Archive for the Kim Snyder Category

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!

What a fabulous experience this dig is!

Posted in Kim Snyder on July 18, 2010 by ehcline

Kim Snyder writes:

I have had a wonderful time here at Megiddo. There is absolutely so much to an archaeological dig. I knew it was more complicated than the movies make it look, but the sheer magnitude is amazing! I am soooo glad this was on my bucket list, and I am soooo glad to have spent my time and resources getting here! I really think more people should take the time to experience this kind of thing!

Most of my time over the last five weeks has been working as the registrar for my area. Every thing that is found is debated, scrutinized and tagged from the moment it is found until it finds its way into storage, restoration, or a museum, or in some cases another display. The academic discussions on the Tel have been fascinating. I have worked in the academic environment for a great deal of my adult life, and to see the debates and discussions happen in real-time is a once in a lifetime opportunity: Is it a floor? Which floor? Which time period? What about the angle? What about when it disappears? What is this weird thing we found? How does it relate? Does it change what we thought? How does it relate to the Chicago timelines?

And then there are the practical questions: Where’s my turrea? Does anyone have any buckets? Is that my trowel? What time is it!? And then in Area H: Where’s Gavin? It is an amazing process.

The low-side is that my body is protesting loudly. While the heat is much higher than I am used to in the States, the humidity is much lower, so I have been able to function quite well up until this last weekend. However, I can either fight my body and continue to go up to the site, which will result in a severe illness, or I can work from base, and help out with the increasing pressure to get things finished in two weeks and get the database completely caught up. And this is the debate I have been having for three days. Obviously, the only logical choice is to hang back at base, but since I am a “doer” (and those of you who know me are painfully aware of this), it is not as easy a call as you might think. So, as of tomorrow, I will be doing some of the critical work at the base. Still very important stuff, and this way I get to see ALL the interesting material coming down from the whole Tel!

I continue to learn a great deal, and am finishing up coursework here as well. I am not looking forward to the final exam for the Lecture Course (I hate tests!), but I am enjoying the paper I am researching for the Graduate Seminar (I LOVE research!). The study tours have been great as well. Last weekend we toured Tel Safi, but you may be more familiar with the name “Gath.” It’s the site we believe is the city Goliath came from. This is one huge site! A metropolis level habitation, and a much larger site that the largest Megiddo occupation. We did not see any evidence of giants buried there, but since one of my boyfriends was of Greek heritage and was about six feet six, I can certainly see why someone of that stature, from a city this big, was certainly thought to be a giant! (I certainly felt tiny next to my old boyfriend!)

Two more weeks, and I am looking forward to learning much more – it gets really crazy from here and Fizzer is looking forward to whatever we might find in the next few days!

5th Week Down….

Posted in Kim Snyder on July 15, 2010 by ehcline

Kim Snyder writes:

And I continue to survive! I am still getting winded as I hike up the Tel, but I am making it through the day without collapsing! I am amazed at how it gets so hot here so early in the day. I’m used to the hottest part of the day being about 3:00. Here the highs hit closer to 11 am. I’m also used to a great deal more humidity, and here there is very low humidity, which makes it more bearable. The higher temperatures are also accompanied by a nice breeze, which makes it seem cooler, and is making it easier for my body to cope.

The last couple of days have been very interesting. We are in the process of taking down the “baulks” in the dig area. That just means that we have gone down far enough that the square borders have to be lowered. It makes for a big mess, and is a very intentional part of an organized dig. It means a lot more paperwork, and a lot of focused congestion inside the area. Our area gets quite congested because we are on the side of the Tel, and it would be like taking a square piece out of the side of a small mountain.

I heard that week 5 is the time when folks get really irritable. I am seeing that now. We are all tired, especially those of us that are hanging in for the full 7 weeks. It is getting very hard to be positive and have fun, but we are trying. One of the folks in Area H where I am is trying to keep our minds busy with crazy riddles. And there are a number of sing-a-longs that happen intermittently and animated movie discussions as well. But, Area H has the best bucket line on the planet!

Fizzer was very excited this week to spend some time working in the office. We see two of the main phases of the Archaeology process here. The first is the actual “digging,” which is the really dirty part. The second is the office part, which can also be dirty, but consists of organizing all of the finds and artifacts, making sure that the supplies are available for the areas, coordinating and labeling pottery pieces and bones, and getting things ready to go back to the various labs and study centers at Tel Aviv University. Fizzer and I washed shells, which sounds like an easy job, but the amount of dirt in one shell is amazing! Fizzer’s favorite part was packing up washed bones. He chomped on one bone and said, “3000 year old bone. MMMMM!”

As I look forward to the weekend, and a bit of a break, I find myself singing the theme song to the cruise line commercial: “I don’t want to work, I just want to play in the sun all day!” Although I think I’d be napping instead!

Reflections on “Dig-stice”

Posted in Kim Snyder on July 6, 2010 by ehcline

Kim Snyder writes:

Today was the “Dig-stice” or “Dig Solstice.” Yes, we are half-way done. 1/2 of my classes are complete, 1/2 of my new friends have come and gone (with another bunch still on their week 1). And because the sun is now coming up later – we get an extra 15 minutes in the morning! Whoo-hoo! I began thinking today of some of the things I miss. I would kill for clean socks. I miss my wake up kitty (one of my cats likes to wake me up in the mornings) – I wonder if she misses me. I cannot wait to have a good steak. Feeling clean – like I got all of the dirt off and it is staying off – is a high priority! And, my mattress (although the beds here are not too bad)!

I don’t miss Megan as much as I thought. I send her e-mails frequently, and it just feels like a regular summer break with her at grandparents. Fizzer keeps her right here with me as he has adventures everyday. All of the folks here look for him. It’s great fun. And I know she is having a good time and doing lots of great things!
One of this week’s great joys was meeting Lord and Lady Allenby (he carries the title of “Lord Allenby of Megiddo”). They are sweet wonderful folks and are genuinely interested in the expedition and the participants. Fizzer got a photograph with them. Lady Sarah and I find ourselves on opposite ends of the spectrum: she prefers working with children and cannot work with older folks, and I am the opposite!
The heat is increasing and I am continuing to deal with it. I refuse to do the conversions, and everyday proclaim loudly that it is only 30 (C), or about 93, no matter what the gauge says – and have threatened to kill anyone who disagrees with me! So far, no sunburns or tan lines (although my lower arms and hands are trying hard to turn colors), and no major illnesses or injuries. Although, today may be an exception to the injuries. I tend to have a minor fall everyday, usually up and down this very steep staircase in the Tel. Area H is cut into the side of the Tel, and the stairs are tricky. But today, I fell going down the main access way, which is covered in gravel. My knee is sore and I think I have a bruise coming up on my “softer back-side!”
The jokes are starting to occur on the dig. One of our infamous leaders has decided to collect all the sledgehammers. We needed one today to get rid of some really big rocks, so I sent one of our folks over to get one, and no one had any of them! So, my young friend went down to the supply area, found a broken hammer, got a metal rod, and found someone to weld it together. He brought it up, still hot, used it, and now has it hidden! We’ll see how long it stays with us! I’ll actually be surprised if it stays together!
I did miss the fireworks this week – but everyday on the Tel I hear the sounds of the Israeli Air Force taking off and sometimes the echos of firearms training – both of which are strange and comforting, and remind me of my friends in the military and my days at Texas A&M.
Well, Fizzer tells me it’s time to read my assignments and get to sleep. He thinks some of the schedule is “ruff!”

Yes, I am still Surviving!

Posted in Kim Snyder on June 29, 2010 by ehcline

Kim Snyder writes:

The first three weeks are almost over. I am still surviving, battling the sun on my arms and neck (but have not changed color or gotten “tan lines”), and still have Fizzer with me at every turn.

I am amazed at how much I am learning. My day starts at 4:00 am, which is frankly too early, but it gets us up to our sites to begin work at 5:00. I typically get to see the sunrise, and occasionally a moon set. We work until 8:30, when breakfast is served, but it resembles lunch. Some have started calling it “first lunch!” Then back to work until 11:00 water break, where my team is treated to coffee that I am making (scary isn’t it?). And then we work until about 12:30, to get back to the Kibbutz for lunch (a meat meal) at 1:00. There is pottery and bone washing, pottery reading, and classes in the afternoon, a Veggie dinner, and an evening lecture.

So, how am I keeping up? Well, I find I have to take a nap everyday, even if it’s only for 15 minutes. I get to bed as soon as I can (which tonight will be early, because I couldn’t handle tonight’s lecture), I try to laugh a lot and enjoy the break from normal life, and squirm a lot in class. It’s not that I’m impatient – my back is just cramping!

There is a huge hike to the top of the Tel, and my goal over the next few weeks is to be able to hike it without getting winded. Our space is literally hanging off the edge of the Tel, so to get into it you have to hike up and down stairs. I end up doing this several times during the day. I am serving as Registrar (making tags and logging all the paperwork for pottery and finds), and I have to make that climb several times. I’m thinking this effort should count as 10 stairmasters!

The classes I am taking are really letting me explore a number of things, from Archaeology processes, to the thought and debate going on because of what we think we know, and what we are finding out in the sites. Yesterday I got to draw a hole on a wall – which made my art classes seem not so far away. Lectures are great because I get to play with lots of ideas and figure out how to make them relevant to the folks at my church. And, last weekend we went on a study tour. The first stop was great, but the second was, well, we got lost getting off the beaten path! I must say that Tiberius is a wonderful little city, and I must go back! Perhaps after the dig is over.

In the meantime, Fizzer and I continue to study and eat well and sleep when we can. He is having a great time, and even got his picture taken with a label in one of the squares the other day. He did get a bit weepy the other day – my daughter sent us a postcard, but he’s doing much better now. He was even in the group picture we took today! Hmmm, sometimes I think he may be having more fun than I am!

Working Hard and Learning Lots!

Posted in Kim Snyder on June 21, 2010 by ehcline

Kim Snyder and Fizzer write:

Well, after a week of hard work and a relaxing weekend, we are back at it. While some students traveled this weekend, I stayed put. I was tired! It is a big hike up the Tel, and my joints are seriously complaining!

It gave me a great chance to get to know some of the other 7-Weekers and grad students, and supervisors. We had a bit of an impromptu picnic, complete with grilling and singing. And, I got to go with some other folks to a Druze Falafal stand in the forest. Wow! Was that phenomenal! The sandwiches were huge! The lady making the pitas reminded me of Mexican women making tortillas!

It also gave me the chance to learn my task for the dig: Registration of finds. Our Registration Supervisor is needed in the site supervising the work. We’ve been working very hard to get the site ready for a scientific team to come out and inspect the layers for a dating project. (They want to figure out a more consistent dating plan that is more accurate.) And, there is a lot of work to do otherwise. Eran’s goal is for us to break through into “H-12,” which is just one way of referring to the next layer down – older stuff.

So, someone like me (7-Weeker, intelligent, attentive, willing to learn, willing to organize), is a great candidate for learning and managing the Registration data. It’s a lot of paperwork, a lot of walking around and inspecting pottery buckets and finds, and in today’s efforts: carrying precious cargo to the office people. It’s a lot of work, making sure that the tags are labeled correctly and that the bone bags have holes, and that things are separated appropriately, and that the precious finds are taken care of correctly. But, I am really enjoying it. It gives me a big picture of the overall process, and I get to see everything as it happens.

I am still washing pottery everyday with everyone else, but later in the week the data entry will start and I will miss the pottery washing. Today that was a great deal of fun, because my bucket had a piece of a wheel made item, and the top of a “mini” jar of some sort.

Overall, this is so much fun! I am making new friends and learning so much. Despite the hard work, and the fact that I am still having a bit of trouble hiking up the Tel everyday, but this morning was much easier. So, by the end of next week I’m very hopeful!

A Blog Note from Fizzer, special guest and friend to Area H

Hi! I’m Fizzer! My master (Megan) sent me with Mom (Kim) to keep her company on the dig. I’m very excited to be here. I have been doing a lot of really great things. I rode in a bucket in the bucket line. I got to dig in the square with a trowel. When we clean the pottery and the bones I get to smell the bones! I have helped Mom to organize the folder for Registration. At the picnic the other night, I got to help with the barbeque! Tonight I learned how to take measurement readings with the survey equipment and heard a great lecture on games. I can’t wait till tomorrow! Who knows what I will get to do!

Yesterday, I was a Tree…

Posted in Kim Snyder on June 16, 2010 by ehcline

Kim Snyder writes:

Yesterday was a very eventful day for me at the dig. Early in the morning I found a scorpion and killed it. I HATE scorpions! And at breakfast, I became a tree.

Yes, a tree. As I walked into the breakfast are and stepped right into a lizard chase. He was cute. About 6 inches and a brown mottled color. One that was rather wide. Two guys chasing the thing and one girl in the midst of the activity! I stopped to see what was happening, and since I was such good camo, he jumped on my tan pants, and slithered up – right up my leg, under my shirt, and enclosed in the upper mesh. What a freaky feeling, to have a lizard run across your butt. Weirder still is the feeling of him running up your back. I stood still, took the shirt off, and somehow he disappeared – I believe one of the students got him. Very exciting. People thought I was very calm. I did want to get a picture of it with Fizzer, but it didn’t happen.

Fizzer is Beanie Baby Dog my daughter sent with me. He’s been accompanying me in my adventures. He doesn’t mind getting up at 4:00 in the morning, but he thinks he ought to eat before going to work. The team I am working with thinks he’s adorable and asks about him frequently. There is often a laugh when I pull him out of my pocket to take a picture of him! Check out the photos – I think he may have made the web page tucked in my front shirt pocket!

We start work at 5:00 am, eat at 8:30, have a water break at 11:00, and finish by 1:00. Today we did our first pottery cleaning. Not real exciting for my area, we have been cleaning the site for a science team coming in. I have found a few pottery shards, but nothing striking yet. Mostly I have swept lots of dirt, just to find more dirt. And, I am very good at keeping stacked buckets from falling off the Tel, and that is my job during the bucket lines we use to clean out the area.

Classes have started and I am excited about the discussions happening. I think I will enjoy these more as they continue. I’ll try to keep you posted about some of the things we talk about when we get going.

Each night we have lectures scheduled. Tonight’s lecture is about the current expedition force starting in 1994. Just about the time we started, the sprinkler system went off and caused a commotion. It ended up cancelling the lecture I was really looking forward to! We’ll have to see if we can get it in later. Things can be very exciting!

Some of you have asked about tan lines – thankfully, I have controlled my sun exposure and have no tan lines, no sunburns, or other discolorations not related to dirt – although I already believe I will never again be clean! There are only so many layers an appropriate shower can remove!