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Tell Abu en-Ni’aj – Jordan

Field School in Jordan at the Turn of the Century

Tuesday, January 18, 2000

I’m writing this in Deir Alla by flashlight. High winds have knocked out the power.

Tell Abu en-Niaj Fashions

We loaded two vegetable trucks to the gunwales with equipment, and Cynthia, Jenn, Bruce and I said good-bye to Mazraa. Our truck had questionable tires. Thank God for a safe journey. The dig house here is a lot nicer, built as a dig house in cooperation between Jordanian and Dutch universities. Built for comfort in hot weather, the rooms are freezing now, as is the shower water. I had to boil water and mix it into Cynthia’s camp shower. Grad students arrive tonight. Hope the lights are back on.

Wednesday, January 19, 2000

Spent most of today cold. Ilya, Jenn and Cathryn arrived in a fruit truck and we unloaded the gear. Word came from Steve that we were all off until Friday. Ilya, Jenn and Cathryn took off for parts unknown, while Cynthia and I stuck around the dig house. Went downtown with Achmed (the dig house caretaker) and Jessica to scout out the village, Mishaara. It has 3 banks but no public phones except for in the post office. I could use a hot shower. I miss Mazra’a.

Thursday, January 20, 2000

Slept late for the second day in a row. It was supposed to be a day off but I went to Tell Abu en-Ni’aj with Dr. Jones.

View from Tell Abu en-Niaj

We looked for the site datum. The tell has been chewed up by bulldozers, and we had no luck. We go to Tell el-Hayatt tomorrow and work from the datum there to Tell Abu en-Ni’aj. Hot showers this morning and I felt warm for the first time in a while. In a happy twist of fate, the only shower with hot water is the one in the latrine/shower room that the women exchanged to the men because of its smaller size, more suitable for the less numerous males on the dig. The men are sworn to secrecy, as the women are apparently unaware of what they’ve done. Went to Mishaara with Cynthia, Jessica and Orailia. Got rained on while walking back. Cold, damp, with plenty of rain falling. The food prepared by our cook, Umm Sahla, has been great.

Friday, January 21, 2000

Slept late for the third day in a row. Hot shower second day in a row. Cold and wet fourth day in a row. Went to the site with Jenny (Dr. Jones), Orailia, and Chad. Surveyed from Tell el-Hayatt to Tell Abu en-Ni’aj and established a datum at TAN. Very muddy but it didn’t rain in the field. Rained back at the Deir Alla dig house. Ruth arrived with Ilya (sick again), Cathryn, and Jenn D. More students due in tonight. Walking in the field with boots encased in mud like some kind of gigantic brown Mickey Mouse shoes though annoying was a good workout. Generous amounts of sleep along with hot showers and great food has spirits high in the dig house.

Saturday, January 22, 2000

It was another cold and wet day until an hour before sundown when it cleared up. Went to the site and laid out the units. It was cold during the late afternoon. I was wearing three layers under my field jacket, two layers under my pants, and a wool hat. It’s really not that cold; we’re just always damp and wet. And the dig house is airy and spacious to keep people cool in summer, not warm in winter. Ilya has not improved. A doctor came by the dig house and diagnosed amebic dysentery, so Steve took him to a hospital in Amman. Word from Mazraa’ is that a couple of the geographers/geologists we worked with there have the same ailment.

Sunday, January 23, 2000

Ilya was treated and released last night and is back here at the Deir Alla dig house. I was on and near the site surveying this morning. It rained but cleared in time for another sunset. Laura’s care package to me arrived today with a letter, toothpaste, floss and candy. We’ll try moving the mud layer off the site tomorrow, but we won’t start excavating in earnest until Tuesday. My crew will be Emily, Bonita and Ruth. Our first load of laundry here at Deir Alla returned soft, clean, and mostly dry.

Monday, January 24, 2000

We hit the road at 6 AM heading for the site in a local bus we hired for transportation when it’s not making its usual runs. It flies. The sun was out on the site, so for a few blessed moments it was warm enough to shed layers. It’s a distant memory now. We started excavating today. Some interesting stuff almost immediately, such as a mud brick grain bin.

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