Today was the fourth full day of the dig. While we have about 2/3rds of a day tomorrow (because of Shabbat), this will be the final update of the dig. Perhaps more will come later about the dig in some way. It has been a great experience!

Day 4 Routine

The day started like other days…. alarm at 4:50, in the cars by 5:15, arrive at the site by 5:35, walk to the top of the tel (site), have an area team huddle about who will dig where and what we will try and accomplish. Then it’s digging, picking, troweling, brushing, dumping dirt … repeat this a zillion times!!!  Well, not a zillion, but many times. Of course breakfast (at 9 a.m.) and fruit/watermelon break (at 11 a.m.) are always welcome!

My task the last two days has been varied. Wednesday we completed our square for the season. While we got down to 9th century levels, we didn’t pursue the 10th century level at this point. So I was moved to the gate area where we brought down the level of the ground around the drainage channel that runs under the gate of the city. Just outside this area other team members dug, continuing to expose the large city fortification walls.

The team of archaeologists, staff, and volunteer diggers are all so very nice. When things need to get down, teamwork is seen. And when 1,000 pound stones need to be moved, the ‘big guys’ on the team are call in.”  🙂
Massive fortification stone at Tel Burna

Hands and Knees

The most usual position of a digger is on his/her hands and knees. We keep in reach the pateesh (small hand pick), the “Marshalltown” (small hand trowel), a dust pan, and a brush. The right methodology includes taking down levels in our square or area slowly. Digging holes here and there is not good methodology. Rather, we skim off 3-4 inches or so (sometimes more, sometimes less) in a methodical way. Once a bunch of plastic buckets or goofas (rubber buckets with handles) are filled with dirt, it’s time to get it, carry the buckets to the wheelbarrow, and then dump it on the pile. As for the larger rocks, we can throw them (or carry them) to the rock piles. One rock was so big today (about 1,000 pounds) that the “big boys” were called in. Even the lead archaeologists lent a powerful hand! Sure glad no one got hurt!

Small Sling Stone

One time I found today was a sling stone. It’s about the size of a baseball. It is carved and was used in warfare. A few of these have been found here this season. It probably dates to the 8th century BC. It’s fun to think of the Judean who made it and even used it. This was a person who tried to defend his city. Of course it also could have been a stone carved and used by the enemy (in this case, perhaps the Assyrians from the north, for dozens were found at nearby Lachish). One will never know.

Pottery Cleaning and Reading

After returning back to the kibbutz where we are staying (and praise God … our air conditioning was fixed today!), most in the group scribed pottery. This washing process is crucial to enable the “expert” pottery readers to correctly analyze the date of the pottery. It is pottery, after all, that dates the stone structures (e.g. walls, towers) that we find. While washing pottery is a mundane task, it’s nice to strike up a conversation with someone sitting next to you.
Tomorrow (Friday), as mentioned above, is typically a shorter day because of the Shabbat starting on Friday night. So while we will still be digging in some areas (I assume in our area too), we won’t go until 1 pm.
I highly suggest anyone interested in biblical archaeology to participate in the Tel Burna dig next June-July. Of all the digs I have participated in, it has been the most enjoyable one! The season next year goes 4 weeks again, but you can dig for one or two weeks if you like (ideally two weeks at least). The web site for the dig is HERE.
Thanks for following the dig this year again!  Stay tune where I plan to dig next year myself! 🙂


Sunrise and fog
Tel Burna
Water drainage channel
Lunch time
Gate area
Gate area
Tel Burna
Fortification wall
Watermelon break!
Pottery reading

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