Sunday, September 7, 2008

Dig and ye shall find

Back by popular demand--archaeology.
Our latest dig, at a Canaanite burial ground in what is today Jerusalem, has turned out to be rich in finds, mainly clay vessels, human and animal bones and teeth, and a few artifacts (posted earlier here).
Here are some of the most interesting examples of the Middle Bronze Age pottery.

Yes, sometimes you just have to carefully poke with Phillips screwdrivers. And patience.



You feel pride and excitement in succeeding to bring out a perfect, unbroken 4,000-year-old juglet.



Whatever was placed in the pithos (food, for example) when it was buried along with the dead, as provisions for the journey, is gone now. Replaced by earth usually.

I got to empty one pithos, like this man is doing above, very carefully and slowly.
Finally I had to stick my arm in to reach the last of the dirt. A funny feeling, not seeing or knowing what might be hidden in there--something that bites maybe?!
I had to search each handful and found tiny little bones, of a mouse probably.

Two emptied, brushed, tagged pithoi and one happy young excavator.

23 comments:

Reader Wil said...

Your blog is always most interesting. Can you say what took place 4000 years ago in the bible?

Dina said...

Hi Wil. It's maybe the time of Noah and the flood. Timelines usually show the Patriarchal period beginning about 2,000 BCE. So the Canaanites we are digging up lived a little before Abraham.

Webradio said...

Hello !

Jérusalem est vraiment remplie de trésors, et d'Histoire...

Reader Wil said...

Thank you Dina. I like history and the real facts of the bible. It is sometimes difficult to see what is reality and what is symbolic.

Louise said...

What a rewarding job. I can't imagine finding artifacts like that and knowing the history. Just amazing. Thanks for sharing.

Louis la Vache said...

As always, "Louis" finds your excavation posts delightfully informative.

Petrea said...

It's thrilling to see your adventures from my desk. I can see the excitement, the pride, the pleasure on the faces of your coworkers. The jugs are beautiful. The "mugs" are even moreso.

Petrea said...

Just one more thing: please tell them, if you haven't already, how much we enjoy your/their adventures. Do they view the blog?

Shimmy Mom said...

Dina, how amazing! A few of those look perfect. I can only imagine how excited you must feel. Thank you for sharing!
*hugs*

Sara N said...

Wow,Dina I did not that you are a archeologist!
So intersting for me...
I love archeological places,we have many of them here in Iran.
It is the first time that I made a archeologist friend ;)
Good Luck Dear Dina!

Abraham Lincoln said...

Archeology is one of my favorite things to do. I like to see it too. I just wonder if I would mind being dug up sometime in the future and having someone look at my teeth through a loop or magnifying glass. That makes archeology a different kind of tale to me.

Your photographs of this dig are really nice and it looks like everyone working was having a good time. Their finds are marvelous.

JC said...

Dina, Great post. I'm always excited to see what y'all dig up. I appreciate reader wil's question. I was wondering that myself. Have a great day.

Petrea said...

Abraham Lincoln, to me that's a pleasant thought. I think I'd like to be discovered and studied by future archaeologists. Perhaps that ties in with wanting to be remembered. At least in a museum I know I'd be cared for.

Maybe not. Maybe I'd be filed and forgotten in a drawer...

Dina said...

Thank you Wil, JC, Shimmy Mom, Louis, and Louise. You got it!

WebRadio, c'est vrai.

Sara, I'm not a real archaeologist. Just a fieldworker who loves to dig in the dirt and is able to live on the minimum wage that it pays, 20 shekels/hr. Hope we can be friends anyway. :)

Petrea, at first I would ask permission of the men to take their picture and most agreed. Then I started asking about posting them on the blog but it turned out to be complicated to explain. I think most of their homes do not have computers or cameras. These Muslim men from the villages of "East Jerusalem" have big families and must think first how to put food on the table, and we diggers earn very little.
I've told only very few in Israel where to find this blog. Too shy.
I agree with you about the nice mugs. I am the only woman working among 40 Arab men and it is a rare and welcome chance to get to know them as co-workers. Well, except I usually don't know what's being joked or talked about, since my Arabic is small.

Abe and Petrea, yeah, it's a tough thing to ponder. I try to be tough and not think about it overly much. But you have to remember: what we have been doing since May are SALVAGE or RESCUE DIGS. The quarry in our first dig is already torn up by a bulldozer and a road tunnel for the apartment residents is being dug. On the second site a tall building is about to go up. So, instead of having the bones and skulls and jugs smashed by heavy equipment during construction, the archaeology teams are respectfully removing and saving them from that fate. The bones will be reburied in a safe, dedicated place. A rabbi worked with us everyday to keep an eye on the bones being uncovered. Of course, the fact they were Canaanite made the exhuming OK.

Like I always say, nothing is simple or easy in the Holy Land.

Oh Petrea, don't you worry. You will be remembered and loved whether in or out of a museum.

Petrea said...

Dina, you may not be a "real archaeologist," but you're a real find.

Rambling Woods said...

How much fun it would be to discover something like that. I wonder if I would have the patience needed to work on such delicate things..

USelaine said...

Dina, I also admire the effort you have shown to learn Arabic, and to reach out to your collegues as individuals with whom you share part of your life each day at the digs. It shows so much in the "spokesman's" returned respect for you. Shalom.

Sara said...

This is fascinating to me...I've always found archeology interesting, though I've never tried it myself. Digging in the dirt with infinite care kind of appeals to me.

Just think, you are probably the first person to put an arm down inside that pithos since the one who created it of clay so long ago. Those who filled it with food for the grave site most likely poured it in from the top, or so I imagine in my archaeological and Canaanite culture ignorance!

Gives me the shivers thinking about it...

Kris said...

Trollies caught in flagrante delicto? That’s art, that is.

Danial said...

This jug is beautiful.What time this jug build?(Approximately)

Kay said...

Dina, we're ready to get over there and help you dig. This is so neat!

Sherry said...

These are inspirational photos, connecting me with a time gone by, so precious, The second photo is held out like an offering. And those two large vases, I can't even express what I feel seeing these and knowing they were there, to be discovered, or forgotten forever depending on what we deem important as people.
I am so glad this is deemed important, It is a bridge that connects us to each other for all time.
I hope I get to view them for real one day.

Sherry said...

A 4,000 year old juglet, Unfathomable..I wish I could find something so precious and ancient. These pots inspire me, These kinds are the ones I love the most .
At museums I can barely tear myself away. And the pots I see, I never forget, they are burned in my memory forever.