As the excavation and our stay on the Kibbutz finally come to an end, it is fascinating to reflect on the memories of this experience and just how far we have come on this trip. It is really hard to gage exactly what it is like to be on an excavation without physically doing it, but I’ll do my best to explain it. When you first imagine what the excavation looks like your mind may wander to the Indiana Jones movies. That is nowhere near what an excavation is like.
What you are really doing on an excavation is digging, cleaning, and observing. In the process dust is flying in your eyes, dirt is going up your nose, your back aches along with various other body parts and by the time you’re done you are so dirty it looks like you came out of a war zone. Just imagine action movies with the heroes walking away from the destruction of whatever conflict they were just in. That is what we look like every day after working. Then later that day you get a little dirty again washing pottery. It is pretty tiring and some days you just can’t wait until it ends.
Despite this though, when you look back at what you did, you see something special. You see the past being revealed right before your eyes every day and you realize that you were a part of uncovering the history of our shared human experience. You also can pat yourself on the back knowing you had the mental toughness to get up at the ungodly hour of 4:30 everyday to do this. The last big thing you get out of an excavation is the bond you develop with the people there.
When most of us came to this project, we did not really know each other at all. After just four weeks though, we were almost like a family. This is partly because of working with each other on a daily basis, but also due to the atmosphere of the project. The big role players in developing this relationship were the directors and supervisors. Because this is not a stereotypical classroom setting, it is much more personal, allowing people to get to know the instructors to the point where everyone even jokingly pokes fun at each other. It is this comfortableness and setting that truly allow learning to the fullest extent. What better way to learn something, than by doing it and having an approachable person that you know on a meaningful level being there to guide you?
At the end of the day you may want or not want to become an archaeologist, or even want to excavate ever again, but what you do understand is the significance of the work, the value of the experience. And, looking back, maybe you ‘ll even feel the nostalgia for the moments you once spent excavating, moments that sucked at times due to fatigue, but were always worth it for the memories that will stick with you for a lifetime.