Everyday I woke up not knowing what to expect when I reached the summit of the Tell. The basic outline of my working day was the same: dig, throw out the dirt, dig, and dig some more. However, in this large category of “digging”, I could never predict what we would find or what kind of obstacles we would have to overcome that day while excavating.
Everyday was like a treasure hunt, or more exactly, a race between the three different areas to find the coolest, most interesting find of the day. It was more of a healthy competition, one that motivated each group to work harder and to appreciate their finds.
By the second week I stopped paying attention to my back pains or the scorching sun but instead focused on what and how I was digging. Every strike of my petiche, every scrape of my trowel was bound to make its way into the dirt and I would desperately pray that it would hit something. And that what I hit would be out of the ordinary.
Now the first time I found something other than pottery, flint, or shell, I was nonchalantly digging and straightening the balks. I was about to gather the dirt and throw it away when I noticed a very rounded rock. It was not like a smooth wadi stone, but a circular jagged rock that fit right into the palm of my hand. I called Tim over, our area supervisor, and after inspecting it, he told me that it was a sling stone. This sling stone could very well have been used during the time that we speculate Sennacherib destroyed the small villages in Israel, including Tell Halif.
Finally finding something that I could put into context in a historical setting gave me so much of a thrill that for the rest of the day I was so pumped up, I bulldozed through all the dirt and rock with no second thought.
Now, with the season ending, and everything packed up and put into storage, I can only smile thinking of the endless finds throughout my stay in Israel.
We found figurines, carved ivory, oil lamps, a scaraboid, game pieces, loom weights, and more. And every single time one of the groups found one of these treasures, we would all ooh and ahh over the find and congratulate each other on the discovery.
That leads to my greatest discovery of the season: the finding of new friendships and an amazing community. The small group of people that I spent five weeks with showed me so much more than I had hope for. They educated me on different cultures and truly made me feel alive with their testimonies on life and their travels. I feel like I’ve bonded more quickly with my friends and fellow archaeologists than I would have on any other summer abroad program. Slaving together over ancient dust and bugs was probably a fantastic catalyst too.
Excavating in Israel was and is a very pivotal point in my life right now. I came to this place without having anything in concrete for my future, not knowing whether I wanted to go to law school or continue with my interests in the Ancient Mediterranean world. I still don’t know what I want to do in perfect detail yet, but I do know that I am now leaving, even more in love with this ancient culture. I know also that it is going to be impossible now to not incorporate it into my future somehow.
So if your question was “Faith do you think you’ll come again?” It’s a definite yes. Maybe next year, maybe the year after that, but I do know that I have fallen in love with Israel in all its glory, past and present. Even the falafel. Especially the falafel.
Emory Class of 2016