Khirbet el-Maqatir, Winter 2018: Week Two Report

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Excerpt After our first week of work documenting the Khirbet el-Maqatir finds, on Tuesday and Wednesday, January 2-3, we diligently worked through our mountain of publication material... Continue reading

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After our first week of work documenting the Khirbet el-Maqatir finds (see HERE), on Tuesday and Wednesday, January 2-3, we diligently worked through our mountain of publication material. By noon on Thursday, I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. In spite of a dire weather forecast for Friday, we headed to work. None of the Israeli staff came in, but a security guard afforded us ingress and egress to the facility. Fortunately for us, the weather proved to be not much worse than the previous days, and we put it another good day of work. As we drove away, I felt confident that we could cross the finish line on Sunday.

Arrowhead #185

LEFT: Arrowhead #185, one of the many finds at Khirbet el-Maqatir.

Publication of the Khirbet el-Maqatir glass concerned me, since I lacked a staff member with sufficient expertise to analyze the material. Fortuitously, I was able to arrange a meeting on Tuesday after work with Yael Gorin, the foremost glass expert in Israel. This ranked as a highlight for the week. I learned more about glass in three hours than I had learned in the past 55 years. Yael joins the "dream team" of specialists with whom I work in Israel. Volume Two (Late Second Temple and Byzantine Remains) of our final publications will showcase the work of these various experts. I am the primary author of Volume Two, while Bryant Wood and Boyd Seevers serve as co-authors for Volume One (Bronze and Iron Ages).

Saturday in Israel represents a special day for our many Jewish friends. Over the past few years we have developed a very close relationship with the residents of Ofra, a city just north of Kh. el-Maqatir. This relationship grew even stronger as a result of the burial there of eight Jewish murder victims that my team excavated in 2014 and 2015. I facilitated the burial of the remains of these individuals in the Ofra cemetery, thus affording them proper burial. The spot, now marked by a beautiful memorial, tells the entire story, and recognizes me and my team as the heroes of the epic. Saturday afternoon we joined some of the leaders of the community for a Shabbat meal. After this, I made a presentation to about 100 Ofra residents regarding the excavation of the 7 females and 1 male, some of whom saw the Second Temple prior to their murder in AD 69 and its subsequent destruction one year later. The older ones may very well have seen Jesus and the disciples as well (John 11:54).

On Sunday we completed our work, culminating with the delivery of 1200 pottery pieces to be drawn for final publication. The objects were professionally photographed and drawn by Mike Luddeni and Melody Bogle, both tops in their field. With work completed, we set our sights on the long-awaited reward, a tour of Mt. Ebal. Since Mt. Ebal lies in a restricted military zone, I have never been able to see the famous altar of Joshua, excavated by Adam Zertal. Aaron Lipkin, one of the leaders of the Ofra community, has connections with the military command and arranged a tour for us – on a bullet-proof bus! The tour exceeded my expectations. Underneath the large rectangular altar from the 13th century BC lies a round altar, which I believe dates to the end of the 15th century BC. This altar directly synchronizes with Joshua 8. From Mt. Ebal we headed toward the coast for an appointment at the Weizmann Institute with Director Dr. Elisabetta Boaretto. Lisa is a friend of mine and does the scientific testing for Kh. el-Maqatir and Shiloh. These tests range from C-14 to soil analysis. The archaeology community holds the Weizmann Institute in the highest esteem, and our partnership reflects the seriousness of ABR’s work in the Highlands of Israel. Due to traffic we did not make the appointment, so I sent the samples to Lisa via courier. We arrived back at our headquarters in time for a final dinner. The chef cooked magluba just for us. This dish could best be described as chicken, rice and vegetables meet a pineapple upside down cake. As Michael Luddeni said, "Mama Mia!" After breaking down our war room, packing, and a few hours of sleep, we departed the hotel at 2:45 A.M. to catch early morning flights back home.

I can’t say enough good things about the work ethic, positive attitude, and Christian witness of my team. Thank you for your prayers and financial support during this important winter project. All of this takes money, and more than you probably think. Giving details are below.

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