Day Twenty-Four

It’s the end of Week Four. By this point in the excavation, we’re starting to feel the long hours. Everyone’s a little more tired and moving a little slower. Never fear, the next generation is ready to go. We are a family friendly excavation and several staff members have brought their children. The good news is they aren’t tired and they love to help. Let the training begin!

A new volunteer sorts a flotation sample

A new volunteer sorts a flotation sample

A new volunteer works with her father in Grid 92

A new volunteer works with her father in Grid 92

It’s also that point in the season when creativity flourishes and fruit break gets even more entertaining.

“Karen” and friend hanging out in Grid 94

“Karen” and friend hanging out in Grid 94

Day Twenty-Two

We often get asked what types of tools we use in the field. The answer is, of course, that we use a range of tools in the course of excavation. Which tool we use at any given time is dependent on the task at hand.

One tool used in all the excavation areas is a sifter. Buckets of excavated dirt are dumped into the sifter, essentially a box with a mesh bottom, which volunteers then shake back and forth. The dirt falls out through the mesh while larger objects, anything from beads to rocks, are left behind. Volunteers can then pick out anything they find. Sifters are used when we want to make sure we are collecting all the objects, large and small, from a particular area.

Sifting in Grid 33

Sifting in Grid 33

Sometimes we need to use small tools like trowels and sometimes we need to use big tools like a pick. We often use picks when digging fills, pits, or layers when we are confident we can move a little faster.

Picking in Grid 92

Picking in Grid 92

One of an archaeologist’s favorite tools is the brush and every volunteer on site has heard their supervisor say, “Sweep the dirt and make it clean.” Sweeping and keeping the dirt clean allows us to see lines such as a pit cut through a floor, the foundation trench of a wall, or a row of stones emerging under a fill layer. We also sweep before every photo so that everything in the photograph can be seen clearly.

Sweeping in Grid 92

Sweeping in Grid 92

One of the most important aspects of our daily work is mapping our excavation areas and locating all the various features, walls, floors, pits and more, as well as important artifacts on a plan or map. The majority of this work is done by our GIS team but supervisors help by taking points and recording that information for the GIS team to map later in the day.

Taking a point in Grid 92

Taking a point in Grid 92

Day Twenty

It’s the fourth week of excavation and getting hotter with each passing day. The forecast for Wednesday is calling for a high of 103 degrees. Fortunately, each area has a shade cloth which helps to make the sun and heat a little more bearable.

We said goodbye to our first half volunteers Saturday morning and welcomed a new group of volunteers in the afternoon. We’re in the dirt for three more weeks and there’s lots to do.

Volunteers in Grid 33 discussing an object they found

Volunteers in Grid 33 discussing an object they found

A Grid 23/24 volunteer holds a piece of pottery found during excavation

A Grid 23/24 volunteer holds a piece of pottery found during excavation

Supervisors in Grid 23/24 discuss stratigraphy

Supervisors in Grid 23/24 discuss stratigraphy

Volunteers in Grid 23/24 trace a stone floor in a Roman period building

Volunteers in Grid 23/24 trace a stone floor in a Roman period building

Doing bookwork in Grid 94

Doing bookwork in Grid 94

Day Eighteen

Yesterday marked the end of the first half of the season. Before our three week volunteers left, everyone went on a tour of the tel to see the work being done in each of the excavation areas. Needless to say, things look very different after three weeks of excavation.

Grid 23/24 heads off to the Tel Tour

Grid 23/24 heads off to the Tel Tour

Kate Birney leads the tour of Grid 94

Kate Birney leads the tour of Grid 94

Adam Aja leads the tour of Grid 92

Adam Aja leads the tour of Grid 92

Jonathan Wylie and Rachel Kalisher lead the tour of Grid 33

Jonathan Wylie and Rachel Kalisher lead the tour of Grid 33

Visitors to Grid 23/24 saw the newly uncovered wall of a building which likely dates to the Roman period

Visitors to Grid 23/24 saw the newly uncovered wall of a building which likely dates to the Roman period