I have the privilege of digging at Tel Burna this week. It is a week of digging in the dusty ground, hauling wheelbarrows of dirt over the side of the tel (ancient mound), and getting on your hands and knees sweeping dust from rock walls. Sounds fun, right? Actually, it is! It is hard work for sure, but to dig at an OT site where you never know what you are going to uncover is a great experience!
Tel Burna is believed to be biblical Libnah. It was a Canaanite city defeated by Joshua (Josh. 10). It also makes the territorial list of the tribes (Josh 15). It was a city of refuge (Josh 21, 1 Chronicles 6:57). It was a city that revolted during the Divided Kingdom (2 Kings 19:8, 2 Chronicles 21:10). The mother of Jehoahaz came from here (2 Kings 24:18). The Assyrians attacked the city (Isaiah 37:8).
“Day one for me was a good experience! I was put in a 5 meter square along with a Korean and American student. We worked well together. It was dusty, hard, hot, but fun despite all of this!”
One Week of Digging
While I am only digging for a week, I expect it to be a tiring but rewarding encounter. To literally “dig up” the history of the Bible, metaphorically-speaking, is, let’s say, a pretty special experience. While the focus is on Iron Age I & II (specifically from 10 century BC through 7th or 6th century BC), we are certainly connecting with the Bible in many ways! The city was apparently destroyed in the 10th century. By whom is the question at this point.
I am working in Area G (supervised by Dr. Chris McKinney, a great scholar, archaeologist, and all around super nice guy) specifically right inside the inner fortification casemate wall (a double wall). Our task by the end of the week (we hope) is to get down to the level of the 10th century from the 8th-7th century levels we are at now. We went down almost 30 cm today! We are working near the gate of the city that was discovered previously.
The Day’s Schedule
The day began at 5:15 when we left to drive to the site. We arrived at about 5:45. Those of us who walked to the top of the site had to move away the cows along the dirt road. We start digging by shortly after 6 p.m. Breakfast was at 9 a.m., with a watermelon snack at 11.
We arrived back at the kibbutz where we are staying at 1:30 for lunch. Normally, pottery washing takes place at 2:30, with a lecture at 6 almost every evening. Then it’s to bed for the early morning rise at 4:45 a.m. I hope to survive 5 full days of digging before coming home.
Stay tune for more updates. A gallery of 22 pictures is posted below.