Hannah and Je together

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Second Holy Land Trip – Thirty Second Day – First Day in Class

I left SunCity hotel at 5:10 in the morning for Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv.  There I got on a but to Jerusalem at 5:50.  Then I went to Damascus gate by the light railway in Jerusalem.  And this time also, I got help from a Jewish guy.  He was very caring and concerning about me, and try to give me as much tips as possible such as to buy bus ticket to travel cheaper in Jerusalem.

I got two school for this summer: Hebrew University in Israel and Bethlehem University in Palestine.  They both gave me instructions how to get there.  The Hebrew University emailed me with a map attached with has pin points on the map where I can get a bus and where we would gather and meet.  From Bethlehem University, I also got a text email just saying “Take Arab bus number 21 in Jerusalem to Bethlehem.  And walk to school or taxi if you like.”  But I don’t know where to get on the Arab bus.  I googled many times, and asked many people, but I failed to get an answer.  It took me more than three weeks to figure out what is Arab bus and where is the station.  And even in Bethlehem, quite many people do not know what and where is Bethlehem University, including a police officer.

Anyway, I got on the Arab bus 21 at Damascus gate.  I was the only passenger in the bus.  The bus from Bethlehem to Jerusalem was packed like sardine, but the bus from Jerusalem to Bethlehem was empty.

Bethlehem University

Bethlehem University

I went to the University directly by taxi.  And I learned some Arabic beginning with pronunciation.  McCormick travel group may remember this building.

There is another difference between Hebrew University and Bethlehem University, and it is about money.  Hebrew University has much flexibility.  I can pay in US dollar, Euro, or Israel Shekel.  They told me I can pay anytime or any day I want.  And I also can pay in cash, credit card, or cheque.  But Bethlehem university emphasized many time through several emails that the students MUST pay at the FIRST DAY in US Dollar ONLY and in CASH ONLY.

My room for one month

My room for one month

After the class, I met a gentleman from England who also stay at a family in Beit Sahour, the same town of my hosting family.  We were supposed to go to the Siraj centre.  So we shared a cab.  The teacher and staff at the University told us that it is about 15 shekel and do NOT pay more than 20.  We said that to the taxi driver.  He did not say anything at first, but be suddenly said that we need to pay 50 shekel because we are two people, so it must be double price.  We argued about the price, and he began to yelled at us.  We said that 20 is maximum we can pay.  Then the taxi driver dropped us on a street.  We thought we were at Siraj centre.  After we got off he asked again 5 more shekels from us which we did not give.  And we found out that we were not there.  We walked ten minutes to the centre.  I had another very bad experience with Palestinians.  I don’t really know why I keep having bad experiences with the Palestinians.

The centre called the hosting family, and they came to the centre to pick me up.  The family is Palestinian Christian.  They are very nice.  And the photo above is my room for one month.

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.

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!

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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