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.

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!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Israel Trip Eighth Day: Lachish and Beersheva

Today, we left the White Sister’s guest house and brought everything into the bus. Our first destination was Lachish.

Ark of the Covenant stayed here for 18 years

Ark of the Covenant stayed here for 18 years

On the way, the local guide told us that the picture above is where the ark of the covenant stayed for 18 years in the time of David. You may remember that when the ark came back to Jerusalem, David danced and became (half) naked.

David and Goliath

David and Goliath

Then we also stopped at a point where David and Goliath fought. The picture above is where the Israelites were camping.

Green Green on the west

Green Green on the west

So far, I’ve never seen the west of hill country before because we went to east side only such as Qumran, Jericho, etc. And first day when we landed on Ben Gurion airport, it was already dark so I could not see anything. On the east side, everywhere is almost wilderness. And today, I was so surprised that the west of hill country is so green. It is such great contrast.

Lachish Wall

Lachish Wall

At last we went to Lachish. Lachish is the city at the border of Southern Kingdom of Judah, and was conquered by Assyrians in the time of Hezekiah.

Lachish from down under

Lachish from down under

If seen from down under, it is just another same hill. It is not impressive at all. But you need to go up to find out why it was very important place.

Altar of the Sun

Altar of the Sun

On the way up to the Lachish wall, we saw the temple of Sun built by Canaanites before Israelites came.

View From Lachish

View From Lachish

Once you come up to Lachish, you know why it is so important. You can have 360 degree view which means you can control the area. It was Judean military camp and after it conquered, it became Assyrian military base. And even geographically, it is the connecting point between Mesopotamian and Egypt. It is very important place for strategical purpose.

Gate of Lachish

Gate of Lachish

This is the city gate of Lachish. It has three gates and a few chambers where the elders were and where people brought their issues to them.

Lachish Ramp by Assyrians

Lachish Ramp by Assyrians

This is the remain of the Assyrian ramp. I wonder when the Israelites in the Lachish looked down on the Assyrians working and building the ramp, what would they have felt and thought? And what would they prayed for?

Regular size Espresso

Regular size Espresso

And then we went to highway resting area where McDonald’s is with other restaurants. I just had an Espresso coffee. It was good and it was 10 NIS, but it was really small. That cup is half-size of my palm.

Military Training

Military Training

I saw the military training or doing something a few times. In the resting area, three or four Apache helicopter was hovering around. I even saw a tank travelling on the highway. Of course, this is the land of conflict.

Well of Beersheva

Well of Beersheba

This is the well of Beersheba where Abraham made treaty with the people there, basically saying, “I’ve good to you. So be good and nice to me and to my descendants.” So it is mutual treaty to be nice each other. Now where is the mutual treaty gone?

Bench at the Beersheva Gate

Bench at the Beersheba Gate

This is the bench between the city gates in the time of Boaz. This is the bench where Boaz sat with ten elders of the town.

Beersheva Downtown

Beersheba Downtown

This is half or one thirds of Beersheba from the higher point.

House remain on the wall

House remain on the wall

This is the remain of the house built upon the city wall of Beersheba. Rahab in Jericho also had a house on the city wall. I think marginal people would have lived on the city wall because it would be dangerous and scary in time of invasion.

Where they store rain water

Where they store rain water

This is the water reservoir. It is so deep and even down there, there are much space to store water from the rain.

Hagit Beck, Jewish activist

Hagit Beck, Jewish activist

Then we went to Hagit Beck, a Jewish lady in the very nice town of Omer near Beersheba. She is an activist and volunteer member of Machsom Watch. We heard many interesting things from here.

Hyundai Bethlehem

Hyundai Bethlehem

In the town of Bethlehem, I saw a Hyundai. It is always nice to see Korean companies doing well around the world.

Nazi Dental Lab

Nazi Dental Lab

This is the dental lab right next to the Hotel. We all were surprised by the name of it. Is it what I think it is, or just a personal name. If it is just a personal name, is his/her name just happened to be like this or by purpose?

Saint Gabriel Hotel

Saint Gabriel Hotel

This is St. Gabriel Hotel. It is very nice and beautiful. The dinner was buffet, a very very nice one. But my room mate experienced very bad thing here. Well….

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