TeHEP 1.10.11

Time and expense made it difficult to send messages back home from my Tall el-Hammam Ejxcavation Project.  Since I wrote this for you I am just posting it later.

Today Tall el-Hammam was full of people. We had over 60 diggers on our international team from Canada, Russia, Germany and the US along with our 3 Jordan Department of Antiquities staff and 30 local workmen. We brought lunch to the site for 100 people. It was crowded, noisy and exciting. 

Today’s excavation was full of special finds. The original trench that we started 3 years ago in the lower city now has 6 squares up and running and we are identifying the initial courses of mudbricks sitting immediately above stone foundations dating from the Middle Bronze Age in every square. Buried in an ash layer beneath collapsed mudbrick along the balk of Father Chris’ square, within 5 feet of one of the skeletons also in destruction debris, were two infants caught in the destruction of the city. It was a somber thought as we pondered the implications. 

Then in the Roman area of the site, Jacob found a complete ceramic Byzantine oil lamp. While I have seen plenty of them in a museum, I haven’t seen many complete ones in the field and this is one highly decorated with incised designs that will be very attractive once Heather, our conservator, cleans it up. 

Yesterday in the trench, Steve was clearing down to the floor in the corner of a room and, as he scraped an area, a hole about 6 inches in diameter opened up in the ground. He asked what it might mean and Carroll, the supervisor in the next square suggested it might be a large jar dug into the floor of the room, because that was exactly how she first identified the same thing in her square 2 years ago. Before the day was over, it became clear that it was the same thing here. 

So today Steve and his buddy from home, Ted spent over 6 hours completely uncovering the whole jar and extracting it from the ground. While there was already an ancient crack in the jar with a small piece missing, the two of them were able to get it out of the ground intact. The jar had been used as a cooking pot, maybe until the crack, and was then placed in the ground to serve as a sort of underground grain silo in the house. 

While they were doing the final bit of work to get that jar out of the ground, I was clearing the base of the same stone wall foundation at the other end of the square, where the wall went into the bulk. I have always said I love finding architectural features most of all. So, I was cleaning out the corner of the wall and the balk, and scraped a little rock out into the square – only it wasn’t a rock! It was a miniature juglet about two inches high. Probably used to hold a precious liquid, maybe a scented oil, it has been burned in a fire. I have been excavating for 17 seasons at 4 different sites and this was the first whole vessel I have found. You know, I don’t know if architecture is all that interesting, after all! Even better, while it took Steve and Ted about 6 hours to get excavate their vessel, it only took me 6 seconds to excavate mine!

The Lord has been very faithful to provide for our health and safety of us all, as well as the dig’s daily needs. I am pretty sure he has been honoring your prayers and even using you to provide for some of those needs. Thank you so much, all of us here are very appreciative of your efforts.

Pastor Gary Byers