Sunday, May 31, 2015

Gezer 2015 – Week Two: Back to Work

By Gary D. Myers

It’s hard to believe that it is already week two. We’ve had a significant turnover in our volunteer workforce. They are coming and going. We said goodbye to one Friday night, three Saturday night and two more tonight. We gained one Friday evening and yesterday we gained three veteran volunteers who returned for another season in the Gezer Water System.

Eli Yannai’s work in the possible dwelling area near the Canaanite gate and the mouth of the water system is still going strong. The area has gained an affectionate nickname, “Eli’s house.” Our group is really enjoying this time with Eli – he is a real pro with a subtle but great sense of humor. He is always teaching and passing along what he knows. One of my favorite parts of the dig is pottery reading. Listening to Eli identify sherds is like a very interesting lecture on ceramic chronology. 

We reached several major milestones inside the water system today. The first three bags of dirt and debris were pulled from the system. There will be many, many more bags to come, but it was satisfying to get a few bags to the sifting area today. Dr. Jim Parker and Stan Watts dealt with a nagging problem – the large chalk “boulders” blocking our next digging area. Tomorrow will be a “fun” day for the persons tasked with breaking up and bagging the massive pile of blocks they knocked down. I am anxious to see how many bags of rock and debris is waiting from their work – I believe it is close to 20 bags of material. Last but not least, we work on safety measures. We have a great deal of fun on these trips and it can be easy to forget that the work in the tunnel is very hard and dangerous. After pulling the first few bags and assessing the ramp for any weak spots, a small crew installed a few safety measures to help block most things that might slide down the ramp if one of our bags breaks and then shored up the loose spots on the ramp. We were especially pleased with the catch fence we install halfway down the tunnel (photos tomorrow).

Work will speed up tomorrow, so keep us in your prayers. Pray for safety and strength. We have exciting days ahead of us as we seek to understand this unique ancient feature. Why is it so big? How did it function? Was it used for more than a water system? We are still seeking answers.

Star Struck
I forgot to mention an interesting coincidence that happened yesterday. As we arrived at Lachish, Dr. Warner noticed a large group marching down the trail and noted that they must be “serious tourists” because the site is off the beaten path and not very developed. Those who know their Bible and know about the Lachish Letters discovered here love this site. The city plays a prominent role in Assyria’s war against King Hezekiah. The Assyrian siege ramp remains all these years later, reminding of Sennacherib’s power. But Hezekiah prayed to the LORD and Jerusalem was spared.

As the group made it down the tel as we started up, someone notice the leader. It was Dr. John Walton of Wheaton College, one of the biggest names in Old Testament studies. Some of us were a little star struck. Today, Walton brought his group to Gezer for a special tour.

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