Tall Jalul


In 2005 the excavation season was a full six weeks at Tall Jalul involving over 80 participants. Larry Turner and Justin Woods were invited to bring a GPS (Global Positioning System) based high-precision surveying unit to the project and continue the work from 2004 in exploring how such a system could be utilized in an archaeological setting.

There were several purposes for the GPS:

  • perform the inital layout of the excavation squares
  • determine elevations of loci and benchmarks
  • utilizing a digital photograph to record and map vertical stratigraphic surfaces
  • train the Institute of Archaeology personnel how to use the equipment
  • measure the locations of artifacts
  • replace or supplement the existing theodolite and manual methods of determining location
  • explore how this tool could best be utilized

Initially, the existing certain excavation squares of the existing fields and new squares were staked out using the GPS equipment. An excavation square is initially laid out as a 6 by 6 m square oriented on a north-south and east-west lines:

6 m 
1 m
1 m
SW6 m

The 1 m wide balks are left on the north and east sides for stratigraphic purposes. Therefore, the actual excavation is a 5 by 5 m square. The SW (south-west) or, as we like to think, the Southwestern corner is the key coordinate for each square since the UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) coordinates (measured in meters) for the horizontal position increase toward the north and the east.

At Southwestern Adventist University, "We think outside the balks!" or "The balk stops here!"

Ideally, the 6 by 6 m squares for every excavation field are laid out on a grid that covers the entire Tall. This would mean that if two fields ever merged, the squares would articulate perfectly. In practice not all fields do conform due to a variety of reasons including the presence of some surface feature that might occur near the corners of several squares rather than in the interior of one. It may be more efficient to move the squares of the field to conform to the apparent features.

An excavation Field is a set of contiguous squares. It would appear as a set of 5 by 5 m "pits" separated by the 1 m balks. If something interesting appears in two adjacent squares, then sometimes the balk between is removed to expose a greater portion of the structure.

The daily schedule:

   4:00amwakeup call
   4:30ambreakfast at the hotel
   5:00ambuses leave for the Tall
   5:30amarrive at the Tall at approximately sunrise and start work
   9:30amsecond breakfast on the Tall
 10:00amresume work
 12:30pmbuses leave to return to the Crown Hotel
   1:00pmarrive at hotel in time for lunch
   2:00pmbegin quiet personal time
   4:00pmpottery preparation and analysis
   6:00pmsupper at the hotel
   7:00pmpersonal time, meetings, or presentations
   9:00pm"lights out" sleep time

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