El Season 4: Day Two (Week 4)
Things are heating up at el Araj. It was a very hot morning, and we are working quickly to finish up the season strong. There were a number of small, important finds, but primarily we are moving lots of dirt to get down to the levels and finds that we are hoping to achieve before Thursday. Already in the first hour of the morning we found a base to a Byzantine goblet and a Herodian oil lamp in Area A. Sunya and Kathryn continued to finish cleaning their mosaic and even found a small Byzantine minima coin. Tom Blackwell and Jim Johnson with Sandra Arias finished up their square with a nice Byzantine mosaic. All of these belonged to the monastery and church of the Apostles that is slowly coming to light after fifteen hundred years. Over in Area C Marc Turnage is working in a small room/space with a plastered floor and walls that may have been a ritual bath. Further tests are needed to answer this question. Elsewhere in Area C evidence of Roman (non-Jewish) presence here is seen in the foot of a stone figurine. The team in Area C is also taking out walls and widening the scope of their excavation. All the dirt coming from the squares is sifted, which often results in finding coins like the Roman coin found today in Area C. We work alongside about 20-25 Israeli students from Kinneret College who are with us for the week as part of a summer course. Yesterday an outside company scanned the surrounding area of el Araj to create a 3D photogrammetry model of the excavated area, using a 5 channel Magnetometer system that senses objects underground, from a hand pushed cart and also from a large drone. Hopefully these will be able to determine if there are walls, streets or structures under the ground. With the results we hope to have some idea of the extent of our settlement and to plan towards future seasons of excavation. Finally, I have included two pictures from the field trip yesterday afternoon led by Motti Aviam to Yodefat (Jotapata) hometown of Josephus.