Friday, July 16, 2010

Tel es-Safi again

I joined the Megiddo people this morning for a tour of Tel es-Safi. I had been there before with bno a while back, but this was an opportunity to get an explanation from Aren Maeir the director of the dig there. It was interesting in many ways, but mostly it was just great to see some of the Megiddo people again. I really miss them all.

They seem to dig there on Fridays which is strange to me being a Sunday to Thursday worker for many years. They are also working very closely with the Weitzmann Institute and collecting many, many samples for close microscopic/chemical/scientific scrutiny. This makes slow going on the digging side, and you could sense some of the archaeologist's frustration through their jokes. Clearly they understand the importance of this thorough investigation, but the digging season is short (just two weeks to go) and then it's another year at least before they get back to the site.

Another thing that some of the experienced Megiddo people mentioned is how it seems that at Tel es-Safi (like at Megiddo) anything before the Iron Age is pretty much in the way. There seems to be a push to dig quickly through British/Ottoman/Crusader/Arab/Byzantine/Roman/Hellenistic/Persian layers to get to the "goods". It's not that these other layers are irrelevant, just that with little excavation time at hand it is necessary to make progress where it counts (and where there is money for research I assume).
Here is Aren Maeir giving us an introduction to the site. The Australian Ambassador was coming to visit while we were there (they have a bunch of Australian team members), so he could not spend too much time with us. It seems that doing a lot of PR is a necessary part of the job for a dig director.I have not put up too many pictures of the dig as I am sure you are all bored stiff with pictures of archaeology. But this is pretty cool. They found a skeleton of an ass in this area. It is really nice to see other sites and see how they go about their work.
This is a close up of what is left of the ass skeleton. Those ridges are ribs I believe. The guys working on this said it is really difficult to get it out of the ground without the bones disintegrating. So they are using brushes etc.

All in all a very nice morning. We stopped off at Tel Beit Shemesh on the way home and checked out the cistern. Like I said, it was great to see the Megiddo people again - after the last week at work this was just the break I needed.

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