Thanks to everyone who entered the contest. We had everything from the practical and then the highly imaginative to the "I only wish it were possible and maybe it is" type of entries. They were all a lot of fun to read and a great way to lead into the field season. Due to the range of entries, I've picked a winner in each category. Remember, fame and glory to all the winners. And, if you find yourself in Ashkelon at the Dan Gardens Hotel, a non-alcoholic beverage of your choice.
First up, the practical submitted by a non-Ashkelonian regular. Congratulations to Kirk!
*** Mount a nice wi-fi camera ($100) on a platform ($10) with additional illumination ($20) that can be manually lowered by rope ($10) from above. Have a wireless router ($50) positioned at the entrance of the sewer. The wi-fi camera and a laptop should be configured to connect to the router so that the laptop can control the wi-fi camera (e.g., zoom, 350 deg. pan, etc.). If the platform containing the wi-fi camera is sufficiently weighted, it shouldn't swing too badly or more thought could be given to stabilization.
I think you should do this in hopes of finding classical human excrement residue or other human waste that would wind up in a sewer. If you do, then there has to be loads of data lurking down there in the dark--like what people ate, types of work they did, common diseases/parasites they shared, etc.
cf. sewer work at Herculaneum.***
Second, the imaginative. The winner should come as no surprise to those of us who know him. Shimi take a bow! Shimi's entry had me in stiches!
***"Method for the Removal of Culturally-Relevant Archaeological Product and State-Heritage Inhumed Trash from the Sewer in Grid 47 and the Subsequent Exploration Thereof
Reason for Exploring the Sewer:
The Glory of Prussia
TNT (several sticks)
Matches (1 book/box)
Heinrich Schliemann costume (1) [Optional: ‘precious artefacts’ (several)]
Approximate cost: $TBD, but presumably not too high – N.B. cost will be higher if ‘precious artefacts’ are to be ‘found’.
Method: Grid or square supervisor, dressed as Heinrich Schliemann, will by means of controlled detonations remove portions of sewer that pose danger of collapse, thereby preparing area for survey. Aforesaid supervisor will be first to survey excavated area and will ‘find’ ‘precious artefacts’. Photographs to be sepia toned and to feature local children in period dress for scale rather than meter sticks. Findings to be published in Jahrbuch der Preußischen Kaiserlichen Archäologischen Instituts***
And finally, last but definitely not least. This winner should also come as no surprise and I offer my congratulations to Josh! I too have been tempted to send the Josh Walton 3000 in to do some excavating but his Plan B isn't at all bad.
***The reasons for exploring the sewage system as Ashkelon should be fairly clear and straight forward. If we can trace the sewer system accurately it can help identify the city plan, and should help us locate places of interest for future excavations, such as major streets, large public buildings, etc. How to go about exploring the sewer system is a different issue entirely. While my initial thought was send a certain tunneling machine called the Josh Walton3000 to dig it out and record the findings, this approach has apparently been frowned upon. Therefore I have a second option. First we reenter the breach from last season with a laser measure (approx. $150 for mid end) and a 2 million candlepower spotlight (Approx. $40). The spotlight can shine over 2 miles so should sufficiently light the opening down to a potential “turn” or “end.” Really long shovels can potentially used to clear away some of the accumulation for better visibility without going too far into the system. Then we use the laser measure to get a reading on the distance to the “turn.” Afterwards we bring in a GPR (variable cost, more if successful and we need it for more than a day), and hope that it can identify the signal of the sewer over the known area. If this is true, if we can identify a certain signature that is distinct, we could potentially use the GPR looking for that signature to trace the entire system.
Alternatively a night vision webcam attached to an all-terrain remote controlled monster truck and drive it through.***
Now we just need to see what the directors say!
Again, thanks to everyone who entered! If we do somehow get into the sewer during the 2012 field season you can be sure we will blog about it.