Posted by: itellhalif | June 15, 2016

Still Hot

People ask: “why do you dig in the summertime?  It’s so hot.”  Well, no one would like to dig when it rains, in the mud, and besides, our school year ends just before the summer starts when the students are available.  We dig at the beginning of the summer, when it’s generally not as hot as in July and August.  So, a few hot days can be tolerated.  Today we stopped a little earlier not so much because of the heat, but mostly because of the wind that lifted clouds of dust.

The morning started with photographing some surfaces in our Area A7.


As seen in the photo, the pillar on the left is somewhat buried;  how deep?  Was it originally used with an earlier phase?  One surface running into it from the right is covered with ash and destruction debris.  This is the late 8th century BCE surface.  In front of it is a line of mud bricks.  Is it a wall built against the pillar?  If so, when was this done and is there another surface associated with this wall and the pillar?  Where the meter stick is placed there is a layer of cobbles; is this a cobbled surface?  Is this related to the stones in the upper right of the pictures?  In the middle of the “cobbled floor” lies a pounder/sling stone; is it related to this feature (floor?)?


In our Area L8/A8 we removed a layer of cobbles forming a surface.  It was not the first such layer.  It was laid carefully over the late 8th century destruction layer sealing it below.  All day today we worked on exposing the materials embedded in the destruction.  Much pottery, seeds, and other carbonized materials.  Notice the semi-circular installation in the bottom of the picture.  We still need to investigate it and the grinding stone just above the installation.  While working on the destruction debris, a beautiful find was made.


This is a field photo of a cosmetic palette in very good state of preservation, but needs some cleaning.  A similar palette was found a few years ago in Field V South.  Many years ago, half a similar palette was found in Field III.  These objects were manufactured by the Phoenicians.  Their discovery at our site suggests very strongly that it had trade relations, direct or indirect, with Phoenicia.

Posted by: itellhalif | June 14, 2016

Our Destruction Layer

Most people meeting an archaeologist would ask: “what was the best thing you ever discovered?”  If they meet an archaeologist during a field season they would ask: “Did you discover anything?”  In the Land of Israel the second question should be disallowed; no matter where you dig you would find “something.”  The first question should be answered with “It depends” on what you (the questioner) consider “best.”  Probably a museum piece preferably gold.

This morning everyone was back in shape; everyone was healthy again and we hope it’ll last to the end of the season.  We decided to start the day with recording the destruction layer we are uncovering.  These were going to be ‘working photos’ just for the record, but not for publication.  We did it from the ground and with our drone.




Notice the “yuge” amount of pottery embedded in the destruction layer below the cobbled surface, which is obviously later.  How late we do not know yet.  The one big stone in the back is a grinding stone lying on the same surface as the pottery, though maybe on a raised platform.  The outlined squares help us with the recovery of the materials.


Here you can see some of it from above.  Notice the wholemouth jar near the grinding stone that was probably used to collect the flour.

During the day we removed the cobbled surface so tomorrow we’ll continue to uncover the rest of the floor with the destruction debris.  We’ll try to preserve in situ as much as possible though it’s pretty hard since the smashed pottery did not originate from the same level.

In the next Area we encountered a series of surfaces, which we will photograph tomorrow, showing that occupation in these houses lasted for a long time.

Meanwhile, we took a tour of the tell and went to explore Field III.  Those familiar with the site might feel nostalgic seeing what it looks like today.


This is Field III today.


Fields IV and V.

Posted by: itellhalif | June 13, 2016

No Drone Today

The hot weather had its effect on our team.  Today was hot and we have been promised that the next two days will be hotter.

Two were taken out of commission, probably suffering from loss of liquids.  We are trying to get them back on their feet, but in the meantime it meant that this morning we were not in position to work with the drone.

However, yesterday was the holiday of Shavuot (Pentecost) and the kibbutz invited us to attend the celebration of first fruit that took place in the late afternoon in the midst of the fields just outside the kibbutz.  Furthermore, we were asked if we would be willing to photograph the event with our drone.  We did it and here are some of the pictures.



You can see the crowd in front of the trees; the square object in the middle is the stage; the combine arrives harvesting the wheat.


In the background, behind the trees, are two new neighborhoods.  On the right is one that was built just a couple of years ago; on the left is a neighborhood being in the process of construction.

Posted by: itellhalif | June 12, 2016

Week 3 Begins

There is nothing better than starting the week with a beautiful photograph like this one.


First morning of week 3.

We also photographed some pottery we uncovered last week but left in situ for broader exposure.


Here you can see two small oil lamps (one behind the other) both handmade, but following the Iron II form.  Next to them, on a floor, was found a juglet.

In the next Area, a large assemblage was found crushed on the floor lying under a heavy layer of black destruction material.


Notice the cobbled surface in the corner of the walls, the one at the upper portion of the photo is late (Roman?) and the one on the left is Iron II.  The large stone next to it to the right is a saddle quern (grinding stone) lying on top of the floor covered with much pottery and destruction debris.

we started removing the pottery and other associated objects using our “magic square” system dividing the area into 50×50 units each given a separate pottery basket number and plotted on the top plan.  This enables us to locate each of the pottery baskets on the top plan, reconstruct the vessels and plot their location on the plan.

We continue to recover Persian/Hellenistic figurine fragments coming from the bottom of the fill overlying the area.

Pottery removal will continue tomorrow.

Posted by: itellhalif | June 10, 2016

End of Second Week

Today is Friday and is the end of our second week.  Most of our students behave in most cases as if they know what they are doing.  They can take levels, use different kinds of tools, and even start to recognize different types of pottery.

We are in the midst of dismantling a structure we consider to be from the Roman period that was built directly on top the destruction level of the late 8th century BCE.  Being built of massive stones makes it hard to take it apart without causing damage to what is below, which we are trying to preserve for as long as possible in order to be able to document it properly (photograph, draw, etc.) and then collect it systematically so we can reconstruct the vessels and their exact location.


Here is this structure, the one with large stones left of center, in the process of removal.


Compare it with this picture taken two days earlier.

The Roman structure is constructed and surrounded by pottery in situ from the destruction I mentioned earlier.


With good eyes you can see some of the pottery below the two buckets in the middle and some is covered for protection with bags left of the large pillar.


Much pottery from the same destruction level is appearing in the area at the top of this photo.  Next week we will be busy documenting and collecting all this pottery.  I assume that in future years we’ll be busy reconstructing all this pottery.

Posted by: itellhalif | June 9, 2016

Foggy Day

It started as a heavily foggy day.  We did not think we would be able to use the drone; but after a while it lifted and we could take our daily share of aerial photos.


However, our main concern today was the recording of some pottery we exposed yesterday.  The oil lamp below is reminiscent of several that were discovered previously and belong to the type we termed cultic or votive.  Several of these lamps were attached to the rim of a round vessel.  The lamps we discovered in previous seasons had soot on their spout showing they were used.  Since the present oil lamp has not been removed yet, we have very little information concerning it.


We also started in dismantling the feature from the Roman period; this is very slow for several reasons, but tomorrow we might be done with it.

More Persian/Hellenistic figurine fragments continued to come up and it seems that there is no end to this type of material.

Posted by: itellhalif | June 8, 2016

Hot Day

It was not as hot as it could have been, but it was hot enough that we could say that it was a hot day.  It started with a southern wind, but at about 11 am the direction changed and our daily western wind returned and it was bearable.

We started the day with some drone pictures.  Our work shows that during the Roman period there was a noticeable occupation on the tell, especially on the southwestern edge.  Up until now we knew that there were major activities (agricultural?) taking place on the tell during the Roman/Byzantine period, but no evidence of residential occupation was found.  Now, without any shadow of a doubt we can say that residential structures occupied this part of the tell in the Roman period as evidenced by the walls, related floors and pottery dated to that period.

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The Roman structure in this photo was built directly on top of the late 8th century BCE destruction layer.  Its relationship to floors and other walls from the Roman period will be further checked.

A small oil lamp (see location) was discovered later in the day after this photo was taken, together with other pottery probably from the 8th century destruction.  At first glance, the lamp is similar to the ones we discovered in previous seasons and labelled Kernos (or votive) lamps.  Tomorrow we will clear the area, photograph it and probably be able to say more about the nature of the lamp and surrounding pottery.

So, stay tuned.

Posted by: itellhalif | June 7, 2016

Super Day

Yesterday, on the 5th anniversary of her passing, we christened our drone Patty2, in memory of our beloved staff photographer, Patty O’Connor-Seger, who gave us during Phases I and II so many beautiful pictures and memories.

morning 6.7

This morning we devoted some time to group pictures.  We took pictures of the whole group, of the staff, of student groups by school.  Here is a selection:




The Staff


The Emory University Bunch


The William Jessup University Group


As we look from space

For those who are concerned that we did not earned our breakfast (and lunch), here is proof that we continued to work removing balks between the squares uncovering many interesting things, such as remains of substantial floors from the Roman period.  And these were established directly on top of the late eighth century destruction we attribute to Sennacherib.  More on the latter later.


Areas A7 and A8 of Field V as they join Area L8 in Field IV (left)


For Patty

Posted by: itellhalif | June 6, 2016

No Drone Pics Today

Bright and early this morning we got ready for close up photos of some of the materials we uncovered yesterday.  We forwent the drone photography and took traditional photos on the ground of some ceramic vessels lying on the floor of the house we are investigating.


We are now reaching the late 8th century BCE destruction level in many of the places we investigate and tomorrow we hope to expose more.  We will take drone photos if the weather will permit.  This morning we were shrouded by fog coming and going for a very long time.


Notice the fog surrounding us.  It creeps in from the west and comes up the tell like a preying animal and then “attacks” and covers everything.


The fog coming up the valley before covering the tell.

Posted by: itellhalif | June 5, 2016

Beginning Second Week

For 40 years, Avi Navon, member of Kibbutz Lahav, has been our liaison.  Without Avi many of our problems could not have been solved.  In addition, every year, Avi and his wife Geula host us for dinner.  So, last night we visited them and had dinner at their place.


The summer 2016 Tell Halif group at Avi’s place.  (Avi on right)

Our efforts with the drone help us identify the residential units along the city wall on the southwest side of the tell.  Here are a few of the units marked showing their shared walls while inside they have their separate, individual configurations.

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The houses have about the same size and they were built against the city wall marked with the heavier line. We are now in the process of clarifying the relationship between the two houses on the left and whether there is a street on their inner side.


Close-up of the two houses.

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