Omrit & the Classroom

Most of the people at Omrit are history, classics, or archaeology majors. Looking at my biography on this site you can see that I am none of the above. I am an elementary education major. If this is the case what am I doing on an archaeological dig you may ask. With the knowledge I have gained about ancient and modern Israel I hope to give my students a better education. One that others in my field might not be able to. When I was in grammar school I believed that history as a whole was similar to mythology. The things we learned were simply stories created to explain things, in this case the past. As my schooling continued I learned that this was not the case since we have pieces of literature that survived time and explain what was happening to some extent. From there I learned that remains of civilizations also help to understand the past. Before this last semester of college with Jason Schlude however I had a skewed view of how these things worked together. They aren’t as exact as one might hope since writers have their own reasons for writing and cultural history takes years to fully understand. This then adds up to years and years of work for even the smallest amount of information to be proven correct. In my classrooms I can then pass this understanding on using Omrit as a concrete example so that my students can decide if they wish to join this battle for a better understanding of history. This is why an elementary educator has come to Omrit.

Journey to the Bottom of a Square

     During our first full day at the archaeological site of Omrit we were given our squares and the names of who we would be digging with. I had come out to Israel with three other students, but I assumed I would not be placed with any of them since the directors would want the students from different schools to get to know each other and what better place to get to know each other than in a trench. This made me somewhat anxious but, of course, I went along with it.

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     My square, like every other square on site, had a total of five people that would be digging in it. For my square this included a supervisor named Kevin, an assistant supervisor Richard, and three undergraduates named Melody, Amanda, and Rafael (myself). Our square was called J22 and it was the farthest point on the site. The hope was that digging here would give answers to what this area was used for as well as its relation with the square next to it. Unlike other squares we would not be digging in a 5×5 meter trench since we had architectural walls on all four sides so we conformed to the area that the walls set out. After getting some explanation of these things we began our dig.

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     The process of digging a square is fairly simple. We need to dig downward until we reach bedrock, which in this Israel tends to be Basalt. Along the way we keep an eye out for changes in dirt which includes things like varying amounts of sand, silt, and clay as well as the amount of rocks, pebbles, and boulders that make-up the dirt. A change in color should also be looked out for in addition to things lying hidden in the dirt that came from ancient civilizations. With all this in mind my group journeyed to the bottom of the square.

     This journey to the bottom was filled with a lot of sarcasm and good humor towards the fact that our square had signs that it was either a rubble or tumble pile at some point in history. This theory came from the fact that there was a layer of large rocks and boulders we struck with pickaxes and removed with muscle and sweat. Because of that we got to know each other very well. We began to joke around with each other in the same way that old friends do. We spoke with bad French accents some afternoons, made-fun of each other non-stop, and made never ending rock puns. This good humor made it possible for us to dig to the Basalt in about a week and a half.  After this we were given another square, L18. This new square is closer to the center of the site and I am looking forward to working on this trench with my group. They as well as my directors have made this a wonderful learning experience that I would recommend to all students.

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