Wednesday, June 25 (opening day of dig)
The alarm clock sounded at 4:20 a.m. The three of us who are sharing a room readied ourselves by 4:55 to catch the bus to the site at 5 a.m. By 5:15 we are on the site of Abel Beit Maacah! After a brief orientation and tour of the open areas of excavation from last season, we headed to the acropolis / citadel of the city. With high hopes of discovering fortification walls/structures at this highest point of the city, we began by opening to 5-meter squares. Precise measurements were taken, the “bulk” (25 cm in form the 5 m squares) were set. With the rising of the sun over beautiful Mt. Hermon to the east, the dig began.
Using primary picks and Israeli shovels (more like scoops), our goal these first 3 days is to dig don 30-40 cm and try to reveal stone structures. Filling bucket after bucket with dirt, we dumped it near by. We collected pottery from both squares (we’ll do pottery cleaning/sorting tomorrow and each day thereafter) in labeled buckets.
We took out first brief break at 7:15 or so, followed by breakfast at 9:15-45. We all gathered under the big shade tree in the middle of the tel. Digging continued until 11 or so, with a juice break served. In our square, the lead archaeologists are optimistic even after this first day over some large stone structure that seems to be still underneath the surface but with a few huge stones now being exposed the deeper we dig. While the pottery so far is all “late” (meaning, dating to only Mamaluke or Turkish and not even close to pottery from the biblical periods), there was one apparent “Iron Age” rim found. Who knows, maybe pottery from biblical times will be found in the next two days.
We left the site at 1:15, catching the bus back to Kibbutz Kfar Szold. Lunch was provided. With pottery washing and sorting beginning tomorrow, we had a free afternoon until dinner. Following dinner, Dr. John Monson lectured on historical geography pertaining to this most northern region. For sure, Abel Beit Maacah served as a very strategic city located right on the “road” (pass) that lead from the north into Israel.
The most important find of the day (from Area F) was a scarab with hieroglyphic though damaged text. For an official summary of the day, go HERE (https://www.facebook.com/AbelBethMaacah).
It was a very interesting and enjoyable first day of the dig. A bit sore and tired, but fun!