I woke just before dawn today, to the sound of roosters crowing and a cat bawling in the stairwell. I felt intensely relieved–I am already sleeping through the first call to prayer, which in Dhiban can sound from anywhere between 3:30-4:30 in the morning and is incredibly loud. It’s a major achievement in sleep and sanity, but it also attests to how tired I was.
I have been on site for three days now, the bulk of which has been cleaning the dig houses and organizing equipment in preparation of the start of field work. It has been good to be back; I didn’t realize how much I missed Katie, Bruce and Danielle, the three on-site supervisors this year and everyone is in high spirits. It’s different than last year as well, the team is still sex segregated, with the boys staying in their old house in the middle of town and the girls on the edge of town, just far enough to have to drive back and forth. The girls’ house is a big improvement on last year and has a small olive orchard, more room, and a nicer layout. There are also seven sisters living downstairs, and our initial chat over tea was fun and relaxing.
This year it looks like we will be testing the three terraces of Tall Dhiban to see the extent of the various occupations–we know it was intensively occupied during the Iron Age, Nabatean, Roman, Byzantine, and Mamluk periods, but different remains occupy different parts of the site. By better testing we can target different occupation levels without putting large trenches through the tell, which is how people have dug them in the past. We are also trying to see how surface collections that were performed last year relate to the remains below the ground. While I’m a little disappointed that I am not opening up a nicely defined piece of architecture, it should be interesting to dig in different areas on the tall.
I look forward to the rest of the team arriving and for work to officially start. I’m also putting on a photo show this year, the details of which will become clearer after today.
(cross-posted on the Dhiban Excavation and Development Project Blog, dhiban.wordpress.com)