And Lot Sat In The Gate: An Exciting Day At The Tall el-Hammam Excavation -- By: Walter Pasedag

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 25:3 (Summer 2012)
Article: And Lot Sat In The Gate: An Exciting Day At The Tall el-Hammam Excavation
Author: Walter Pasedag


And Lot Sat In The Gate:
An Exciting Day At The Tall el-Hammam Excavation

Walter Pasedag

Introduction

“And Lot sat in the gate.” This quote from Ge 19:1 was the subtitle of Dr. Leen Ritmeyer’s lecture that evening. It had been an exciting day on the dig at Tall el-Hammam, a few miles from the northern end of the Dead Sea in Jordan. The site was identified as the likely location of the infamous biblical city of Sodom (Collins 2002) some ten years ago by our Dig Director, Dr. Steven Collins, Dean of the College of Archaeology at Trinity Southwest University. This was the seventh season of the Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project (TeHEP), and by now some of the remains of a huge Bronze Age city, buried under a layer of ash, had been excavated. It was getting close to the end of this year’s season, and Dr. Leen Ritmeyer, world-renowned archaeological architect, had arrived to make new drawings of this year’s finds.

“Walter, dig over here,” Leen had said earlier that day, pointing to the three meter mark on his tape measure. “Do you see the distinct demarcation line in the mudbrick wall you’re digging?” “Yes, that’s the joint between the Early Bronze Age city wall and the corner of a later Middle Bronze Age addition” I said, quoting Dr. Collins’ digging instructions from that morning.

Michael Luddeni

An overview of the gate complex, east tower and city wall foundation at the Tall el-Hammam excavation site.

Michael Luddeni

Dr. Collins points out an interesting feature to Dr. Leen Ritmeyer during the 2012 dig season.

“Right. Now, if you follow my tape measure for three meters, and start digging here, you will probably find another corner of this wall. And if you stand over here, and look east, you’ll see a row of rocks sticking out of the ground. Do you see that they are on a straight line that is perpendicular to the mudbrick wall you’re digging?” I had walked over these stones every day for the last two weeks on my way from the point where the bus dropped us off every morning on the north side of the ‘tall’ (or tell, the flat-topped hill that unmistakably identifies an ancient city rebuilt time and again on top of the ruins of previous ones) to the squares we were digging this season on the southeast side. But the place is strewn with stones and rocks of all sizes and descriptions, and no, I had never noticed that a few of them formed a straight line, much less that that line wa...

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