Chapter 9: Beneath the Surface

9:1 Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars.

      I am writing these words in Jordan where I am part of the staff of the Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project. On our day off yesterday, we were invited to have lunch in Amman, at the home of one of the Jordanian Department of Antiquities' senior archaeologists who has worked with us over the past four years. After a wonderful traditional Jordanian meal in a lovely home, Adeib took us to visit to the last site he had excavated in the Amman area.
      It was an Old Testament site with a building constructed in the typical "4-room house" plan of the time. As the name suggests, the interior of this rectangular house was generally broken into 4 rooms (3 parallel long rooms and 1 perpendicular rear room). The partitions between these rooms were typically made from parallel rows of stone pillars (as many as 4 pillars in each row).
      Between the pillars of each row was generally a thin stone wall that would not have gone as high as the ceiling - like cubicle dividers in modern offices today. Ceiling in these houses appear to be as low as 6 feet from the floor, but the strong stone pillars probably held up a second floor.
      The house Adeib showed us was larger than normal and had 2 rows with 4 pillars in each row of internal (as opposed to the unsymmetrical 7 pillars of Lady Wisdom's house). These pillars were massive stone carved blocks (wider and taller than me!) and did not have the typical thin curtain walls. In fact, it was probably some sort of administrative building that had been built on the plan of an ancient house.