Friday, August 15, 2008

Ramat Rachel 5 - Against the clock

Ramat Rachel Pit 1
Originally uploaded by fifteeniguana
The day after the terrivle Monday we all got reassigned. John and I, a couple of older fellas, were taken to a small section of D1, perhaps eight foot square, surrounded by stone walls. Lisa said: "This is a pit. Do you see it?"

Well, no. I saw dirt. Lisa drew a circle and told us to dig down and see what we found.

And sure enough, we found a pit dug into the rock. By the time Oded arrived at 9 AM to take some pictures the pit was about a meter wide and a foot deep. There was a big stone that someone had apparently dumped into the hole a long time ago (probably when they decided to fill it up and put a floor on top.) The stone got bigger as the hole went deeper.

Bosses came by and speculated about what the hole might be. A well? A cistern? A bell-shaped cave? "Maybe it's the Assyrian archives," Oded joked. "When you find cuneiform tablets leave them in place so we can photograph them in situ." Archives are to the modern archaeologist what gold and mummies were to the 19th century digger. Imagine finding the correspondence of the rulers of Ramat Rachel! Such treasures have been found on occasion.

Getting back to the photography. I stayed down near the pit to place the half meter stick Oded always carried to show the exact length of objects in pictures. At one point he told me to turn it "against the clock." Oh, counter-clockwise.

By the end of the day the pit was two feet deep and showing no sign of bottoming out. The big stone was making it harder to dig dirt out, but we kept finding pottery and bones -- not a skeleton, somebody's iron age lunch litter.

Because the day before had been awful I made a point of telling Lisa that this had been a fun day. She told me I was a good worker (true, I think) and had a good eye for spotting archaeological stuff (not true, I think). and asked my opinion of some of the work. So things were looking up.

Two hours later I was struck by a stomach virus that was making rounds of the group and spent the rest of the day in bed.

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