Start of the 2015 field season — survey at Wadi al Ashert/Bet Netofa

Everyone has arrived!  Our group of 11 all have arrived in country to begin the 2015 Galilee Prehistory Project field season. We will be conducting survey at Wadi al Ashert/Bet Netofa in search of a potential new Chalcolithic excavation in the Galilee region.

Day One:

Participants go on a field trip to the site of Marj Rabba (excavated by GPP in 2009-14), and view examples of Chalcolithic artifacts.

Director YR gives tour of Marj Rabba on the first day.

Director YR gives tour of Marj Rabba on the first day.

In the afternoon the volunteers listen to a lecture by YR about the Chalcolithic period in Israel and Jordan at our home for the next four weeks in Kibbutz Mizra.

YR giving a lecture on the Chalcolithic in the afternoon.

YR giving a lecture on the Chalcolithic in the afternoon.

Day 3:

After the initial day learning how to survey and identify artifacts our four survey teams set out along the transects at sunrise, beautifully documented by ACH with our new drone.

Aerial shot of groups walking transects at sunrise.

Aerial shot of groups walking transects at sunrise.

Our four groups covered a combined 4,800 meters of transects today, job well done!

Groups aligning themselves on the transects.

Groups aligning themselves on the transects.

We also had some time left to befriend some of our fellow kibbutz members.

Kibbutz Mizra may no longer have pigs, but they do have some friendly cows.

Kibbutz Mizra may no longer have pigs, but they do have some friendly cows.

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Meet the Crew!!

We are a small but mighty crew this year at Marj Rabba. Joining long timers – Yo, Mo, ACH, and AD are rising seniors archaebotany student JF (UCONN) and 2 former W.F. Albright Institute Interns (the College of Wooster and Columbia U), and recent CUNY grad JR. Here are some action shots of the crew.

Andrea

AD – lawyer, soon-to-be LLM student, registrar, database manager!

Blair and Gabby

GB and BH at Montfort

Blair

BH – The College of Wooster

Chad

Genius ACH multitasking in the field – ipad and tablet in hand.

Gabby

GB – Columbia University

Jocelyn 2

JR – recent CUNY grad

Jocelyn

JR on her first dig!

Joyce 2

JF – University of Connecticut

Joyce

JF happy in her work!

Yo and Mo

Mo and Yo – everyone wears a hat!

Yorke

Yo in the field

THREE CHEERS FOR THE 2014 MARJ RABBA TEAM!!

Another Saturday, another “one big happy family” outing!

This time to the Crusader Castle of Montfort. Located in the Upper Gailiee, Monfort has spectacular vistas of the gorge of Kziv Stream and the deep green densely forested mountain slopes – mostly oak trees. Built in the 12th century, the castle was originally for agricultural rather than military purposes. For further insights and reading see Adrian Boas (2008): The Montfort Castle, a New Survey, Hadashot Arkheologiyot – Excavations and Surveys in Israel, No. 120.
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AD on the path

AD on the path

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Local vistas

Local vistas

ACH

ACH

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Floors and pots!

Apologies for the delay in updating our activities at Marj Rabba, it has been a busy week. One of the goals for this small season was to locate the floor in Room 1 and to define better the associated structures (including floors) to the east of the room. We have had a lot of success this week as careful excavating has uncovered at least three flattened pots, possibly sitting on a floor.

Flattened pot lying on a floor??

Flattened pot lying on a floor??

Flattened pot lying on a floor??

Flattened pot lying on a floor??

Flattened pot lying on a floor??

Flattened pot lying on a floor??

Sometimes to get a good image of the pots in situ we have to make our own “shade”.

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Make shift shade!

Our weekend – Site Visits!

Today we visited some Chalcolithic sites as one big happy family. First we stopped at Tel Teo.

A man in tall grass, checking out a tel site

A man in tall grass, checking out Tel Te’o

Tel Te’o is a very tiny tel. A small portion of the site was excavated in advance of road development. The Tel Te’o publication states that there is evidence of the Pre-pottery Neolithic B, Pottery Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Early Bronze IA, and the Early Bronze II. It was fairly hard to see anything on the surface due to the long grasses and thistles. We did see some basalt and pottery and some large stone walls on the surface

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The gang at Tel Te’o

 

Some folk stayed at the road side to get an overall view of the tel (“I thought that tells were huge and you could see them from anywhere” direct quote from one of our excavators).

 

 

We found a skeleton!

We found a skeleton!

After Tel Te’o we made our way to Rujm el Hiri, which is a standard weekend visit for the Marj Rabba crew. This year we found a cow skeleton – a poor cow that was quite old and suffered from some calcification on its bones.

Girl power at Rujm el Hiri

Girl power at Rujm el Hiri

Rujm el Hiri is an ancient megalithic monument, consisting of concentric circles of stone with a tumulus at center. For many the site is believed to be an ancient observatory and stellar calendar. Today we saw evidence of this in the form of coloured crystals left on the basalt structure. Perhaps folk were visiting during the summer solstice?

Talking about the landscape

Talking about the landscape

Jocelyn R. checks out some crystals left at the site.

Jocelyn R. checks out some crystals left at the site.

Joyce F. prepping for the walk back to the van.

Joyce F. prepping for the walk back to the van.

After two site visits we stopped off on the way home at the Golan Brewery – makers of the Bezelet (basalt) Beer.

Rewards after a morning of Chalcolithic sites.

Rewards after a morning of Chalcolithic sites.

All present and accounted for!!

We are up and running in the field – a total station (many thanks to AD for the donation!), 2 tablets, 3 shepherds, 8 archaeologists, a herd of cows and a herd of goats – no one can stop us! Our last archaeologists arrived last – welcome Jocelyn R. We hope you have a great first visit to the region.

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A man, the total station, and two tablets…

Genius Chad - 2 tablets in the field!!

Genius Chad – 2 tablets in the field!!

Tablets in the field!

Tablets in the field – a dream come true.

We start our days at 5:00am when we climb into the van and head to the site. At 8:30am we eat breakfast on site – sandwiches, yoghurt, granola bars, veggies, and other strange items (today we had weird banana chips). Sometime we share our breakfast spot with a herd of goats and/or a herd of cows.

Sometimes we eat breakfast with goats

Sometimes we eat breakfast with goats

Gabby B in the house

Gabby B in the house – tools of the trade

Day 1 – A small but mighty crew (-1 who arrives this evening)

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JF cleans the baulk and finds some rather large spiders . . .

Day 1 in the field – lots of cleaning thistles, wrapping barbed wire, lots of sandbags, two frogs, a mouse, and a few scorpions. Our final tally is 8 intrepid souls and 8 disappointed folks back in the US. Over the next three weeks we hope to find some floors, to understand the construction of various building, to make some 3D models, and to bid farewell to Marj Rabba.

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Director – Yorke Rowan supervises the clean up.

Sherd dump and barbed wire fencing

Sherd dump and barbed wire fencing

At many archaeological sites in this region the non-diagnostic pottery pieces (mainly body sherds) are dumped back at the site, once they have been weighed, counted, and studied.

BH cleaning

BH cleaning

JF, ACH, GB cleaning in Area BB

JF, ACH, GB cleaning in Area BB

In the coming days guest bloggers will tell tales of the dig – stay tuned for future updates!