Monday, July 11, 2011

Dirty, Dirty Girl

Note: No new pictures up yet but I’ll try to post them as I get them. Luckily, there’s wi-fi at the kibbutz I’m staying at, so it should be easy to keep things current for awhile.

Sunday was our first day and I have to admit: I was filthy, dirty and awfully disgusting! Of course, you might be too, if you’d spent six or seven hours swinging a pick-axe, hoe-ing, packing and moving sandbags, filling and toting buckets of dirt, and hard-brushing huge areas for excavation! The morning wasn’t so bad but as the sun rose, the humidity skyrocketed and the heat built up.
Yesterday I turned thirty-one years old. It was a low key day with no especial celebration, although I did treat myself to a few things in the run-up to the '”event.” Wednesday marked my return to Jerusalem and my mother’s friend Deborah’s apartment, which was nice to settle into again. On Thursday, I got my hair cut, nothing extraordinary, just a trim to even up my poor, mistreated hair, and went to see “The Green Wave,” a well-done blogger-perspective film about Iranian’s recent elections. On Friday was another movie (the Jerusalem film festival is on), Albanian “Amnesty,” which wasn’t my cup of tea. Also, I got a one-hour Swedish massage, which alerted me to the fact that more of me is knotted up than I thought. Friday evening saw me out to dinner with Deborah, her mother Shoshanah, and her daughter Noa. I chowed down on some amazing scallop-and-shrimp skewers and wine.
 On Saturday, though, the Actual Day, I didn’t do much in the way of celebration. The morning was a lazy one; then I packed up and caught a sherut to Tel Aviv, where my mom’s other friend Paula and her husband Mutze picked me up and hauled me up to Nahariya. They had been visiting family in Tel Aviv anyway, so everything worked out great. That evening, they dropped me off at Kibbutz Lohame Hagetaot just south of town, and I joined up with the Tel Kabri group.
Tel Kabri is an archaeological dig that’s been excavated on and off since the late 1950’s, when it was recognized as an important Canaanite center of commerce. The first major, organized excavation was 1986-1993, and now since 2005 George Washington University and Haifa University have been doing an every-other-year kind of program. Some of the earliest known Eastern Mediterranean art has been found here and they’re digging amongst 3,500 year old buildings!
Luckily, a friend of my mom’s friend’s husband’s neice’s husband (yeah, you read that right!) is an archaeologist and knew about the dig going on this summer, and recommended I check it out. All I pay for is room and board at the kibbutz, which is relatively cheap (for Israel). I also have the option of auditing one of two classes: an archaeological field studies class or a history class on commerce in the area thousands of years ago.
It’s an interesting group that I’m with. I share a bungalow with two girls and one guy, all of whom seem to be in their undergraduate years of school. One girl is from the Netherlands and the other girl and the guy are from the US (Massachussettes and California). Most of the group of thirty-eight diggers are undergraduate students, with a few graduate and post-doc students mixed in as supervisors. The two leaders, Asaf and Eric, are professors of the two universities involved and are very friendly and involved with everything.
I am assigned to area “D-West,” which means that we’re excavating a new-ish area thought to possibly be a temple of some sort. It’s fascinating as we dig down because we come across pieces of plaster and shards of pottery.
Today, I helped clean up areas made messy by a bulldozer yesterday (it was hired by the team to widen our site a bit) and then several hours thigh-deep in a muddy pond, sifting dirt samples through loose screens. Not a bad day and definitely not as hard as yesterday. Tomorrow will probably be much more challenging. We had a brief lecture last night,detailing the history of the dig. Tonight is the first history lecture, which should be fascinating.


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