Back in Action…. But Now We’re Almost Done

A post by Alex Ohman

Last Thursday (The 20th) as I was walking down the hill after our days work, my stomach felt odd. The next day I didn’t make it out to the field, as I had followed in the steps of our beloved Andrew Lawrence, and came down with a cold. Saturday I also didn’t make it out, but Sunday I did feel up for our trip to the Mediterranean.

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This isn’t actually that trip, I haven’t put those pictures on my computer yet, but so it goes. The trip was a blast, but it did not help me in my sickness, and the next day, Monday, I went out to the field, climbed the hill, got to our square and said “this was a mistake), and I went in and remained in until Yesterday (Friday the 28th). While I was in I helped as best I could with pottery washing and paper work. I enjoy paper work and I can stand pottery washing, but I wanted to get out to the field again before we left for Jerusalem. And so, as I said a few sentences ago, I did. 

We took our final photos so we were out at 4:30 in the morning, sweeping and preparing our square to be immortalized in photograph. My square mates did a lot of work while I was gone, the square looked great. Our grindstone was out in the open, the plaster floors had been shown, and I’m sure you’ll hear more about that from Rob. The morning went quick, and when we were done with everything and were the last group to leave the field this season. I decided to walk back to the Kibbutz with Paul (our Carthage Alumni, recent Yale Divinity School grad), and the rest of our day consisted of paperwork, and rest. We had a pool party later in the evening, and from then until we all fell asleep we celebrated the accomplishments that we achieved during our time at Omrit.

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Final Week at Omrit!

My name is Matthew Emigh and this is my second post on the Carthage Omrit page.
So far the trip has been a success for me and the rest of my square. The square I am in was given the task to find out what was on the other side of the wall near our square. What we have come up with so far is three more walls and a lot more questions. We have determined that the square is just mostly fill from the 4th or 5th century based on the pottery and other fragments that we have found. We have come across a few coins that we are still waiting to get dated as well.
During the weekends we have been taking day trips to many different ancient sites and religious sites. So far the best site in my opinion has been the one at Bet She’an. The city featured a very well restored theater and a well preserved bathhouse. The city was one that was popular to the people of the area in its time as well as one of the more wealthy cities in the area.

Carthage Students at Bet She'an

Carthage Students at Bet She’an

Overall this trip has been a great experience. This is defiantly a trip that any undergraduate that has in interest in Archaeology should experience. This trip has taught me many things about what it takes to succeed in the world of Classical Archaeology. Most of what I have learned is that it is not just digging in the dirt but a lot of scholarly research that needs to take place in order to be able to do Archaeology properly.
I thank Prof. Schowalter as well as the rest of the Omrit crew for giving me the experience of a lifetime.

Progress!

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Carthage Students at the site of Herod’s Palace at Caesarea Maritima on the Mediterranean

I am Andrew Lawrence, an incoming third year Archaeology major at Carthage, and this is my second blog post! I wanted to write about the incredible progress we have made at the site itself in such a short amount of time. I recently came down with an illness that developed into an ear infection here in Israel and missed about a week of work in the field. After this week I came back to a site and specifically my own square that was almost unrecognizable! The amount of work done in that week alone was so amazing, along with all the incredible things each square found, such as large connecting walls, intact floor surfaces and the various artifacts we find every day.

I find it so incredible to be able to put forth so much work while still being able to have as much fun as we do on the trip, both during work days in the field and on our weekend trips to other sites around Israel.

Elliot Culp and Katie Seely-Grant, members of Square H-17 trapped in the "Scorpion Pit"

Elliot Culp and Katie Seely-Gant, members of Square H-17 trapped in the “Scorpion Pit”

The trip is exhausting but has been such a great experience outside the illness! I am looking forward to coming back next year as the time here absolutely flew by. I met awesome people and discovered really amazing and thought provoking architecture in my square that dates back thousands of years. It is very helpful being surrounded by people who have similar interests in archaeology and meeting the directors and alumni of the site who have since moved on to graduate school. These people know so much about the site and the field of archaeology itself and are an amazing resource for anyone here.

A Change of Pace

Hello, it is Jena Thomas again.

Today there was a change of pace in our square. We were originally working on moving down into new loci layers, but today we redirected our attention to getting our square picture perfect. This included brushing the walls down multiple times and trimming the balk. We also spent a lot of time trying to clear away the compact dirt on the bedrock. We still have a lot to do to prepare, but we are making a lot of progress.

My favorite part of today was the pottery reading with Debbie. I believe this has to do with my art major having an emphasis in ceramics so I enjoy looking at the familiar medium and imagining and learning what the vessels looked like. I also enjoyed learning more about the orange color of the pottery we have been finding recently.  I found out the color comes from orange slip and not glaze. The pottery dates to early Roman time and it comes from Phoenicia. However the pottery cannot be considered imported since Omrit was under the influence of that area during that time.

Tomorrow we are going Hazor and I’m looking forward  to learning more about other areas and how they relate to our site.

End of Week Three Ruminations

Hello, Kristen Wheeler here again for another post. Tomorrow will wrap up our third week of digging with a half day and a free afternoon to ourselves and another trip on Sunday with Nelly.

The end of this week has been way different compared to the end of our first week here. The squares have all gotten more comfortable with each other and the comeraderie has greatly improved with this new found comfort. My group had some pretty cool bonding experience this week lifting heavy, cut limestone blocks out of the square. We even had to enlist help from another square and two of the directors to get them to move. We have gotten more aware of how each person works and how we can more efficiently work together Together as a group. The end of the first week had a lot more awkwardness because we hadn’t yet established this level of workability in the square. The energy has also picked up, in contrast to the end of last week when everyone was exhausted and sore.

Thus far, I think that I have matured and developed in my skill set and ability to think and work in my square with a group of people I have never met before. I have gotten more comfortable with jumping in and doing something without having to be asked and trying things I never thought I would do. I have also picked up on the lingo that I was originally confused about! My overall experince at Omrit has been very positive and I love where we are and what we have been doing along with the friends I have made along this journey. I hope that everyone can finish up strong and that there are things to learn from each square as well. Here’s to yet another awesome week!

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Another Day in the Square

Hi again, we’ve completed our blog rotation so we’re back to me, Emily Prosch. Today was another ordinary day in the square. I am a square supervisor this year, and my square is currently on its third digging area. We keep running into floor surfaces, which we leave intact for now and expand our square’s area somewhere else in order to find our what’s going on around the floor areas. As Rob said, we’re digging in the northern space of what appears to be a Byzantine domestic area. The floors we keep finding are important because the different elevations of various floors indicate different periods of occupation by different groups of people. These floors can be made from simple packed dirt, tile, plaster, or stone, all of which we have found this season.

Other than our exciting floor surfaces, we find a number of other artifacts, such as pottery pieces, glass shards, animal bone fragments, tesserae (the tiny stones that make up mosaics), and if we’re lucky, a coin or two. When we were excavating in the temple in past seasons, people used to find jewelry, whether a metal bracelet or a couple of intricate glass beads. Recently they found a seal, specifically a tiny little cylinder with an engraved scene on it, so when role it across some clay to seal a document or a product, you end up with a little line of figures. Tziona Grossmark, a professor at Tel Hai College nearby and a friend of our excavations, gave a lecture on the seal last night and also overview of jewelry found at Omrit. The seal is quite old, created sometime during the Neo Assyrian king Sargon II’s reign from 722-705 BCE. That’s some 700 years before Omrit was active as a site! Tziona thinks the seal may have been rediscovered in the Roman period, perhaps from a grave, and used as a bead in a jewelry offering left at the temple. It’s quite fascinating, as Omrit is a totally unexpected place to find a seal at all, especially one that old.

We have one more full day tomorrow, and we’re planning on touring everyone’s squares to see what else is going on outside our little 4×4 meter worlds. As much as we love the field, I think we are all looking forward to some rest and adventures this weekend.

June 12, Lectures and Other Sites

Hello all,

My name is Rob Schassler, a junior at Carthage College. I am an English major and Classics minor. Coming to Omrit has been a grand experience for me so far, and so far-off from what I expected coming into the trip. The work is laborious, but the fact that any moment could be my next big find keeps me interested and alert. Presently most groups are excavating a domestic area north of the temple, which dates to the Byzantine Era. However, the work that we do is fairly self explanatory, and as we have fallen into a daily routine, that others can elaborate on better than I, I will choose to focus on our travels to other sites in our off-time.

Recently we have visited Tel-Dan and Sepphoris. Tel-Dan was by-far my favorite site we have visited so far. It is a site that was occupied for a very long period of time, most likely because of its placement near a water source, and its lush surroundings, contrasting to other sites, being dusty and dry. At Tel-Dan we saw an Iron Age gate, with architecture juxtaposing that of Omrit, for the building materials were largely just large stones, not cut blocks like at Omrit. Also we saw an early Bronze Age, Canaanite Gate, with one of the oldest remaining mud-brick archways. Last, but not least, we saw “the High Place” an altar of sorts, which was Northern Israel’s response to the Temple of Jerusalem located in the South.

At Sepphoris, of course the architecture was impressive, but the jewel of Sepphoris, at least in my opinion, is the Mosaic to Dionysus. A beautiful and well-preserved mosaic floor, depicting Dionysus and Heracles competing in drinking contest. What was interesting, and what we spent a large amount of time discussing, was why “pagan” images such as Dionysus would have been included in the mosaics of a mainly Judeo-Christian people. Personally I believe it speaks more of tradition and heritage more so than actual practice.

The other high point of the past few days has been our evening lectures. Two so far have been given by our Co-directors of the dig, and one by a guest speaker, Dr. Tziona Grossmark. These are about the history behind the temple, and I have grasped a new understanding for why we are excavating in the first place.