Gath Dig – Day 1
Today was essentially a “prepare the site” and “set-up” day at the Gathering excavation.
Early Rise & Start
Like every archaeological dig in Israel, an early rise and start is how each day begins. We got up at 5 a.m. and were on the bus by 5:20. It is a short drive to Gath/es Safi(10 minutes), making it convenient. Arriving at the site, we were greeted by our first sunrise of the week over the Hill Country of Judah to the east.
Cleaning Area D
Most of the morning was spent cleaning and preparing the site for excavation. The bulk of the team this year will be digging at Area D. Located down the slope of the tel (ancient mound) of Gath, this area has already been excavated the last few seasons. The impressive find from last year is a massive city fortification wall that dates to the 12th through the 9th century BC (IA I & II). The hope is to dig inside and around this wall to try and locate the lower city gate. If the gate is identified, it will be exciting because it was here at this gate at Gath where David “acted like a madman, making marks on the doors of the gate and letting saliva run down his beard (see 1 Samuel 21:12).” We’ll see what is discovered over the course of the 4 weeks (I am only digging for one week).
So since all of what was dug last year was covered with protective tarps/fabric, and because the area was overgrown with weeds, thistles, briars, and all kinds of wild vegetation growth, we first “weeded” essentially the area. We also took off all the tarps and set them aside. We took a break for “breakfast” (sandwiches, yogurts, vegetables, etc…) at 9 a.m., with a later watermelon/cantaloupe break at about 11 a.m. We enjoyed the break from the sun.
Preparing the shade canopy
The last thing we accomplished was to spread out and prepare the shade canopy over where we will be excavating tomorrow. It really takes a whole team to not only clean the site from last year’s weeds, but also to spread out the canopy. We will raise it tomorrow when we arrive.
So while we didn’t really do any archeological digging today, it was a successful day of preparation.
About 17 college students from Colorado Christian University are here helping with the dig. In their youth, they are all offering great help already!
After arriving back at the kibbutz at 1:30 or so, we enjoyed lunch. At 3, Dr. Maeir took the group to near by Azekah for a tour of this archaeological site. We returned for a lecture and dinner, with a free rest of the evening. The CCU students had a very nice time of worship at 8 p.m. as we watched the sunset over Ashdod on the Mediterranean coastline. Once we begin excavating, we will also be washing pottery as a team. So tomorrow afternoon and evening (and every day after digging) will be filled with this task.
For all the pictures from today:
Be watching for a new update tomorrow (Tuesday).