Check out the video side bar to see a new clip of the Dancing Archaeologist, end of season edition. Apparently sometimes this is what happens when you don’t find anything the whole season. Oh, and I promise a couple more end of season posts are coming, and maybe the first post of the season from Field C, hurray!
We all here at G truly apologize for not keeping you informed concerning what all is happening/has happened in our field. I could say that the reason we have not been posting any entries is because we have been working so hard that I haven’t had time to do so – that would sound heroic wouldn’t it? – but the truth is that I have just been a bit lazy.
What has been happening in Field G? I am so glad that you have asked. To give you the brief synopsis – a lot! Our field has become the showcase of Jalul these past few weeks. Some news is old: we have a wall, we have a water channel, etc. The new news is what you want to read about! let us start with the wall.
We followed the wall (it really was quite interesting – a small group of children linked arms and skipped along the wall singing, “Follow the Iron-age wall; follow the Iron-age wall” Then they said something about a wizard – what’s that about? The wall extended beyond Square 2 (Shellie’s original square) to the west – leading through the corner north/east balk of the adjacent square (Micah’s square), through the square above that one (Jeff’s square), and then through two more squares (Micah’s and then Shellie’s) until we found an odd rock formation. We will have to “dig a little deeper” and to the north to fully understand this bit of the wall. This could be a tower, a corner, we just don’t know at this point.
The wall doesn’t continue to the east but instead dog-legs out into a corner and moves northward through Square 4 (Justin’s square – and the best one in the field I might add).
This new wall will be followed at a later time, but it does have some interesting facts to discuss. The wall runs along the pillared room in Square 4 (only one pillar found, the second is actually a wall leading northward) but has a second phase of the wall added to it. This second phase is only a course or two deep at this point and therefore not much can be said (we need to “dig a little deeper”).
The water channel which was at first believed to be bringing water into the city is now believed to be an overflow from the city’s reservoir. The elevations of the channel are such that cause us to believe this. What is even more intriguing is the fact that the water channel actually curves inward to the large depression (the city cistern). Is this a cistern, a water collection point, what? We just don’t know. That is what we will find out next year when we come back to follow the channel. At these point is appears to be clear that the channel is heading toward these depression in the tall.
A third very intriguing point that we cannot avoid is the extremely large pottery cache. Of course, it must be pointed out that the cache (that word sounds so much better than “dump”) was found in Square 4. Some speculate whether the cache was truly there originally or if somehow the sherds from around the area were mysteriously pulled by the magnetism and charisma of the square supervisor. My professional opinion is that somehow the sherds found their way to that specific supervisor in order to first appear to him and to others (and of course those working with him – that must be mentioned because he wasn’t actually present at the initial finding). This cache of pottery contained mendables from every type of pottery that was found there – does that sound right? From jars to lamps to juglets to storage jars … the types go on and on. In the two meter wide, two meter deep, and three meter long room, more than eleven large crates of pottery were found – that is over fifty pales of pottery! We emptied only about two or three crates onto the table to take pictures.
One of my profs once commented, “Are you sure you want to go into archaeology? I mean it is ninety percent sand in your teeth and only ten percent finding things.” For my first dig, I think we have done quite well!
Photos & captions by C. Gane unless otherwise indicated.
Shellie, Micah, and Justin came up with a list of funnies. Enjoy!
You know you’re an archaeologist if:
- You look for diagnostics in your cornflakes.
- You tell your tailor that you would like a new suit in 10YR 4/5.
- After finishing a piece of chicken you look for a pink tag and a brown paper bag.
- You are just dying to clean the balks at every road construction site you pass on the highway.
- When you hear someone say, “My life is in ruins,” you suddenly feel happy and want to share your archaeological testimony.
- You separate your garden into squares and then dig one locus at a time.
- You rename your diary “My Daily Summary.”
- You keep screaming “yella, yella!” to the kids.
- You absolutely hate falafels.
- Every time someone asks you a question you want to say, “I don’t know, we’ll have to dig a little deeper to find out.”
Best of luck to you all! Farewell! Next year in Jordan!
I must say that it was nice to have the family here for a few weeks. It is hard to be away from your family for any length of time. In 2007, Sean and I only had each other (we also had “Hank” for a few weeks at the beginning). To keep from being down in the dumps all the time (from missing our families), we took to joking a lot. He adopted the name “Bubahotep” and I kept the nickname given to me by one of my 4th grade students in 1995, “Mr. Cool”.
(One day at recess I sent the class out to play and was about to follow the last one out the door when I realized that he was not the last one. The littlest guy – and one of the most popular – had his head in his hands on his desk and wasn’t moving. I went over to him and realized that he was crying. I asked him what happened – thinking that probably someone hit him or something like that. Through tears that he desperately tried to wipe away, he told me that he didn’t understand the Math we had just done. So of course, I stayed in with him and helped him. From that time on he called me, “Mr. Cool” and I called him, “Little Cool”. This all happened on the island of Pohnpei in Micronesia where I was a missionary for two years.)
Sean and I gave nicknames to other people in 2007, and now that our families are gone we have started again (Dr. Paul Ray is still “Sting”, tall Tim is “Treebeard”, Chris from field C is “Tank”, Chelsea is “Jazzy”, Jasmine is “Jersey” and we are still working on some others). But this year we didn’t want to just repeat what we already had (I will always be “Mr. Cool” but that name is not on our door this year). If you happened to walk on the second floor that overlooks the pool and found room 228, you would not see the names, “Scottie” and “Sean” on the door; instead you would see, “Maximus” and “Tiberius”.
Poor Tiberius had some kind of a bad cold or cough when he came this year and hasn’t been able to shake it. He is upstairs asleep right now. He did come out this morning to the Tall but had to return at 2nd breakfast. It is a good thing he did too because the wind stopped shortly after he left and the sun baked us!
In square 1 of field D today I was able to bring the dirt level north of wall 30 down to the same level as my east balk (that separates squares 1 and 2). Tomorrow I will continue to bring that down to a lower level. I only came across a couple of sling stones and some broken grinders. I also found two large pieces of glass slag which is very interesting. We will see what tomorrow brings.
If you have any good nicknames for certain people on this dig, please let us know and I will let you know if we adopt them. This kind of stuff keeps the moral high and shortens the lonely moments.
Mr. Cool (aka “Maximus” D-1 super)
This title can be taken many different ways but the way I mean it is that everyone was very tired today. I know for a few of us in Field D it was extremely physically taxing.
I spent the whole day (and by that I mean from 5:30 – after picture taking to 11:30 – get-ready-for-the-next-day-time) breaking a rock. Now this was not just any ordinary rock, it was a 1 meter x 1/3 meter x 1/3 meter marble-like stone (it wasn’t marble it acted just like it – including the smell, which I unpleasantly discovered, smells like rotten eggs when you crack off a piece – apparently from the trapped air mixed with sulfur). But I did have a lot of help with it.
To start with, this stone was not even in my square. It was something that was deemed to have to be moved before I could take out a sliver of a balk that belonged to square 7 but was in the southwest corner of a room that is nearly entirely in my square (square 1).
It was up on the top of the balk which has a lot of loose dirt and wall stones that falls into my square quite often. (It is good to take it down, but I just wish it wasn’t me doing it. I want to excavate!) This very very large stone was on top of a small cobble wall (either it is from a different phase or the builder didn’t like the people who were living inside because it is certainly a widow-maker). It had to come out before I went down or I might stay down forever.
First thing yesterday morning we began to dig it out (Owen, Tim, and Chris from field C came to help me). It turned out to be far larger than we had thought so it had to be pushed into the room below to be broken (the room below is about 12-14 feet below the stone). We banged on it with a sledge hammer for quite a long time but it wouldn’t break (I had two of the local workers helping me). But after a few hours I was ready to give up on it because I was tired and there was simply no progress at all.
When I took the sledge hammer down to the Islamic village (which had requested it when we were finished) Thomas (the “Viking”/”Undertaker” – or pick your nickname) volunteered to come help me break it. He had some techniques that he thought might be useful (from previous work breaking marble in another country).
The idea was to get the large stone off of the ground and onto a smaller rock that would cause the larger stone to fracture. As it was, the stone had fallen onto soft wall-fall dirt which was acting to absorb the impacts. That is why we were not getting anywhere.
In one hour Thomas, Owen, and I had that stone down to about 1/5th the size. After 2nd Breakfast Owen, Tim, and I continued for about 45 minutes to an hour and were able to break it into a removable size. I was spent. Still am actually.
I probably could have kept working but thought it best to do paper work for the last hour (looking back – that was probably a good decision). At one point I had to take a GPS reading and my fine motor skills were gone. I couldn’t even hold a pencil. I tried to write and found that I was only capable of scribbling. I am glad I have Theragesic for my hands. I used it a lot and will do it again today.
I don’t get tired often but hitting on that stone for about 5 total hours was enough to wear me out. Owen said his back was a bit sore today. Tim said he had very little energy. As for me, today was a day when everything hurt and I had almost no reserve energy. Wow.
I am sure tomorrow will be a little easier (after all I am only moving dirt tomorrow). Let’s hope that this wiped out feeling only lasts for one day…
Let me tell you about a very exhilarating experience that I had during our Sabbath weekend tour (to the north portion of Jordan).
Sabbath Morning we left about 8 am. We actually stopped at the Jabbok river and were able to get out and touch the water. Very nice (and a bit dirty). In 2007, we just stopped at an overlook and took pictures. This was much better.
Then we went to Jerash first. It was nice to see things I hadn’t seen before and it wasn’t as hot because we went there first (again in ’07, I remember it was blistering because we went there late in the day that year). The bagpipers in the Roman Theater played a very nice rendition of Amazing Grace which was nice for Sabbath before seamlessly transitioning to Yankee Doodle Dandy and then Scotland the Brave. I actually didn’t know those went together. Apparently they do.
From there we ate lunch (Yay – Goat-cheese sandwiches).
We arrived at Gadara after another long drive and it was already too hot to stay outside very long so we only stayed about an hour. I did see things I hadn’t seen before there as well so it was fun. It has a very nice overlook of the Sea of Galilee and some nice ruins on the west side of the ancient city.
Dr. Gane spoke to us on the bus from there going to Deir Alla. It was a fantastic message and when it was over we were approaching Deir Alla (Sean says the sister site of Deir Alla is, “Deir Abby”)..
We approached and then we passed by. After the military checkpoint we made a U-turn and returned (again through the military checkpoint) and turned down a side street (mind you, the entrance to the site is just on the main road). We drove on the small side street around to the back side (which does not apparently have an entrance – but does have a dig house and a museum which is somewhere in the area – we didn’t actually see this legendary place but we were assured that it was there somewhere). When we turned back around we almost passed the front again before backing up in front of a locked 4 foot gate. Being the Archaeologists that we are, when presented with a locked gate at an archaeological site of which we have a permit to see, we did what any respectable archaeological group would do – we jumped the fence.
I got some nice shots from on top. About 15 minutes later we all began to descend. I was surprised to see the gate open and a guard. Of course, me being the guy I am (dressed in arab dress) I said, “Shukran” (“thank you”). He proceeded to verbally beat me like a rented mule in Arabic (complete with hand signals). I just kept smiling and told him how easy it was to climb the fence and not to worry about the inconvenience and that there were more people he could apologize too still up on top. I don’t know if he could understand English but he didn’t seem to be very happy with me and kept talking in Arabic. Finally I thanked him one more time and got on the bus. The bus driver got out and talked with him until the others got down from the site. Apparently, he was just embarrassed because he is supposed to be the guard and we all climbed over the fence (including Audrey – about 25 of us). The Dutch excavators saw us from the dig house and came up to say, “Hi”. They were not at all upset that we were there. Everything turned out ok and we finally made our way back to the hotel.
1 hour into the drive (about a 1 1/2 hour drive from Deir Alla) Chris made his way up to the front of the bus to ask for a pit stop (he had been holding it for a while and simply couldn’t any longer). Naturally we all talked about water, waterfalls, drip sounds, etc. I volunteered to hold my kafia for him to stand in the stairwell and use an empty water bottle. Owen said that we could even make everyone be quite if that would help. He turned down our offers of assistance. We did stop (about 15 minutes later) at a McDonalds/gas station (the sun was on its way down but not quite when we stopped). He got out quicker than usual but when he got to the door an Arab family was coming out. He is naturally a gentleman and held the door for one of the biggest (and slowest) Arab families in the Middle East. Poor guy.
We were all hungry but knew there was food waiting for us at the Mariam. Ryan couldn’t wait and decided to buy some fries and ate them on the bus for us all to smell (he was not very popular). We discussed the food we missed (which only made the situation worse) and when we got back to the Mariam we had wonderful sandwiches waiting for us (we went to Mystic Pizza).
Trips like this break up the monotony of the dig week and make the Sabbath a very special time.