They say the best finds always come at the end of a dig. We found some very interesting things quite literally at the last minute. I can’t show photos since these objects haven’t been published. (My own computer is still down anyway.)
We had a lot of finds this season, but perhaps the most interesting one turned up on our last planned excavation day after some of our group had already packed up and boarded the bus to leave. I was just heading down myself with some tools in hand when I noticed that the remaining 8 people in the area were huddled together. Sensing an unusual presence in the Force, I laid down my tools and got out my camera as I walked over to investigate. It turned out that a female college-age student from the U.S. had j-u-s-t uncovered an unusual, unfamiliar clay-ceramic object from a casemate room. It was a broken piece from something bigger, but it had columns on each side with a spiraled designed connecting them towards the top. These designs framed two rows of circlish figures with either two or three vertical lines etched in each one. On the top of the back side were broken figures of animals (?). The whole piece fit into the palm of one’s hand. This morning’s cleaning session at the site turned into an intense final excavation of the casemate floor, and it turned up two more good-sized fragments of the piece plus an Egyptian scarab and a nice little carved ivory piece. I may post photos in the future when Yossi Garfinkel, the archaeologist here, publishes these objects. Until then, no one has the right to publish them for the world to see. I must say they are pretty cool to see and hold, and it was a great way to end the 2011 season here at Khirbet Qeiyafa.
Some remarked that the ceramic piece is the kind of thing Biblical Archaeology Review would publish on one of its covers. I agree with this assessment but that is a decision for Yossi Garfinkel and Hershel Shanks!