Monday, July 5, 2010

Football in Azraq....You Bet!

I’ve put some general excavation photos here, including Kevin and Danielle looking very professional, and one of the many multi-person attempts to provide shade over the excavation squares for photographs on a windy day.

This week moved along pretty well, with a few exciting finds, but mostly moving dirt to get down to targeted deposits. In Area B we are working steadily in the north part of the trench to try and expose a thick dark layer identified in 2008 section as a possible hut floor or massive hearth. So, we are pealing away the very artifactually-dense layers above to try and get down on top of it in week 6 and 7. Some of these layers include our infamous ‘bone beds’, with more animal bone than dirt. In the south part of this trench we are also excavating several hearth and larger features, including what appear to be caches of burnt gazelle and ibex (?) horn cores (see pic of horn core collection).

These all came up at the same time in a dark brown horizon than we discovered later may actually be part of a larger hearth or hut structure. We do find quite a lot of gazelle horn cores (see other horn core pics), but they are usually isolated or in pairs and unburnt – so this huge collection of 14 gazelle and two ibex(?) is a first for us.

In Area A the A-Team is excavating a compact surface full of bone to get down to another compact surface below so that we can determine whether or not we now have northern boundaries for these loci. It seems that we do not yet have the northern edges and will need to expand further north in future years. For the rest of this season we will concentrate on the southern six squares to uncover some further probable hearth features that are just coming up adjacent to the compact surfaces.

Jen and Danielle are still working on the deep sounding to find sterile here and are digging endlessly through a grey clay that is becoming increasingly dense in artifacts – not sterile! In fact, the lithics are bigger and definitely early EP, meaning that we can confirm that we have Middle EP overlying Early EP in the western side of the site.

Kevin and Karl have joined us this week for the rest of the season and are working on some new soundings in the north part of the site where no one has really dug before. Muheisen excavated nearby down about 60 cm before calling his trench sterile, so we would like to see a) how deep until we hit sterile, and b) what kind of deposits are in this part of the site. They have already moved quite a bit of dirt (woohoo) and are both through disturbed deposits into probable Middle EP levels. Like everywhere else, there is tons of material. More on these are they are dug.

Also, just to keep you up-dated on our finds, we have recovered more incised bone. Our most notable piece is exactly the same as a piece we found in 2008 – a gazelle mandible with parallel incisions running perpendicular to the long axis of the mandible its entire length – top and bottom. We also have tons of pierced marine shell (probably another 1000 or so pieces this year), denticulated mother-of-pearl, several bone points and awls, basalt groundstone mortar and vessel fragments and handstones, and of course tons (literally) of lithics!

For this day off I went to Amman and did some work (sigh), while Danielle and Kevin went on an adventure to Wadi Shueib and Iraq al-Amir. Most others went to Amman for some hanging out and shopping, or stayed in Azraq for some real R & R, and probably to watch the World Cup games. Luckily the internet cafes in Azraq are showing the game so we are staying on top of the action.

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