Thursday, October 16, 2008

Update from Macalester and Carthage Excavations at Omrit, Israel

We've asked Minnesota-based archaeologists to share updates about their current field projects for the website and newsletter. If you are interested in sharing an update, please contact Kate Larson.

Omrit, Israel: Macalester College Excavations
Excavations at Omrit in 2008 concentrated in the area to the north of the temple temenos. In previous years, specifically in 1999 and 2000, a half dozen squares were opened in this area in an attempt to determine the size and extent of the site. Those squares revealed portions of a colonnaded way and the remains of small structures apparently devoted to industrial activity. In 2008, we continued exploring these areas in addition to opening a few squares farther to the north.

Work in 2008 reinforced many of the conclusions reached in 2000. A Roman-period road running approximately north-south connected the temple temenos with a road leading from the Hula Valley up to Banias. This road was colonnaded, but only, and apparently, on its west side, with a robust and well-built stylobate that supported Ionic columns. The Roman surface of this road does not survive, but presumably it was paved with basalt slabs like the temple temenos. Excavations immediately to the east of the preserved stylobate and about 1.25 meters below the road bed revealed a sophisticated hydraulic system consisting of terracotta pressure pipes encased in gravel and concrete. The water system appears to have carried water from a wadi, running on the north fringes of the site, to the temple temenos over 200 meters to the south.

Further to the north, in the area of the road to Banias, excavations revealed more small structures characteristic of industrial or work areas. One square revealed a large basalt grindstone, similar to many such stones found throughout the northern Galilee. Excavations in another square discovered a small building whose thin walls and floors were covered with thick coats of fine plaster. More work is needed in this area, but at first interpretation this building may have been used for some sort of liquid processing or storage.
-Michael Nelson, Assistant Professor of Art, Queens College and former President, AIA-MN

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