Hannah and Je together

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Thirty Seventh Day – To Eilat and People of Megiddo

I’ve got my hosting family arranged through the Siraj centre, and I also applied for some activities.  And the centre emailed me that the activities were cancelled due to lack of people, and also to come to the centre on Friday to get the refund.  I went to the Siraj centre because today is the Friday.  They sent the email a week ago, and when I went to the centre, they said that the money is not ready.

So I just wasted an hour.  From the centre, I took a taxi to the bus stop in Bethlehem.  The bus goes to Damascus Gate in Jerusalem.  There I took the light railway to the central bus station.

Jerusalem Central Bus Station

Jerusalem Central Bus Station

When I went to the ticket office in the central bus station, a guy approached to me asking where I am going.

He: Hey my friend, where are you going?
Je: To Eilat.
He: All the tickets to Eilat are sold out.
Je: What? The whole day ticket?
He: Yes.  How about private transportation?
Je: How much?
He: 200.
Je: In Shekel or Dollar?  Wait, let me ask the ticket office first.

When a stranger call you a friend, that means you need to watch out and be careful.  I asked the ticket office, and it was true that the ticket was sold out, but there were lots of seats left for the following bus at 2pm.  I was more than OK to wait 2 hours rather than paying stupid amount of money.

So I went to Eilat again and stayed at the same Hostel.

I did not have a chance to write about my excavation team at Megiddo.  The Lachish excavation did not have much people because most volunteers left Israel right after the war began due to the proximity of the location to Gaza.  And finally the site was shut down.  Actually most sites in southern Israel were closed.  And more than half of them left Israel, but some people like me joined the northern sites such as Megiddo.  The UCLA students were digging at Jaffa, but they also joined Megiddo.

My team, digging the same square were mostly from UCLA.  There was a girl named Sarah, Iranian American, and 18 years old.  She is the youngest in the whole Megiddo excavation people.  She will study in George Washington University for Archaeology, and she began her expedition since 10 years old.

Another girl who I would not reveal her name was quite lazy, but extremely talkative.  Other team members told me that she works only two days a week, and that was true.  She actually worked two days a week, and she reported herself sick for the other days while she looked healthier than any other people.  She told me that recently she came out as LGBT, but is not seeing anyone yet.

Two girls from UCLA, named Vanessa and Jennah told me that they are a team and their name is Va-Jennah whose pronunciation is very similar to the lady’s sexual organ.  So I asked them if that implies that, and they said yes.  They are the very best workers at my team.

Canadians mostly left Israel or cancelled their trip to Israel, but quite many American students remained.  I guess Americans are more brave or they are used to the gun violence.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Twenty Fourth Day – Preparing the new tour

This is the last week of excavation.  I think it was pretty good that I experienced Lachish and Megiddo.  If Jerusalem is the Capital of Ancient Israel kingdom, Lachish and Megiddo are both centre of North and South, like the two wings of a bird.

Not that big centiped here, but it is huge

Not that big centipede here, but it is huge

In the morning when I was moving to other area on the Tel Megiddo, I saw this centipede (I did not count if it actually has hundred legs; centi = 100, pede = leg).  We see a lot of centipedes in the early in the morning, and they rush to go underground.  But some of them lose its way, and they all die of the sun.

Excavation Notice

Excavation Notice

I also took this picture of the notice about the excavation on the entrance of the park (Many archaeological sites are national park including Tel Megiddo and Tel Lachish).

This is how you find an antique

This is how you find an antique

And this is today’s founding, the complete bottom of a jar.  I also found a few olive pits and grains, which are very useful for carbon dating.

I changed my plan of Egypt tour.  I planned to leave this Kibbutz Wednesday and arrive at Cairo by Thursday evening, so that I can see Cairo for two days, and see the Mount Sinai on the way back to Israel.  I decided to leave here a day earlier so that I can also see Luxor.  If I go to Egypt and do not see Luxor, I think that is so stupid.  So tomorrow is my last day of excavation.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Twenty first day – Sweet Weekend

In the morning we get up as early as 4am.  From that time until the sunrise is the best time of the day.  It has cool breeze and no burning sun.  I think ancient Israelites as well as all the ancient near easterns must have gotten up very early for the same reason.  Because it is too hot during the day.

Before Sunrise

Before Sunrise

I think that is why in Biblical Hebrew they have separate word of “to get up early.”

Today was kind of shitty day because all the members of area T were sent to other areas such as V and W, and consequently we were not able to do our own job.  Even they did not give us break.  We talked each other that we feel like in exile.  But I found a sling stone of my fist size in area W.

For Hebrew University (Tel Lachish), the bus leaves Friday morning and comes back Sunday morning.  For Tel Aviv University (Tel Megiddo), the bus leaves Thursday afternoon and comes back Saturday afternoon.  So officially it is the weekend from today afternoon.

Hand Washing Laundry

Hand Washing Laundry

Not having the afternoon work and lectures, I did my laundry by hand-washing.  Unlike Kedma Youth Village, we were allowed to stay in this kibbutz for the weekend for free, but they do not provide any meal.  So I walked twenty minutes to the nearest grocery store, and spent 120 NIS (which is about $40) for six meals.  I bought a quarter gallon orange juice.  But when I poured it into the cup, it flowed so slow as if it is honey.  And the taste was so strong.  Then I looked at the label which I cannot read because it is all Hebrew.  There were only two English writings.  One is big letter saying, “Orange Juice.”  The other is very small letter under the nutrition information, “Enough for 60 cups.”  Then I realised that I bought the concentrated juice.

Last night, several people sat together and talked.  There were American Jew (man), Israeli Jew (secular, woman), another Israeli Jew (secular, man), and Belgian woman (Catholic).  Of course I was there too.  I asked them many questions and it was really great talk until late night.

One of the interesting things was that the Jews these days do not know what tribe they belong to.  And officially ten tribes are missing.  But they said that some Jews have “Cohen” (meaning Priest) and “Levi” (Name of the tribe which performed many jobs in the temple) as their last name.  And many of them regulate themselves including cannot enter any cemetery, cannot remarry.  And also they must marry Jewish woman, but not converted Jew.  They can marry only the pure or native Jew.  They do this to keep themselves ritually clean all the time, so that they can carry the job of priest and temple worker as soon as the Temple is rebuilt and Messiah comes.

They had many jokes about why Judaism never works.  The secular Jews also said that Orthodox, especially Ultra Orthodox Jews hate them.

For the temple matter, I asked of religious Jews, and they want to build the temple but they are afraid to express it.  And I also asked yesterday of the secular Jews, and they absolutely do NOT want to build it.  Because of all the murders and blood which will be done by the name of that house.  They also said that the rebuilding the temple would cause the third world war.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Twentieth Day – Flint

Today was not too bad, because I found at least something besides pottery pieces.

Pillar Base

Pillar Base

This is believed to be the pillar base.

Jaw bone of probably a goat

Jaw bone of probably a goat

This is the most interesting thing I found today. The jaw bone with some teeth on it. It could be a goat or sheep.

Flint

Flint

I also found several flints today for the first time. This is the nicest one.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Fourteenth Day – Writing IDs

We did not go to the digging site today.  Only a few staff members including Professor Yossi went to the site to take the aerial photos.  There is a special company taking the aerial photos using drones.  But the problem was that the Israel Air Force did not allow anything to fly in the air due to the current situation of war.  So they failed to take the nice aerial photos.  Instead, they took some photos using ladders.

Writing ID on pottery

Writing ID on pottery

Most of us stayed in the Kedma Village and worked on bones and potteries.  My job today was to write the identification number on the potteries.  Though the writing looks big on the photo, it is actually very fine and small so that a few people cannot even read.  The first line is the excavation permit number indicating the site and the number.  The first letter on second and third line (C) is area.  The second line shows the locus number while the last line tells the bucket number.

Pattern on Pottery

Pattern on Pottery

While I was writing the IDs on the potteries, I found this very nice piece of pottery with a pattern or painting on it.

Tel Lachish Digging Certificate

Tel Lachish Digging Certificate

At lunch time, I got this certificate that I actually attended the Tel Lachish excavation.

Professor Yossi

Professor Yossi

Professor Yossi and the photo team came back in the afternoon, and we all worked on the pottery reading.  Professor Yossi explained many things on the archaeological potteries.  Professor Yossi is sitting in the middle, and the guy one the right whose name is Igo is working on his Ph.D on archaeology at Hebrew University under Professor Yossi.

Stone Knife

Stone Knife

This is an ancient knife for domestic use (not for war), probably for cooking and other use.  It is probably from the bronze age.  Why do people use stone in the bronze age?  Bronze age does not mean people used only bronze, but they began to use bronze.  When the radio came out, many people predicted that the newspaper would disappear.  When TV came out, many people expected that the radio would disappear.  When internet and web became popular, many scholars thought that all other media would disappear.  But today, we have newspaper, radio, TV and internet all together.  According to Professor Yossi, people stopped using stone knife or flint only after iron tool became common and popular.

We had pizza party at Kedma.  And they will have official finish-up party on Wednesday which I cannot attend because I will be digging at Megiddo.  I was told that the next Wednesday is Professor Yossi’s birthday.  Happy birthday Yossi!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Thirteenth Day – Cleaning Lachish

I was told that today is the last day to come to the digging site.  Our major job of today is to clean up the digging site.

Military Helicopter

Military Helicopter

While we were cleaning, two military helicopters flew by over our heads.  This is serious war.  After I came back to Kedma village, I was outside checking some photos and blogging, facebooking.  It was around 3pm, and I saw the rockets flying and being intercepted.  There were many.  I began to count, and I gave up counting from 23, and the rockets were still coming.  It is crazy.  More than two dozens of rockets in three minutes.

Tel Lachish Area K (or C) cleaned up

Tel Lachish Area K (or C) cleaned up

Cleaning was not easy job.  How can we clean up the more than 2,500 year-old dust in a day?  While we were cleaning up, Professor Yossi came and check a few things.  He suddenly said “It is not logical.  I do not understand.  It does not make sense.”  Then he dug on.  Well, cleaning interrupted.  The photo above is after the cleaning.  The upper stone wall is of Persian Era, and the floor is destruction layer of Babylonia.

Dusty and Dry Top Soil

Dusty and Dry Top Soil

Cleaning was not easy job.  How can we clean up the more than 2,500 year-old dust in a day?  While we were cleaning up, Professor Yossi came and check a few things.  He suddenly said “It is not logical.  I do not understand.  It does not make sense.”  Then he dug on.  Well, cleaning interrupted.  The photo above is after the cleaning.  The upper stone wall is of Persian Era, and the floor is destruction layer of Babylonia.

The heat of the day is literally killing.  You can see the dust is coming up at every step of mine.  The top soil is not fertile at all.  Actually any plant which failed to root deep under the top soil dries and dies immediately.

And there is huge, extremely huge difference between the shadow and the sun.  In the shadow, it is not too bad with the cool breeze, but in the sun, you burn painfully.  You even feel like the sunrays prick your face and skin.  I now understand why Jonah was so upset dare against God when God removed the nice shadow from Jonah.  In the same situation, I might do the same.

Pottery Reading

Pottery Reading

Because we did not excavate but cleaned, we did not have any pottery or bone to wash.  So some volunteers were able to attend the pottery reading.  Identifying the pottery is not something anyone can do.  You must have accurate and a lot of knowledge on archaeological pottery.

Professor Yossi came and told me that I will dig at Megiddo from next week.

Second Holy Land Trip – Twelfth Day – Third Digging

I got up 4:30 today again.  We began the day at the same time as yesterday.

Babylonian Arrow-head

Babylonian Arrow-head

This is the arrow-head of the Babylonian army found right inside the city wall.  This very arrow-head was shot by the Babylonian soldier and may (or may not) pierce the body of the people in the city of Lachish.

Digging Je

Digging Je

Some people imagined the Indiana Jones when I told them that I would go for archaeological excavation.  But it is not that dangerous nor thrill.  Long boring job of digging.

Dumping Je

Dumping Je

What do I need to do after digging?  I need to dump all the dust and dirt to the dumping ground.

Measuring Je

Measuring Je

Whenever we dig more, we need to measure the depth of it using this measuring device.

Complete Jugglet

Complete Jug

We found this complete jug.  It has multi-purpose.

Because of the rocket attack of Hamas, today is the last day of actual digging.  Tomorrow, we need to clean and close everything, take some photos.  Then this site will be shut down until next year’s continuing excavation.  And the problem was our team did not finish the needed job before noon.  So we decided to stay in the site and continue the work under the burning and killing sun.

It was really so hot and I totally understood why Jonah was so upset to God when he lost the shadow.

Milk Shake and Cheese Cake

Milk Shake and Cheese Cake

After we finished all the job, we called Professor Yossi because none of us had a car.  Professor Yossi gave us ride and on the way, he bought us chocolate milk shake and cheese cake!

Now, I am waiting for tonight’s lecture which will go on until 10.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Eleventh Day – Second Digging

Second day of excavation at Tel Lachish.  We got up at 4:30 in the morning, and left to the site and began work right away while the moon was still in the sky.  It was so hot and thirsty, and exhausting.  I drank a crazy amount of water continually, but I peed only once during the whole day probably because I sweated a lot.

Ancient River

Ancient River

This is the fourth expedition of Tel Lachish led by Professor Yossi Garfinkel at Hebrew University, and found a small gate in the east side.  This is the view from the Tel Lachish to the eastward.  Ancient Lachish had the major road in its ease side, same as today.  And they also had a major water source which is river along the road.  Even though we do not have running water now, we can still see the where the river ran in the Biblical days.

Babylonian Destruction Layer

Babylonian Destruction Layer

I was digging on the north side of the Tel, and it was Persian era, then we found the black floor, which they call Ash Layer.  This black layer means there was huge destructive fire probably of the entire city.  And this is identified as Babylonian destruction.  Now, I am standing on the history of the Israelites and the army of Nebuchadnezzar.

Rosetta Seal Impression

Rosetta Seal Impression

We also found two Rosetta seal impressions.  This is on the jar handle, and it identified that jar is for royal use, probably tax to the king.  This broken jar once contained olive oil or some other things to be sent to the king in Jerusalem (since this is Jewish jar before exile).

Pottery Reading

Pottery Reading

We began this day around five, and we finished digging at two.  But that does not mean the day’s work is done.  After lunch we were divided into three groups – pottery reading, pottery washing, bone washing.  Pottery reading is done by scholars or someone already has good knowledge on archaeological potteries.  Normal people or volunteers like me are assigned to the washing team.  The reading team identifies of the potteries.  Washing team washes the bones and potteries found in the site.

We washed them until seven, and had dinner.  After dinner, we had a lecture by the Professor Yossi until 10.

I went bed around or slightly before eleven.  And I still have to get up 4:30 tomorrow morning.  What a schedule!

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