“Digging away again in Har-Megiddo-ville…”

Mandy Morrow writes:

“Digging away again in Har-Megiddo-ville, Searching for some lost pottery sherds…”

This song seems to keep running through my head all day long (thanks Matt!).  What an adventure!?  If you had told me two years ago that I was going to be working on an archeological dig I would have laughed at you.  But here I am ready to tell you about all of my adventures in the tel of Har-Megiddo.

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Mandy I am a seminary student from Minnesota but I currently live in Chicago.  My forte is Hebrew Bible and I have a fascination with classical history.  I love long walks on the beach and… oh wait, I am sure you don’t care about that.

Well, on the first day at the kibbutz, we were divvied up into 4 groups which would work on 4 different locations of the tel.  I was assigned to Area K. (The best area of course!  We even have a pirate flag to prove it!)  When we met our area supervisors, Mario, Rob, Matt, and Kristine, we were instructed that Area K has four goals/expectations:

1)      Fun

2)      Safety

3)      Learning

4)      Archaeology

Thankfully for all, this is true. We have a lot of fun in Area K.  We are currently working through K-9 (Haha!)  which is supposed to be the last stratum of the Late Bronze Age (strata start from the top and go down, so the higher the number the lower we are in the ground… but forget strata 1 and 2 because they were removed by the University of Chicago if I am not mistaken).

So Sunday morning we were up at about 4:30am and on the bus by 4:55.  By the time we arrived at the tel, the sun was just about to come up over the horizon.  We took the long walk up the tel (and of course with my lunch Area K was the furthest walk), put on our sunscreen and got ready for work.  We put the shade up and then we were given a short overview of the tools and how they work (you know I would have thought that I knew how to use a Pick Axe but it is harder than I thought!!)  After that I was assigned to work with Glen on leveling a baulk (to remove the last bit of the K-9 level).  We worked well as a team and got through quite a bit of that baulk on the first day.  We didn’t find a lot of pottery sherds but I did find something bronze that was in the shape of an angel fish (that probably wasn’t its original shape but that is what it looks like now!).

On the second day (near the end of the day) I discovered a taboon (also spelled tabun).  It is an oven, which I have been told was for bread, but in case that isn’t correct, here is the Wikipedia definition:

“A clay oven, shaped like a truncated cone, with an opening at the bottom from which to stoke the fire.” < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taboon>

Unfortunately, the location of the taboon could not have been in the worst spot!  Our baulk was the major path to get to every square and everyone used that spot as a place to step.  Even with an empty sandbag and bright colored dustpans to block it, over half of the Area stepped on it! (It is ok though because these ovens do not hold their shape very well and crumble as they are dug up… they couldn’t go in a museum even if it was worth it). Even Mario (our area supervisor) kept stepping on it!  Of course when he did so he would let out a short curse and everyone would laugh because it was so funny!  In our baulk we also discovered a plaster floor which was not to be stepped on either… there were constant reminders of “Don’t step on the plaster!” and “Don’t step on the taboon!” and “Stop!”  (Maybe you just needed to be there to understand the humor of this…)

Anyways… some of you are probably curious as to what we are looking for and what is kept when we are digging (I know I was!)  Obviously we keep pottery sherds, especially ones with painting, writing, or distinct features (rims, handles, etc.).  We also keep pieces of flint and bones.  Now don’t freak out, the bones we find are typically animal bones, and even if they weren’t we would still classify them as animal bones because it can be hard to tell the difference.  (Plus if we find human remains we might get shut down for awhile to allow for a proper burial, which is just too inconvenient with only 3 weeks left of the bi-yearly 7 week season).  We also have been keeping large pieces of charcoal (must be bigger than a quarter) and burned seeds.  Rocks and dirt are usually disposed of (unless they have ash and can be carbon dated), but anything else that is cool is usually kept, like bronze.

Today when we were digging out the area around the taboon we found 3 more pieces of bronze (which is now a bright forest green) and two of them were flecked with red, purple, and blue coloring that can most likely be attributed to copper (according to the expert area supervisors).  They were really pretty!

Those are my most interesting finds right now…

On a lighter and final note, my neighbor in both the kibbutz and the Area is named Candice and for some reason Mario made us become one entity, also known as Mandice.  At one point when Mario was calling my name from across the area he went “Candice! No, Mandice! No, Mand… (bleep) this! Amanda!”  On that note, I am going to bed before I fall asleep at the computer.  It has been a late night and I have to be ready for another day of digging tomorrow and then we will be off to Jerusalem for the weekend!  I can’t wait!!  Until then, Ciao!  …Wait wrong language… Lilah Tov and L’hitraot!

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