Jezreel Valley Regional Project Archaeology and History of a Regional Landscape

2010 Winter Season at Legio and Tel Megiddo East

GPR at Legio and 'Ain el-Qubbi South, December 2010

Matthew J. Adams

Jessie Pincus

Yotam Tepper

 

Version: December 29, 2010

 

From December 2nd to 24th, 2010, the JVRP conducted Ground Penetrating Radar remote sensing in the area of the Roman camp of the VIth Legion Ferrata at Legio (Fig. 1, blue), and the eastern town of Megiddo (Fig. 1, green) at 'Ain el-Qubbi South.1 This project is the first in our broader remote sensing program. The GPR work is conducted by Jessie Pincus, the JVRP GPR Data Supervisor, and her team.2 The field survey was completed in late December, and will be followed by several weeks of post-processing. The results will be instrumental in the research design of our summer 2011 excavation season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This winter project is critical for our long-term research design. Our remote sensing program aims to identify efficient techniques for non-intrusive survey of the landscape. A diversity of technologies will have to be explored for the array of situations that the project will investigate, from general location of architectural remains at known sites, to confirmation of human activity at unexcavated sites, to the identification of inter-site features (such as quarries, agricultural land, and hydrological features) and natural phenomena of the ancient landscape (river courses, springs, etc.).

GPR is particularly useful as we design a survey strategy that can produce a good understanding of the region as a whole. Coarse surveys can show us where to direct higher resolution surveys, followed by archaeological excavation and ground-truthing.  As one of the long-term goals of the JRVP is to find and investigate all sites of the valley, regardless of time period, GPR will be a crucial element of our broader survey plans.

The work cconducted at Legio and 'Ain el-Qubbi will provide our team with important information about the effectiveness of GPR in the local soils, as well as what sorts of post-processing anaylses will be most productive. In conjunction with the ground-truthing excavations to be conducted in July of 2011, we hope to establish GPR as one of our primary field tools for the Jezreel Valley Regional Project.

December 2, 2010

A long first day in the field covered an area of about 95 m by 95 m at the site of the Roman camp (Fig. 1, blue). Jessie Pincus and her team were on-site with Yotam Tepper, and everyone is eager to see the results! Preliminary readings in the field already suggest a number of anomalies, but it will be a month before we can see official results from the laborious post-processing work.

 

Fig. 2. GPR at Legio. Tel Megiddo in the background.

 

Fig. 3. GPR at Legio.

 

December 19-23, 2010

These five days focused on 'Ain el-Qubbi South (Fig. 1 - Green) sparing one day to finish up the work at Legio and complete the mapping-in of the GPR locations.

Our decision to conduct our GPR survey at 'Ain el-Qubbi was based on a number of factors relating to the possible location of the Early Bronze Age settlement which used Tel Megiddo as its cultic acropolis. A convergence of surface survey data and magnetometer data suggested that the Early Bronze Age town was located east of the main tel (see our Summer 2010 report). These data suggested that this town was of unprecedented size and might represent one of the earliest 'cities' in the area and that its citizens were responsible for a series of temples constructed on the acropolis. Our summer 2010 excavations were designed to test these data in order to verify the extent of the town. While we did verify the presence of EB settlement in the area, this work convinced us that the topographic situation was particularly complicated and that the settlement must consist of a core area with smaller clusters of settlement nestled in the adjacent bedrock outcroppings surrounding the 'Ain el-Qubbi water course. But where was this core? Was it buried beneath the meters of Bronze and Iron Age accumulation on Tel Megiddo?

The best clue to the location of the core settlement comes from the cultic acropolis of Tel Megiddo. There, in the deepest portion of the mound, the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago excavated a broad-room temple with a large courtyard (Fig. 4; Loud 1948: 61-66). This courtyard was approached from the east where a stone pavement ascended the tel. This unique pavement was incised with numerous animal and human figures and has become known famously as the "Picture Pavement" (Fig. 5; Loud 1948). The axis of the temple and the avenue of "Picture Pavement" ascends from exactly the area of 'Ain el-Qubbi South (Fig. 6).

Just at the base of Tel Megiddo, below the "Picture Pavement", at 'Ain e-Qubbi South is a low mound, almost imperceptible from most angles and obvious only when one is standing on it (Fig. 6). Despite the way it blends into the undulating landscape, it is a sizable mound of 2-3 hectares. It is this mound which was the subject of our GPR survey. Jessie and her GPR team were able to survey ca. 15,000 m2 in the survey week - not exactly the entire mound but nearly so. The preliminary field results were very exciting - radar anomalies consistent with walls were clear all over the mound. Some of these anomalies were more than 2 meters wide! Have we found the elusive core of the Early Bronze Age settlement? Is this the home of the people who built the temple on the acropolis and carved the picture pavement? Only excavation will tell!

This summer's excavations are dedicated to testing the results of the GPR survey.

Summer 2011 Excavations

Fig. 4. Stratum XIX Early Bronze Age I temple on the Tel Megiddo acropolis (Loud 1948: Fig. 390).

Fig. 5. The "Harpest" from the Megiddo "Picture Pavement" (Loud 1948: Pl. 273).

Fig. 6. Low mound at 'Ain el-Qubbi South looking up toward the Early Bronze Age temple with the "Picture Pavement".

Notes

1. Funding for this season is provided by the JVRP, American Archaeology Abroad, Inc., and the PhD Research Budget of Yotam Tepper via Tel Aviv University.

2. Equipment operation and post-processing work provided by Mnemotrix Systems, Inc.

Fig. 1. Tel Megiddo and vicinity, showing the locations of the December 2010 GPR Survey. Image credit DigitalGlobe (eMap International).

 

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