In this last week, we made excellent progress in all of the excavation areas. Area A2 closed down early this season because Debi’s son is getting married early next week – Mazel Tov!!!
In Area C (c. 70 meters northeast from the tell summit) – Casey, Ian and Sam have continued to expose more agricultural installations and it seems quite clear that this area was used for agricultural activity for thousands of years from as far back as the Chalcolithic period until the Iron II. This week, they exposed another installation with pottery only from the Chalcolithic period.
In Area B1 – Chris, Benjamin, Samuel and the Area C team (they join us after breakfast because they are digging without shade) are finishing up the new square related to the large public building “where cultic activity took place” – which is looking more and more like a temple/high place – and are focusing on the stepped trench/sondage. With regards to this stepped trench – things are getting rather interesting as we have nearly reached bedrock in the two lowest squares and it seems that there is a large (c. 2 meters deep so far) accumulation of either a purposeful fill or glacis/earthen rampart that is mostly comprised of medium-large sized stones and very loose soil. This feature can be clearly seen on the west and east of the tell as it creates a 5-meter wide step on both sides of the mound and runs the entire length of the site. Interestingly, the majority of the pottery is from the Late Bronze Age, but there is clear evidence of Iron II pottery from the 10th-8th centuries BCE (no 7th yet) – which seems to indicate that this large feature was added only in the 8th century BCE using primarily Late Bronze Age fill. Finding out its exact purpose will probably have to wait until next season – but we still have two more full work days – so stay tuned 😉
In Area B2 – Aharon and Matt are continuing to go down in two squares connected with the fortification and it seems clear that that the outer fortification wall must pre-date the Iron II as the Late Bronze (either 13th or 12th century BCE) metallurgical area clearly abuts the outer face of the wall. This discovery means that the outer fortification wall was most likely built during the Bronze Age – but we will have to wait until next season to determine an exact date since we still need to excavate the inside of the wall. In addition, and thanks to the hard work of this past week’s participants (including a great school group from the nearby town of Kiryat Gat!), we have successfully joined Areas B1 and B2 in the stepped-trench/sondage that now stretches 65 meters across Area B1 and B2! To mark the occasion, Matt and Chris “met axe to axe” to make it official! We have only just opened these two new squares and there are clear signs of large architecture.