Mark S. Little

Exceptional preservation. Stephen Sachs inspects a piece of Herodian wood that displays, beside his left hand, a decayed mortise-and-tenon structure. This joining technique involved placing the planks in an edge-to-edge position and joining them by means of wooden links (tenons) inserted in slots (mortises) carved in the two planks. The tenons were then secured within the mortises by pegs through the plank and its tenon. This technique has been found in ships dated as early as the 14th–13th centuries B.C., but it went out of use in the Byzantine period. In the photo, a piece of a tenon juts perpendicularly from a mortise in the beam. The white tube at the right end of the beam is the shell of a marine worm, the prime cause of destruction of ancient wood in the sea.