Archive for the Liz Finnegan Category

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


A second home…

Posted in Liz Finnegan on July 13, 2010 by ehcline

Elizabeth Finnegan writes:

I feel like I’ve found a home here, with some buff bible- quoting nerds, beautiful and savvy lady archaologists and intelligent people from all corners of the world.  I can quote Lord of the Rings and Oedipus Rex, watch the World Cup and then go on to discuss the importance of high heels to a woman over dirt and 3000 year old pottery.

And most of all with very few exceptions, I’m happy and just universally positive.  I’m laughing so much…I had the luck to be placed with the most hilarious 3 girls on the tel.

I think part of it may be the exposure to sunlight, the (very RELATIVELY) clean air of the Israeli countryside, the kindness of the people that surround me, and just the sheer intensity of the physical exercise. After a days work, my muscles ache, my hands are ribbed and hurt from bucket lines, my face is sweating quantities of salty fluid only horse-size animals should produce, and I don’t even want to attempt describing the various sore-ities that arise in my legs. Think boots, a rule against sitting, Area H on the side of a huge hill, 2 flights of stairs, climbing ladders out of stairs, balancing on bulks. Amazing. It feels like you’ll never be clean again, and while you yearn like a dog for steak to be clean, you feel a little like you’ve been reborn – feeling every muscle for the first time in years.

One of the ways I see this unsuppressable positivity manifested is when Loren sings his songs. Sometimes when we get the call for bucket line, he’ll break out into an old country song, or a beatles classic and some of the rest of us will join in (mumbling and laughing when we forget the words). Today he sang, “Hello, Goodbye”, and a Willie Nelson song about all the women he’d loved. Loren is not the only one. Today Sarai began to hum the tune to “You Got it Bad” by Usher. Spontanous singing is practically unheard of anywhere else – can you imagine a spontaneous office-cubicle rendition of “I Shot the Sherrif?” I can…if the cubicle is my square and we’re in bucket line!

Since we’re busy with our hands we’ve also begun to play with our brains…stretch em a bit, so to speak. I’ve been coming up with old riddles I’ve heard and putting them to my square mates. The games are fun and generally I’ll tell a riddle 10 times as it goes around area H. Some will shout the answer or beg for hints. Others just laugh like crazy people at some of the more preposterous ones. The most popular one today was, “How do you put an elephant in a refridgerator?…” Similarly, we took up a solid 2 hours last week trying to guess my middle name. It lasted us until breakfast. We heard guesses like Lymphoma, and Lancelot, which have since become occasional nicknames for me on the tel (it’s LeFaye, btw 😀 ).

All in all, It’s exhilirating and exciting, and i can tell that in my heart of hearts, This will be one of the few times I’ll be sad to go home.

– Liz

Hurts So Good

Posted in Liz Finnegan on July 6, 2010 by ehcline

Liz Finnegan writes:

Megiddo is awesome.  And so far it feels like I’ve been here a month, even though I’ve been here barely 2 days – and that’s a good thing.  The Kibbutz is beautiful, the air is clean, the dogs are friendly (there are easily 10 that wander around and beg for food or pats).  The Tel is dirty and hot, but wonderful, black snot and all.  My favorite meal is breakfast – we walk down from the tel and sit in the shade of tall, sparse trees.  Picnic tables dot the little area and we eat cucumbers and tomatoes and eggs and coco-puff-like cereal.  Since we arrive at the Tel at 5am, that means we’ve already cleared three hours worth of dirt by the time we hit that small clearing, and the down time is like a breath of fresh air – literally.

Three things are particularly noteworthy.  Bucket lines.  The Pub.  The Dirt.  The dirt is everywhere.  I am not sure what I expected when digging dirt…but it’s more than I expected.  We joke about the black lung.  My brand new shirts now look like a three-year-old finger-painted me with mud.  But despite the dirt, or perhaps because of it – clearing it, searching through it for bones, flint and pottery, brushing it, hauling it away…it’s refreshing to be so physical and even the smallest finds send me into paroxysms of excitement.  On our first day, my square-mate found part of a basalt mortar.  We found teeth and a jaw of some animal and TONS of pottery sherds.  In a little way, the dirt was like a badge of honor for beginning our little adventure.  Hauling all that dirt away though, is tough.  No lie, my arms feel like noodles and my biceps are throbbing.  But our area – Area H – or to those of us who work there, Area Gaitch (for reasons that should be obvious) has a sing-song cheer that we sing when we begin to haul the buckets to the drop point [see the YouTube video for a demonstration:].  Being sore is a microcosm of the whole process.  You can complain about the pain, but you loved getting there and you love the pain afterwards because you know it’s because you worked your butt off and made progress.  Each bucket of dirt is a bucket more that you know about a site.  And I think that’s cool.

As for the pub…don’t be stupid.  The 4th of July was fun, but even midnight bedtimes are tough and hangovers….in the tel are wildly unpleasant.  Once again though, I think it was worth it.

I’m having fun.  More fun than I ever thought.  I’m glad I’m here.