Three weeks of hard work at Tell Khaiber have confirmed the presence of at least one monumental building. Satellite images, combined with the geophysical prospection programme, show it to be square, and to measure least 80 x 80 metres. Rooms excavated along the eastern side of the building have solid pavements of regular mud bricks, and one, perhaps a large hall, has a series of beautifully plastered floors – the care and detail of the construction reinforcing the special nature of the building.
Of course, it is much too early to say if it is a temple or a palace or an administrative complex. The pottery above the latest brick pavements dates to the early second millennium BC, to the Isin-Larsa or possibly to the Old Babylonian period, but there is also material from Early Dynastic I (2800BC), nearly a thousand years earlier. What form the occupation of this earlier period takes is one of the many questions we plan to address in the future.
In addition to locating the major building, this preliminary season of fieldwork is also testing the nature and depth of the deposits in and around it. The water table has been reached at 2.3 metres below surface – the limit of our excavations even though archaeological layers continue down.
Rubbish deposits just outside the building contain plant remains, and these are being collected for specialist examination. Preservation of zoological material appears to be good, but there are some salty encrustations on much of the pottery. Apart from pottery vessels we have found tools of copper and stone, and two moulded clay plaques, showing respectively a male worshipper and a female figure with a cheeky grin!