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INTEGRATED PROSPECTION PROJECT AT MIGDAL, ISRAEL Luis Barba, 1 Jorge Blancas, 1 Agustín Ortiz, 3 Marcela Zapata, 2 Linda Manzanilla 1, 1, 1, 3, 2 1 Laboratorio de Prospección Arqueológica, 2 Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, UNAM. 3 Universidad Anahuac México Sur. 1


INTRODUCTION In 2010 the Israel Antiquities Authority, granted a license to Mexican institutions to work on a Biblical Archaeology project. Two academic institutions were involved in partnership, the Anahuac University Mexico Sur and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Geophysical prospection was used as a first approach to investigate the site response to different technics and to detect the presence of archaeological structures. Survey results were used to guide excavation and to give archaeologists insight of the unexcavated parts of the site. Site location The studied site is on the grounds of the Magdala Center. It is located in the northern district of Israel, near the village of Migdal, to the north are the towns of Capernaum and Ginosar, to the south is the city of Tiberias, to the west is mount Arbel and to the east is the Galilee Sea, -the lowest freshwater lake on the Earth-.

PROJECT OBJECTIVE The goal of the Migdal Archaeological Project directed by Marcela Zapata is to develop a project that beginning with the application of the archaeological prospection methodology established by our Archaeological Prospection Laboratory, continues with an integrative approach based on the extensive excavation, the detection of activity areas, and the processing of samples and all recovered information to reconstruct the history of the ancient Migdal town.

Western and northwestern sectors One interesting feature is the stone channel that passes through excavation breaking one mosaic floor and continues far away from the excavation in the electric map showing part of a drainage system. This feature was successfully detected by the three geophysical techniques, magnetic, electric and gpr. Most of the observed walls in the excavation have correspondence with the alignments showed by the electrical resistivity and gpr depth slice maps. That allowed to extrapolate patterns beyond the non excavated areas (excavated areas in white).

PROSPECTION METHODOLOGY The ordered application of different techniques as part of our proposal for the study the site, included: • Aerial photography • Topography with differential GPS • Electrical resistivity • Vertical magnetic gradient • Ground penetrating radar Northeastern sector In the northeastern sector of the archaeological site, closer to the Galilee Sea, we search for the limit of the town and the possible ancient port. Part of this area was surveyed with electric resistivity and magnetic gradient. Nevertheless, during the market excavation, a port wall was found and for the project was important to look for the continuity of this wall. GPR depth slice map shows strong reflections, with a north-south pattern that corresponds with the searched port line as was confirmed by excavation.

In the northern grids, magnetic, electric resistivity and georadar maps clearly showed linear features. They seem to be parallel and part of a larger structure nearly related with the synagogue to the north. Mikveh ́

Aerial photography and topography Through the analysis of aerial imagery and topographic relief it can be observed that there are steps in the terrain apparently related to the structures located afterwards. The regional topographic map makes the elevations associated with archaeological structures quite smooth. The minor changes of altitude were emphasized obtaining a residual map. This map shows that in the eastern sector of the map, there are major changes related with more recent modifications.

Southeastern sector In order to fulfill one of the project goals we moved to the southeastern corner of the land in the fence with Franciscan excavations. We carried out resistivity and georadar studies to test the continuity of the excavated features in the Franciscans area. The electrical resistivity map shows a diagonal anomaly running from SW to NE that suggests the presence of a thick wall with a gap that suggests a possible doorway. In general terms orientation of the linear features are parallel to the ones found in the Franciscans excavation area, then the continuity of the structures is evident.

Magnetic gradient survey The magnetic gradient survey covered 1.6 Ha and provided large amount of information. After magnetic data processing with downward continuation filtering, we emphasized the alignments and diminishing the interference of modern trash and stone fragments randomly distributed on surface. In the western part of the map, clusters of architectonic remains can be observed. In the central part of the map there are strong magnetic signals likely produced by another cluster of rooms. In the eastern part most of the anomalies are large stones on surface and few alignments can be seen suggesting less construction density in the area closer to the lakeshore. Map of vertical magnetic gradient data ZONE D ZONE A






Combination of electrical data (orange) and ground penetrating radar (green and red) on the topography and aerial photography.

Archaeological interpretation The archaeological work carried on place so far has revealed that Migdal town started during the Hellenistic period with its main settlement area towards the east of the city, from Zone C, towards the port zone (Zone D) and the Galilee Sea. Before the year 68 BCE it extended to the west urbanizing and following a very defined settlement pattern including housing units and ritual spaces (Zone A and Zone B), having as main building the synagogue discovered in 2009. After the year 70 CE, for unexplainable reasons, the population of the western sector left their houses while the people gathered at the east zone (Zone C and D) occupying the domestic, production and commercial areas until the 2nd Century CE.

Electrical resistivity survey Electric survey was conducted in areas that had prominent magnetic anomalies and where the magnetic gradient did not defined the structures. The electrical technique clearly identified the undisturbed stones in the standing walls and distinguished them from the nearby collapsed stone fragments that produced noise. The interpretation of magnetic and electric surveys guided the archaeological excavation that confirmed the existence of clusters of walls forming architectonic spaces as part of a Jewish town.

Conclusions As a result of the first permit ever granted to Mexican institutions to carry on a project on biblical archaeology, the first century town of Migdal was located. The architectural remains of the houses were identified applying the survey methodology developed to study buried archaeological sites in Mesoamerica. It was of great relevance that the main building material of the structures was basaltic stone. The properties of the stone produced clear magnetic gradient readings, nevertheless a very noisy map was displayed due to the stone fragments randomly distributed on the surface. After the electrical resistivity survey most of the unclear areas were well defined showing up the walls of many of the rooms forming the households. The georadar images always provided the depth of the buried remains and verified some of the anomalies observed in previous maps. Excavation of nearly three thousand square meters exhibited clusters of rooms forming households, production areas, streets, ritual baths, etc. as parts of the complex Jewish town that was forgotten during 20 centuries.

Integrated prospection project at migdal, Israel