The Cave of Sherds

3 05 2011

Yesterday I ran into one of my friends who was making a trip over the Department of Antiquities. I decided to go along on the off chance that my letters of permission would be ready. When I got there Tammam, the man in charge of museums, was nowhere to be found and I discovered he had been in the States at meetings for a week and a half. While waiting for my friend Matt I went to say I to Jihad. Jihad is in charge of project permits, amongst other things. He decided to see if he could help me out and after waiting a couple of hours I had my letters! Thanks to Jihad, now I would be able to access the DAJ warehouse and the Salt Museum to look at Safut material.

So this morning Matt and I headed over to the department warehouse. He had to measure some EB bones and I was going to get an idea of what Safut material was available. We met with Adnan, the head of the warehouse, and he took us to look for material in the main warehouse while someone else was looking for Safut pottery in the cave. Yes, as I would late discover, they keep crates and crates of material in an extremely large cave next to the warehouse. Adnan helped me find two crates of Safut objects, as well as a few shelves with whole (or mostly whole) vessels. I was hoping to find whole vessels because I have very few so far and it will be nice to have some whole representative forms from the different periods at Safut.

When a worker came back from the cave, he and Adnan began laughing…there were approximately 100 crates of Safut material. So I accompanied the worker down into the cave and assessed what was there.   We entered and went back several hundred meters through various large “rooms” until getting to the area where the Safut material was held.  There were many crates (maybe not 100) labeled in Arabic and arranged by year.  So I am hoping to get permission to bring them back to ACOR and sort through all of them.

I now have a bit more work in front of me than I had previously anticipated. That is the bad news, the good news is that I should be able to find diagnostic sherds from some important loci. These loci are important because they can tell me the date for a wall, floor, or other installation. There are several of these loci that I have no pottery for, and now I know where they have been hiding: in a cave.

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