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Zahrat ahd-Dhra – Jordan


Tuesday, December 21, 1999

Excavation Units with Architecture Visible

Good day on the site, though in spite of the impressive architecture, we’ve actually turned up relatively few artifacts within our units. We may be digging in the wrong places, or the site may have been seasonal or briefly occupied.
Not a lot of refuse yet. Came down from the site and after lunch we washed what artifacts we did find.

Wednesday, December 22/Thursday, December 23, 1999

Christmas 1999, Mazraa', Jordan

No water in the dig house. The day on the site went well, though. It was payday for our Jordanian workers.
The Christmas tree is up and almost completely decorated.

Friday, December 24, 1999

Slept late (6 AM). No digging today. We rented a bus and went on an all-day tour. We visited two castles, the Crusader castle at Karak and Shobak castle, an Islamic castle, with a picnic in between.

Christmas Day, Saturday, December 25, 1999

Had a special breakfast, including eggs, sunny-side-up.

Sundown at Mazraa'

We had a group gift exchange. I ended up with a head lamp, after some final bartering. Finally got the water working again. Top priority was to fill containers for water to flush the toilets, then to fill all potable water storage containers with drinking water. We watched the sun go down across the Dead Sea behind mountains in Israel. It was a crystal clear day and the Israeli side of the Dead Sea seemed magnified.

Abu Sami and Abu Abed made the best chicken dinner I can remember. (Of course, we’re all a little starved for protein.) Had a hot shower, wrapping up a pretty good Christmas Day.

Shobak Castle

View from Karak Castle

Sunday, December 26, 1999

Went into Mazraa’ to look for materials to build a latrine screen for on site. Found what I needed and headed back to town after supper with Ilya to pick them up.

Achmed and Achmed

It actually rained very lightly on the site for about eight minutes this morning, but so lightly that I still kept my notebook open and could write in it.

The new worker (Ali) who replaced Tahleb is working out well. We try to be sensitive to cultural differences, but we just couldn’t get Tahleb to take instruction from the female student running his unit. I guess we could have swapped him into a unit run by a guy. So far all the other workers are just fine, but we have mostly female students at this field school and we didn’t want to risk starting a stamped of people trying to get on the units run by guys.

Monday, December 27, 1999

Laundry Facility, Mazraa', Jordan

Work on the site is going very well. We’re using a different path to get to and from the site. It’s shorter, but a little more harrowing; very narrow and unforgiving. Abu Sami had a treat for lunch: lamb, tasting better than I’ve better than I’ve ever had it before, and a cake with honey, nuts and fruit that got 10 out of 10. I’m feeling very good but some members of the group are suffering.

We’ve hired a woman named Alia who lives outside the compound to do our laundry and we’ve started getting loads back. Results are mixed, but better than nothing.

Tuesday, December 28, 1999

With Students out Sick, Mohammed and Salam Continue Excavating

The cooler weather and the arrival of fly paper, carried all the way from the States by Mary who just arrived to analyze faunal remains, have combined to steeply reduce the fly population. Ilya and I built the ladies’ latrine, a one-seater. I told everyone that the latrine looked so good that Shawn went inside it to try to get a passport photo.
Moving a lot of dirt on site, but artifacts are scant. Just about ready to give up on the current units and try elsewhere.

Lunch caused a stir. It included chicken, making it two days in a row with meat on the menu.

Wednesday, December 29-Thursday, December 30, 1999

People in the dig house are pretty sick. We even had a doctor make a house call. Some suspect the water. We will start boiling all drinking water (except mine, which I will continue to double filter through Steve’s filter and my PUR filter). I suspect flies and general sanitation deficiencies. Whatever my roommate Ilya has I hope it’s not contagious. I’m busy on site covering many units with people out sick, and we’re adding more units.

Friday, December 31, 1999 New Year’s Eve!

Hiking on New Year's Eve 1999

We had a lab day today, so we slept in later than usual. Since there was no second breakfast, our one breakfast was a big one, including the luxury of an omelet. The lab day consisted of weighing and labeling all the ceramic artifacts.

After we finished the lab work we went for a hike up a wadi to a Roman site with architecture and ceramic sherds everywhere.

Apparently the decrease in the surface level of the Dead Sea is not due to a lack of water in the watershed. There was flowing water in some places, but it was impounded so it could be easily diverted for agriculture.

Flowing Water along New Year's Eve Hiking Route

The crew greeted the New Year and millennium with a bonfire in the compound. At midnight we could see fireworks being shot off on the Israeli side of the Dead Sea. One witness in the group asked if they were in-coming or out-going.

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