I’m On a Tell (Lyrics)

July 20, 2009 at 11:08 pm (Uncategorized)

Aww snap
Get your trowels ready it’s about to go down
Everybody in the place hit the robber trench
But stay off the sexy bulk
We supervizin’ this grid, Let’s go!

I’m on a tell
I’m on a tell
Everybody look at me cause I’m standing on a tell
I’m on a tell
I’m on a tell
Take a good hard look at the Canaanite tell

I’m on a tell, mom and pop, take a look at me
Straight diggin on a tell by the deep blue sea
Dustin five tops, wind whippin up my strokes
You can’t stop me Treasurehunter cause this ain’t no hoax

Take a picture, tourist, I’m on a tell chick,
Drinking lots of water cause its my firs’ pick
I get my trowels on, only Marshalltownies
I’m cuttin’ bulks you in the states, straight cuttin’ brownies!

I’m on a coach bus, We’re driving to the site
We get up crack of dawn, that at the first light
This is livin’, this is real as it gets
I’m on a tell, treasurehunter, don’t you ever forget

I’m on a tell, an’, wind’s blowing fast an’
I’ve got a cellular phone to call you up Dan
I’m the king of the world sweatin’ out my BO
If haulin’ goffaz, den yo sho not  me-oh
{get up treasurehunter, this tell is real!!!}

Save paper, I’m typing Ochre, treasurehunter
Lick pops, I’m lickin’ sherds treasurehunter
I’m usin’ picks with my boys treasurehunter
Dis wheelbarrow makes noise treasurehunter

Hey ma if you could see me now
Putting up the shades on the bulk somehow
Gonna find something cool so I can take a bow
Like Iron Age chronology anything is possible!!

Yeah, never thought I’d be on a Tell
I’m diggin’ in Garstang’s well
Petrie, Look at me, Woahah-o
Never thought I’d see the day
When the JCB came my way
Believe me when I say, It took the fill away.


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I’m On a Tell

July 20, 2009 at 9:24 pm (Uncategorized)

Sorry it took so long to get posted. Here is our original archaeological music video!

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Wonders Never Cease

July 19, 2009 at 6:45 pm (Uncategorized)

Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.

I wanted another adventure in Israel and I certainly got it! Just after posting my previous blog entry, I headed over to the baggage check. My passport was thumbed through a dozen times by the first security personnel I ran into, and I was interrogated about my previous trip to Jordan. Then, all my bags were sent through the pressurizer machine (bomb check). The friends I was with were then sent over to the line to get their bags tagged. Not I! I had to have all of my bags opened, probed, poked, searched, squeezed, zipped, and prodded. My laptop was sent through the machine three times, before they asked me to take out the battery. It was then sent through a fourth time. A mix of frustration and anxiety began to boil in my stomach as I watched them spread the contents of my luggage across the long counter. Three different security members took turns performing sweeps across it all. One lady came around to my side of the counter and said, “I need to check your shoes”. So off came my cute plaid tennis shoes! I pasted a smile on my face for the next hour and a half as this nonsense continued. At one point, I was asked to follow a woman off to a side room. Glancing back fearfully at the luggage still sprawled out in all directions, I passed through another security check.
Finally satisfied that I was not, in fact, a terrorist, they told me to repack my suitcases. Three more security personnel escorted me to the baggage tag desk. There, I found out that my luggage was overweight and I would need to remove 6 kilos. So, diving into my bags once again, I pulled out several pairs of shoes to stuff in my backpack. Of course, these had to be scanned again by my security escorts before I could put them in my carry on.

It all worked out and they sent me on my way (even swiping me through the next security check, and straight on to passport control).  Incredibly relieved, I lugged my backpack (now 6 kilos) heavier, to my gate. On the wall of the long terminal were paintings from every year of Israel’s existence as a state. Taglines were printed under the artist’s renditions and I read each one along the way. The one that stood out most in my mind, however, was a painting featuring a giant trowel. While the artist probably meant for it to be a masonry tool, it instantly reminded me of my hours spent scraping away dirt with the flat blade. The picture read, “Building a new Israel”. I paused for a moment, reflecting on the implications of the statement. The same tools are being used to construct the future of Israel as they are digging up its past. There is no separation between the two. I have hung up my trowel for this season, but its significance will not depart from me.

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One Last Magnum Bar

July 18, 2009 at 2:14 pm (Uncategorized)

What am I going to miss most about Israel? That’s easy: Magnum Bars. Magnums are delectable ice cream bars that are only available… everywhere but the US. Why? I don’t know. Thick chocolate coatings cover the creamy ice cream hidden inside. Yes, its fairly basic sounding. But they are the best.

I am currently hanging out at the Ben Gurion airport. I feel like I’ve spent a fair amount of time at this place. Seven hours on my way here, eleven hours now… This place is practically a second home! We laid claim to a section of tables and coaches and proceeded to sprawl out. David flew out last night, along with half of the other volunteers. The staff from the dig has to stay another week to finish all the closing details. I couldn’t imagine having another week of work ahead!

After our days and days of cleaning, we finally had the square looking pretty enough for photos yesterday. Have you ever wondered how they take those shots of a site? I always assumed they had to get a plane/helicopter or something. Not true! They use a blimp! It looked somewhat like an oversized balloon and had a camera dangling from its underside. The men in charge of the blimp used ropes to direct its course and they flew it perfectly over our grid.

The party on Thursday night was a blast! They brought us plate after plate of steaming vegetables and pizza, while we kept our eyes on the projector. I don’t think anyone realized just how creative our group was. Hilarious musical covers, funny slideshows, even a calendar with shots of the male supervisors. It was a trip!

I will miss Israel. I will miss the dig crew. But I will really miss the sea. I loved rising to the sound of the Meditteranean every morning and working to the noise of the crashing waves all day. It is something that simply cannot be replicated back home.

I’ll be checking in momentarily. I have a direct flight to Atlanta, which is nice. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get caught up on some sleep! I’m going to miss writing to you all, though. It has meant so much to me that you are interested in my adventures abroad. Like I said earlier, I will be sure to add more pictures and stories once I arrive home. But for now I leave you with our ‘variety show’ video. We filmed and edited it in less than 2 days, so the quality isn’t super great. I think its pretty awesome, though! Enjoy!


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Clean Up

July 16, 2009 at 10:47 am (Uncategorized)

Today was our final day in our grids. While this could have been a very wistful experience, all the joy was sucked out of our universe with the rising of the sun. The last few days on a dig are ‘cleaning days’. We have to get the grid ready for final pictures and such, which means that we are required to sweep the entire thing… multiple times. Complicating matters, we had no sun shades for the last 2 days. So there we were, sweeping dirt off of dirt in the HOT hot sun for 8 hours straight. That was our final day in our grid. At least it looks pretty!

We still have pottery washing later this afternoon and all morning tomorrow. The pottery compound is a much more pleasant experience, though. Sorting, floating, writing, reading, washing… all those -ing jobs. David has been doing ‘floating’ samples all week. If a floor is discovered in a square, the dirt on top is carefully scraped and dumped into a bucket. These buckets are then sifted and processed in the compound and all the material culture is gathered. Ancient vegetation and other minuscule specimen are then sent off to labs to get tested. They can find out all sorts of information from the samples!

Tonight is our closing party, down at the local marina at a fun little restaurant called the Scubar. There will also be a variety show. The supervisors have been working on a secret project all week, so I’m pretty excited for that. However, I am certain that the highlight of the show will be David, David Wynne, and I’s brilliant music video that we stayed up all last night doing. Don’t worry, you’ll get to see it soon, too!

I fly out of here on Saturday night (but gain a few hours on the way back). Its been a wonderful trip, but I am thoroughly wiped out. I’ll be sure to add more pictures and misc. stories to the blog when I get home, though, so keep checking back!


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The Boo Box

July 13, 2009 at 12:05 pm (Uncategorized)

The dig is coming to a close. As we count down the days, we try and keep our spirits high in… various ways. Josh Walton, a crazy, brilliant, archaeologist who is also (surprisingly) a Wheaton grad, joined our grid this last week and havoc has ensued. He declared ‘his’ corner of the grid a pirate ship, and refuses to acknowledge anyone who does not start their sentences with ‘Arr… Captain Josh!’ Another nutty scheme of Josh’s was the creation of the ‘Boo Box’. Yes, it is as bad as it sounds. Some rather… large… spiders have been invading our square lately. When we jump and scream, Josh comes running over to pick up the creepy crawly on his turiya. Laughing madly, he spins around, yelling ‘BOOOO BOOOOX!’ The unfortunate victim is generally digging in a pit or probe, some small hole in the ground that is difficult to get out of. ‘BOOOO BOOOOX!’ Josh bellows as he tosses the spider in the hole.
Oh its awful. But TODAY… there was a huge spider in the square. We’re talking Shelob size, here.  Instead of simply catching the spider, Captain Josh recruited David Wynne (who now goes by the piratey name ‘Chuck’) to get a box. They ran around, screaming like girls, trying to get this gargantuan thing in a teensy little box. At last, they succeeded in the task and marked the box ‘Boo Box: Do Not Open (Spider)’. After contemplating sending it in as a MC (material culture… like glass, iron, and other random things we find at the site) to the registrar, they wisely chose to just release it on another unfortunate soul.
All of this was completed in pirate voices, matey.
It was fun.
The weekend was very low key. After sleeping about 16 hours the night before, I woke up on Saturday ready to hit the beach. I was joined by a good friend from Wheaton, Alex Leo, who is staying in Bethlehem for 2 months. It was a blast hanging out for the day, but even more interesting were his stories about life in the West Bank. The stark contrast between the living conditions here and there was shocking. Sitting down by the marina as the sun was setting, Alex said ‘I feel like I’m on vacation’. It really made me reevaluate my stay here. So often I become focused on the work and the stress of my busy life here that I overlook the luxury that surrounds me. Just a good reminder for the rest of my stay.
After saying goodbye to Alex and sending him off to find the bus station, I returned to our floor and went in search of my laptop. I found it in the hands of David, who was just preparing to watch a movie with a couple other kids. We ended up watching ‘Holes’. Wow. What a new view I have of that movie, now that I’ve been digging for five weeks straight. Seriously? What are those kids complaining about? They only have to dig one hole a day (in dirt no less!) and they get decent shovels! We are paying money to dig up much larger, rockier areas, with only picks and turiyas to fuel us.
I really feel like an archaeologist now!


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Pick of Destiny

July 10, 2009 at 11:25 am (Uncategorized)

It has been a long week. But, it has been a week of much discovery and adventure. Having only one more week til the end of the season means we had a TON of work to get done. Sunday we finally came down on some legitimate mortar floors (during a sweep pass, no less! seriously, brushes are the best archaeological tool). We started tracing the mortar across the square, coming across a robber trench, a wall, and other architectural fragments along the way. Finally! Legitimate excavating! Its a great feeling to get out there in the morning and know that we might find something with a context to it. However, there is still a great deal of modern fill (my exciting find of the day was a loomweight… which happened to be right next to a 1930s beer bottle). Next week, we’ll be working on clearing out as much of the fill as possible, so next season’s volunteers can really get on the excavating.

A major highlight of the week was the arrival of Shelby White, the dig’s sponsor (her husband was Leon Levy). She is a very sweet elderly lady, who got up at 4:30 with the rest of us and dug in the field. Last night, we had our ‘Finds Display’ at the hotel. Every year there is a party for the whole crew and show off all the major finds from the season. It felt WONDERFUL to dress up for once. T-shirts and cargo pants really get old after a while. I found a whole oil lamp several weeks ago, and it was really fun to see it on display! They also made a huge announcement about our grid: while there was a basilica there during the Roman period, they have determined that the most recent construction there was a (drum roll please…) Byzantine Odeon! It came as a major surprise to all of the volunteers, who had not been previously notified of this extremely different structure that we were digging. The most famous odeon is at Ephesus and looks like a small theater. I was amazed at how obvious it was when we began excavating the next day… I promise to post some pictures soon so you can see for yourself!

I think that’s about all the news, for now. Everybody is pretty exhausted, so we’re staying here this weekend. Although, a friend from Wheaton, who happens to be working in Bethlehem this summer, is coming down tomorrow! Should be super fun.

Shabat Shalom!

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Travel Pictures

July 7, 2009 at 12:32 pm (Uncategorized)


In the Columbarium

This is SPARTA!


The Amphitheater

The Amphitheater

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Real Life Indiana Jones Experience

July 7, 2009 at 11:49 am (Uncategorized)

Friday began with a breakfast filled with tons of chocolate: chocolate muffins, chocolate cereal, chocolate milk, nutella, and much more. Then we got on the bus and headed out into the wilderness. Seeing the vast desert with the many wadis sent us back to the time of David running from Saul in the wilderness of Israel. As we began our decent into the valley markers showed are very steep decent to the lowest place on the planet. As we came over a hill the Dead Sea loomed in front of us. We drove along the Dead Sea until we spotted our first stop, Masada. As the fortress of Masada approached with the snake path winding up the side of the mountain, my anticipation increased. I knew the story of Josephus and the soldiers on top of Masada who chose to kill themselves than be subjugated by the Romans. We took the tram up because we were running late and the 100 plus degree temperature was a tad hot. On top of Masada we could easily see the Roman camps traced out below and it was almost possible to imagine the feeling of the soldiers seeing them surrounded with the siege ramp growing every day. We saw Herod’s place, the great cistern, and the impressive baths. The view from the top made me wonder how Masada was ever defeated because of the steep cliffs on every side.

After Masada we went to the Dead Sea which was my highlight for the day. The water was amazing!!!! Regular salt water will never be the same. It is amazing how much buoyancy is created from the salinity. You can just sit there sit like you would in a chair. It is possible to almost get your entire body out of the water. A warning though: DON’T GET THE WATER IN YOUR EYES, NOES, OR MOUTH!!! It is not a pleasant experience! After a little time in the Dead Sea we had to leave much to my disappointment.

Our last stop was Qumran. It was interesting to see the geology of the regeion, however I feel like Doc Mo and I were alone in that haha. We were able to tour the site and see the large number of ritual baths. Our tour ended with us seeing cave four which was where the largest deposit of scrolls was found. At the end of the tour everyone was pretty tired and ready to go back to the hotel. We stopped in Jerusalem to drop people off and then headed back after a long day.

The next day was by far the best day of the trip. We woke up at a reasonable hour and after another chocolate filled breakfast we headed out to Beit Guvrin. Upon getting to Bet Guvrin we ascended the top of the tel to a beautiful 360 degree panoramic view of the sounding area. We then descended the tel and began to explore the caves. The geology of the region allowed the caves to be built. A thin layer of limestone laid upon a large chalk deposit. This allow the people of Bet Guvrin dug large underground caverns and many passageways. We saw large cisterns, columbariums (places to house pigeons), living spaces, and tombs. the caves were incredible and walking through the many passages was one of the best experiences of the trip, but the rest was yet to come. Indiana Jones time.

Mark, Amy, Heather, and myself decided to explore the dig site that is currently being excavated. We went under a shade tent and there were steps leading down in an entrance in the rock. Armed with only a small half working flashlight we entered the cave. The cave opened up to partially excavated rooms, however we kept going. After squeezing through a small hole we entered the unexcavated caves. It was pitch black and we began to explore cisterns and caved in areas. It was a real Indiana Jones moment. All that was missing was the Nazis and the Holy Grail.

As we explored more and more of the tel we decided that another off the path adventure was needed and a few of us went into the fields around the site and explored collapsed bell caves of epic proportions. Some were over 100 feet high. We continued on to the bell caves that are part of trailed park and sang some amazing songs such as the Wheaton favorite, let us adore.

Along with the many caves we saw there was a castle fortress which we began to climb on and then we had the most Indiana Jones experience of my life. We were climbing on the castle when we noticed stair structures leaving to a second story above and to a story below. Then Goble found a hole in the ground nearby. It was overgrown and as we cleared the brush away we began to see steps leading down into the darkness. They appeared to end at a wall but we still wanted to see. I took a flashlight and descended down the steps making sure to avoid the spider webs. As I neared what we thought was the steps they turned left and kept going. My excitement was boiling over as I descended flight after flight of stairs turning left again and again until it opened up into a vast cistern. I went back up to give the other flashlight to the others and a few of us descended down into the cistern. It was incredible to find an overgrown passage to a cistern deep underground. I could barely contain my excitement as I rounded each corner.

Another time Goble found an entrance to another cave with had a columbarium with a hole in the top of the cave. A shaft of light came and formed a near perfect circle on the ground. Also in the cave were several cisterns. It was amazing to just go out into fields and find caves that were dug thousands of years ago. The hole weekend definitely fulfilled many childhood dreams.

We ended the weekend in style by fighting in a Roman amphitheatre where thousands of years ago people cheered as gladiators fought to the death. We recited all our classic Gladiator lines and the epic lines from 300. You could almost imagine the crowds sitting up in the stadium with the animal pits below. It was a great ending for one of the best day trips of my life.

I miss you all and I wish you all could be here with me.


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10 Things You Learn On an Archaeological Dig

July 6, 2009 at 11:04 am (Uncategorized)

1) How do you wash a bone? Carefully

2) Eggs must be boiled long enough to actually harden the yolks. Squishy, less-boiled eggs get the shell stuck all over them and no matter how much you want the protein at breakfast, they are just not worth it.

3) The most useful phrases to learn in a foreign language are ‘Watch out!’, ‘No!’, and ‘Where is my trowel?’

4) While a cool breeze sounds awful nice in the heat of the afternoon, wind is really very wicked. Attempting to sweep a square and watching the dirt fly into the air to land on the area you just cleaned is about the most depressing thing on earth.

5) Sometimes, birds fly into the trash cans. Be careful! One might get you.

6) There’s really no reason to wash your hands. Dirt is a great food flavoring, as well as good protein.

7) You must guard your favorite pickaxe with your life. Otherwise, it will be taken. And you will never get it back. And you will have to use a short-handled, blunt-ended pick for the rest of the day.

8 ) The only music that should be played in a pottery compound is 80s rock.

9) The best compliment your square supervisor can give to your work is that the bulks you are cutting are sexy.

10) Instant coffee tastes wonderful at 4:30 am. It tastes terrible at every other time of the day.

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