Friday, January 7, 2011

beit loya

 the last time i was in israel (2.8.2010-1.11.2010) i paricipated in two excavations. in august we continued working at qubur al-walaydah (i was also there last year), an ironage excavation which is situated in the negev between be'er sheva and gaza. it is a cooperation between the ben gurion university of the negev (be'er sheva), uni rostok, uni leibzig and this time the ucl from london. the second excavation i took part in was beit loya (english: beit lehi) close to jerusalem. the photos you can see here are from beit loya and mostly taken by tal rogovsky

 this is oren guthfeld, one of the profssors from jerusalem university who was responsible for the dig. he is holding an allmost intact pot we found at the bottom of the cave.
this was the columbarium we excavated. in aniquity it was used to raise pigeons because of their meat, eggs and dung, which was used as fertilizer. chickens were not known in the middle east in this period so they used pigeos instead.

 in our free time we went to explore the tunnelsystems, caves, stables, columbaria, oilpresses, mikves and all the other amazing sites in that area.
there were many escape tunnels in the area creating a tunnel system between the caves.
you can see on our faces how amazing this cave was, you crawl through a tunnel an suddenly you stand in a huge cave with amazing piles. it was almost dark there so you could not see the end of the cave. it was stunning! if you have seen the lord of the rings, picture a smaler version of the halls of moria.
everyone on this dig was israeli, so most of the explanations about the site were in hebrew. as my hebrew is somewhere between not existing and horrible rotem translated most of it.
the main attraction of the site: a beautiful mosaik in a former chappel. the monks obviously rearanged some of the mosaik stones because the moslem rulers of this area prohibited illustrations in religious places. by doing that they avoided the compleat destruction of the mosaik.

 here is a video with pictures of the mosaik.

the site is located in an millitary training area so we could only dig on weekends and holidays. 
many people think that in archaeology you only work with small brushes, very small tool and stuff like that. but as you can see i am using big tools here to moove all the dirt/earth. most of the earth in the columbarium was wast and collapse, so not arranged in layers that would be interessting. exept for the buttom of the cave.
it was hard work and we had to move a lot of earth up to the entrence of the cave. we transported it in buckets to reach the porable belt conveyor at the entrence of the cave. to be more efficient we formed bucket chains by throwing the buckets from person to person.

all the stones, earth and mud was dumped on this portable belt conveyor and transported out of the cave.
to keep the entrence of the cave clear of all the earth we used the bobcat.

during our stay we lived in tents and this was the bathroom ;)


in the evening we all sat around the fire, drinking tee or wine, telling stories and eating cookies =)
 the nature was amazing

 and only in some places you could tell that it was millitary training ground...

1 comment:

Roxanne Questi said...

Thank you for posting the photos and interesting text. I live in Israel and I would love to go see this dig! You are so lucky! Do you know - are the caves and tunnels open to the public, or do people have to be with a professor or someone like that?