Conceding to Time

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.

omrit excavations

6 AM. The eastward view from Omrit, featuring “The Mule”.

Bird on the Sea of Galilee

Three birds fly south over the Sea of Galilee.

Hula Valley

Evening in the Hula Valley.

stand

A scene between a young seller and an old man at Kiryat Shemona’s open-air market. 

sweets

Sweets on display in the middle of Akko’s bazaar.

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The Harpoon Man

Israel’s landscape has several identifiable qualities: looming yellow hills, green valleys and ravines, and boulders sprinkled everywhere like pepper.

These are a few that I’ve noticed as we’ve travelled between sites and the Kibbutz, where we are staying. The quiet observations through the windows along the highways have been a valuable enterprise themselves in learning about Israel’s culture. Green, Defense Force soldiers wandering around with various slung weapons. The aggressive traffic. Sparkling pendant strings you might see at a car lot at home, strung in abundance. Bright yellow and red gas with enormous lettering. Bleary eyed truck drivers, pulling from cigarettes, staring diligently at the road ahead.

I’ve been relying a lot on my camera, but lately I’ve been trying to take in more with my eyes versus the viewfinder. I do have several favorites from our trip picked out however.

I know this image isn’t a shot of one of the many ancient sites we’ve visited, but as we stood on the beach of the Mediterranean this man walked past us several times, and it finally occurred to me that, until then, I had never seen a harpoon gun in person (I’m a big Bond fan, so I’ve read all about them). I’m curious as to what he could possibly be hunting that required such an arsenal.

I ended up snapping a couple images as he walked past, and this one turned out nicely.

Harpoon

The harpoon man on the Mediterranean shore, just north of Caesarea Maritima. 11 June.