We had quite the breakthrough on Thursday of this week in square F6, Area H. After the past couple of weeks of finding almost no architecture in our square, we finally found plaster and a floor on the south side of the tabun. We had been excavating our square in a fashion that looked almost like trench archaeology, pickaxing, tarea-ing, and discarding dirt with reckless abandon. Sure, we’ve found an assortment of interesting collectibles such as a Cypriot potsherd, bichrome sherds, flint, charcoal, an array of animal bones, burnishing stones, and a cache of lentils and olive pits; however, we’ve been looking for an H-10 floor amidst the layers of destruction.
Those of us in session two found ourselves ankle-deep in the last vestiges of level H-9 or Iron Age IA, level VIA according to the Chicago Expedition. One of our main goals was to break through H-9 and get to the next level of H-10. Earlier this week in E7, which is the middle square on the western bulk of Area H, we found solid evidence of an earlier time period than H-9. Inbal is basically working in ash and burned mud brick right now, but she and the other girls in E7 are finding artifact after artifact and more architecture than in all of the other squares. Next door in F7, Mary and Casey have found four round column bases that seem to line up with the ends of the walls that jut into my square E6. We’re finally getting to the interesting stuff in Area H.
According to Eran, we’re digging in Area H because there is a good chance that we might be near the archives, since we are only about 20 meters away from the Assyrian palace. That got all of us excited, thinking that perhaps one of us would come across a 3000-year old record of court life or military expenditures or something along those lines. I also was fortunate enough to find an ivory artifact on the north bulk of F6, which naturally made me overjoyed. Rumor has it that along with an archive, there may be a site of ivory production.
Dr. Finkelstein made his daily visit to Area H and came to square F6 just as Kristin was uncovering the floor and plaster. “Ah, suddenly it is all clear! The stratigraphy is clear,” Dr Finkelstein proclaimed. According to him, the floor we found is more than likely in level H-11, and we just blew through H-10 destruction over the past few weeks. In the last two weeks of this year’s session, we are expecting to find scores of very important items in Area H. Casey in F7 is still waiting patiently to find his cuneiform tablets. I’m still waiting to find priceless, engraved amulets.
This coming week then, we will be digging a bit more carefully and doing less Phillipe-ing, that is, pick-axing our way through the dirt. We’ll see if Mike, my square supervisor, is okay with this change in procedure. He’s been vying for the position of Phillipe’s predecessor.
We’re also saying goodbye to Caroline, who was with us for two weeks, but saying hello to seven Tel Aviv students who will be with us for the rest of the dig. It has seemed that we’ve been shorthanded in some ways over the past few weeks, although it could be from people missing the bus in the morning and sleeping through pottery washing. Perhaps the new kids on the Tel will help us pick up the slack so we can get some real work done.