It’s nearly over.

Hannah VanVels writes:

It’s nearly over. I can almost say that I’ve survived Armageddon 2010. Almost. We still have a few days left in the field. I know that I’m not alone when I say that I’m going to miss Megiddo so much. Waking up before the sun rises and watching it rise over the side of the tel, looking forward to the occasional pudding at breakfast, hauling buckets of dirt, having your knees lock up in a perpetual squatting or kneeling position, maneuvering pottery buckets through the bus aisles at the end of the dig day, devouring chicken and rice and red drink at lunch time, afternoons by the poolside, Magnum Gold?! ice cream (yes, the punctuation is really part of the name and is unquestionably the most delicious ice cream bar ever), hearing about the finds of the other areas, falafel for dinner on Tuesdays (I might not miss the veggie patties on Sundays that much though), finding hidden treasures in the dirt we’re digging, the pub in the evenings, and, of course, all my new friends from around America and around the world.

Lately the general health around Megiddo has been poor, to say the least. Many people are coming down sick the last few days. Fortunately, most people are recovering quickly enough. Most of the digging around Tel Megiddo has been wrapping up, as we begin cleaning everything, which seems like such a big task, in preparation for when the shades come down for the balloon photos. Squares are being dusted, sandbags are being made and moved around, and grass is being cut away.  It’s hard to believe that my time here on the tel is limited, and soon I will be exchanging my trowel in the field for a pencil in the classroom. I know that I will be paying attention in my archaeology classes in a whole new way when I return back to school this fall. Rather than tutting at poorly preserved structures in photographs, I’m sure that I will instead appreciate the amount of work that went into exposing the delicate features and consider what technique I would have used to excavate it.

When I reread my first blog, I’ve found the answer to so many questions that I had before coming to Israel. I now have experienced life on a kibbutz, and I love the sense of community that comes with kibbutz life. I’ve learned about scraping, exposing, penetrating, articulating, and just plain destruction. I’ve learned about pottery and what certain pieces can tell us. I’ve learned about the work that actually goes into an excavation and making it possible from washing shells in the office, to writing tags for pottery buckets, to articulating vessels, to exposing phytolith surfaces, to making a top plan, to dumping a wheel barrow full of dirt off the side of the tel, and everything in between.  It’s really bittersweet to be leaving so soon. On the one hand, it seems as though I’ve been here ages, but on the other hand, it feels like hardly any time has passed at all. I am looking forward to traveling for 2 weeks after the dig ends and to eventually making my way back to the States, but I’m not looking forward to leaving Megiddo. The past 7 weeks have been full of sunshine, learning, comradery, photos, and, of course, dirt. I can’t wait until next season.

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