Back in the Dirt

14 06 2011

This past week we rented a car and went down to check out Jalul with the family.  The team there was winding down (they had little over a week left) so it was great to catch up with friends as well as assess the progress that had been made over the previous 4 and a half weeks.

The most exciting development is the excavation of the water system in Field W.  Last season a water channel was excavated dating to the 7th century BCE and running out of the city.  This season a small section of the actual reservoir (or what is assumed to be a reservoir) has been uncovered.  The dean of  Andrews Seminary, Denis Fortin, excavated three distinct surfaces running under the channel and (possibly?) abutting the substantial wall of the reservoir.  The pottery from these surfaces was trending towards the beginning of the Iron Age II, so mainly 9th and 8th centuries BCE.  The reservoir itself is plastered and currently about 4-5 meters deep.

We also got a chance to see the work that Abe and Jeff (two Andrews archaeology grad students) were doing in Field G.  They are uncovering another room of the pillared building that dates to the late Iron Age, including walls and pillars standing 2.5 meters high (so basically full height, which is unusual).  During this time Jack was having a great time digging in the dirt with a trowel and getting pushed around in a wheelbarrow by one of the shabab.  We then went down to the Islamic Village and Jacob (another Andrews archaeology grad student) showed us the Byzantine (?) crypt (?) that is being excavated.  It is very impressive and stands out in the village.  They uncovered a blocked entrance on the outside of the building and chamber on the inside.

We then went back to Madaba, to the Mariam Hotel where the dig team stays and while they were finishing up for the day we had a swim in the Mariam’s lovely pool.  After the swim we enjoyed the buffet lunch with the team and then went to pottery reading so I could take a look at the finds from the previous day and get an idea of the time periods they are dealing with.  During this time Jack was wanting so badly to hold the sherds, but he couldn’t so he was getting frustrated.  Erika Fortin (the dean’s daughter) was washing pottery and this intrigued Jack, so she taught him how to do it with some body sherds that were going to be tossed.  He loved it, and was really good at it.  Between the digging, washing, and love of pottery I think we have a budding archaeologist on our hands!

After pottery reading we took the kids into town and did some shopping in the Madaba Souk.  We went in a number of mosaic shops looking for the best quality and prices.  Madaba is one of the only places where they still make mosaics by hand, and they were more than happy to show us their techniques and let Jack put a few mosaic squares in place.  We also ended up buying two copper jugs, which we had been wanting for a long time.  The prices in Madaba are much cheaper than in Amman or other places in Jordan.  We finished the day by picking up Jacob and Abe and going to Adonis, a new mezzeh-style restaurant.  It is in an old Ottoman period building (that ACOR used to own) that has been renovated.  The place looks great and the food was inexpensive and very tasty.

The next day I got up a 5AM and drove out to Jalul so I could dig for a day.  I have been itching to dig throughout most of the fellowship, but especially now that so many digs are under way.  Zeljko Gregor (professor at Andrews and supervisor of Fields G and W) put me with Abe, who was taking down balks in Field G in order to finish excavating part of a large pillared building dating to the late Iron Age.  As we took down the first balk we discovered what is likely the city wall.  The top courses had been robbed out (likely by the builders of the Islamic Village).  The next balk we took down revealed an ephemeral wall of the Iron II building.  Why is it that walls always seem to hide in balks?  The day was windy so I returned to ACOR happy and extremely dirty.  It was a good day.

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