All Good Things Must Come To An End

Hello all!

Welcome back to the blog, Sarah here again to tell you about my experience here in Israel. Over the past few weeks, I have found myself going through a whirlwind of adventures which have tested both my body and spirit. I have learned, like Zak, that archaeology is not for the weak willed. Many a time my body has felt like it was going to collapse from exhaustion, as many others here have also experienced. I am so proud of everyone here for being able to stick through the season and make such amazing progress.

With the end of the season here, we have been cutting down on our excursions. The two most recent were going to Gamla on Saturday and Megiddo on Sunday.

The trip to Gamla was awe-inspiring. Erin gave us a good overview of Gamla, so I won’t spend too much time on that, but here are some pictures to give you a sense of the trip from my eyes.

See that little dot of rocks, that is what we had to get to.

See the remains of the site in the distance? That is what we had to get to.

And this was the pathway down.

And this was the pathway down.

Halfway down we took a shade and rehydration break with many of us needed, myself included!

Halfway down we took a shade and rehydration break with many of us needed, myself included!

The view of the Sea of Galilee from the round tower was beautiful.

The view of the Sea of Galilee from the round tower was beautiful.

Even the round tower itself was magnificent.

Even the round tower itself was magnificent.

Megiddo on Sunday was a trip that very much excited me for I have learned about Megiddo in a class and to be able to see it in person was amazing. While having a mini-lecture on the history of Megiddo from one f the co-Directors, we learned that Megiddo is actually the place of Armageddon which I found to be fascinating. Also we were told that, because Megiddo has been a key crossroads area in Israel, there are about 20 different level of civilizations built one on top of the other all on this mound. Also being able to see the work in progress around us was very interesting for it showed just how other archaeological groups worked on their sites.

Model of Megiddo which amazed all of us with its ability to lift of suctions.

Model of Megiddo which amazed all of us with its ability to lift of suctions.

Slight jealousy over the dirt tunnel and wishing there was one at Omrit.

Slight jealousy over the dirt tunnel and wishing there was one at Omrit.

Overlooking the excavations at Megiddo and enjoying some palms.

Overlooking the excavations at Megiddo and enjoying some palms.

Along with these sites, I have had the chance to spend some time in the bunker with some of the staff helping them out and learning valuable skills along the way. Whether it be organizing artifacts, scanning in pottery reading documents, or merely unfolding boxes, my time in the bunker has been some of my favorite, for it is somewhat similar to what I plan on doing in my goal of working in a museum!

All in all my adventure here at Israel has been one that I will never forget. I have made friends, had fun, and best of all learned so many more bits of information that I am truly grateful for. I have found a new appreciation for hard labor and learned that having to wear sun block is not the end of the world.

View overlooking kibbutz Kefar Szold

View overlooking kibbutz Kefar Szold a.k.a. our home away from home

Farewell Omrit, Until Next Time

Hey all! It is I, Zak Jakobs, back again to tell the continuing tale of my experiences here at Omrit.

Zak Jakobs: Amateur Archaeologist, Professional Dirt Model

Zak Jakobs: Amateur Archaeologist, Professional Dirt Model

I figured it would be nice to have a helpful visual reminder of who I am. For those reading with a good memory, or who have decided to read this entire blog in one go, you might remember my awful sense of humor. I am sad to say that it has not been helped any during the course of the dig season.

Anyway, It seems to be about that time during the season and everyone has begun scurrying about trying to clean out their squares and prepare for final photos eventually to be used for publications. Cleaning itself is not really that fun of a process, personally I’d rather have a pick or hoe in my hands any day.

As for what has been going on with the team I’m in, way up on the hill overlooking the temple, since my last post we’ve closed our previous square “Z8″ and are now in the process of closing our new square “Y8″.

But seriously though, we think it's probably a house.

Z8, obviously the home of [insert biblical figure of your choosing], so give us lots of money.

Dunno what's in this square, but it sure is cool.

Y8, complete with two sturdy walls, a stone pier, a rather less sturdy wall, and a very deep hole in the ground.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself “Gee, those squares look pretty clean already”. Well that’s because Z8 has already been cleaned, but also because it’s a color photo. When you take a monochromatic (hooray for big words) photo such as one you would use for a publication, every little root and bit of loose stone and soil shows. So basically the goal of cleaning is to make the dirt less dirty. You can probably imagine how futile the task can seem at times, but it does give a sense of satisfaction when completed.

This has been a wonderful experience over the course of the last few weeks and I’ve learned a great many things. For example, I’ve learned about heatstroke; it isn’t fun. I had this life lesson when we were hiking along at Gamla, a very interesting site of a Jewish fortress which was used to defend from the invading Romans, which I would have taken more pictures of, had I not been mumbling to myself, weeping softly, and making unsuccessful attempts to re-hydrate myself. Like I said, heatstroke: Not fun.

Aside from one of the most terrifying experiences of my life, which I should point out was my own fault, I’ve also learned a great deal about the field of archaeology as a whole; It’s very hard work. Archaeology isn’t something for one with merely a casual passing interest, because you are most certainly bound to do quite a lot of work both physically and mentally. If you aren’t actively in the field digging, then you’re back on the Kibbutz washing pottery, filing paperwork, or sorting artifacts. All in all this often leads to about a 12 hour work day. A very rewarding, but tiring 12 hour work day. I’ve been thinking about unionizing, but considering that we’re all volunteers, and our experiences here will be a wonderful feather in our caps when “please, please, please let me into your graduate program” time comes along I don’t think this would be really useful. In addition to this I’ve also learned a great deal about pottery reading, the wonderful thing called shade, and (as you may have guessed from my experiences at Gamla) the incredible importance of drinking water and not, for example, carbonated beverages as your hydrator of choice.

In short, I guess what I’m trying to say is that this digging season has been amazing. And awful, at least that’s what my body keeps yelling at me whenever I try and use pretty much any muscle after fieldwork finishes each day. But mostly amazing. The sites have been intriguing, and the work edifying. I’d be lying if I said I won’t be happy when I’m home in my own country, in my own room, and in my own bed, but I will sorely miss this place. There’s something about digging that is wildly different from any other experience I’ve ever had and I suspect that it may take a while to get used to regular life again.

It was the best of times.

It was the best of times.

It was the worst of times.

It was the worst of times.

Well, this is me signing off, farewell internet friends.

Look Mom! I’m an Archaeologist!

Hello it’s Erin again! I can’t believe that our time here in Israel is coming to a close so soon, but this experience has definitely been everything I imagined it to be.

My favorite day in the field by far was June 12 (which seems like forever ago in dig days) but this was the day that I found the toe to the pithos jar that Rich ever so kindly already explained to you. I loved being able to focus my attention on one specific item and use the dentist tools as opposed to the pick and hoe. Even though the pithos jar is not rare here at Omrit, it will always be special to me for my first major find.

image-2 Outside of the field we have had the opportunity to see a plethora of other ancient sites. One that I really enjoyed was Gamla, whose name translates as ‘camel’ in Aramaic. I enjoyed this site because in order to get to it, it took a half and hour hike to get there. The views all around the site were stunning especially looking towards the Sea of Galilee. We spent the majority of the actual tour in the synagogue and it was interesting to hear Jason and Amy talk about it as well as when Gamla was a site of battles.

Amy (my square supervisor) Rebecca, and I at Gamla.

Amy (my square supervisor) Rebecca, and I at Gamla.

Paul, Claire, Rich, Mel, Tim, and I waiting to hike in Gamla.

Paul, Claire, Rich, Mel, Tim, and I waiting to hike in Gamla.

View of Gamla.

View of Gamla.

Gamla.

Gamla.

My square mate Rebbeca and I at Gamla.

My square mate Rebbeca and I at Gamla.

I wish I had the opportunity to tell you about every individual site but here are some of my favorite photographs from my time here in Israel.

Mel, Hannah, Claire, and I at Beit She'an.

Mel, Hannah, Claire, and I at Beit She’an.

Meggido.

Meggido.

The Mediterranean Sea.

The Mediterranean Sea.

I don't know what these flowers are but they are everywhere.

I don’t know what these flowers are but they are everywhere.

Claire, Andrew, and I at Nimrod's Fortress.

Claire, Andrew, and I at Nimrod’s Fortress.

Yes, we really do begin work at 5am.

Yes, we really do begin work at 5am.

Claire, Zak, and I at Caesarea Maritima.

Claire, Zak, and I at Caesarea Maritima. 

These past twenty-four days have been filled with adventure, excitement, and new experiences. I am definitely going to miss field life when I have to return home to the States but I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to experience this and meet all these wonderful people! Stick around for more tales from Israel!

Indiana Man in Israel

 

            Hi my name is Teryn Solan and I am going to be a senior at Carthage College next year.  I am studying Archaeology and I am also getting a minor in Geography.  I am from Saint John; which is located in Northwest Indiana about fifteen miles from Chicago.

               So far my experience here at Omrit has been very informative and exciting.  I have never left the country before, save for a five minute excursion into Canada when I was eight.  It is amazing being here because I am learning so much about a society so different from the one that I am used to back home.  I am also learning so much about the ancient cultures of the Roman and Pre Roman from visiting the remains of the cities that still survive.  The two sites that have left the greatest impact on me during this trip so far have been Bet ’Shan and Tel Dan.

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            Out of all the sites that I have seen so far Bet ‘Shan has been the most impressive out of all the others that I have seen. A lot of what is seen has been rebuilt, but there is also a large amount of original architecture that has survived the elements.  I really enjoyed looking at the remains of a large roman bridge that went over a small creek which lead to the residential part of the site.  The bath complex that was there was very impressive especially the way in which the place was heated.  But the thing that I liked the most was the road which was lined by columns on either side.  Just to be able to walk the same path the people did thousands of years ago was amazing.

            Tel Dan was also an amazing site just because of the fact that it is believed to be a bronze age site which would be the oldest site we have seen so far.  One really can’t see too much when they are driving by the site, but up close you see the reconstructed remains of a huge wall and gate complex.  It was almost unbelievable that people back then could build such amazing structures by hand.  Another impressive feature that was part of this site was the reconstructed remains of the so called second Temple that was built to rival the Temple in Jerusalem.  There wasn’t really anything left except for the foundation of the Temple making it hard to scale, but the size of its platform gave me the impression that the building that once stood here must have been imposing.

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Just Digging “With a Little Help from My Friends”

My name’s Rich Ward and I am going to be a Junior at Carthage College who is striving to obtain an Archaeology Major with Latin and GIS Minors (and possibly a Greek minor as well). It’s been over two weeks since we started our excursion to Israel and I still can’t believe I am out of the US for the first time in my life doing exactly what I love. We have all finally started to fall into a pattern of how the days go around here.

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Claire and I at the top of the Tel at Bet She’an

But one thing has changed this week… We are all starting to get to a point in our squares where more ancient objects are starting to be found more intact than the earlier loci (layers). In my square, Erin found herself the bottom of what seems to be a pithos, which was a type of large jar that would be used for storage of dry goods. We’ve also found a decent amount of glazed pieces of pottery.

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Erin working diligently with dentist-like tools to safely uncover and remove a large piece of intact pottery from the square.

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And the fruits of Erin’s labors just before we pulled the piece out. After consultation with some more experienced hands, it was seen to most likely be a pithos.

One of the cool and longer parts of the later day after digging is everything we do with the pottery, primarily the pottery washing. Some of the times it can be a little tedious, but it’s a great time to bond and learn more about everyone. If you were wondering about the title of this post at all, it was influenced by the abundance of classical rock we listen to here. We listen to a lot of other music, too, and it’s great when we find one that we can all sing along to. The other part that we just started to institute this week is the pottery reading. We get to spend some time with our pottery specialist, Jen, and learn how to analyze the pottery. I find it awesome how much you can learn just by looking at a small sherd of clay. Jen is able to look at a piece and tell us what it may have been, where it may have been from, and the general time period of the piece. I am hoping to talk with her about doing some side work to learn more about the pottery that we bring back from the field everyday.

Apart from that, we also are learning a lot from the professors here and all of the others that have come to Omrit with previous experiences. We have lectures at certain points during the week and they are always pretty amazing. The last lecture we had was from our Field Director, Ben, who told us the history of the site as we can determine thus far. We also learn a lot just from working side by side with so much experience, and it has been wonderful to learn about this outside of a classroom setting. I hope the rest of the summer will go just as well and from the looks of things, I will almost definitely be coming back to Omrit next year.

All Walls Lead to K19…

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Hey y’all! I’m Claire King and I will be a senior this coming fall at Carthage College in Wisconsin.  I am a Classical Archaeology and History double major along with Geography and GIS minors.  So, an archaeology dig in Israel is right up my alley!

Me at Nimrud's Castle!

Me at Nimrod’s Castle!

The square I’m helping to excavate is called square K19 and we have uncovered endless walls that seem to go nowhere!  In fact, it is impossible to get to any opposite point in my square without running into a wall.  Besides walls, my team has found 5 coins and many white mosaic pieces… crossing my fingers for an intact mosaic!  As a first time digger, I knew archaeology would be hard work but I’m sore in places that I did not know could be sore!

Daily life at the kibbutz is always exciting!  Although eight other Carthage students are here with me, I have become good friends with students from the other schools especially the very entertaining Duquesne kids.  Together we have experienced some amazing archaeological sites, but mostly we try to stay out of trouble!

The cool cats of Duquesne.

Hanging at the Kibbutz.

Having fun at the castle.

The most recent site we visited was the Bet She’an National Park.  Boasting a rich history of conquests as well as a local legend that Dionysus, the god of wine, settled the area, Bet She’an is a very impressive site and should be on every archaeologist’s check list.  The town contained a well preserved amphitheater and the largest “intact” bathhouse that I have ever seen along with its many other features.  The most amazing part of the excursion was climbing the stairs to the top of Tel Bet She’an.  Also known as the “Fortress Mound,” the Tel provides a gorgeous vantage point of the remains of the whole city.

The amphitheater at Bet She'an.

The amphitheater at Bet She’an.

Vantage point from the Tel of Bet She'an

Vantage point from the Tel of Bet She’an.

 

I cannot wait to explore all the other gems of Israel… so keep reading and enjoy them with us!

Once Upon A Time, In A Land Far Far Away…

Hello Everyone! Thank you for taking the time to come to this blog site and read all about the wonderful adventures that take place here at Omrit/ BakFar/ Kfar Szold. My name is Amanda Reilly and I will be a Junior this upcoming fall at Carthage College; I am a Classical Studies and History double major.

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It is now Day 16 of this once in a life time experience, and I a dreading the day that I will have to return to the United States, everything here is absolutely beautiful, so green and lush with the sun always shinning makes for the perfect atmosphere when it comes to learning and exploring. So far on this trip I have experienced Israeli culture, multiple different archaeological dig sites, amazing conversations with grad-students, professors, and colleges, and of course hours of brutal work hoeing, picking, and moving incredibly large and heavy boulders at Omrit.Image

 

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Life at the Kibbutz is very different from that of a typical town. The sense of community is so strong and it seems that every person here has overwhelming pride for BakFar. During the day life is quiet and simple; most people are away working at the factory or doing their jobs around town. This is so nice due to the fact that after 7 hours of work all one wants to do is collapse on the grass meadow and sleep.  This Kibbutz, like all others, is self-sufficient: they have a small store where one can purchase food and every day necessities (toothbrush, laundry soup, cookies, etc.), a medical clinic, a day care program, and many other things that the citizens rely on. Animals are trusted to run free during the fay, meaning that there are plenty of dogs and cats to receive attention from us. Life here is different, but beautiful.

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Work at the site is far different than what I was expecting. It is hours of very vigorous labor; not sitting on the floor with brushes gently cleaning delicate structures. While it is important to be conscious of where one is working, you would be surprised at how much large limestone and basalt stones can handle. Because of this we don’t have to be shy when working, meaning pick axes and hoes are used religiously. It is a lot of physical labor and if you aren’t sweating within the first hour you are doing something wrong. We arrive on site around 5:15 in the morning, before the sun rises, so we are lucky enough to see spectacular view of the sun rising and reflecting light off the temple every morning. The view from the site is also breathtaking. Looking down onto the valley below, being able to see not only Israel, but also Lebanon is truly amazing.

 

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I have to admit that I am a student at heart because my favorite part of this trip has been the lectures from different professors. So far we have only had two “official” lectures, but I consider every field trip we go to to be one as well due to the fact that our professors are our tour guides.  Having so many different teaching styles and such vast amounts of knowledge within a small group of people is incredibly inspiring. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the trip holds in store and what else I will be able to learn while here. It is one thing to read about Israel from a text book, but seeing it with one’s own eyes is an incredible learning and humbling experience. 

 

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