The Search for Joshua’s Ai at Khirbet el-Maqatir, 2011: Days Three to Five

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Excerpt I got lost in a flurry of activity this week and have missed a couple days of reporting. Today is Saturday and a bunch of us went to the Shabbat service with Jewish believers in Jesus here at Yad HaShmonah. Earlier this morning we actually experienced the latter (spring) rains frequently mentioned in the Scriptures. This one, a short but hard downpour about 9 AM, was a really later latter (spring) rain for this country. But, in all honestly, it brought no significant relief from the heat – 96 degrees yesterday! Continue reading

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We have moved a ton (I am pretty sure that would be literally!) of dirt and rocks over the past 5 days.  Beyond our regular team of 35, we have had another 30 volunteers show up on different days to help.  A group from Dallas Theological Seminary (where our veteran square supervisor Dr. Gene Merrill has been teaching Old Testament since shortly after the Reformation!) showed up yesterday and the guys in the group moved maybe a ton of stones, themselves.  We made them all sign a release form that says we can use their image in our materials and some of them can be seen (legally!) in the accompanying photos.

The most exciting finds this week, included a bronze coin from sifting material inside our Hasmonean fortress out of Joel Kramer’s square.   Under the rubble of that rock pile the DTS guys moved, Dr Merrill has a structure that sure looks like the lintel of a doorway.  We will see, but it is fun to check back and see more and more apparent wall lines uncovered beneath it.

Brian Peterson continues to open up what looks like a room with 3 of the 4 corners identified.  Scott Stripling has cleared much of the monastery’s west wall.  The central apse in the monastery’ church is still only half excavated, because while clearing to bedrock, it appears Scott has also found a secondary apse to the south – and that means there will also be one on the north. This is a major new discovery, because these secondary apses were underground when early explorers visited the site and saw only the central one. 

We also have a number of sherds with drilled holes which all seem to come from the same vessel – an ancient strainer – in Suzanne Lattimer’s square.  And for the record she still hasn’t found that wall.  But I am not gloating…because the very promising wall Jim Luther’s square shares with mine is so fragmentary, we are ashamed to have to explain it when people come and look at it. 

We have had some mishaps and difficulties this week and we take great comfort in knowing you are praying for us.  Health and logistical issues continue to be important prayer matters.  Thanks for all your support. 

Gary Byers

Administrative Director

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