It was a bit unexpected, but I spent this week participating in an archaeological excavation. I was invited to join a small team excavating at Fazael, a Chalcolithic site in the Jordan Valley. Fazael is actually a cluster of sites. We were excavating at Fazael 2, which was occupied at the very end of the Chalcolithic period and may have been the site of a copper smelting workshop.
One of the students on the team is studying copper production in the Chalcolithic period, so she was particularly interested in finding the workshop. We excavated in multiple areas at the site, but although we found some signs of industry, we didn’t uncover the actual workshop.
I didn’t really know much about the Chalcolithic period other than it was a long time ago. I was surprised to find that some of the pottery from that period is quite finely made, delicate, and decorated with incisions and paint. We also found shell jewelry and a lot of flint tools.
In the evenings, we did some touring. One day, we stopped at the nearby site of Fazael 7, where there is a Chalcolithic temple. It is quite impressive. The lowest floor of what was a two or three story structure still stands all the way up to the lintel over the door.
Another day, we went to the Fazael spring, stopping to tour a site with a Roman aqueduct and pool and an Iron Age fortress.
The next day, we visited another site which dates to late in the Iron Age. It has a four-room house with the pillars still standing. The site was destroyed either during the Babylonian or Persian period.
It was a short excavation – just five days, but I had a nice time, met some archaeology students from various universities in the country, and learned a lot about the Chalcolithic period.
Oh, and we had a visit from some camels. 🙂