I have been home from my excavation for 2 weeks and feel almost caught up – although still behind in my weekly blogs! There are a bunch of great stories here at Helping Up Mission I want to share with you, but something happened at the dig, since I left, that I just have to tell.
On the first day of digging after I returned home, the team identified the protruding tower of a city gate. Made of large mudbricks on a stone foundation (like the rest of the ancient city), it was found just one square from where I was working!
Usually great stuff gets exposed on the very last day of digging, but there were still 2 weeks left this year, so they were able to expose the top of what remains of the eastern tower and the entire passageway through the gateway. Since ancient gate complexes were typically symmetrical, we think we understand how the whole thing once looked.
The gateway sits at the juncture between the upper and lower city, facing agriculture fields and the ancient trade route to the south. Appearing to be among the largest city gates in the Holy Land from the time of Abraham, it was likely the city’s main gate.
When I returned home two weeks ago, I said we found interesting and important things, but nothing of great archaeological or Biblical significance. But, now, if our site is Sodom (of Sodom and Gomorrah) – one of the scientific hypotheses of our project – this could be the gate of Sodom where Lot sat (Gen 19:1). That would also make it one of the few specific structures mentioned in the Old Testament that can still be seen today.
Time will tell, and we will get there, one day at a time.
Pastor Gary Byers
Spiritual Life Director