2009 season, day 9

An eventful day, today. We've moved a certain amount of dirt, and as is so often the case, doing that made what we were finding a lot clearer. For one thing, the semi-circular feature that I thought was come up did come up, but it's a lot smaller than I had thought it was yesterday.

And, more interestingly, it doesn't seem to be a pit. This is more evident in the second picture than in the first, and it would be even more visible if I took another video, but what seems to be happening is that the feature gets wider as it goes down.

While it might be possible to dig a pit like that -- something that gets wider as it goes further down, it would be very hard to do that, as dirt tends to fall down when there isn't anything under it. So, it seems more likely that this was a structure that was built in open air, more or less.

What exactly the structure is isn't clear. There's a bit of soil along the inside of that crescent of rocks that we have which looks ashy, and shot through with small bits of charcoal. Expert opinion is that if it was a kiln, there'd have been more evidence of burning, but it might have been an oven, or something along those lines.

One point that's interesting to me is that there seems to be a notch cut into that large plaster feature, matching the angle of that stone structure. That helps establish a relative chronology for these things -- the stone structure had to have been built after the plaster feature. If it was there first, there would have been stones there, rather than a notch in the plaster, or the plaster would have cut through it. And, given that the walls of the stone structure slope outward, we can assume that the dirt around it had to have been deposited after the structure was built. Which means that if we were to find a coin in the plaster feature, say, that would give us a date earlier than the stone structure, or the dirt around it.

In either case, we're hoping to find more of the structure as we go lower down, and we'll take some soil samples for flotation analysis, which will use water to sift the sand, and hopefully find tiny artifacts and remains that simpler forms of sifting miss.

Speaking of things recovered by sifting, we've had some neat finds today as well.

You'll either have to take my word for it or click through, but that little stone cube is a six sided die.

I'm not a dice expert, so I can't tell you if it's Roman, or Byzantine, or Crusader, but I can tell you that the spots are arranged in the same way they are in modern dice, and that the 1 and 6 are opposite each other, as are the 2 and 5, and the 3 and 4, which is the way most modern dice are arranged.

Whenever that die dates from, judging from the finds around it, it can't be later than the Crusader period, so it's been hundreds of years since the last time that die was thrown. Then we dug it up, and it seems I rolled a four before taking that picture.

For those who are curious, the tag there is the sort of thing that we make whenever we find small finds of that sort. There's a bar code, which will let people find it with the stroke of a light pen in the upper left corner. Then there are the numbers 35/09, our Antiquities Authority license number, and the year.

Underneath that, you get 47 and 53, which is my area number and my square number, "unit 15", which is the area of my square in which we found it, 6/17 which is today's date, in the manner in which Americans write dates, ASR/RBN, which are my initials and the area supervisor's initials, 4054, which is the number of the pottery bucket which was open for unit 15 when that die was found, and MC59777, which is the number that'll identify that particular small find.

It's a moderately complicated system, but it lets us know where and when that die was found, with a certain measure of precision, and makes it easier to refer to that find, if we were to find another die, or a medieval Settlers of Catan boxed set, or suchlike, or if we wanted to compare it in size and weight to other medieval dice, and so on.