We took a day trip to the site of Gamla near the Sea of Galilee and it was one of the most exciting hikes I have been on. Prior to actually getting to the city, we had to hike for about 30 minutes down a rock face that had “steps” embedded in it. The entire hike down to the city was amazing because we could see the city implanted at the top of a smaller hill perfectly in the middle of a valley with steep mountains on both sides. We made sure to stop at the base of the city to discuss why the site’s location was important to the short success it had against a Roman siege. The site itself was interesting because it has the earliest example of a synagogue in Israel. The synagogue was destroyed, but the layout of the floor plan and presence of the tumbled pillars and walls were enough evidence to designate it as a synagogue. The trip ended with the difficult, but enjoyable hike back up the mountain from the city and back to the car. It was a difficult climb, but the view the entire way was breathtaking.
From J22 to L21
Our original square named J22 was closed out after the enjoyable process of taking final pictures, and we were placed directly next to the Directors’ square and given the name L21. Prior to actually digging, the “contaminated” and loose soil had to be removed from the surface and discarded. This was a difficult process for myself because there was a tremendous amount of wall tumble in this area and I really experienced the Omrit Workout when I had to haul away the massive limestone and basalt stones. We will not be able to dig very deep in this square because we only have a few days of digging left, but I’m sure that with some Johnnie power we can get some serious work done.
Waking up around 5 A.M. and arriving at the digging site shortly after seems like it would be a difficult task. However, when I am greeted my so many beautiful sights throughout the sunrise, it makes me forget about the early hours completely. The square I have been assigned to is in the lower portion of the picture above and it is located along the northern edge of Omrit. Our square is important because it is currently the deepest on site, which allows us to look at what life may have been like at Omrit during the Hellenistic and Early Roman periods. At first we were finding pottery from many different time periods, but as we continued to dig, our pottery became more consistent and we even found a large basin that most likely came from a fountain near the main temple complex! Finding this basin was amazing, but it brings up so many questions, like: “What on earth is this beautiful bowl doing on the floor of a house so far from the temple?”.
The picture above shows a lower segment of my square. Over the past week, we have been working to uncover the bedrock of our square. This is extremely important, because the first residents of Omrit used bedrock as the starting point for their structures. This means that we need to continue to dig until we reach bedrock to ensure that all potential structure of artifacts are found. This part of our dig is especially challenging because all of the dirt we are trying to remove and haul away in buckets is mostly made up of heavy and “chippy” material. We have only uncovered a small portion of bedrock and we need to continue in other areas. The bedrock at Omrit is not entirely even and it is often undulating, adding to the confusion of understanding the ancient building my square is working to uncover.
There is arguably no higher level of competition than the game of wiffle ball that the students play against the so called “Undefeated Champs” supervisor team of the excavation. This historic and epic game takes place every Saturday night after a week of digging and is in the lush field of the Kibbutz which we have come to call our home away from home. We lost our first game to the “Dark Side” last week in a close game that ended in a final score of 4-7. We were so close to victory, but when opposing player Amy “The Hammer” Fisher pummeled the ball to the deep left field, all hope was lost and our efforts were futile compared to the expert precision of the (much older) supervisors. Our next game is only hours away and we can only hope that our extra hours of practice are able to overcome the odds and bring the trophy back to where it belongs. **We have asked for supervisor pitcher Jason Schlude to be tested for signs of performance enhancing substances, but he has refused to comply with our requests**