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El Araj Season 4: Day Two

Byzantine coin that will be sent away for conservation and identification.

Today was a day of taking down the walls of the medieval (Crusader) settlement of el Araj in preparation for digging down to the lower (earlier) levels. We very much appreciate having a group of Galilean bedouin who help doing a lot of the heavy lifting in the removal of the Crusader period walls. Yehoshua Dray (a well known conservator) visited with his metal detector and located about 20 coins mostly from the Byzantine period that were found beneath where the Crusader walls once stood. Another impressive find was an intact millstone (upper and lower) in very good condition. The new area C, which I mentioned yesterday, was moved today to the north of the main excavation (Area A) about 150 meters/yards. The beginning process in these new squares is very hard work to break new ground, removing rocks and preparing for further excavation. Already today Area C has produced Roman period pottery, which is an indication of good things to come. I am working on a new square immediately between Area A and the floor of the Ottoman house. Somewhere in this vicinity was seen in 1929 a magnificent Roman-Byzantine mosaic two meters below the surface. We are hopeful that we will finally be able to relocate this important vestige from the past. Once again, it takes a lot hard, slow work in these beginning stages, but we are hopeful about what lies beneath. Two of the pictures posted today are of the nearby Jordan River which flows about 75 meters/yards from el Araj and empties into the Sea of Galilee. I can attest that there is nothing like ending a hot, tiring day with a swim in the Jordan River.

- R. Steven Notley, Educational Director, EAEP

Yehoshua Dray talking with Professor Chaim Ben David from Kinneret College.

Millstone (upper and lower). Grain would be placed in the middle hole with a stick put in the side hole that served as a handle. The upper stone would then be rotated to grind the grain.

Achiya Cohen Tavor speaks to the team beginning work in Area C.

A new square that is just beginning next to the Ottoman house. Somewhere in the vicinity in 1929 was seen two meters below the surface a Roman-Byzantine mosaic. We begin this new square with our fingers crossed.

Local Bedouin workers help to dismantle the Crusader walls.

Yehoshua Dray looks for coins after the removal of walls and floors.

Down the road we go at the end of the day to take a swim in the Jordan River.

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