Can You Dig It?

Gezer 2014 – Update Eight

By Gary D. Myers

Big News Today

This crew is uncovering a very large pot sherd near the pool floor.

You may have heard a loud noise coming from the bowels of the ancient Gezer Water System. Was it cheering or a collective sigh of relief. Probably both. The Gezer team found the bottom of the water system’s pool late into our work day today! It was an exciting way to finish off the day. This accomplishment is especially sweet for those who have given their blood, sweat and tears on multiple Gezer Water System digs. Sorry, no photographs are available at this time, hopefully we’ll have a few tomorrow. There is still much work to do and much more material to clear from the floor. Hopefully, we will be able to expose most of the floor along the southern wall of the system tomorrow.

Today, we discovered that we were ever so close to the bottom last year. The floor was only about a foot or so below one of our probes from last year. Instead of focusing on going further down into that probe at the start of the week, we worked to clear the other areas of the pool along the southern wall down to the depth of last year’s probe. It was the only way that we could get a large dig team working at the same time. It was the right decision. The intention was, and is, to keep the entire area cleared to approximately the same depth as we dig deeper into the pool. Today, the team also discovered what could be drill holes left by the ancient people who carved out the water system.

Last season, the team encountered rounded marks near the bottom step and the going theory at the time was that the marks were left by an ancient drill – these are well attested in ancient Egypt. This is still a theory and new information could lead to other conclusions, but that is how archaeology works. The archaeologist must use science, scholarship and creative thinking to propose theories to explain what he or she encounters. However, the archaeologist, after proposing the theory, keeps an open mind and looks for other ways to explain the phenomena.

Ancient drills consisted of a copper tube attached a wooden pole which was spun by pulling opposing ropes back and forth or using a “bow.” Sand was placed under the copper tube. The grit and copper created enough friction to drill through stone. Click here for a video that explains and illustrates how the drills worked.

The pool area is still producing large amounts of pottery. And while we don’t expect to find complete vessels, we are finding bigger pieces of jars. We continued to see small sherds of Cypriot imported ware. About an hour before the team working at the bottom discovered the floor, the uncovered an especially larger sherd of a broken jar – know as an amphora – which would have been used for carrying water. To date, this is the largest piece we have found.

Now there is proof that the blogger actually works at the dig site. Photo by Larry Canada

Yavneh Yam site

A small group went back to Palmahim today to clean and shoot the final photography at the Yavneh Yam site that our team help clean earlier in the week. The area they helped clean was a stone quarry in the Byzantine period (which began in 330 A.D. and continued through 1453 A.D.) and was possibly used for some other purpose in the Middle Bronze Age. A Bronze Age burial area was discovered near the cave. It is extremely beneficial to the seminary’s Moskau Institute for Archaeology to be involved in as many digs as possible. Digs like this will help us to get better established in the archaeological community. With this project complete, our full team will be concentrated on clearing the floor, sifting the material and washing pottery.