I’d like to give our loyal readers as much of a visual feel for what we’re actually doing as possible. Upon returning to Bethsaida, our first job was a little old-fashioned gardening. As other bloggers have noted (Beth Warnick), this was not necessarily what we expected! As you can see, our site was profusely overgrown with very green weeds. However, after much pulling and tugging, we were able to reduce our whole site to its rocky and dirty glory. Here you have the barren product of our labor:
After constant checking and verifying from maps of digs from past seasons, next comes plotting out the loci: 5 X 5 meter squares in which we carefully map out our progress. Here you see Dr. Gale, long time kibbutz resident Shai Schwartz, and several WVU student workers, beginning the process of keeping us on the proper grid.
Now, the fun really begins! Bucket after bucket of mostly miscellaneous dirt and rock are taken over to what we affectionately call the “sifters.” Here is where we search, in meticulously back-breaking fashion, for that rare gem that makes this job so special and rewarding.
Next on the daily agenda is the rough construction of a tarp shelter—welcome respite from the blazing morning sun. Then, ever-so-slowly, one bucket after another, we dig! Bucket, after bucket, after bucket!
Later in the afternoon, after much needed showers (and naps for some!), comes “pottery hour.” Here, we carefully count and organize the day’s finds—pottery shards of all shapes and sizes must be tagged and bagged for more careful analysis later on.
And here, folks, is the payoff!! It’s hard to describe what it feels like to hold something this old in your hands, the product of a long day of your own sweat and labor. I highly suggest you try it sometime!