Can You Dig It?

Gezer 2014 – Update Two

By Gary D. Myers

Making Progress

Day two brought more set-up activities at Tel Gezer. The morning was spent setting up the shifting tent, hanging lighting, making sandbag steps, securing the rope handrail and clearing debris from the water system floor to start dragging bags from the bottom. After lunch, the crew began pulling out the bags of dirt and rocks left from the team sent by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority to remove the three to four feet of dirt our team left untouched in our pursuit of the dateable material in the pool area at the bottom. This proved to be a bigger job than we expected.

Since last summer much dirt has fallen back down in the pool area on top of Macalister’s causeway (a series of stones laid across the pool area by Irish archaeologist R.A.S. Macalister in the early 1900s) that we exposed last year. The important work will start only after all the bags and the fallen debris is removed – hopefully tomorrow. When that time comes, we will continue to probe the pool area and sift the dirt found there seeking dateable material – mainly pottery pieces.

Today was a great test run for each of the operations we will be using the rest of our time in Gezer. Our system has four distinct operations (1) digging and filling bags at the bottom, (2) hoisting the bags from the bottom with a winch, (3) pulling the bags from the water system with a crane, and (4) wet shifting dirt from the pool area and dumping bags of dirt rocks and debris. Each area requires multiple workers to function properly. The old timers who have come to Gezer for years helped the newbies learn the ropes. The team looked ready for action by the end of the day.

The team also tested the new shifting equipment constructed by our crane operator, Asi Geno. The new screens are built into metal frames which attach to the side of a trailer. The crew worked on a way to power wash the initial pile of dirt. Breaking up the muddy dirt from the bottom with a simple garden hose, proved to be difficult in previous years. After a bit of trial and error the sifting crew worked out a way to use the power washer to break up the wads of dirt. They are ready to begin sifting for pottery.

Get a Grip

One of the things uncovered this spring was a series of evenly spaced handholds that the ancient people who constructed the system used to help them climb the steps. The handholds (pictured above) make the trip up the steps surprisingly efficient. Whoever designed and created this water system was mighty clever … the handholds are the latest items to prove this point.

Good Night

Night has fallen over Neve Shalom and morning will come quickly for our tired bodies. Today many of us found muscles we did not know we had. Once we found those muscles, we quickly strained them. So I will sign off and recharge for the morning. Good night here! Good day to our friends and family back home!