Can You Dig It?

Gezer 2013 - Update One

By Gary D. Myers

Moving dirt again

Team Gezer did its share of prepping, waiting, and digging during the second day of the 2013 dig. Fewer people were struggling with lingering jet lag and we were able to accomplish a lot of work.

The Prepping

The morning started with more sandbags. We prepared about 30 sandbags for the steps inside the tunnel. Filling the bags was hard work, but carrying the bags down into the tunnel was downright difficult. Just as we finished placing the bags to create a fine looking set of steps, a group of geologists arrived to inspect the cave/cavern at the end of the water system and work halted.

The Waiting

The men inspected the cavern and offered safety pointers in shoring up the ceiling in a few locations. The geologists said that, for the most part, the ceiling was stable. Dr. Jim Parker still had lingering doubts about the origin of the cavern – namely whether or not it was natural. After going back and forth on the issue last dig season, the consensus fell in favor of a natural cave. R.A.S. MacAlister, who cleared the water system in the early 1900s, believed that it was natural. And with so much roof collapse in the past 100 years, the cavern’s origin was difficult to determine. Parker still had reservations. After careful study that lasted several hours, the geologists concluded that the cavern is most likely man-made. This new development was worth the wait and posed many additional questions and possibilities which I hope to address at a later date.

The Digging

After lunch the team divided. Some continued work on conservation and restoration of the Bronze Age Canaanite gate system and wall. Others began removing dirt from the tunnel. The first task on this year’s agenda is to search for the bottom step of the tunnel. The tunnel has 84 rock-hewn steps leading from the top down to the water source at the bottom. Last year, near the end of the dig the team found the large rocks Macalister laid across the pool (which he called a causeway). Today the team dug back toward the tunnel opening (opposite the cavern opening) working all the way down to the stones Macalister placed over the water source. By repeating this process for several more feet, the team should reach that bottom step. In fact, we are very optimistic about reaching the step by tomorrow or Wednesday. If you have followed this blog in past years, you will know that we have been optimistic before only to be disappointed. We’ll keep you posted. Nevertheless, it will be thrilling to find that step. Eventually we will remove the causeway stones and search the dirt below for datable objects. Plans also call for additional probes in the cavern.

Even though we were training a new work crew and only removed dirt for half a day, we were able to remove 32 bags of material – mostly rocks and stones. All in all it was a great day at the tel.

Time has been in short supply, hopefully we can upload more photographs tomorrow.

Today's Gezer Passage

Joshua 10:31-33

“Then Joshua and all Israel with him moved on from Libnah to Lachish; he took up positions against it and attacked it. The Lord gave Lachish into Israel’s hands, and Joshua took it on the second day. The city and everyone in it he put to the sword, just as he had done to Libnah. Meanwhile, Horam king of Gezer had come up to help Lachish, but Joshua defeated him and his army—until no survivors were left.”