Tuesday 20 January

Did a couple of hours in the trench today before heading to Irbid and Umm Qais with the other volunteers for more sight seeing. Jamie said he had taught the workmen the word ‘fantastic’ which has become combined with the equivalent Arabic word, ‘Mumtaz’ which in our trench – and some others on Tell Husyn – has morphed into the word ‘mumtastic’, being the appropriate response to a great pottery find or something. When we started work I waited for my opportunity to use the word which was greatly  appreciated by the workers. It’s one word I learned over there which seemed to lodge in my head, which is more than I can say for other Arabic words I was exposed to. I was advised by archaeologists there that the only way was to keep a notebook handy and to write words down as soon as you learn them.
 
At the trench I took some soil samples for analysis of organic matter. Analysis of soil samples, plus other things such as pottery samples and styles of wall building and architecture, can assist archaeologists to date a trench and the constructions in it. Jamie marked off an area, I very carefully broke the surface up with a trowel, then put the soil in plastic bags. I had to be careful not to allow anything else to contaminate the sample.
 
Off to Irbid and Umm Qais!! Umm Qais, being one of the Decapolis cities (along with Pella and Jerash) is mentioned in the New Testament – Matthew 8.28 and the equivalent passages elsewhere. Came back to some exciting news. There were human remains discovered in my trench!!! The next day we would make a start at excavating them. I was advised that they would be unlikely to be full articulated skeletons, rather they would probably be in lots of small pieces. So apparently the next day I would be busy with a sieve, separating the soil from the pieces of bone.
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~ by margoforte12 on February 4, 2009.

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