that we needed it level for closing pictures the next day. A normal day would be about 20 cm. Needless to say, we set to work immediately. Several other squares pitched in from our area to help us sift all of the soil we were throwing up to the top. After the first pass, we had gone too far down to safely exit our square any longer and required a ladder. We probably dropped about 30 cm before breakfast, which had exhausted us almost beyond our bodies ability to continue excavating. After breakfast, we continued to work tirelessly to clean up the finally 10-15 cm pass and to level our the area. We arrived back at the kibbutz having earned our naps for the day.
Yesterday was a day of tearing down the site and taking final pictures of the year's discoveries. I will post some exciting pictures next week of some of our more interesting finds.
Today began at 6 a.m. for four of us, as we helped load and unload lab equipment into storage. We finished by 7:30 a.m., just in time for breakfast. After finishing, we walked the mile to the site and finished cleaning our areas. We filled in squares with sandbags and a material called geo-textile, to help prevent erosion during the year. We finished right around noon, just in time for a quick dip in a spring at the base of the hill before returning for lunch. Four of us continued to work loading and unloading truckloads full of supplies into storage to finish just in time for a last trip to the Sea of Galilee.
We got back about an hour ago and now are awaiting dinner. We had our season's end dig party last night, but I am sure we will manage to have some more fun tonight. We leave for Tel Aviv tomorrow morning at 5:30 a.m., where a majority of people will catch planes back to the states.
A small contingent of us are heading to Jerusalem once we arrive at Tel Aviv. Jocelyn, Caroline, and I will be spending nine days in the city visiting with friends and exploring local archaeological attractions. Our first adventure will be hanging out with one of the area supervisors from last year, Byron McCane and a friend who also dug with us last year, James Ballard. Both are digging this year down the road at Horvat Kur, another ancient village with a synagogue. Our next adventure will be attending Latin Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem (which we will be staying a block and a half from for the next nine days), followed by a day of relaxation.
I am not sure what our internet capabilities will be where we are staying in Jerusalem. If we have internet, I will try to post something small daily. If not, maybe a few pictures here and there.
(I thought I had loaded pictures from our last day, but I apparently have not. I'll add some once we get to Jerusalem)