Can You Dig It?

Gezer 2014 – Update Seven

By Gary D. Myers

Another Day Older and Deeper in Mud

Excavating the pool at the bottom of the water system

In yesterday’s blog, I told readers this would happen. If we find anything unusual or extraordinary, I won’t be able to tell you what we found, post photographs or even describe it. You will have to wait until the final dig report publication to learn about all the neat things we find. Well, it did not take long for my prediction to come true. We found one of those things today. It was a moderately extraordinary find – nothing as grand as a scarab or an inscription – however, turning up something more than broken pottery created a buzz on the tel this morning.

Marking Pottery

Team members are beginning to learn a bit more about pottery, especially those of us who were here the past two years. All of the veteran volunteers can quickly spot Cypriot white slip ware. We turned up several nice sherds of this imported pottery this morning. We were astonished to learn of the commerce that took place in the Levant beginning as early as the Bronze Age – probably earlier than that. This white slip pottery was a common import item in the Late Bronze Age. Made on the island of Cyprus, the ware was shipped to the Levant to be sold. It is commonly found during excavations in Israel of sites occupied during the Late Bronze Age.

And about Pottery … It is Plentiful

After only two days of digging below Irish Archaeologist R.A.S. Macalister’s causeway the workload at the sifting tables is piling up. This is good news and bad news. The good news: There is a great amount of material that can be used to help establish a date for the construction of the water system. Each bag is yielding plentiful amounts of broken pottery. The bad news: It will be very difficult to complete the sifting work by the end of the dig, there is just so much to sift. We have already pulled around 100 bags of material to be sifted in our first two days of digging.

Down, Down, Down … Ring of Mud

The pool excavation is going well, but we haven’t located the bottom of the pool anywhere except in the area just below the bottom step. At a certain point the floor drops significantly. We are well over four feet down on the south half (a bit less than half) of the pool. The digging is difficult -- very soupy mud mixed with stones in some places and mud the consistency of fudge in others. We are encountering the occasional large boulder in the pool as well. Those who dig in the pool all day are a sight to see at the end of the day – covered head to toe in mud. However, we have had two volunteers dig in the muddiest of the muddy slop and come out with very little mud on their clothes. I, for one, consider this great talent. I would prefer to trade clothes with them at the end of the day when it is time to wash my clothes in a bucket of soapy water.

A Day Off

In the three days that we have worked this week, some in our crew have put in very strenuous hours -- first at Palmahim and then back in the pool area at Gezer. We are happy to have a break tomorrow for Shavuot/Pentecost/Festival of Weeks. Instead of working, we will travel to Tel Dan and the Galilee tomorrow. Traveling days are just about as difficult as work days, but we are all excited about seeing the wonderfully preserved Bronze Age mud-brick gate at Dan. This gate is the best-preserved mud-brick gate discovered so far. It is very similar to the Bronze Age gate at Gezer which we have cleaned and helped preserve over the past two dig seasons.

Tomorrow will be a nice break, but we will be happy to return to our search for the bottom of the pool Thursday morning bright and early. Shalom.