A Productive Day in the Lab and Field

As I have already said Tuesday and Wednesday were the worst weather days I have ever experienced in Israel.  Even in the high winds ERT data was collected on Tuesday.  This data was processed and an initial plot of the data was finished today.  A copy of the plot is below.

AKKO ERT-Line9 contoured

The plot covers several hundred meter in distance across the top of the Tel.  Tel Akko has a history that dates back several thousand years and a project that we are cooperating with from the University if Haifa is studying the geomorphology of the tel trying to discern natural feature and human constructed features.  The tel in antiquity was the site of the major seaport for this region and there should be many relic features remaining from this time.  What we see above is very interesting.  The pinkish colt is the bedrock.  In this case the Carcar Sandstone, which represents the natural part of the hill.  All other features can be interpreted as human constructed.  Of particular interest is the large vertical feature towards the left that cuts down through the bedrock, and the circular, almost closed off feature to its right.  There is no emerging hypothesis for the cut feature, but the circular one has been postulated to be a large cistern.  The plots will be further refined, recommendations will be made to the University of Haifa archaeologists, and they may do some test pits in the area this summer to determine what these features are.

Today we were able to get into Nazareth to collect data that we need to facilitate another visit on Saturday.  We have done previous research in Nazareth in 2006 and 2012.  What we are doing on this trip is a continuation of the 2012 research.  Previous projects involved in part trying to unravel the ancient hydrology of the core of the ancient village.  We worked at Mary’s Well previously (the well where citizens of Nazareth from that era drew water), as well as an ancient bathhouse near the well, and St. Gabriel’s Church of the Annunciation through which the water pass on their way to Mary’s Well.  Behind St. Gabriel’s Church is an excavation that unearthed foundations to older, deeper buildings.  We were supposed to examine this excavation and perform geophysics to look beneath the floor of the excavation to determine if there is an even deeper, older cultural layer.  Unfortunately all the rain has thwarted this plan.  The excavation if filled with water, so the proposed research cannot be completed.

Another part of the project involved integrating a nearby cave into the research design.  The cave is called Mary’s Cave and is located under the residence and compound of the Greek Orthodox Bishop of Nazareth.  Today I completed a survey that will allow us to tie the location of the cave into our existing data base for the Nazareth project.  Here we are survey in the street of Nazareth to tie the cave into our existing hydrologic study of the area.  The caves entrance is slightly down the road from my colleagues standing in the street, and to the right up the slope in the Bishops compound.


Related to this, the photo below is the area of excavation behind St. Gabriel’s Church.  The excavation is covered over by the corrugated metal.


The survey was in preparation for the survey of Mary’s Cave on Saturday.  I created a survey point at the top of the steps that lead to the cave, and on Saturday we will survey the cave and collect the data needed to draw a detailed map of the cave.  We will tie the cave survey to the outside survey, thus incorporating it into our overall data base.  ERT will also be completed in the cave to determine the depth of the sediment and to see if there are any architectural features buried by the sediment.  There are also what appear to be collapsed tunnels in the cave.  ERT will be completed on the surface to see if these collapsed tunnels can be detected.  If they can be, then we will apply for funding to complete a detailed geophysical study of the area around the cave.  Also, in cooperation with the University of Hartford, we may submit a grant proposal for excavation  in the cave.  This would be a great opportunity for Duquesne students to participate in this project if funded.

On Wednesday I concluded discussions with Dr. Michal Artzy from Haifa University about students and faculty exchanges and opportunities for research collaboration.  They have a very interesting Marine Studies program that may appeal to students and faculty affiliated with CERE or those interested in themes around ecology.  Tomorrow I am meeting with a representative from the Israel Technology University to discuss similar opportunities for students and faculty.

Lastly, I just want to say a few things about the city of Nazareth.  I think the two photos below say a lot.  They are of me standing with my colleague on this project Maha Darawasha from the University of Hartford, in the main square of downtown Nazareth.  Maha is an Arab language specialist and archaeologist, who is also a Muslim women born and raised in Nazareth.  How ironic is it that a Roman Catholic, working at a Spititan university in Pittsburgh is standing in front of a Christmas tree and nativity scene, with a Muslim female scientist in an Arab city in Israel (Nazareth is about 30% Christian and 70% Muslim).

Capture.tree2                Capture.tree1

Tomorrow we are supposed to go to the ancient City of Bethsaida in the morning to do some reconnaissance of an area we will work at, weather permitting on Sunday.  In the afternoon, I am going to the Israel Technology University to not only discuss student and faculty exchange possibilities, but to discuss the possibility of using Lidar in caves.  More tomorrow.

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