Saturday is a half day of excavation. That means we still wake up at 4:30 but we only dig until 9 am and come into the kibbutz for second breakfast in the dining hall instead of in the field. Saturdays are usually great and yesterday was no exception. It was raining yesterday, which was extremely strange for Israel in the summertime, and the square turned into a muddy mess for much of the morning. We finished cleaning the northern half of our square, and at the end of the day, Dan (a director from Carthage) took photos of the area, so we can now move forward and perhaps rip out the area to see what is underneath. The floor surface looks mostly secondary, and although we haven't had out pottery "read" (read analyzed), I would guess the floor surface we've uncovered is probably Byzantine or even later. We hope to pull out the later flooring, leaving some earlier stones (which you can distinguish because they are much better looking-- squarer and flatter), and see if there are stairs underneath. The directors are still hoping our threshold block is the entrance from the Colonnaded Way into the temple area (aka the main entrance to the temple). You can see a photo of the north part of the square, complete with big threshold block and floor surface to the right! Compare to the photo of our unexcavated square from last week to see how much work we've done so far.
Dan was also nice enough to take a square photo for us! Here we are on the left; from L to R: Larry (a new square member and donor to the Omrit project), Kate P (Class of 2011), Lindsay M (2012), myself, and Edward (Carthage class of 2013). Next week we'll work on the southern part of our square and probably start going underneath the floor of the northern half of the square. Things in M11 are looking good! After coming in and eating breakfast, we catalogued finds from the last few days and filled out other important paperwork and cataloging related things.
Archaeology is greatly concerned with digging and finding out what is in the ground, however in order to ensure it is done properly, you need to make sure those who come afterwards can follow your actions by reading your publications. Once you excavate something, it can never be re-excavated-- archaeology is an inherently destructive discipline. So we filled out "locus sheets," which describe each locus (see early post for definition) and the items found within; we filled out "daily artifact logs" which catalogues all the finds from each day and what type of finds they are (pottery, glass, metal, coins, stone, plaster, etc). Kate finished a sweet top-plan, which is a picture of the square drawn as if you were hovering above the square: it allows people to come afterwards to visualize the square in different stages of excavation. You're supposed to top-plan every time the square undergoes significant change. That can mean opening new locii or pulling out lots of rocks. Kate is an excellent top-planner, hopefully I can get a photo of one of her plans and post it later. Because our square isn't actually a square, but more of a lopsided quadrangle, top-planning and baulk drawings (which are like top plans, but for the walls of the square) are tough. The scale of our plans are really confusing and drawing them takes extra effort. Measurements are hard to get accurately and our top-plan doesn't fit on any pre-designed top-plan sheets. So M11 is a bit of a crazy "square" due to its irregular shape, but we are doing a good job of making our excavation as accurate as possible. To the right is the elevation gun in its rain gear.
After paperwork, we had some down time (read "nap") and then I went for a walk, we had a BBQ with some kibbutzniks, and relaxed outside on the lawn. I stayed awake until midnight (!) to watch the final of the Champions League and I was rewarded by seeing Man U lose. Great day!