Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Delta Two Three at TBS (TBS03)

I have not yet been able to convince my body that the idea of waking before four o'clock in the morning is a noble venture, and I suspect that I am fighting a lost battle. The coach ride to the dig provides insufficient time for any significant snoozing, so one spends the few minutes admiring the darkened scenery whilst hoping that the coach driver has had more sleep than those on board. Seat belts are optional but personally recommended.

Zvi and Omer preparing to
launch the drone
After arriving at the tel, tools and barrows are unloaded from the storage container and carried or wheeled to the excavation site. Though the sun does not rise for another hour or so after our arrival, there is sufficient light to get to work. One of the reasons for such an early start, apart from enabling us to avoid having to work in some of the hottest part of the day, is so that photographs might be taken when there are no harsh shadows to obscure details of soil patterns, etc.

However, before we were able to get to work this morning we were introduced to the new technology of archaeology - the drone. Zvi, the other of the excavation's directors from Tel Aviv, seemed quite in his element directing the flight operations as the quadrocopter made its way over the site, taking pictures of the freshly cleaned areas where we were to be digging. This new weapon in the Tel Beth-Shemesh excavational armoury certainly introduces an interesting dimension to the process and looks likely to be a most useful addition.

Sifting extracted soil for making sandbags,
overlooking the Sorek Valley
Once preliminary aerial photography and videography were accomplished, we were assigned to our specific squares where we were to spend the next four weeks. The site is divided into five metre squares, each identified by a letter and a number. I was assigned to D23 along with our square supervisor, Omer (aka Roger, etc.) - a more local chap from Tel Aviv University - and Canadians: Eric, Jessica and Nicole. Together, for some strange reason, we became known as the Thunder Lions Alliance or simply the TLA at Delta Two Three on TBS (live from the BBC - sorry, but you'd need to have been there to make any sense of that).

Accumulating sandbags
Having been assigned our teams and squares, we were temporarily seconded to other tasks, initially to the removal of a jolly stubborn iron stake and then to the filling of sandbags for later use. The arts of picking, lifting, bucketing, sifting and filling were mastered and, together with Charlotte, an English girl from E23 (actually, she was about to graduate from Manchester) we formed a formidable sand-bagging team.

The shade appears and is being put in place
Shortly after our official breakfast, a shade was erected over the site which covered most of the squares, providing some much needed relief from the scorching sun. Returning to our square we spent the remainder of the working day making a start on cleaning out two years' worth of winter-washed debris in preparation for some more serious stuff on the morrow perhaps ..

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