Excavations at Tall Jalul are moving into the notoriously intense Week Four phase of work, interpersonal relations and complexity. This is the time when the sun-scorched, dirt encrusted students and volunteers, not to mention the staff, are tested to their inner most core. Exhaustion is rampant. The determined invincible who have forgone the 9 pm lights out, have begun suffering from the late night movies and partying on the streets. Personalities are beginning to morph into hitherto unknown forms. It’s all a part of the predictable cycle repeated year after year on any excavation. Both amusing and eye opening it is now that one sees revealing glimpses of ones own soul.
While work in the field continued, making progress in planning our new Horn Archaeological Museum was also on the agenda. Our design team from ICON (Indiana), Mark Gilmore and Jan Szubiak, spent five days with us observing and getting ideas for designing our museum. They spent a day at the site with us, the weekend at Petra, and a day visiting a local potters’ industry, Roman Jerash and finally a lovely dinner at Kan Zaman (the renovated 19th C estate of the Abujaber family).
A moment of great joy this week was when Roy and Sarah (very sick with strep and bronchitis) arrived from Italy and later the same day the much loved Dave Merlin and his group arrived from New Mexico. Having Dave, the former Co-director of Tall Jalul Excavations, once again on the team brought an infusion of energy and the wisdom that comes from years in the field. The next day Reem Shqour (Jordanian archaeologist and director of Jalul’s Islamic Village) and Magalie Dartus (French archaeologist and architect) arrived from Belgium.
In the field, Paul Ray, field supervisor of Field C, has continued moving dirt and rocks as his team searches for traces of the Persian houses we know are below the thick rubble. A seal found by Christie was the thrill of the season for this field. As the dirt flies and
rocks are hefted out, a lively exchange of endearing abuses keeps everyone moving. Here is where you will find the team known as the despair.com family:
- Christie Chadwick (square supervisor)
- Chris Chadwick (square supervisor)
- Sarah Gane/Roy Gane (square supervisors—Sarah has yet to set foot on the site)
- Jenny Shrestha/ Audrey Shaffer (square supervisors)
- Kristina Cress
- Ryan Atkins
- Daniel Regal
- Stefani Clouzet
- Zach Ray
Next door is Field D with Jennifer Groves leading as field supervisor. These Persian buildings and homes of the 6th century continue to yield copious amounts of pottery, small figurines and even a couple of seals. A wonderful bulla (small clay lump impressed with a seal and pressed onto rope or papyrus as a means of securing the object) was found by Chelsea.
The bulla, which is the size of a thumb nail, is inscribed with an inscription and is being translated by Roy and Christie. Erika Fortin spent several hours photographing the small find making the difficult task of reading the text more plausible. Field D is known as the field that has all the great finds (cf. the Ammonite ostracon of last season), but is beginning to share it’s glory with Field G.
Field D 🙂
- Sean Porras (square supervisor)Scottie Baker (square supervisor)
- Owen Chesnut (square supervisor)
- Amanda McGuire (square supervisor—returned home—we miss you!!)
- Timothy Paulson
- Vern Porras (leaving Monday L)
- Rebekah Gauthier
- Jasmine Saunders
- Chelsea Grimstad (helping with zooarchaeology—ie. bones)
Zeljko Gregor, the Jalul mover of mountains of dirt, is rapidly uncovering the long
sought after Iron Age (10th?-8th century) city wall in Field G which emerged last season when Mark Ziese and his team were here. He has an army working with him and is having his most successful season yet. It is a sad fact that his wife, Ruzica, could not be here to share in the success of this season. We miss you Ruzica!! The watermelon does not taste the same without your help in serving it! The Iron Age city wall and complicated complex of accompanying chambers are yielding invaluable information which evolves with each
day’s rapid progress. Friday afternoon the best pottery assemblage (Iron Age) to date was uncovered in Justin’s square. The vessels were broken, but included lamps, jugs, bowls, juglets, figurines and more! A dedicated team (Zeljko, Justin, Gary, Denis and Erika) stayed late into the afternoon’s inferno as leaving the cache uncovered but not removed would have spelled disaster.
The army of Field G includes:
- Jeff Hudon (square supervisor)
- Michelle Berglin (square supervisor)
- Micah Johnson/Chad Washburn (square supervisors)
- Justin Singleton (square supervisor)
- Nadine Plummer
- Jeremy Merlin
- Kohl Merlin
- Abigail Arkusinski
- Young Kim
- Andy Arkusinski
- David Cox
- Victor Tenorio
- John Heczko
- Denis Fortin (leaving Sunday L )
- Erika Fortin (leaving Sunday L )
- Gary Achenbach (leaving Sunday L )
- Stephen Allcock (returned to US)
- Fran Wilkins (returned to US)
- Bob Wilkins (returned to US)
Thomas Pieters, known as the Viking, has led the excavation of the Islamic Khan or Castle/Caravanserai/Village for the past three weeks. Well preserved chambers are emerging as the massive load of rock tumble is lifted from the area. Elaborate designs on Islamic Mamluk and Ottoman pot sherds are a daily find. An in situ grinding stone assemblage complete with both upper and lower stones was found in what is thought to be a kitchen. Reem Shqour, director of the Jalul Islamic Village Excavations , arrived early this past week and has assumed her responsibilities as director of the excavations in this field. It is good to have Reem back in Jordan with us (she’s been working on her doctorate in Belgium). Her home is just up the street from our hotel here in Madaba so she is able to see family once again as well. Working in the Islamic Village are:
- Reem Shqour (Jalul Islamic Village, director)
- Thomas Pieters (field supervisor)
- Ethren Lichtenwalter (square supervisor)
- Christine Chitwood (square supervisor)
- Suzanne La Rue (square supervisor)
- Magalie Dartus (architect; square supervisor)
- Doug Simmons
- Dave Merlin (happily back in the dirt!)
Karen Borstad and Teddy Burgh have been diligently working with the GPS system to keep us mapped and soundly located on the earth J. During the 2007 season, they discovered an ancient road that runs NW to SE along the west side of the tell where several cisterns were located. This season they are surveying the Islamic Village (“Old Jalul”) as well as the north and south sides of the ancient tell where several cisterns were noted in 2007.
Jody Washburn keeps our bodies and souls sane with her organizational skills, patience and wisdom. Working behind the scenes, she is the one who is holding the details of the excavation together. Object registration is under Paul Ray’s watchful eye while Jody takes care of pottery registration.
Randy Younker, Director of the Jalul Excavations, and myself have been stretched and our endurance tested. The season is an exceptionally rewarding one with wonderful results. It’s a team effort, complex, multi-faceted, international and highly satisfying.