Wednesday, June 12, 2013

June 12: The Dig is Complete - Update 12

The 2013 Gezer Dig has come to an end. As I write, the last pottery is being sort and the site is being cleaned and secured. As Dr. Dan Warner mentions in the video, the project will take one more year to complete. However, we made tremendous progress this year's dig was a huge success. We have dateable pottery to analyze and a plan of attack for next season. Keep an eye on the blog for additional updates. We will release an article on this year's dig in the coming weeks and we will announce the dates for next year's dig as soon as those are available.

We want to offer our most gracious thanks to Dr. Tsvika Tsuk, chief archaeologist for the Israel Nature, who has co-directed the dig and to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority which has partnered with New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in this endeavor. Dr. Tsuk has shared his time and talents at the dig site and in the lecture hall, imparting his knowledge of archaeology with our group. We are thankful to count Tsvika Tsuk as a colleague and a friend.

In the coming days the members of our group will board jets headed for happy reunions with loved ones. Please pray for safe returns for the entire Gezer team.

Monday, June 10, 2013

June 10: Ditto – Update 11

By Gary D. Myers

Ditto yesterday’s post.

That is about all that would be needed to describe the work today. It was just about the same as yesterday. Work continued in all the same areas today – in the probes at the bottom, at the sifting table, at the pottery washing station and in the conservation areas. We did add one new wrinkle today. We started marking all the pottery found underneath MacAlister’s “causeway.” This pottery, sealed off from all the years of backfill after MacAlister, will be analyzed and used to date the water system.

Several of the probes at the bottom of the water system continue to render amazing amounts of pottery. The dig leaders are thrilled with the volume of pottery and other items coming out of the pool area under the causeway. In his writings, MacAlister noted that the pool area was very deep. He tried to measure the depth with a six-foot-long crowbar, but found that the pool was deeper than six feet. We are finding that he was correct about the depth of the pool at the bottom of the tunnel. It is very deep. Our crews have yet to find the bottom in two of the probes.

So tomorrow will probably be a lot like today and the day before. Digging, shifting, washing, sorting and marking. But this is real progress. All the previous dig seasons at the Gezer water system were leading to this moment. Hopefully, as the pottery is analyzed, conclusions can be reached about who built this impressive water system and when they built it. For now, we continue on, probing the depths of the Gezer water system.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

June 9: The End is Near – Update 10

By Gary D. Myers

Work has slowed considerably as the focus of the digging shifted to the three probes at the very bottom of the water system. Last Wednesday the team cut through what is believed to be a causeway of stone laid be R.A.S. MacAlister more than 100 years ago which enabled him to cross the very muddy, watery spot at the bottom. These three probe areas, untouched by MacAlister, have been fruitful in providing material that could help the team date the system. It will be some time before the dig leaders draw any conclusions from the material they have found. The pottery, seeds, charcoal and other items will all be studied and analyzed. Lab work is a very important part of any archaeological endeavor. So, as unfortunate as it is, it may be some time before the dig leaders can draw real conclusions about the site.

We want people here to know about this wonderful ancient water system and word is getting out. Today the site was visited by one of the Israeli television stations. A cameraman interviewed Tsvika Tsuk and shot video in the tunnel. We are hopeful that the Gezer dig will be featured on the news tonight or tomorrow.

Watching the Pros
For those of us on the dig who are amateur archaeologists, it has been a real treat to watch the professionals work (Tsvika Tsuk, Dan Warner, Jim Parker and Dennis Cole). Archaeology includes discipline, precision and creativity. It is both a science and an art. Archaeologists read the clues they are given like a detective, pulling out details from the evidence. They must have the ability to propose theories, hold those theories loosely, and revise them as needed. The goal is to let the material in the ground lead to the conclusions.

Work, Work, Work
Conservation work continued on the Bronze Age gate and the Canaanite wall today.  Both areas look remarkable. The work accomplished in the short time has been amazing. These areas, along with the Solomonic gate, the high place/standing stones and the water system, illustrate just how much potential there is at Gezer. This really is a great site with good exposure to multiple occupations from Canaanite to Israelite.
The most happening place on the entire dig site now is the shifting tent. For three days the shifting team has been busy finding objects dug from beneath the “causeway.” All these items are being carefully catalogued and will be analyzed as described above. Because the area is filled with mud, the team has to wet shift. It is a wet, muddy job.

The days are quickly ticking away. Everyone seemed tired today … not too tired to work, but some volunteers had a bit less spring in their steps. This seems to happen each year late in the dig as we all begin to feel the pull of home. Soon we will all be on our way back to our loved ones and all of our responsibilities back home. We have enjoyed our stay, but it will be good to be home. The majority of the group will be leaving this Friday and Saturday. Please pray for our safe returns.
Photobucket Photos by Art Beaulieu©