“Do you see those pottery sherds?” asks 92-year-old Avraham Biran as he points with his cane to the sun-baked earth of Aroer, an ancient site in the northern Negev. Not until I crouch close to the ground can I distinguish the reddish brown sherds from the stones and pebbles that cover the site. “That’s how you know this is a tell, that it was inhabited,” Biran explains.
By the time I stand up, the nonagenarian has hurried on ahead of the small group that has come with him to revisit Aroer, a site he excavated more than 20 years ago.a When we reach him, Biran is already at the top of the tell. “Welcome to Aroer,” he tells our slower-moving group.