Next letter from the dig

And my letters from the dig continued. Here is the one from 19 June 2007:

After a fairly uneventful few days in my square I was moved to another aptly called the “rock garden”. No-one could make any sense of the jumble that had been excavated there and people got a bit frustrated. When I got there we were allowed to judiciously remove a few rocks and dig deeper. I made good use of that permission and probably removed a few stones of a wall. But the most important consequence was that the whole thing made suddenly sense as the walls could now be clearly traced. Of particular interest was a wall that had been built on top of other walls and destructino debris. It was on top of a 40 cm layer of ash and mudbrick. And under it I discovered a long iron tool. Unfortunately a part broke off when I cleared it to see what I had struck. The remaining part could only be seen once the wall had been removed. No idea what it could be: it was about 40cm long and bent at the end.

I also found a nice metal rosette. Since we haven’t found many objects apart from pottery, I got a reputation of striking the special things, even though the discoveries haven’t continued. We’re nearly halfway through the season now and the director’s already thinking about how to close down squares, as it is a very meticulous science.

Don’t believe that archaeology is an exact science, though. It requires plenty of interpretation and guesswork. And if one worker doesn’t remove enough or too many stones the whole interpretation may be affected. And then all the archaeologists work with different theories. On top of that you’ve got the clash of personalities. From what I’ve heard the top archaeologists often don’t get on with each other.

Last weekend I went to Jerusalem. It sure is an interesting place, particularly the old city. The streets in the Arab quarter are incredibly narrow and full of people. It seems there are not many independent tourists in Jerusalem these days. When I went to the Western Wall late on Friday evening I was the only obvious tourist there. Most others were wearing traditional Jewish clothing. When I made my way through the narrow streets of the old city later, some people looked at me strangely. It seems tourists do not walk these streets at night. In the morning, however, I saw plenty of buses, depositing tourists at the main attractions.

One problem with Shabbat in Israel is that no public transport is running from Friday afternoon to late Satruday. Since we just get Satruday off, it’s hard to get far on Friday and get back on Saturday night. And once you are somewhere it’s all on foot from then on or by taxi. Trains in Israel run 24 hours a day, but none at all on and before Shabbat.

The kibbutz here is fairly liberal. They farm pigs ( a really unique operation in Israel) and serve pizza and lasagne (as non – kosher as you can get).

If the wind come from the east, the smell of pigs permeates the whole place. Luckily the prevailing winds come from the west, but now and then and easterly arises from the desert and the dry, hot air sweeps the country. You can imagine how unpleasant it becomes round the kibbutz then.

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