Monday, June 9, 2014

Gezer 2014 – Just how big is this thing?

An Israeli pottery expert examines pottery from the Gezer Water System.

By Gary D. Myers

By any standard, the ancient water system at Gezer is massive. The opening towers to just under 24 feet high. This is 15 feet wide. The system is much larger than it needs to be to supply water for the ancient city. It is monumental.

Getting water would have been a serious task. It is a long way down to the area we believe held the water. Most likely it was women and slaves who made the daily trek up and down the steps to gather water. They probably needed a drink by the time they exited carrying the water.

The system is very big and R.A.S. Macalister uncovered much of the system. Any new understanding of the system must come from the area he failed to excavate. All digs have a bit of mystery, but this seemed easy enough after we reached Macalister’s Causeway. Well, just when we think we have a handle on this rock-hewn tunnel and pool, we learn more, and the puzzle keeps getting more difficult to solve. This is an intriguing place.

In my last full blog, I mentioned the big news of finding the floor. It seemed that we had found the final depth of the pool area. The plan was to continue on to the east, cleaning the floor. Well, as we dug further we encountered another drop off (or step?) and beyond that the floor continues to slope down at an angle. We are least 7-8 feet below the causeway and the floor keeps going down at a gentle grade. This new information has us wondering, and marveling yet again over the size and the mysteries of this system. Even as new theories are being formulated, we really don’t know what to expect or what we will encounter. This is certainly not the way Macalister envisioned the pool. Our dig continues to rewrite the traditional understand of the system. Exciting days indeed.

Pottery, Pottery, Pottery
Meanwhile the pottery yields from the pool area are incredible. We continue to find sherds of the fine Cypriot imported ware, large pieces of common water pots and a few more interesting items that you will have read about in the official dig report later on.

Our wet sifting system is working like a well oiled machine. Thank you John James! The two sifting teams are able to sift one bag each in about 20 minutes. This year we added new and improved sifting screens and we are using power washers to help cut through the mud. It has been much more effective than our sifting systems of previous years.

Counting the Days
The end of this dig season is quickly approaching, only two more days of digging. By Thursday we will begin cleaning up the tel and leaving for home. The end of a dig is always bittersweet. We made new friends and shared wonderful experiences together. The puzzle of the water system remains. What is this thing? Why is it so big? Why is the pool so deep? These questions will gnaw at our directors this year. But we have worked hard, given it our all and miss our loved ones at home. By Friday, we are all be ready for home. As we sit and fellowship in the evening at Neve Shalom, talk usually makes it back to food. We are all beginning to plan our first meal back in American. Today, someone said they were having a bacon cheeseburger as soon as they got home. That sounds pretty good to me.


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