Sunday, June 5, 2011

And So It Ends...Thus It Begins

The dig is over! Friday was our last day. Some people,including my dad, from the Master's group came to help for 2 hours that morning. The Masters group came in to Yad Hashmonah on Thursday from the Galilee. My dad worked with me on the kiln. It was only us two because Jim left and Susan had to do drawings of the other squares. So after my dad left I worked by myself.

The mission on Friday was to do a half meter portion of the section next to the kiln. It was by the entry way so we were hoping to find out more about the kiln if we were working at the entry. That day Kaldune, the man who stores the ABR equipment gave us a 2nd breakfast of bread, hummus, felafel balls, and tea. It was quite good. We also ended around 1215 so with the breaks and early day I wasn't able to get where I wanted to on the rectangle I was working on. I would say I got 80% of it completed, which was quite a task to do in less than one day and it also helped that my dad helped for that short time. It was fun to be able to work on the kiln as a little project of my own.

Now that the dig is over and with a devotion from Dr. Merill I've had some change in my perspective of this archaeology. I know at first it seemed I didn't like it and it was all bad. That was due to the realization of what hard work archaeology is and also the fact that my first square was the worst square on the dig. Dr. Merill said that archaeology helps us to understand the Bible even more because we learn about the culture and people. This archaeology can be a ministry because, it helps believers have a deeper understanding of the Bible. To put in the time, effort, and money to do something like this in order to strengthen the walk of other with God is a ministry. Its a different type of ministry that I have never thought of before.

A secondary aspect to doing archaeology is also to show others that the places and events that occurred in the Bible exist. Scott Stripling, the archaeologist that worked on a Byzantine monastery at the site, during the lecture said, "'Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.' We can take confidence with what the Bible says and it can stand on it's own feet even when archaeological evidence isn't in sync with the Bible." This archaeology that I have done does not have the primary use of saying "In your face, this place does exist!" to those who don't believe in the Bible. I would say one of the main reasons is because if the site is actually different than what was initially thought the believers doing the dig do not look stupid because they know that even if it is not what they thought the Bible is still true and they were wrong.

Friday night I apportioned practically all my food into 19 zip-lock bags for the 19 days that I will be here by myself. So, if any readers are worried I might go a day without food, don't worry. At least I have something to eat every day.

Saturday was the last day the Master's and ABR groups were here. I went into the OC (Old City) with my parents and some others. We got Arab place that I had been to twice back in '09 called the Green Door Pizza which is right by the Damascus gate. The man that owns the place, Ali, said that his family and this place had been there for over 200 years! It was pretty cool to know that I was eating a dish that carried such a tradition for this Ali's family. I then got a phone that works here in Israel just in case I have an emergency I can call someone here. That evening for dinner to Spaghettim which is in Jerusalem by Ben Yehudah St.

Once we got back everyone finished packing up and I got all my stuff out of my room and down to the miklat. I finished just in time to run up to the bus to say goodbye to my parents and some ABR people. Last night and today I've been putting all my things into appropriate bags. I have things I don't need until I get back, so those went on the bottom of bags. I want to do backpacking so my the multi-day backpacking stuff went into the big pack. Daily items such as food and clothes were put in accessible places. Now that I'm basically free of everything, including writing this, to let you all know what is happening I can devote my time to plan.

The cooking and serving of the pizza.
In the end an orange Fanta (preferred) or Coca Cola is necessary.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I'm Kiln IT!

Ok, that was a pretty stupid title, but I moved to a different location today. The old square is closed. I was moved from it yesterday after lunch. I was moved to a square where they are uncovering, what they think to be, a Roman era building. For the short time I was there a coin was discovered and uncovered the threshold of the house/room.

Today was a bit more exciting. Me and two others started to excavate a pottery kiln that probably dates back to the Byzantine era. There is a Byzantine monastery on the hill above what we believe is the Ai of Joshua. One of the cool things about doing the kiln is that no one in the whole excavation team has ever excavated a pottery kiln. It will be a short project. We started it today and cleaned out the inside. The inside is made of a concave floor with thin pieces of rock covered with plaster (only parts now are covered with plaster because of time). There was hardly any pottery in there but it was covered in ash, of course, because there would be fires at the base of it. They would make the pottery by placing it above the fire so that the clay would harden. Tomorrow we will excavate the outside of it to see if we can find more pottery to help date it more accurately. Also my parents are here and my dad and a few others will come join us. Tomorrow is the last day and then other things that I haven't quite planned out yet, because I haven't had much time to, will take place. What I know I am going to do is go down to Eilat, Jordan, and Galilee. More details will come when I figure things out and I have time to tell those who read this.

Today's Before and After Work

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pre-Adventure Adventure and Hopes of a New Square

This last weekend I was able to go to Jerusalem to spend it with my parents and the group from TMC. On Saturday we went to Meno Kalisher's church, which is at a different place than when I was here two years ago. Then that afternoon my dad and I walked on top of almost all of the Turkish wall that surrounds the Old City. The only portions we couldn't walk on were the Temple Mount and the wall between the western side of the Temple Mount and Zion Gate. It was quite a bit of walking.

On Sunday the group headed up to Galilee. I was thinking of going with them and their final stop would be Nazareth, but I knew that if I went I would need to be back at Yad Hashmonah that night so I could dig on Monday. I went, with the feeling I could get back on the bus, but wasn't totally sure about it.

We first went to Caesarea, where it was good to get in the Mediterranean Sea for a little bit. Caesarea was where Peter went to after his vision about all animals being clean. Caesarea was also where Paul made his appeal to go to Caesar, thus allowing the gospel to go to Caesar's palace.

We next went up to Mount Carmel where the account of Elijah and the priests of Ba'al took place also looking over the Jezreel Valley. From there we went to Tel Megiddo in the Jezreel Valley. The Jezreel Valley is usually understood as the place where the battle of Armageddon takes place. The Bible does not say that the battle will take place there. The Bible only says the armies of the world will gather there (Rev 16:16). Though the Bible does not mention the specific place where this battle will take place other scriptural evidence points to Jerusalem for being where at least the climax of the battle will take place.

From Megiddo we went to Jezreel, the place of Naboth's vineyard and where the wicked Jezebel was killed. We then went to the final place Nazareth where the group was staying and I was to get a bus.

Originally I was thinking that I was going to get a bus to Haifa and then to Jerusalem, but the group's bus driver, Joel, said it would be better to go to Tel Aviv and then Jerusalem. Joel dropped me off on the street where I would catch the bus. I walked up the street and found the place where the right bus number was and waited the 45min until the bus came. It was around 8pm. The ride to Tel Aviv was around 2hrs. From there I took a bus to Jerusalem and when I arrived in Jerusalem it was a little after 11p. I didn't know for certain but I was hoping that the buses ran until 12p, and even if it did I wasn't sure if one of the two buses I could take to Yad Hashmonah would arrive before then. One did and I arrived at Yad a little before midnight.

Yesterday and today we kept digging at in our square. These past two days we have been bouncing off bedrock, which means our square will be closing soon because you can't get any lower than bedrock. The square has been disappointing and I hope we can start a new square tomorrow or help with another square where more things are happening.

Today's Work

Friday, May 27, 2011

End of Week One

Today was a hot day without the wind blowing through our shade that we set up each morning. We had some people from Dallas Theological Seminary come and they helped other squares that needed some muscle. Spirits were somewhat low in my square today. We haven't found anything really except the pot sherds, like we have since day one. We had two less people who stayed back today (remember, this is an older group), plus our bodies, mainly our hands were aching from a week of picking, scooping, shoveling, and lifting. On a brighter archaeological note, some other people found a coin while they were sifting dirt, so that was cooler than broken pot sherds, rocks, and dirt. In 10 minutes I will be going to the Old City to meet up with my parents and spend the weekend there. So it will be a fun break from what I've been doing this last week. שַׁבָּת שָׁלוֹ

Today's Progress

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fresh Backs Are on Order

Today my square kept digging to reveal the 'wall' that we are trying to find. So it was a lot of dirt moving, which has made quite a ramp of dirt. In the archaeology I've been experiencing I spend a good part of the day with my elbows below my knees. Hopefully we'll find something that will make this dig pay off in some sort of way. If anything, we'll know the area we're digging in is nothing of importance and we can cross that area off the map. It would be almost like doing a search and rescue in that you pick areas on the map and check in those areas by air or land and if there is nothing then you move on to another part of the map.

Tomorrow we get to have a seminary group from TMS and Dallas Theological Seminary come to help us when we initially arrive there. So we'll get fresh backs and spirits. One of the people on the dig is Dr. Merrill who is a well known professor from Dallas Theological Seminary. Although he isn't my square supervisor, thus we're in different areas during the day, we have been able to talk some walking to and from places and at some meals, and it is cool to see his wit and wisdom. So hopefully I can spend some more time being able to pick his brain. I'm going to try to get to bed by 930p here so I can get to sleep. Have a good day USA!

Today's Work

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

1 Gufa + 1 Dustpan + 1 Hand Broom + 1 Handpick + 1 Trowel + 1 Pick + Dirt + Rocks + Sun = Archaeology

Now is some down time. Its just go, go, go, from 420am-now (around 8pm), so they are long days, but it is great. I'm not wasting any time because I'm always doing constructive stuff and I'm not super tired during the day, which I would probably be if I was in school with the same length of days. This last weekend I was able to go to Jerusalem and be with Varner's group, the group my mom and dad are in. I came back here to the moshav that evening because we had our first meeting.

These dig days start at 420a when my alarm goes off and I go up to breakfast at 430a. I have cucumbers some green peppers and a bowl of cereal. We get our lunches from the moshav which aren't bad. We get some bread, chips, and some fruit. I take some cheese from breakfast and we have some peanut butter. We try to leave Yad Hashmonah at 5a and as we are getting to the site, Khirbet el-Maqatir, we see the sun rising over Jordan. Khirbet el-Maqatir is what the site's modern name and the archaeologists are arguing to be the Ai of Joshua.

When we get to the site we get our equipment, which is stored in the shed of some Arabs who are letting us store our stuff there. We get digging around 615-645a. There are five different areas at Khirbet el-Maqatir that people are digging at. I'll be talking about mine, since I'm digging there.

At my square they dug a test trench to see what they found and they found a large stone, which means that it is a wall. So my square is seeing what we can find around that wall. Monday we were pretty meticulous with our work not taking much dirt out. Tuesday, since we found cobble-like stones going over the wall we sped up work to see the extent of it in our square. They aren't sure why they were put there or what they are for, but they were made to be level, but it goes over the wall, which is interesting. Today we removed those cobble stones and dug along the wall. The wall is defined by the biggest stone. What we found today is that some other big pieces (not as big as the big one) are on top and next to the wall. We had a prominent archaeologist, Shimon Gibson, come by the site. From the pottery we had in our bucket he said that the site can date back to the Middle Bronze Age. At the end of these last two days (and the following days) we get a giraffe's view of our square photographed by the photographer.

What is nice is that we have shade things we put up and there is a wind blowing almost always. Its a lot of squatting, sitting, and kneeling (I do the least of kneeling because it'll make the knees worse later). Anyway, we work until 1030a and have lunch until around 1115a. We work until 2p and then we take all the equipment and put it back in the shed. On the way back to Yad Hashmonah we stop off at an Israeli settlement where we can buy an ice cream from the grocery store, and the first two days I've gotten Magnum bars, very good ice cream bars. When we get back here we have to wash our pottery that we found which takes about until 330-415p (it goes longer as more pottery is found). After that I work out since I need to stay in good shape. I workout in the same area I worked out in during IBEX. Yesterday I included a run that went from the IBEX dorms to the Neve Ilan Hotel, then to the gate of the monastery at Kiryat Ye'arim (it was closed) and back, which was a 5mi run, almost half of it being uphill. I then go to dinner, which starts at 6p. We then have a lecture that goes from 7-8p and then I'm free.

I came into this dig not expecting much and much has not happened, so I'm not disappointed. What I'm doing is how most people do archaeology. Most people do archaeology by paying money and using their time to go do their work. No one makes a living doing it. Most of the head guys are teachers. To me, having to pay a bit of money to do long days of the work we are doing, with not much return (of course no monetary return), does not seem to be worth something to get into for me too seriously. People have too much of a romantic view of archeology...thanks Indiana Jones! I really do like archeology though for its scientificness. Just as we use science to discover what God does in his creation archaeology is a way we can see the places history took place, and gain a deeper insight to history. Its also nice to point people to these evidences archeology gives us to show them that the actual places and names in the Bible exist.

I'm not 100% against not wanting to do archeology. Yesterday, I was talking with a younger guy that is not a part of the group who is getting his PhD in Archeology and from other digs he has been on this dig is not too exciting. So I'm not experiencing the best. Who knows, maybe I might do digs in the future but not too often (I think the majority of the group does 1-2 digs a year).

The people I'm working with, with the exception of three are all 50s and 60s. I'm quite surprised that they do all the work we do, not that its super hard, but its not the easiest (with all that sitting and whatnot my back is tired for the length of time we work). My square supervisor, an older guy, asked me on the way back today if I wanted to go to Petra with him on Sunday. That is something I've been wanting to do and am willing to do, but then he was talking with others to see how long it would take. Yes it would be a long day, but I would much rather do it with someone else than by myself. So we'll see.

Work from Monday. REMEMBER the trench exposing the big wall rock was done last year.

Work from Tuesday

Work from Wednesday

Friday, May 20, 2011

Shabbat Shalom!

I'm here in my old spot that I sat in two years ago, out in front of the IBEX library on my computer with Kiryat Ye'arim, the place the Ark of the Covenant sat a little while after the Philistines took it. Before I got here at Yad Hashmonah I rode in a taxi, sherut, and hitch hiked. Once I got out of the car here at the moshav, I felt right at home. I came down the stairs to the IBEX rooms and saw Becky, the IBEX nurse, and met/reacquainted myself with Benj Foreman, and Heather, the IBEX secretary. They are letting me keep my belongings in the IBEX miklat (bomb shelter/student center) since my reservation doesn't start until tomorrow. As I walked around to the different places I was overwhelmed with the many great memories and people I have spent much time with here. Once I dropped my belongings off in there I did what I do to feel even more at home and worked out in The Dungeon. I haven't told him, but Zach Edwards knows which workout I did...its the one you always do to start out somewhere. Right after I finished I took my camera over to the Biblical gardens and saw the sun set behind the clouds beginning shabbat. I was also able to see Bill Schlegel a few minutes ago and he saw my parents earlier today and they said I could come to Jerusalem tonight to be with them for the weekend. So, I'm going to go there tonight, thus I will be in Jerusalem on Friday, on Shabbat! Hodu, l'Adonai ki tov!