Hello blog followers! Bill has asked me to guest-blog, and to inform people of other site developments.
My name is Lindsay, and I co-supervise square O12, which is a semi-isolated square located Northeast of the temple complex, and South-southwest of the Colonnaded way/Industrial Complex. Our square is not part of the temple complex, or the industrial area, but rather sort of a mystery section of the site. The best explanation for this area is that it is potentially an early Christian basilica. The next-door- neighbor square, N12, was excavated last year (by yours truly), and some of the architectural features helped to create this hypothesis.(The square before excavation)
Unfortunately, O12 was once the dump site for another square in the area, meaning we were digging through dirt and rocks for about 50-150 centimeters. Although we found staggering amounts of pottery—about 2000 or more pieces by my current count—and bone (including a complete animal jaw which jumped out of the balk, scaring Shannon quite a bit), it took us nearly a week and a half to do more than simply move dirt out of the square. However, this week we found a water pipe system that is incased partially in concrete, partially in bedrock that had been cut for the purpose. We have found, as of today, 2 broken systems of water pipe, and one complete, in situ pipe that runs under the bedrock. Kate, my co-leader, swears that this section smells fleetingly of death, and although several haikus have been written on the topic, the smell has not been confirmed. Additionally, we found a complete floor. Our group was originally excited to find a wall in our square; however, a floor is nothing to scoff at. Also, I learned from Andy that the best way to test whether an architectural feature is a floor or a wall is to take a nap on it—and for the record, our floor is very comfy. This test is not unlike the test where you lick a rock to determine whether its pottery or not. (The floor—above in the raised section of dirt is the location of the water pipes.)
After pottery reading the fate of our wall/water system is unclear. In the words of the ceramist, 99% of our findings are from the 5th-6th century Byzantine period, but one or two pieces of Early Roman Import or 13th century Crusader pottery is completely throwing off the dating of our square. Hopefully, the last few pieces of pottery we find (which are on or below the floor) will provide a clearer picture the date and purpose of the features in our square, hopefully providing a bit more illumination to the site.
Soon we will be opening O11, which is a square directly south of ours, and the process will begin again. This time, however, we may, in fact, find a real wall, or, as rumor has it around the square, the gates to the underworld.
Until then, here’s a photo of the wonderful team that is (on any given day) the “Boisterous Band of Byzantine Bandits in a Bucket Brigade”, or “Hydration Station” at Bet She’an:Lindsay Morehouse
An unofficial blog on the archaeological excavation at Horbat Omrit, northern Israel. 22 May to 22 June 2010.