UJ 2019 Field Work: Working Along the Water Channel Project

For this season at Umm El-Jimal, I was assigned a trench that will be along the water channel that is scheduled to be put in later this summer. The purpose of my trench was to see if there was anything important through which the water channel will cut through. Luckily, there wasn’t anything spectacular found in my trench.

The Water Channel Project is to help “brief, concentrated annual spring rains often flood the site, which poses a long-term threat to the ruins’ conservation. [By] restoring the ancient water system [it] will help preserve the site by properly channeling and distributing these flows. Second, Jordan is one of the top ten water-poor countries on Earth. [By] restoring the water system will provide a sustainable, secure, and local source of water for modern Umm el-Jimal’s thousands of residents, their flocks, as well as local gardens and farms.” (See Umm El-Jimal’s website for more information about the Water Channel Project at http://www.ummeljimal.org/en/water.html). 

My trench is located by House 80 and the Roman Reservoir. The dimensions are 1 meter by 1.5 meters. According to Professor Rohl, the location of my trench could have been an ancient dump, which true to its hypothesis, most of trench was backfill. In total, including the bottom of my trench, there are four locus. 

The first locus consisted of mainly top soil and was approximately 30 cm deep on both sides, as my trench was located on a hill. So one side of the trench is higher (the south side) than the other (the north side). Throughout Locus 1, the soil was mainly dry and chunky with a considerable amount of pottery and rocks. This locus is just the top soil above the trench. The pottery found in the trench came from the backfill and from the ancient dump that was most likely there. 

The first few days was spent going through Locus 1. At this point in time, Professor Rohl and Elizabeth decided that there wasn’t really anything important from my trench. As a result, my co-worker and I decided to just “go at it” with a pick axe. On the third day of digging, my co-worker, Sultan, and I discovered that we think is Locus 2. Locus 2 is approximately 55 cm from the North West corner and 80 cm from the South East corner. Similarly to Locus 1, the soil is around the same color, however it was more fine and had less rocks. After comparing soil samples, it is possible that Locus 1 and Locus 2 are the same. In this locus, we were still finding quite a lot of pottery shards, but less rocks than locus 2. Similarly to Locus 1, Locus 2 is still the continuation of backfill. 

After four days of being in Locus 2, we finally hit Locus 3. Locus 3 is approximately 75 cm from the North West corner and 80 cm from the South East corner. In this locus, the soil is darker and almost a reddish color, which could have come from the brick pieces that were found. In this locus, there were very few pieces of pottery and that could mean that it was close to the end of the backfill. At the bottom of my trench, I found a bunch of rocks that are in some sort of pattern. These rocks could also be a signal that we have reached the end of backfill. 

Overall, the goal of my trench was met, as there were wasn’t really anything particularly important found in my trench. However, I was grateful that I got this opportunity to do something that I see in movies or from a far. 

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