We had a great first day with groups from North Carolina, the University of Saskatchewan, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, the local junior high students from Kiryat Gat (as part of our long-time community archaeology project) and others.
As it was the first day – we made many trips to the container and worked on removing the weeds (which are enormous this year thanks to the abundant rain this winter). In any case, we managed to get most of the shades up over all five areas (A1, A2, B2, B3, and G) and also began excavating in most of the areas. We still have a lot of winter wash and “weeding” to do, but we were happy to break ground on a few news squares as well as return to some old ones.
This afternoon we had our first field tour – myself and Matt led a tour of Beth Shemesh and its past excavations. Then, Aharon took us across the (very busy) street to the new salvage excavations that have revealed a number of interesting features including a very large, well-preserved (and previously unknown) 7th century BCE city, some very nice Hellenistic and Early Roman remains (e.g., a very large public mikveh), as well as other structures from later periods.
Here are a few photos from the day.