When most people think of archaeology they think of the aspect of digging and discovering; they don’t realize that before starting to dig there are a lot of preparations and when the season is over there is much to do concerning the documentation of the work, storage of equipment and supplies, and working on the finds and their analyses in preparation for final publication. The end of the season is like trying to put the toothpaste back into the tube. It’s a long process and has to be done in a certain order.
We finished digging two days ago and since then were doing exactly what I described above. A few students remained to participate in this part and they have been working hard. In addition, the storage place we have been using since the 2007 season was taken away from us so today we transferred the materials to the storage place we have been using since 2014. Everyone worked hard and we accomplished it in no time.
This afternoon we had some extra time so we went to visit one of the wells that supplied the inhabitants of Tell Halif with water through history .
In Arabic the well is known as Bir Khuweilifeh after the name of our tell (see it in the upper left corner) while in Hebrew it is called Beer Ziklag because for a while biblical scholars identified our tell with this biblical site given to David by his Philistine lord Achish. During the Crusades the well was known as The Round Cistern and was the site of a famous battle in which Richard the Lion-Heart defeated Saladin’s forces on the morning of June 23, 1192 after a long ride from his base in Latrun.
During WW I, after the capture of Beer Sheva, the British forces (including ANZAC) defeated the Turks at Tell Khuweilifeh and then were in control of the wells; that enabled them to water their horses and continue northward to Jerusalem.
During the time of the British Mandate the government protected the well and its users with a concrete cover. Kibbutz Lahav, that was founded in August 1952 on the southern slope of the tell (see the tell in the upper right corner) used the well in the early days before and in place of other systems.
So, we are almost done with packing and tomorrow night the four remaining students will start their long trip home. It was an exceptional season and now we are going to begin the long process of analysis.