Sorry for the missed update; the past two days have been very busy. Yesterday was an extremely productive day. We took photos of the flooring surface in L003 (see the whole square as of yesterday morning, right) and then ripped out all of the huge rocks that littered the square. We left a shelf of flooring near the threshold block, but took out almost everything else. The new area, L004, seems a lot like L002, which was above it. More dirt, more big rocks. Despite the paucity of staircases under the flooring surface, yesterday marked one of the best days of this season’s excavations so far for the member of M11.
In the morning, while we ripped out rocks, I was on wheelbarrow duty. When we’re moving rocks, that means I have to be on top of my game. My squaremates popped the rocks and then either “walked” them to the balk, where then we lifted them out, or carried them out straight away depending on their weight. We had a ton of basalt rocks, which are extremely heavy. Some of these were so heavy that instead of lifting them into the wheelbarrow, we had to lay the wheelbarrow on its side and then walk the rock into it. Our dump pile, where all the dirt and rocks from our square go after we excavate them out, is a fair way from the square, and is up a hill. Edward and I normally are on wheelbarrow duty, because of the extreme nature of the dump pile. We are very proud of the dump—it takes great care and constant management to keep the system working smoothly. Missteps can lead to rock spills in the middle of the pile, or collapses, or the dump fills up too quickly and you have nowhere to put any more dirt! So the rock moving exploits of yesterday gave me a tough work out and challenged my barrowing skills to the utmost.
After second breakfast, Larry went in because his knees were hurting, and we lost Kate because she went to observe some conservation on the frescoed wall in the western temenos wall of the early shrine (she’ll be embarking on a conservation internship at the prestigious Israel Museum after the dig ends and was getting some practice). So Edward, Lindsay, and I carried on alone. Dan, one of the directors, spent some time keeping us company and helping out (see us hanging with Dan, left). The gnats were so bad yesterday that I wrapped myself up in bandanas and stuffed my ears with cotton. We distracted ourselves from the gnats by having square karaoke. Highlights include singing “Hit Me Baby One More Time” (by Brittany Spears) with Andy Overman. We spent the afternoon getting eaten alive, hoeing, and picking in the new L004. Despite the horrible conditions, we all agreed it was the most fun we’ve had in the field so far!
Last night a few of us got a ride to a restaurant that serves American –style food (but it is actually good). They have good burgers, you can get bacon (!) and cheese on your burger (!!!), and they have Stella Artois on tap. Wow. Some familiar culture in the heart of northern Israel! Needles to say, dinner hit the spot after two weeks of kibbutz food and a long day in the hot sun at the mercy of the gnats. I went to bed contented and itchy.