Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A is for Archaeology, Antiquities, Artifacts

For several weeks 35 men and I excavated a very old quarry in an area that today is within Jerusalem's boundaries.

For the final stage we were only 7 workers and 2 or 3 staff.
A sealed burial chamber from the Middle Bronze age waited to be opened and explored.
Canaanites were here!

Here is the archaeologist in charge and our surveyor.

Fortunately I was not required to work underground (but I donned the required hardhat to crawl into the cave for a look).
It was hot and humid down there, and at the beginning the ceiling was very low.

No more than two could work (i.e. fit) in the cave at one time at first.
The men excavated and sent up countless buckets of dirt.
I really admire their strength, courage, and good humor working in those conditions.
The photo below is fun to see full size:

One of the most exciting finds, to my mind anyway, was this stone pommel of a dagger.
In Hebrew: gulat hanitsav.
The hilt of the dagger fit into the center hole and a pin would fasten it through those two little holes.
The pommel acts as a counterbalance to the weight of the sword or dagger and can also be used to bash your opponent.
This one is 5 cm/2 inches across.
And it is some 4,000 years old!

Another cool find is this green toggle pin that people once used instead of buttons to keep their clothes together.

We did many hours of sifting, finding human and animal teeth and bone fragments, potsherds, little pieces of glass. . .

On Monday, our last day at this site, our surveyor did her final measurements

and made her final drawings inside the burial chamber.

Time for a last self-portrait inside, for posterity. :)

Then we climbed the two and a half meters up and out.
(You see the net over our work area that gave semi-shade and the tall crane.)

Soon this area will come under the bulldozers and a tunnel will be dug so the condominium owners in those tall buildings (modern vertical cave dwellers?) will be able to drive to the main road faster.
What we did is a salvage dig.
Whenever new construction is planned, the Israel Antiquities Authority must first come and check to see what is hiding beneath the surface.
It means there is never a lack of work in Jerusalem for fieldworkers like me.
For other bloggers' A words jump over to Mrs. Nesbitts Place and the new website


Jerez said...

Dina, I have enjoyed this glimpse into Jerusalem's past so much, and excursion with your team. I feel almost like I was there! Wow, this has been really great, a much looked forward to daily event.

Louise said...

What interesting finds. I love it that they can't put up something new wihtout digging around to find what might have been lost to the past. Thanks for sharing!

the donG said...

i love your job! how amazing to find things from the old age.

Petrea said...

I love your job, too! To walk where they walked, to touch what they touched. I'm sorry to know it'll be bulldozed, but another government might not make room for the study in the first place. Well done and fascinating.

kjpweb said...

Very interesting!And you did a good job of presenting it!
Cheers, Klaus

Texas Travelers said...

Great post and wonderful photos.
Well done. Great presentation.

Come visit,
Troy and Martha

Shimmy Mom said...

So fascinating. You must LOVE your job. It would be so fun and sobering to find such amazing things. I don't think I have nearly enough knowledge of patience for it. But I love living vicariously through you.
As if you didn't already have enough to do, there is an award for you at my blog if you can stop by. (posted on July 23, 2008)

Steven and Aisha said...

Wow! I'm glad the government make sure that they are able to preserve everything. That is amazing! I love you job. I would feel really good if I could find something that is from the olden times.

Your EG Tour Guide said...

What a cool job you have, Dina. It must be very exciting when you DO find something of value. And how wonderful it is that every building site must be checked before a "modern cave" can be built. Thumbs up!

USelaine said...

This really is a wonderful post, with fine glimpses of what you found, and what various people do. I came across a dig in urban Budapest - what started as a shout not to take pictures (I was so close to getting a shot...) turned into a personal tour walking through the excavation. A state archeologist was doing a similar salvage prior to a highrise construction. It was very cool too.

Kay said...

This is so cool, Dina. I'm so glad you were able to take part in this and enjoyed all the wonderful finds you all made.

CrazyCath said...

Always such an interesting post here. Always informative. A great start to round 3. I hope you see mine sometime too. (Although I don't have anything archeological.... or maybe I do? ;0) )

Tipper said...

Just an amazing post.

ichandrae said...

Hi Dina.
Thanks for the visit&the beautiful words.

I find this pin amazing.I can imagine what it would be like to wear this 4ooo year old pin well I would feel ageless.
I don't think we can breathe through our present without uncovering the past so thanks to beautiful people like yourself that help us to do this.

Thanks for sharing this historical moment.
love and light

Hilda said...

I can really spend hours in your blog! This account of your dig was fascinating—and tiring too! The patience you all have is amazing.

livius said...

What an amazing series of pictures, Dina. You can almost feel the heat baking off of them.

You could really make a whole book from entries like this. Like a picture diary of archaeology in Jerusalem.

Rosy said...

"Oh you must love this kind of exploring, sounds exciting and very rewarding to be able to discover something new from the past"

I am very impress with your type of work. I think I am now in love with your blog! and I will be putting a link back from my second blog title: Just Rosy so I won't loose your blog for sure.