Time and expense made it difficult to send messages back home from my Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project in Jordan. Since I wrote this for you, I am just posting it late.
It has been quite a week of excavation. As usual, we have found a whole or basically complete ancient pottery vessel somewhere our excavations each day. Ken keeps finding new dolmens and other ancient features in the Tall el-Hammam dolmen fields and has excavated a couple which have amazingly been undisturbed for 4,000 years. We finally finished excavating the remains of two sets of human skeletal remains which we caught under the debris of destruction, which Heather has carefully extracted and preserved for analysis. Thomas also continues to uncover a building that has the large dimensions of an ancient temple, complete with a circular stone structure that looks an awful lot like an ancient altar!
Carl (#1 and #2, both veteran supervisors who just arrived) opened up some new squares in the area of our ancient Middle Bronze Age housing complex. They are finding house walls that are connecting everywhere. In addition to how they connect to each other on the same level, they are also tying into the house walls from the earlier level just below them. So we are finding lines of stone foundations on the surface, with an occasional course of sun-dried mudbrick wall still standing above. Those stone foundations are sitting directly above mudbrick walls which are, themselves, resting on stone foundations below. It is possible that we might even have one more layer of this below that. This means these houses were in continual use, generation after generation, for many hundreds of years. I love architecture, so this is actually my favorite stuff.
In addition, we have had a Department of Antiquities front-end loader at the site all week. They have been moving our dirt pile dumps away from the site (we have actually created a small mountain in the area of our trench!). This is an ongoing problem for archaeologists. They find a seemingly appropriate place to dump their dirt one season, only to realize a few years later that there is now something under the dump that we need to excavate. In fact, at many sites in the ancient Near East, one excavation spends seasons moving the dump from other excavations at that site decades earlier.
We are also clearing away the considerable debris from both the local farmers over the decades and the local night diggers (illegal uncontrolled excavations done after hoursat night!). Finally, in order to conserve remains already exposed we are removing some trees that are growing in the midst of excavation areas. Because archaeologists so hate treasure hunting and are so committed to scientific investigations, a loader would be off limits for many. So I really appreciate Dr. Collins’ willingness to use this method of clearing out disturbed debris in this appropriate manner. It is all being done with Department of Antiquities’ personnel, equipment and oversight, and is a very wise use of time, materials and manpower.
Today is an off day to catch up on paperwork and planning. Many are going to Petra, on the list of the New7Wonders of the Ancient World (finalized on 7/7/07imagine that!). Wonder if anyone will find the Holy Grail down there!?!?
Thanks for your continued prayers and support. This is important work and your part makes you a truly valuable member of our team.
Pastor Gary Byers