Was it good for you too?

Posted in Liz Finnegan on July 30, 2010 by ehcline

Elizabeth Finnegan writes:

What did I learn? Archaeology! Among other things :-).  I learned that I can work 16 hour days.  I learned that I can do nearly prison-like manual labor voluntarily and love it. I learned I can move 7-8 tons of dirt in a day (though it nearly kills me, but let’s go with 5 tons as about the usual).   I’ve done 7 bucket lines in a single day (7 x 220 buckets = 1540 buckets x 25 lbs each = I don’t want to think about it!).  I’ve learned the importance of sections. I have learned the difference between Adam’s magic patiche and the lowly dig patiches. I’ve learned the importance of maintaining clean bulks and articulating walls.  I spent time cleaning dirt…and by the end, this oxymoron was making sense to me. I’m now no longer leery around flies or millipedes, beetles, ants, name your creeper.  I learned how to distinguish pottery from bone and pottery of one age from another (sometimes).

All of this attention to detail and the learning experience as a whole has taught me to appreciate the extraordinary achievements of the ancients.  Despite their incredibly limited technological abilities, they managed to build urban marvels like Caesarea, defend mountains like Masada, and build the serpentine Hezekiah’s tunnel in Jerusalem. Looking at it with the full weight of my current work behind me, the marvels I see here are just that – marvelous and incredible. The archaeological significance of the finds are similarly more impressive. I find myself putting myself in the volunteers’ shoes and wondering what it could feel like to be the first to pickaxe to a beautiful Byzantine mozaic floor. Incredible, I imagine.  And it enhances my experience of the sites dramatically.

Besides all this, a lot of what I got out of this month was more intangible.  I learned to grin and bear it when I climbed the brutal snake path in Masada and to NOT swallow Dead Sea water. I learned that religion can split more than it unites in Jerusalem, but also its incredible emotional power when I witnessed a friend moved to tears at the Wailing Wall.   I have watched the sun rise over the tel more times than I have ever seen sunrises before. Watching the sun wake up and go to bed everyday has been a simple but beautiful element of my experience here. I learned the different types and ways to eat hummus.  I’ve learned some Hebrew (Ma korei, people!) as well as a few words in Portuguese. For my part I’ve exchanged those words for my knowledge of Korean and Chinese.  Me and my roommates even engaged in a beer-can-art battle one day. All of these things made the trip not just great but extraordinary.

Everyone is already looking forward to 2012. It’s true, most of these people love the work and they love archaeology, including myself.  But I think, like me, all of us have found things even more valuable than tablets here at Megiddo.

Until 2012 –

– Liz


Photos from the last day of the 2010 season!

Posted in Eric Cline on July 30, 2010 by ehcline

Click on link for photos:


Hey! This is my last blog for this season!

Posted in Julia Martins on July 28, 2010 by ehcline

Julia Martins writes:

Hey, everyone!

This has been our last week here at Megiddo. Tomorrow, some pictures will be taken and… that`s it for this season. This past week I`ve been working at the office, still because of my knee situation. But it turned out to be quite interesting. After digging for 3 weeks, it was fun to spend the last one learning what happens to the finds once they`re out of the site. This way, the knee injury turned out to be an opportunity for me to have a broader picture of what happens in a dig, to get a better view of all the stages involved in the work we develop here.

And now, we`re almost done. The shades are gone, the balloon pictures have been taken, the baulks are down, everything is clean, and tomorrow some last pictures will be taken. At the office, we`re just about to finish the organization of the finds for further analysis. As for us, we`re leaving the kibbutz tomorrow. Some of us are going to Jerusalem, some to Tel Aviv, some straight to the airport, others to Jordan. In my case, after a night in Tel Aviv with the remaining team members, I`ll be joining my family in France for ten days of actual vacation (since here we`ve been working!), before going back home and back to real life.

This experience has been amazing to me. I not only got to learn about history and archaeology, but I met great people from all over and got to know a different country -in- I think – the best way possible. I`ll miss the sunrises at the Tel, falafel night at the kibbutz, napping after digging, `cooking` with my room mates, playing with the kibbutz cats and dogs, breakfast time after bucket lines, and even complaining about dirty socks. But most of all, I will miss the new amazing friends I`ve made here. I`ll never forget all the awesome people I met here. I`ve learned from them and had fun with them, and we shared this great adventure of being here and being a part of something so cool. That`s why I do really hope to come back in 2012… as for now, you`re welcome to visit me in Brazil! See you soon!

Photos from the last Wednesday of the 2010 season!

Posted in Eric Cline on July 28, 2010 by ehcline

Click on link for photos:


Lowering the Sails

Posted in Mandy Morrow on July 28, 2010 by ehcline

Mandy Morrow writes:

I can’t believe there are only two more days left on the tel!  I feel like I have only been here a week… Time flies when you are having fun I guess!

Well, this past week was fun and not so fun at the same time.  Sadly, I got the news that my parents had to put down my not-even-three-year-old cat because she had cancer.  That put a damper on my week.  Plus I was hoping to meet up with some people in Jerusalem over the weekend but that plan fell apart also.  So I ended up renting a car and driving 4 people down to Jerusalem to spend the weekend. My mental GPS functioned quite well but there were a few illegal U-turns and one illegal right turn from a not-right-turn lane.  Oh well, it was a fun experience anyways!

On Friday I walked around and saw some little sights, did a little shopping and driving around, and then had a nice relaxing dinner with a good glass of wine.  I went to bed early that night and on Saturday got up at 3am and drove all the way down to Masada and climbed it (yes on foot!) before sunrise.  It was beautiful!  Problem was that I had to wait until 8am for the cable car to take me back down (I was too afraid I might fall… I trip more often going down Tel Megiddo than I do going up).

After I got a ride back down in the cable car, I drove over to the Ein Gedi spa and treated myself to a massage before covering myself in mud and then going into the Dead Sea.  It burned too much and I ended up spending only about 15 minutes in the water before I decided I was good enough and moved on to the next location.

I stopped for lunch and then went to the real Ein Gedi and saw the remains of an ancient synagogue and walked along the Wadi David to the David waterfall.  Along the way I struck up a random conversation with some Canadians from Toronto and even got a picture with some of them.  After Ein Gedi I headed down the road to Qumran and spent about 20 minutes walking around and taking pictures (there wasn’t much to see) before heading back to Jerusalem to meet the people who rode down with me.

Unfortunately with all the activity of the weekend, I was sick on Sunday and wasn’t able to dig. 😦  But I was back on Monday, ready to go.

The last week of the dig is usually the worst (or so I hear).  We did a lot of cleaning and sandbagging (and sandbag removal).  We have almost ceased digging (except in one square) because we need to get ready for all the end-of-the-season photographs.

Tomorrow someone will be taking photos from a balloon of all the areas, so we had to remove the shade that covered the area today.  I can’t believe how heavy that thing was!  But even worse than the weight was the fact that we had to spend the last hour of work in direct sunlight.  Sweat was dripping off of my arms in the noon-hour sun!  I was very grateful to hear that we will not be working full-days tomorrow or Thursday.  If we had to, you would be hearing about me passing out from the heat in someone else’s blog.  Fortunately, we are only going to be doing some last minute cleaning, taking some photos, doing area tours, and packing up the dig materials.

Well, the sails of the Black Pearl (Area K) are lowered, and the season is winding down to a close.  I thank you all for reading and I hope you enjoyed reading about my 4 week adventure.  I hope to be back in 2012 so keep your eyes peeled for more of my blogging!

And then there were none.

Posted in Anthony Crisafio on July 28, 2010 by ehcline

Anthony Crisafio writes:

And then there were none.  The dig is winding down, we have taken down our shades, dismantled our tool collection, moved our rocks, cleaned our dirt, and done every other mindless and menial task in preparation for the impending balloon photo shoot.  Outside of the winding down of lectures, the last minute scramble to finish papers and course work, my thoughts turn to all of the things that I will miss about the dig and all those things I cannot wait to return to.

Of the things I will miss most, the people (both staff and students) rank highest.  Over the past 7 weeks, I have come to rely on these people as much as my friends and family at home.  The staff have taken me in when I am sick and “mothered” me until I submitted to their recommendations to see a doctor or to take a 5 minute break and drink some water so I don’t pass out.  They have taught me about a field I know nothing about (though that has changed now) and have made sure I wasn’t destroying anything too important.  The students have made sure that my sanity left in the same shambled manner that it came it and that my own unique brand of crazy was kept in check.

I will also miss the digging. Though back break, foot twisting, and exhausting, I have come to enjoy the manual labour, for both its mindless repetition and for its intellectual rigour (i.e., don’t destroy anything too important).  I have come to enjoy watching the sun come up in the morning and the sun in general while I work.

In addition to the Tel, I will miss this country.  Israel is a country I have wanted to come to for a long time, it was one of the primary reasons for me coming on this dig this summer.  Have spent 7 weeks travelling and seeing thigns I have constantly heard of was spectacular.  It has reaffirmed my faith in the world and in myself.  Of all the places within the country I will miss Jerusalem most.  It was a place where I was able to finally think about my life post-graduate school and to sit in quiet contemplation and just be.  This might not seem like much to most, but I don’t (and can’t) do this when I am in the states.

Of the things I am looking forward to when I get home, I will quickly list them as to not take away from all the things I will miss: sleeping in a proper bed, amazing food (though when not on the kibbutz the food is quiet good), a shower in the morning and staying clean past 6am, my people (both friends and family), having my car, and being able to charge my phone (I lost my charger the first weekend).

As I prepare to leave, I think about whether or not I will be coming back.  To this country is a simple and resounding YES!  I am already making plans to come back and what sights I will see and resee.  But to the Tel, I don’t know.  In 2 years I will (hopefully!) be finishing my first year of PhD in clinical psychology (or a master’s degree in anthropology), I will be surviving on a graduate student’s salary (aka, nothing) and I don’t know if I will be able to take 3 or 7 weeks off to come back.  I do hope to return at some point.  I want to see all of the amazing and talented people again and to maybe dig a little (despite Area J possibly being closed post this season).  But I don’t know.  You will just have to check back in June of 2012 to see if I will be surviving Armageddon again.

Was that Faux or Photo Archaeology?

Posted in Kim Snyder on July 28, 2010 by ehcline

Kim Snyder writes:

This has been a wild week getting ready for the end of the season. I understand from my site-mates that the place looks so different. If you can imagine a weed-infested, bug and scorpion inhabited, drainage nightmare of dirt, with six clearly marked squares miraculously turned into a flat, clean, now eight square area with no tall walls, and a good meter deeper than before, you can imagine the difference!

I am amazed at the changes I have seen across the Tel. It looked awful when we got here, and now a mere seven weeks later, it’s a whole new world! I couldn’t believe the mess we walked into, and I am grateful for the work the cows did cleaning up the weeds and thistles before we got here. I am also amazed at the sheer force of destruction brought about by a bunch of student archaeologists! I heard one tour guide describe us as the world’s most destructive force. I wonder if he realized how much we learn and how much we provide for his living by doing the destruction?

Yes, it has been an education on the right way to destroy a Tel. Archaeology is by its very nature a science of destruction. You can’t learn about the past without destroying several things: layers of dirt, rock debris, walls built by folks a long time ago, leftover floors, sometimes an actual rock or two. But in doing that destruction we have learned a great deal about our areas and about the time periods we are studying, and about teamwork. And, we have the pictures to prove it! (I hope you have been following Eric’s picture saga.)

That’s right, photos. A number of technological advances are happening in the archaeological field, and one that continues to evolve is the photo experience. We are preparing today for the final photos of the Tel. That will involve an actual hot air balloon taking areal shots, and a professional photographer taking detailed closer shots of each area.

There have been the odd irritating photos. Take the film crews for example. A couple of media outfits have cruised through here, and although they didn’t pay much attention to Area H (we’re a bit out of the way), they managed to irritate some of the other areas. And tourists taking photos – well, none of them were eaten by archaeologists.

Now Fizzer has been quite the photo hound. I haven’t gotten them all posted yet, but he has done just about everything here at the dig – and has the pictures to prove it! His favorite shot today was him attending the summary class for the Evening Lecture series. He’s looking forward to the final exam but I don’t know that I am. It’s been a while since I’ve taken an exam. But, I have learned so much about the dig that it’ll be no problem!

I hate to leave, even though my health is requiring me to leave Thursday morning instead of touring for a week before going home. It has been a great deal of fun! (Don’t you want to come next time?) Even after I come home, I will not be through with Megiddo. I have two papers to write, one on the migration patterns from the Middle Bronze Age, (and one I am really looking forward to) addressing Eric’s “Faux-Archaeology” lecture! I love debate!

But before I can debate, I have a report to finish (and I am 90% done), and packing to do (and I have lost mass), and a party to go to!