Dirt, dirt, and more dirt

Week one of the Tel Gezer excavation is over! Nathan and I survived.  We had a great time and learned a ton. I’m excited to be a part of this particular excavation because it is a teaching dig. The staff, from the co-directors to the square supervisors, are interested in teaching us how to be field archaeologists.

On a typical day my alarm goes off at 4:00 am. By 4:30 am I drive away from the apartment for the 20 minute drive to Neve Shalom where I meet the bus that takes all the volunteers to the dig site. We arrive on site by 5:30 am and immediately begin the walk up the tel to our squares. We carry water containers, pick axes, mallets, and any other tools we’ll need for the day. We quickly set up the shade tents and start working. For the first three days of the week we were moving dirt. Literally, just moving loads and loads of dirt.  We were digging through the dump piles of previous excavations to get to stratified layers of earth. It was simply manual labor. Think demolition without the mechanized earth moving equipment. This Thursday however, we reached a layer that was obviously NOT modern fill and finally the brushes, trowels and other tools came out and the fun began. Dusting, sweeping, small picking gave relief from the endless piles of dirt. Eventually a wall emerged from the soil and on Friday a smashed storage jar peeked out at us. When these things happen you can feel the excitement in the square. It’s early in the dig so we are anticipating many more finds! Back to the daily schedule. At 8:30 am we break for breakfast. The fare consists of sandwiches, cereal, yogurt, and fruit drinks. Same food every day, and it tastes great every day! At 9:00 am someone yells for us to get back to work and we trudge up the hill again to our squares and work until 11:15 am when the call for fruit break sounds. We crowd under a shade tent on top of the hill for a half-hour and eat watermelon and cantaloupe then it’s back to the squares until the call for lunch at 12:30. We carry our equipment back down the hill, board the bus and it’s off to lunch. After a few hours off we attend an hour long lecture at 5:30pm. This week those afternoon off hours will shrink as we begin to wash and read pottery. I usually stay for dinner with the group before heading home around 7:00pm.

Nathan joined me at the dig on Thursday and Friday. He took to the work quickly and enjoys driving the wheel barrow. This is good hard work for a thirteen year old young man who is now taller than his mother. Pray for us both. We are often walking on unstable ground and it would be very easy for anyone on the dig to twist an ankle or fall off a balk. Otherwise, we are all well, although I’m suffering from the ailments common to archaeological excavations. Julie and the kids came to the pool at the hotel on Wednesday, and today, Sunday, we visited a church nearby.

Thanks for following and praying. We have heard from some of you and we appreciate your involvement very much!

PS. The answer to the question from the last post? A bomb disposal device.

Moving a stone pillar

Moving a stone pillar.

11:30am fruit break

11:30am fruit break.

Field E from field W

Field East from field West.

These shade cloths are life savers

These shade cloths are life savers.

This is a goofa. It's made of used tires and used for moving dirt.

This is a goofa. It’s made of used tires and used for moving dirt.

The tools of the trade for moving large amounts of dirt

The tools of the trade for moving large amounts of dirt.

Diagnostic pottery in a bucket. Remember, Dirt goes in a goofa, pottery goes in a bucket.

Diagnostic pottery in a bucket. Remember, dirt goes in a goofa, pottery goes in a bucket.

On the goofam line

On the goofa line.

A broken pot in situ

A broken pot in situ.

Creating a shadow for the official picture

Creating a shadow for the official picture.

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2 thoughts on “Dirt, dirt, and more dirt

  1. Erica says:

    Glad to hear week one went well! Please tell everyone hello from the Chavez family. We just finished our camp week and are headed further south for a conference.
    Blessings,
    Erica

  2. Jeff Riley says:

    Very cool Steve! I’m glad you get to work with Nathan. I’m sure it’s special for both of you!

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