I’ve officially finished my first week of work at a professional archaeological dig. I’ve experienced many things: the surprise and horror of an alarm clock intruding itself upon my blissful slumber at 5 am; watching from the bus in slightly awed silence as the brilliant orange sun rises over the Sea of Galilee; arriving to my dig pit clean and un-sweaty, knowing full well that that would come to an abrupt end all of about 5 minutes later; and then settling in, physically and emotionally, to a hard day’s work that leaves me with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment not always found within the academic halls of my normal life.
I remember my years of working construction many moons ago—and I recall how much time one has in one’s own head while performing repetitive, manual labor. It’s no different now. With pick axe in hand, chipping away at 3000 years of compacted dirt, occasionally striking a hidden, embedded boulder bigger than my head (some of you may know how impossible that may seem) so hard that the vibrations shake me from limb-to-limb, I find myself asking certain questions: Am I getting anything done? Will I ever see the fruits of my labor? Has my work helped, in any significant way, those who’ve made Bethsaida their life and their love? Will I ever do this again? The answers to such questions do not come easily or simply, but I’d like to hope in the affirmative.
Today my mentor, Dr. Gale, introduced me, with a slight bit of humor, to the world of “middle-management,” otherwise known here as “area supervisor.” Early next week, as he attends to other pressing issues, he will hand the keys of Area A-East over to me, if only metaphorically and ever-so-briefly. Nonetheless, as he as described in a previous blog, I will try my hand at the arts of drawing maps, recording finds, taking readings, and generally pretending to be the leader in this situation that I’m not. Here’s to hoping my compatriots are loyal, and that no strategic coup overthrows my oh-so-temporary reign of imagined importance.
As it is the end of the first week, we all participated in a bit of old-fashioned “show-and-tell.” As previous blogs have attested, there are approximately 5 different dig sites going on simultaneously at Bethsaida, and today was the first time all week I’d had the opportunity to see what other teams were working on. I wondered: would their sites be cooler than ours? Would they have accomplished more? Found more? Or, would I see similar struggles with dirt and stone that we had encountered at ours? The answers to all those questions—yes! But nonetheless, it was fascinating to hear about their work, the stories of their finds, the speculations and theories as to the origins of their scattered remains, etc. In the end, it leaves me confident that we are indeed adding to the legacy of this once thriving community.
As I now sit back at the Kibbutz hotel, a bit more at ease with the knowledge of a relaxing weekend ahead (maybe even a nice dinner out in Tiberius!), I’d like to provide a few summary photos of the past week’s finds—inspiration for heading back out on Monday morning:
A 10th – 8th century BCE Scarab Seal
A Roman Era Nail
A Flint Knife and Core from the Iron Age
And a Hellenistic Pottery Shard
Have a fantastic Weekend!