Sunday, June 29, 2014

End of Week Two

Week Two at Megiddo saw continued excavation, but included some additional educational features.  Megiddo is a large and complex site, and most staff and volunteers work in only one area, or part of the Tel, per season.  Individual areas can be fairly large -- as big as individual sites elsewhere.  That means that volunteers could spend the entire season working in one area with no direct contact with the excavations and discoveries on other parts of the site.  To prevent that kind of archeological myopia, and to educate volunteers about this season's excavations and goals, area supervisors provided tours to those working in other areas.  Below you can see photos of two area supervisors providing enthusiastic tours of their areas. 

The end of the second week also saw the second weekend!  Some volunteers headed south to the Dead Sea and Masada.  I ventured north and to the coast, to check out the Crusader City of Akko (Acre), which has a fantastic souk, seen below.
And finally, one more picture of morning at Megiddo, with the crescent moon and morning star visible. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

End of Week One at Megiddo

The first week of excavation has ended at Tel Megiddo, and below are images that illustrate some of the activity from the week.  Excavation days begin early.  The bus departs our place of residence about 4:30 so that we can be on site by 5:00 a.m., when the sun starts to rise.  As seen in the picture below, when we arrive at the Tel, it is still relatively dark, the sun is just peeking over the horizon, and the streetlights are still visible. 
Megiddo at sunrise
After a couple of days of preparation, all areas of the Tel were able to commence excavation and the recording and processing of finds, as is visible in the image at right, where one can see the office (table) of Area H and the Area H registrar setting up for the day.

There was also a documentary film crew with us the week.  According to the film crew, they are making a documentary about the past and present in Israel.  While they were mostly interested in filming the director of the excavation, they appear to have filmed many of those taking part in the excavations at Megiddo.  So, if you know someone digging at Megiddo this June, stay tuned for a forthcoming documentary, you may catch of glimpse of them. 

Documentarians filming
With serious excavation also came the serious dumping of excavated dirt, and I don't think any area at Megiddo has a more dramatic dump than the one seen below, from which material appears to be dumped directly onto the valley below. 

dump overlooking the valley

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Day One at Megiddo

This week we begin excavations at Megiddo.  On the first day, that involves preparing the shades for the areas to be excavated.  Not all excavations put up shades for the diggers, but in Israel they are typical.  The first day involves quite a bit of cleaning as well.  The Megiddo excavations are bi-annual, which means that most areas we are excavating this year have not been cleaned since 2012.  In some areas, that means that there is a lot of brush to be cleared and a lot of debris that has washed into the excavated areas that must be removed before excavation can resume.  The first day is also when equipment is set up and tested.  For example, in the photo below, you can see the yellow total station (more on those here), used to record coordinates and elevations, which was recently set up.  In the foreground, volunteers can be seen cleaning the area and preparing it for excavation.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Jezreel Valley Regional Project Tour

Givat Haviva

This summer I'm leading a group of University of Oklahoma students to Israel to take part in a summer archaeological program organized by the Jezreel Valley Regional Project (JVRP).  OU has joined in a consortium with the JVRP to put together a program that involves a one-week study tour of archaeological sites in Israel and a three-week archaeological field school at Tel Megiddo.  The tour portion of the program began June 7 and concluded June 12.  While touring sites in central and coastal Israel, students and staff stayed at Givat Haviva, which will also be our residence during the excavations at Megiddo.

When touring northern Israel and the Golan Heights, we stayed at beautiful Ramot Naftali.
Ramot Naftali
Our tour of Northern Israel included a number of different types of archaeological sites, ranging in date from the Bronze Age, like Tel Dan, to the Hellenistic and Roman eras, like Banias and Hippos, to Ayyubid and Mamluk fortifications, like Nimrud's Fortress.  Our tour of the Jezreel Valley, Galilee, and coastal plain included some of the most famous sites in the area, including Beit Shean, Sepphoris, and Caesarea Maritima, as well as recently explored and excavated sites like Legio, the location of the 6th legion's encampment. 
So far the students have been enthusiastic in their exploration of archaeological sites.  I've included some images below to illustrate the sites we've visited.  In the next couple of days, we will prepare to begin excavations at Tel Megiddo, and I'll post further updates as the project proceeds.
Nimrud's Fortress

On the Decumanus Maximus at Hippos

The Cardo Maximus at Sepphoris

In the cistern at Sepphoris