Excavating in the Hot, Hot Sun

Welcome to my olive oil istallation

Welcome to my olive oil installation

As much as I love excavating in Israel, the days are long, hot, dusty and full of work, work, work…I mean fun. A typical day starts well before the sun is up, at around 4am. There’s enough time for me to wolf down a quick bit of bread or fruit, grab all my gear and head for the bus that takes us to site. As the sun peaks up over the horizon we unload the tool trailer and get down to the business of excavating. As the sun climbs in the sky, we set up the shade cloth over site that keeps us from completely melting in the summer sun, and just as it starts to get quite hot we break like hobbits for second breakfast.

Looks at my beautiful laminations!

Be jealous of my beautiful laminations!

The work of finding ancient treasures resumes until about 1pm, at which point it really is too bloody hot to keep working. So, we retire to the kibbutz for lunch and a quick, much-needed shower before the activities of the afternoon.

Good thing I'm wearing my safety vest so you can find me!

Good thing I’m wearing my safety vest so you can find me on my fieldstone wall.

Afternoons are for washing the dozens of buckets of pottery sherds we gather in the morning, and then we examine the dried pieces from the previous day during pottery reading. This is one of the best ways to tell which period we’re excavating through and which cultural influences are being exerted in the area during that time. Often there is time for the students to rest and relax a little in the afternoon (or clean bones, catalog artifacts, and help with paperwork). Dinner is usually an open-air affair, followed occasionally by lectures – it’s always good to know the history of the site and what was found before you came along.

Playing with the artifacts is the best part.

Playing with the artifacts is the best part.

And then after all of that, I take a few minutes to myself before falling dead-tired into bed for a few precious hours of sleep before doing it all over again the next day. I love it!

But it wasn’t quite all fun and games this summer, by the end of our trip we were making trips down to the bomb shelter on the kibbutz.

All super archaeologist should have their own bombshelter

All super archaeologists should have their own bombshelter/secret lair

The iron dome takes care of most of the missiles in mid-air but then the worry is falling shrapnel and debris. Thus the bomb shelters aren’t very high-tech but they’d keep us safe if anything did happen to come down around us. We saw some exploding in the sky in the distance, but for the most part we were in the middle of nowhere and pretty safe while we dug for treasures. Helpful hint, taking cookies with you to the bomb shelter makes it infinitely more cozy.

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