Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Archaeologist Shimon Gibson: What are we finding at Mount Zion?

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So what we do is we look through every one of these potsherds. Sometimes there are decorations

on them. We can look at the fabric, we can tell what kind of vessel this was. For instance,

I can tell you this is a potsherd that comes from a storage jar and based on its appearance

and fabric, also some other details in the context in which this potsherd came from,

that it dates from the first century CE, OK, so zero from the year up to 70. Thats amazing

to be able to look at that type of potsherd and gain that information. There are other

things as well. We have, for instance, a base here. It just happened to be sitting here

and Im looking at it but this is a base of a wine jar so this can give us information

about wine which was imported to Jerusalem the type of jars which were used for putting

the wine in. They could be made locally. This actually is brought in from outside the country

so this is an imported wine. That will be really interesting to find out where it came

from and so forth. There are other things here, for instance, this is part of a roofing

complex. This is called an imbrex, its semi-circular and its on these sort of

flat tiles known as tegula. So this gives us information about the kind of roofing that

existed for buildings not from the first century. This dates from the Byzantine period onwards.

The fact that you have mixed materials here is also something we have to take into consideration.

We have that in urban context where you have Iron Age and early Roman and Byzantine sometimes

mixed together. And the reason for that is every period they want to secure the foundations

of the buildings and houses which are being built. So they would dig deep pits into the

ground so they could find secure either rock or other older walls so they could establish

their walls on top. That meant there was a lot of movement, redeposition of soil and

debris and, as a result, you get mixed fills. We cant just excavate and find pottery

and say this dates from the first century; hence, the adjacent wall is from the first

century. Weve got to be very careful, weve got to open up, weve got to access the

material again and again. It is quite complicated. Its a bit of a headache I should say. But

its satisfying when we were able to come up with solutions. I tell you when we

bring all of this data together, the data that we have from the field together with

the photographs, and the plans, and the drawings together with the pottery sorting which is

done here together with the finds curator and then bring all that data together with

the coins and other special objects and then everything falls into place and you suddenly

realize that you are within a given century and that you can actually bring it down to

a period of about 50 years or even less sometimes if we have lots of coins. Its so satisfying

that everything is falling together or, alternatively, when we come up with information which is

contradictory to the information that exists here too. So here were actually in a position

where we can correct history in a way because of the new data which is available to us.

Remember that history written about kings and rulers and battles. They dont really

concern themselves with the normal people. I say normal in a sense of the people who

ran their everyday lives and we as archaeologists can correct that.

The Description of Archaeologist Shimon Gibson: What are we finding at Mount Zion?