Dissertation Weekly #4

28 04 2011

I think it is time to leave the historical geography in the rear view and move on to the meat of the dissertation.  Yes, that means pottery and stratigraphy, the things that I have to wade through every day while writing.  The first chapter I completed was on the Middle Bronze material.  I finished it first because there is the least of it and I gave a talk on it at the annual ASOR meetings last fall.  You can go to the publications tab above and read the whole paper, but here is a sentence (or two):

The square supervisors and area supervisor all described the makeup of the glacis differently, making it difficult to determine the actual material.  In D1.2 it was described as “[a] very compact clay layer,” “a limestone cap” and “a natural structure” (Wimmer, R. and Gajary 1982: 3-4, 23).

These sentences serve two purposes: to show the difficulty in making sense out of notes written by different people 30 years ago and to make mention of one of Safut’s most prominent, nonexistent, features.  To address the first point, it is sometimes hard to understand what a volunteer meant when they recorded information.  If you weren’t there to see it excavated or if you don’t have the person to talk to, it can be extremely difficult to make heads or tails out of some of the supervisor notes.  Here is an example of the same material from one locus being called three different things.  However, it is even worse when there is no information at all to try and interpret.  Unfortunately, a lack of information was a big problem in the first season and in random loci from the remainder of the excavation.

The second point to be made is regarding the “glacis.”  Safut came on the archaeological scene in the 70’s when the Amman-Jerash road was made into a two lane highway.  The site was cut and a “glacis revetment” was revealed.  In the literature this became known as a Middle Bronze glacis and was one of main reasons Safut was cited in archaeological publications.  However the cut revealed neither a glacis, nor anything man-made.  One of the goals of writing my MB chapter was to clarify this mistake once and for all.  A glacis is the top layer of a rampart, so the cut should have revealed a rampart not a glacis.  However what the cut actually revealed was natural rock formations with eroded soil and fallen stones on top.  After analyzing the notes from the Area D excavations, looking at pictures, and viewing the cut in person that is what I concluded.




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