Monday, May 9, 2011

Sepphoris - 5/9/11

hi eveyone. this is to family and few friends who expressed interest in what i am up to here at sepphoris. i wrote a short report yesterday, but not to everyone. just to catch you up...the young lady who lost her passport found it amongst her belongings so that story also ended well. the fellows stranded in the car with the flat tire got here late but safely. we are down one graduate student who came down with strep infection just before leaving duke. we are expecting a few more professors from other colleges who will stay for the duration, and a number of scholars either israeli or working in israel on related topics, who will drop in for a day or so here and there.

last night we all had a nice but simple dinner at an arab restaurant in nazareth, which is 6 km southwest of here. our accommodations are at the guest cottages at sepphoris (zippori) which is part of a moshav here, where there is some dairy, wine making and a few other things. they are simple but pleasant. the internet connection is weak and occasional but it works well when i sit was our first day of excavating. we had a merciful reprieve from the usual 5 am start in the field, because the weather here in the galilee has been unseasonably cool and there is quite a lot of dew in the morning. so we started today at 6:30 to give it a chance to dry off.

we are working in an area of small homes from the roman to early roman period. eric and carol meyers have been excavating at sepphoris since 1985 and they are doing some measurements and work to finalize some of their latest work...mostly that done since 1995...and preparing it for publication. today we excavated the corner of a room that had previously partly excavated. it was most certainly a kitchen and there was already exposed a "taboon" oven in one corner of the room. there was another area on the room that had been plastered over, possibly in late roman times, and not previously excavated. this is the kind of thing that the archaeologists love because it has been sealed in since it was made, and the material found inside helps date things accurately.

i swept the area with my metal detector before digging, and received readings that there were three or four bronze objects in the area. it took us from 6:30 to 1:30 (half hour for lunch) to excavate the area which was about 4 x 5 feet by 15 inches deep. under the plaster we found a layer of burnt wood, possibly from cooking fires, and possibly from destruction. we also found a lot of animal bones and my undergraduate zoology major came in handy, since i was able to identify the bones of small birds (possibly chickens), sheep/goats, cow, and also at least two different fish. we also found shards from a number of cooking style pots, and pieces of glass, that dated from late hellenistic to early roman.....and one or two from the iron age, much earlier and probably used as fill.......we found one bone implement, probably used for weaving, and a stone that was probably a grinder or pounding stone.

the metal detector was spot on. we found one metal object...probably a handle or box decoration in the shape of a lily flower, hellenistic or roman but age uncertain....and three coins. one was totally not identifiable. one was a bronze coin of herod the great and the second was a jewish bronze coin from the maccabees or herod, which i could not identify without further cleaning, but the shape was specific.

it got warm earlier, but i am sitting in the yard here now and the sky is blue and there is a nice breeze. meeting at 4...gotta go.

can't promise to do this every day....but we shall see....


1 comment:

  1. David,

    Thank you so much for posting this blog. I have enjoyed reading every word of every post. I just stumbled across it today and it takes me back to the Summer of 2000 when I spent 5 weeks at Sepphoris assisting Dr. Jim Strange's Team and 70 students. Your writing style makes me feel like I was there once again.

    My experience at Sepphoris sparked a passion in me to begin collecting Ancient Biblical Coins - and I am a much richer person for it.

    I am so excited to learn from your Guide to BIBLICAL COINS 5th Edition that Herod Antipas actually minted a coin there in year 4 of his reign!

    Shalom my Friend,
    Rod Tanner
    Tampa, FL