uncovering ancient Jerusalem

Interviewing the Ophel Excavation Staff – Part 2

HWAC dig volunteers Elizabeth Blondeau and Douglas Culpepper continue in our interview series, putting some of the other diggers and staff on the Ophel Excavation dig site in front of the camera. Here is part 2–stay tuned for further installments.


  1. Dan says:

    Favor to ask….any possibility you could do a video on the geology of the rocks in the walls? For example, at the beginning of this video showing Margo Karlin, in the wall behind her I can see very distinct types of rock in the blocks. There are very distinctly different colors, one is all white, another looks purplish, one is pink, and on the steps the blocks are black and white like quartz or marble or granite. Or is it burned? What do we know about where these might have been quarried? Inquiring minds would like to know. Thanks.

    • Rachel Dattolo says:

      We will think about that possibility for future phases; thanks for the idea! The particular wall that Margo is standing in front of in this video is a restored Byzantine wall.

  2. David & Sharon Harms says:

    A “BIG THANK YOU” goes to Elizabeth & Douglas for these special interviews. It was especially nice to get to know some of the Area Supervisors: Ariel, Margo, Shimon & Tzachi. Really great, informative Q&A’s ~
    Thank you for your input & sharing with us what you love to do. The captions (or sub-titles) are a helpful touch too.

    I have a question for Ariel: “What is a LOCUS CARD? Please explain how they work.” Thank You!

    Shimon reminded me of the movie “Indiana Jones” (Raiders of the Lost Ark’s) lovable & charasmatic Arab Excavator friend “Sallah” (played by actor John Rhys-Davies) … showing his love & enthusiasm … “to be infected by the Archaeoloogy virus … you just cannot stop … you want to dig & dig … & research!”

    Thank You All !! Keep doing what you all LOVE & keep sharing with us!

    • Brent Nagtegaal says:

      Thanks for your question. I’ll help out Ariel by giving it an answer! 🙂

      To describe what a locus card is we have to first define what a locus is. Basically, a locus is any specific or discernible area/feature of an excavation.
      • It could be a patch of dirt of specific color
      • It could be a patch of dirt with specific consistency
      • It could be an area of cleaning
      • It could be digging inside of a wall
      • It could be a cross section of soil

      Basically any area you are touching is a locus of some sort – as long as it matches the description you give it.

      For example, if I am excavating against a wall in brown soil, the locus description will be “Brown soil against Wall” and will receive a specific number. As soon as something changes to change that description, I am now digging in a new locus. It could be that the color of the soil changes or the wall ends, or another wall is discovered. The new locus will be given a new number.

      Everything about the locus that just ended will be recorded in its specific locus card. This would include the starting depth and ending depth, soil color/consistency, if it was a wall locus, the dimensions of the wall, type of construction etc. Then you include a description of how this locus related to all the other loci around it. On the back of the locus card is every single artifact that came out of it (pottery, charcoal, special finds like bulla, beads, metal objects, etc). You would also include the dating of the locus (Iron Age, Herodian, Byzantine, etc).

      Finally, you record the locus’ importance. For example, it could be a floor at the bottom of the wall giving the first use of the wall after its construction.
      At the end of the excavation, there will be a big stack of these cards, sometimes several hundred that retell the development of the excavation.

      On our excavation, the area supervisors are responsible for completing the locus cards for each of their areas with the help of their assistant. These are turned into Ariel who will check that the card makes sense and that there is nothing missing. Following which they will be incorporated into the study of Dr. Mazar for the final publication.

  3. Seedo says:

    thank you very much , i cannot get enough of JERUSALEM and you are bringing it to life even in Suriname . thank you very much.

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