I had been warned that archaeology was essentially an act of destruction, but the idea hadn’t actually dawned on me until I was ripping out the walls of structures, thousands of years old, stone by stone, tossing aside the rubble frantically, like I was trying to burrow underground.
Destruction certainly. What perhaps wasn’t stressed enough was the idea that archaeology is foremost a race against time. Five weeks to answer thousands of questions while only kicking up more in the dust—an unsettling task, an impossible one. The site looms like a massive, scattered jigsaw puzzle beneath earth and rock, with deteriorating pieces and a murky picture at best.
Soon five weeks is four. Then three. Two. At a defined point during the excavation, while standing in between the sinking trenches, gazing around at the cut stone and mess, one must concede to time.
My square mates and I have conceded. But not before covering plenty of ground. We opened and closed three different squares this season (some looked more like rectangles with appendages and offshoots, a lot like Tetris pieces), which means I had the opportunity to dig (and sweep) in three different areas and encounter different challenges and questions, and for this I’m grateful. And while I am mostly upset by the prospect of sweeping more dirt in the dark morning, I also know that I’ll soon miss it. One week.
I’ll leave you with some pictures. I’ve continued to take in as much of the country as I can with site visits to Caesarea Maritima on the coast, Gamla in the Golan Valley, Akko, and Beit She’An, and I’ve done my best to reflect the time here in some of these images I’ve taken below—the beauty of the site itself, three birds over the Sea of Galilee, some scenes from the open-air market and bazaar.