Normally, when I think of articulation, it relates to speech. Some people are more articulate than others, better able to speak clearly and descriptively.
The word can also apply to other fields in which the issue is creating a better definition, and that’s what we found ourselves doing today: articulating rocks on a Bronze Age wall.
The Fourth Expedition to Lachish is one of the largest digs in Israel, with more than 100 participants most day. More than half of those are from Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, TN, or from related Adventist schools as far away as the Philippines. The Adventists added an extra day to their weekend so they could visit Petra, however, and a group from Oakland University in Detroit also left, so our crew was greatly diminished.
The shade was also removed from the square where Susan and I have been working, so after a chilly dawn turned into a blazing hot morning, we were reassigned to a different square, where our job was to clean up a section that may have been a walkway atop the ancient wall after a huge fallen rock was removed from it.
On other days we’ve been asked to articulate mud bricks — using pointed trowels to try to find the edges and outline the shape of them. That can be difficult when some of the bricks have decomposed, or fallen, or have been burned.
We’ve been digging in the destruction layer that brought an end to the Canaanite city of Lachish — possibly at the hand of the Israelites (according to Joshua 10:31-34), though physical evidence suggests it could have been the Philistines. Our square shows evidence of a conflagration that brought the second story of a house down into an open courtyard below.
Digging compacted dirt from between large stones can be a trial, and we often wished for a spoon to go with our trowels, brushes, and dustpans, but it was good to experience a different type of the work.
The hero of the day was Ademar Quint, a native of Brazil who now lives in London, where he is studying archaeology. Ademar’s roommates were among those leaving, so they were sleeping late and he managed to oversleep just enough to miss the bus, which departs at 4:40 a.m., no questions asked.
Undeterred, Ademar plugged “Lachish” into the GPS function of his cell phone and walked the nearly 12 miles from our lodging at Kedma Youth Village to Tel Lachish. It took him more than five hours, but he arrived eager to work. On a tired Thursday when we’re all looking forward to the weekend, he brought a fresh dose of inspiration to the rest of us as we finished the day.
But we were still happy about the weekend, and the downhill trek back to the bus …