Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bastille = New Hero

Oh my goodness, I love Paris! it was a little rough and shakey starting out... no place to stay and broken feet... but now Paris has welcomed me into her embrace... maybe embrace is a little much... I'm really enjoying this city. Today is musee d'orsay and Monet musee... yah! and out for wine and walking tonight. Last night was Bastille day and it was beyond cool... I still think maybe it was all a dream... any way, all is well and tomorrow I pack up and head for Rome... yipya!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Last Day Digging

Today I wielded a rock pick for the last time this trip... the digging has stop at Bethsaida 2009. Tomorrow we begin cleaning up the area for the off season. :( It's been so much fun but it will be nice to get out of the heat and spend some time touring in EU.

I leave tomorrow night for Haifa for dinner with my proffesor and will catch a shuttle or train to Tel Aviv afterwards. My plane leaves early early in the morning for Paris, which means a nice nap in the terminal... From Paris I will make my way to Rome. I have 10 days and will be trying to fit as much as I possibly can in this short period of time. Not sure if I'll have access to internet for the rest of the trip so this may be the last entry for a while. After Rome there may be a delay in NYC to see some peeps... we'll see.

Super excited! See you soon America...

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Touring Fool

I'll try to catch up to this week with this post. Been a long and exhausting week/weekend. Last week I was moved to a new area, a trench between two walls. Sounds lame but turned out to be incredibly interesting because the inside wall was covered on one side with plaster (all of the stone walls were at one time or another covered in plaster to hide weaknesses and to make the cities really stand out against the backdrop). The one side happened to be facing the other wall meaning that the plastered wall was built earlier in the Iron Age IIb stratum. The other was added later by another group who updated the city and wanted to fortify the city walls. All of this is inside the later 1st century major city wall that surrounds most of the site.

Anyway, very interesting... I'm learning how to see the different stages of the city by just looking at the ruins, something I couldn't do the first week. If I could upload pictures from here it would be easier to see.

This weekend we rented a car and drove down to a place called Bet Sharim, which was the most human of the ruins I've see. The city is a place sacred to Jewish people for it was a site of refuge. What's left of the city are large tombs and in the tombs of course hundreds of human shaped sarcophagus, remnants of the dead. The sarcophagus were actually carved from the same stone as the caves themselves... very cool.

After Bet Sharim we went to Ceasaria, a Roman port city on the Mediterranean. The city was by far the largest I've been to so far. There was a huge ampetheater and a large stadium that went right up to the beach. There were tunnels all over the city that led to the sea that acted as a sewage system and helped fight tidal distruction. Had a great lunch on the beach at Ceasaria and continued up the coast in search of a nice free beach to swim. I was directed,by a coffee barrsta to go to a town called Nahariya just north of Akko. The beach was perfect and so was the water. The water was so warm and the sea was breaking hard which made it kinda fun.

This week coming to a close... we are finishing up a few things but mainly we will be picking up to close down the site for the season.

I leave Friday for Paris... super excited.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Trash Pit

Turns out that for the past few days I've been excavating what we think is a trash pit. We thought that the area was in doors, but today we found a corner that faced the other way making it clear that the area I've been digging was for rubbish... which means no coins and lots of 3000 yr old bones... including a boys tooth. Maybe moving to a new area tomorrow though.

Tomorrow there will be a barmitzvah on the site... should be interesting with us all digging and covered in dirt. I don't think I've mentioned the dirt really yet. There is a lot of dirt. And dust and it gets everywhere. I usually swim after we get back in the afternoon to soak before showering and even after the swim and a thourough shower I am still not clean. It's wonderful. On site the dirt is in the air we breathe and the ground we break which helps for breathing. I generally have a nice heavy mixture of sunscreen and mud coating my exposed skin and a spoonful of mud in my nose... it's wonderful... couldn't be more comfortible... really.

Tonight should be good lecture and an early night. Can't believe the dig is half way over already.

Be home soon.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Breaking The Hardpack

Today we've added a few new members to the digging crew and soon there will be more.

It was much cooler on the site today, with a nice breeze from the NE. A coin was found as well as a large storage vessel which was of course crushed but all of the pieces seem to be there. Hopefully, this will allow us to reconstruct the entire pot.

The water in the lake was amazing today... "not too hot and not too cold... here we go again boyz II men...... b-b-b-b-b-boys" A little choppy but nice and refreshing... the bIIm remix, not the water.

Found out today that the tour to Jerusalem will be free! Free is always better! That's this coming weekend.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Wine All Tastes Like BLOOD!

Wow, what an amazing and exhausting weekend. I've seen so much that my eyes are pleading with me for naps and energy bars. Today we went far far north toword the Lebonese border to a site called Tel Dan. Tel Dan was a Roman city, 1st century, like most of the major archaeological sites in Israel. This one was forested and cool, surrounded by a number of fresh water springs and beautiful mountains. I had no idea Israel could look like this.

After Tel Dan was a site called Tel Hadsur and was very impressive. The city itself was at once huge and situated on top of a mountainous hill (tel), like most Israeli cities in this area including the modern ones. Dan had a large man built water storage cave that descends 140 ft down and was all carved with 1st century tools.

Saturday was also exhausting but was much more exciting. We started the trip at Zipporri (Sepphoris). The site contained many well preserved 1st c mosaics, most of which I have pictures of... scenes of centaurs and Amazon women with one breast and an enormous illustrated story about the Nile and Alexandria.

We next drove through Nazareth in search of a church which we finally found but couldn't find parking so we headed on. The city itself was an amazing experience though. The homes are built on the hillside right on top of each other and when you get to the top of the hill the view is amazing.

Next was Megiddo, and there was all kinds of nashing of teeth and the sky turned to blood, but it was all good cause JC and I punched our fists in and blew it out and the winds calmed... The ancient site was the largest we had seen yet and was most imppressive. The site is most well known in modern times to be the birth place of the word armegeddon. The city had amazing stables that ran the length of the streets and a large underground sistern which we climbed down into. All hand carved with the same tools as Hadsur's.

The city of Beth She'an was by far the most impressive city we've seen so far and the last one of our Sat. tour. Within the walls of the city and four major city gates, there was an ampitheatre, 2 bath houses (1 Roman, 1 Byzantine), and many other monumental architecture. The streets were paved with polished marble and many many mosaics and columns. During the 1st century this city would have been magnificent.

Gotta gonow, they're kicking me out.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Week 1 Done

I'm going to jump on and say RIP MJ. That's really unfortunate... I will forever be rocking with you.

Today was an interesting day on site. As effecient as we are, we cleared enough dirt and pottery and other artifacts to warrant boulder moving. Dr. Arav hired some arab workers from a nearby town to clear large rocks and some modern Syrian bunkers that dissect the Roman portion of the city (layers 1-2). The workers were not too happy about taking orders from our site supervisor who happens to be a women. They were mocking her in Arabic and carying on. Other than that the day was pretty uneventful... no major finds. I spent much of the day washing pottery, which was a nice break from digging.

This weekend will also be a nice break for we will be doing some touring around the Galilee region. The plan is to go to the mountains in the north near Lebanon... I've heard it's beautiful. On the other side of the mountain pass we will come to the Mediteranean where we plan to swim and picnic. After which we will make our way back to the Kibbutz and stop at a few sites along the way. Sunday is Nazareth and a few more ancient sites in the south... can't wait... need swim and shower.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Surveying Today

Today I serveyed the area we are digging. Bethsaida is a very large city and we are diging in a fairly small area, but that doesn't mean the surveying is easier. Presice measurements and drawings have to be made and taken with ancient tools... well tools from the 1930's. Not to mention the temp. today it got up to 110 and it felt every bit of that in the shade.

After digging I went with a dorm mate for the most amazing swim of my life in the Sea of Galilee. The water was like a mirror and the mountains and ridge cities were clearly seen in the reflection. It was cool and nice.

I must got to pottery reading and lecture.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I must remember to continuously drink water. It is so hot here in the mid afternoons that I've been sweating most of the moisture from my body in minutes. I felt miserable most of the day due to dehydration but tomorrow should be better. I've drank nearly 5.5 liters today so far. Can't wait for the sun to go down

Off to pottery reading, we found some larger body pieces today that will hopefully match an earlier discovery with a really incredible pattern.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I am in Israel on an archeological excavation at the biblical site Bethsaida. The site itself is located just east of the Jordan river. We are staying on a kibbutz called Ginnosar (much like a commune) on the Sea of Galilee a few miles south from the site. During the morning we dig and at noonish we return for lunch and showers. Digging is hard work in the heat but definitely rewarding. I've been finding a great deal of Roman pottery shards, mostly wall shards the size of a finger, some as big as my hand. Handles are not as commonly found, but I happened to find several today. Most exciting part of the day was the base of a Hellanistic style bowl almost fully intact, found by one of the women in the group. She made the find just as the History Channel filming crew showed up to shoot an episode of the Naked Archeologist. I had never heard of the program, but it was fun to watch none the less. No one however was naked. The crew interviewd the woman who found it and of course they spent a number of hours filming Dr. Arav the archeologist who found the site in 1986. They did actually film us digging for quite a while, but who knows if they'll use the footage.

I will continue to update throughout my stay here. Unfortunately I'm unable to upload photos from this community computer... they may have to wait til I return.