Digging at Megiddo

Over the last three weeks I worked on a dig at Tel Megiddo, located in Israel’s Jezreel Valley. Every day, Sunday through Thursday, I would wake up at 4:00, fumble through my morning routine, walk zombie-like to the bus, and end up at the site before 5:00 A.M. Then the real work began. The very first day of the dig we spent hours removing brush and large stones and piles of manure, courtesy of the cows from the nearby kibbutz, while also erecting a huge shade that would be our only protection from the Israeli sun. On a more typical morning, though, we would begin the day by going to our assigned squares and digging down. For most of my three weeks I worked in square S/5, on the western side of a wall that pretty much divided the square. By the time we closed the square, we had dug down over 1.5 meters—and that was just in a little over two weeks! After working for a few hours, we would begin our trek down the tel for breakfast around 8:30, where we had everything from cereal and eggs to chocolate-spread sandwiches (which I basically ended up living off of). At the end of breakfast Margaret, the volunteer coordinator, gave the daily announcements: reiterating the class schedule, giving the closing and opening times for the kibbutz store, and any other miscellaneous things we should know about. By 9:30 it was back up the tel, but unfortunately this time the sun was out. We often joked that we needed a break from just walking back up the tel! But once we were all up and had recollected ourselves, it was back to work. We would pretty much just continue whatever we were doing before breakfast—digging down, articulating walls, sectioning, brushing and cleaning our area. We did this until a little after 11:00, when we’d have a short fruit and (occasionally) coffee break. Then we’d work again (surprise, surprise) until 12:30, when we would begin to clean our area and pick up all the tools. By 1:00 we would be on our journey down the tel and to the buses. By 1:20 we would be back at the kibbutz and in the dining hall for lunch. After a meal that consisted of many glasses of lemonade, meat, and some sort of corn dish (we seriously had corn at least once a day at the kibbutz), we were gifted with free time until 4:00. I usually spent this time writing my field journal and showering, and unfortunately I had time for little else. When 4:00 all to quickly rolled along, we all journeyed down to the field office where we spent the next hour and a half washing pottery sherds and bone and flint fragments that we had found the previous day. Immediately following pottery washing, we had a Field Techniques course, where we would discuss everything from identifying and analyzing stone tools to operating a total station. Then at 7:00 we ate dinner, which was basically just a watered-down version of lunch. We had a little bit of free time until 8:00, when the lecture courses began. These lectures spanned the Early Bronze Age to the Iron Age and every topic in between. Usually by the end of the lecture it would be around 9:00, so everyone in the course would stumble out of the classroom and immediately fall into bed. Then our alarms would go off at 4:00 A.M and we would do everything all over again.

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