Friday, June 3, 2011

Day 3: Our first Shabbat

Today ends the second day of the dig and begins our first sabbath while on the dig.  Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday and lasts until sundown on Saturday.  Though we will not be taking a Sabbath for religious reasons, we will be taking our one day off each week on the sabbath.  Even though we are only two days into the dig, I am definitely ready for a respite.

As I said in my previous post, our square yesterday spent a majority of our eight hours on site clearing an area roughly 15 m x 20 m so that we could open up two 5 m x 5 m squares today.  We are digging on a slight - semi steep incline that until yesterday, was thickly covered with thorny weeds.  Though we cleared a majority of the brush before breakfast, we spent the remainder of the day clearing the thin layer of top soil  of roots and rough earth.

The last thing we did yesterday was to tie off our two 5 m x 5 m squares with string so that we would know where to begin digging.  I am working on the west square which only suffers from a slight slope.  The east square is directly below us, seperated by a 1 m baulk (an area of earth left un-excavated to serve as a way to view the different levels of earth through which we dig).

Today when we arrived at the site (around 5:15 a.m.--we get up at 4:30 a.m. each morning), we (to my great enjoyiment) errected a shade tent over our squares.  Though the temperature only gets into the upper 80s or lowers 90s, the sun can be brutal.  The shade almost made it feel like I was on vacation, if that vacation was spent hauling wheelbarrows full of dirt to a dump site about 25 yards away.  The majority of our day was spent peeling back the first 10 cm of earth in our square so that we could get rid of "contaminated" soil--soil that, due to rain and erosion, had become very mixed with the layers below and the top soil.

What started as a weed-pullers nightmare yesterday has now turned into an archaeologists dream (or at least an amateur archaeologists dream).  The work on the site is progressing nicely, and I look forward to getting back to work on Sunday.

Tomorrow, we are visiting Beth She'an in northern Israel, a city of the Decapolis (meaning "ten cities") from antiquity.  We are then taking a trip to an ancient Galilean synagogue, followed by an afternoon swim and lunch at some local hit springs.  Archaeology makes for a pretty hard life, no?

I unfortunately left my camera back in my room, but I will definitely post pictures tomorrow (or maybe later tonight).  Thanks for reading!