Right. So where are we going?
Much like Pippin in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, I have set out on an adventure. However, unlike Pippin, I knew what I was getting myself into. Last semester (Spring 2015), the opportunity arose for me to join the Jezreel Expedition. The possibility of joining the Expdition, co-sponsored by the University of Evansville and the University of Haifa, arose because I received funding to conduct my honors project for the University of Evansville at Jezreel. For my project, I will be constructing a digital reconstruction of the site. The specifics of what form this reconstruction will take will be determined as I get a better feel for the site and get a chance to look at data the Expedition has accumulated.
When I got the news I could go to Jezreel, I got extremely excited! What a great opportunity! I have never been on an archaeological dig before, though I am entering my senior year as an archaeology and math double major. While I knew I would be learning how to dig properly, I really came in with no expectations. I had some general knowledge of Israel, but I knew nothing of daily life.
Two days ago, I arrived to Kibbutz Yizre’el, where I and the other participants of the Jezreel Expedition will be living for the next four weeks. The first thing I noticed was how beautiful this country is. Take a look:
The first day was exploring our new home, but day two we stepped right into dig life. In the morning, those of us who were new to the sight received the grand tour from co-director of the dig, Dr. Norma Franklin. I was struck at the geographical importance of the Jezreel Valley. While I am not a religious person and cannot get excited about the biblical importance of the site, its role in the history of the Israel region was striking. The site needed to be well defended; otherwise the capital would be in jeopardy from enemies in the north. We also got to see past discoveries made in past excavations at the Upper Tel, including an Iron Age winery:
Following this was a short break for breakfast and then separation into squares. I was surprised when my name was not called. My concern was calmed, slightly, when Dr. Jennie Ebeling told me they were hoping I would take control of one of the total stations. I agreed, but my initial feelings were mixed. The opportunity to run the total station is great, and may come in use for my honors project in some form. Yet I wanted to learn how to dig, and I did not have a square. For the rest of the first day, I joined one of the test squares where they are trying to determine the extent of the Lower Tel, where we are currently digging. We found a coin!
Day two I received a permanent square assignment! Soon I will begin work on the total station. For now, I am enjoying the experience learning how to dig and applying the knowledge I have spent the last three years of my degree experiencing. The weather is hot, the work is exhausting, but it is a lot of fun and I am so grateful to have this opportunity. Soon we will be past the topsoil, which means we should find even more exciting artifacts. The adventure has begun.