Dhiban Excavation and Development Project


Life and work from a tell site in Jordan

Extreme Archaeology!

Sara Patterson: Hello everyone from Dhiban. We have now been on site a few days and it has been quite an experience. Our first day we developed a new extreme sport; extreme weeding, weeding with pickaxes. Mid western weeded have nothing on Jordanian weeds. The prinicpal plant we were removing is called shoke (note all of my spellings of Arabic words are phonetic and I will attemept to include pronuncialtion guides because my spelling is iffy at the best of times. For shoke imagin the first half of shock mashed onto the front of choke). Anyway shoke is a thigh high thistle like plant that has prickels eveyrwhere and not just little prickles, BIG prickles. It does have pretty purple flowers on top and the goats seem to like it. The other plant we were removing is called crown of thorns and it is only about 6 in high but it has masses of one inch long thorns that seem to leap out of nowhere to stab unsuspcting flesh. Both the shoke and crown of Thorns prickels go through leather gloves like they weren’t there.  After a morning of battle the local flora was defeated, altought we were not without our casulties, and we moved on to clearing several areas in which we are to work. I was set to removing the back fill from a previously excavated Mamluk house. The work was hot and hard (there were lots of big rocks to move). We also removed some of the soil fill. (note According to all the archaeologists I have spoken with it is only dirt when it is under your fingernails at all other times it is soil.) During this adventure I met some of the more famose members of the local fauna; the black and brown scorpions. Luckly scorpions tend to be slow moving and generally confused so it is not hard to capture and dispatch them. Unfortunatly, the only one of the 8 we discovered that excaped was a brown scorpion. The brown scorpions are more poisones than the black ones. And so there is a wily brown scorpion still lurking in the fill we are going to be removing in the next few days. So my first few days here have been an introduction to many things; dirt in vast quantities (and not just under my nails), hot dry heat, the local wildlife etc. Tune in next time and you will hear about a wedding party the girls will get to attend, the early morning call of the muezin (moo-eh-zin), adventuers in Jordanian driving and much much more.


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3 Responses

  1. barnea says:


    Thank you for this full description. Shokes are on this side of the Jordan as well! I have watched pros wear several layers of gloves, and thick socks, despite heat, for protection.

    We start digging our 3000 year old city next week.

    Good findings!


    Barnea Levi Selavan

  2. Kathy Patterson says:

    Is the Mamluk house by itself or are there other ruins around it? When was the Mamluk time period?

  3. Kathy Patterson says:

    Did you get to attend the wedding? All your adventures sound so interesting.

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