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El Araj Season 4: Day One (Week Two)

Another Crusader beehive lamp found in the new square.

Today was a day of new beginnings as we expanded our site. We opened three new squares that represent new promise. In Area C (north of the main excavation site), a new square was opened with the help of a group of local believers who came to dig for a few days. Their expenses have been covered thanks to a crowdfunding appeal by Jerusalem Perspective. In fact, two of the three squares were opened by these friends. Both squares in Area C continue to produce Roman pottery and coins. Today lead fishing weights were also uncovered. Next to our square (A5) Ethan Knapp Gary Alley and Danny Kopp opened a new square beside where the Bek's House stood. It is not easy work opening a new square. Much of the surface is covered with compacted stones and hard soil. Yet, only a few inches below the soil they unearthed a Crusader "beehive lamp" similar but in better condition than the one we found in our square last week. An additional square was also opened by the Bedouin laborers adjacent to where the large Byzantine pavement once was in an attempt to better understand the Byzantine settlement. Thus far three stages of Byzantine occupation have been identified. The ORU group continues its work to excavate in the Roman level. Once again I forgot to get a picture of our square (A5), but I promise tomorrow to post a picture of it from Week One Day One next to our present level so that you can get some idea of our progress. What I did photograph was the collection of Byzantine tesserae that we continue to find in our square. Everyone ended the day touring the entire excavation together to see what others have done.

The local laborers have been tasked to open a new square on the northern side of the main excavation site.

The layers below the Byzantine pavement have been excavated and articulated. Three levels of Byzantine settlement have been identified. It is possible that some of these walls existed in the Roman period. Time will tell.

Achiya Cohen-Tavor speaks with Dr. Bill and Trish Lyons, leaders of the ORU group.

Mosaic tesserae found today in our square A5.

Achiya Cohen-Tavor speaks to the group. Note that there are now two squares in Area C. Progress.

Area C continues to produce Roman period coins and pottery. There is also a substantial wall that runs through their square.

Ethan Knapp and Gary Alley opening a new square.

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