Thursday, June 5, 2008

Second Week at Bethsaida: Material Evidence

Hello, again! Our dig director, Rami Arav and the lectures have been dilegent about helping each of us volunteers understand the role that "material evidence" plays when it comes to identifying a paticular culture or cultural behavior. Pottery, glass and other artifacts have played a critical role in our experiences at the Bethsaida dig.

As we have moved the rock and dirt at our assigned areas (remember my area is C) and locus within the area, we have run into hundreds of pieces of pottery and other things such as bone, glass, flint etc. Each person has his/her own bucket for rocks/dirt and there is one bucket that is for the "find."

At the end of the day the buckets of shards or bone or whatever id found is allowed to soak in water overnight. The next day, the previous day's finds are sorted...

Discussed... catalogued...

...and then photographed.

Roussau and Arav in Jesus and His World contend that forms and styles of ceramic ware were seldom repeated so they could serve as a way of dating at an archaeological site...certain styles are dominant during certain time periods. For instance, Bethsaida is seeing a lot of Iron Age 2, Hellenistic, Roman and Galileean pottery of all types. In our pottery reading sessions, we learn to spot certian periods by glaze, by color, by size, by thickness, by handles, by rims, by bases and much, much more! What happens to the shards of pottery? Look at what skilled restoration ...

can end up with!!!

No, those are NOT my jugs, craters, oil lamps, but I can dream!

Until next time...SAFE TRAVEL!


Thursday, May 29, 2008

First Week at Bethsaida Part 4

Good morning. As promised, I want to tell you about some of the lectures that we have been having. Monday through Thursday, from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., we hear lectures on topics that help us to understand the work of the archaeologist. One of the best things is that the lecturers assume you know very little (which is true), and then work from there.

Dr. Elizabeth McNamer Dr. James Strange

Dr. Carl Savage
The first lectures were delivered by Dr. Elizabeth McNamer, professor at Rocky Mountain College and Dr. Aaron Gale (not pictured), Associate Professor and Co-ordiantor of Religious Studies at West Virginia University. Monday and Tuesdays presentations focussed on an introduction to the development of the Old Testament, Hebrew people and the growth of Israel. The sessions included:

Key Old Testament Events and suggested time frames:

Moses 1200 BCE
Joshua entering promised land 1160 BCE

Development of Kingship 1000 BCE

Israel destroyed by Assyrians 733 BCE

Entrance of Babylonians 586 BCE
(Now called Jews)

Entrance of Herod the Great 37-4 BCE

Destruction of the Temple 70 CE

Bar Kokhba rebellion 135 CE

Each of these events and others brings with it its own history and role in the development of the Hebrew people.

Dr. Carl Savage, Professor at Drew University and Associate Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program in Madison, New Jersey was also one of our facilitators. Giving a thought provoking lecture, Dr. Savage targeted Roman and Hellenistic material culture. We received background on the 1st century BCE to 1st century CE, the leadership and the heritage including information on the Ptolemies, Seleucids and Hasmoneans. His approach helped to connect all of this to Bethsaida. He reminded us of a few of the indicators of a Jewish presence:
Appearance of limestone vessels (16 found in Bethsaida)
Method of burial.
No escape tunnels
Another lecture wasn presented by Shai and Judith Schwartz about the development of the Kibbutz. This was interesting since volunteers for Bethsaida are staying at the Ginosar Kibbutz Inn. They explained that the kibbutz was set up to be an independent living community with much being held in common. They were primarily agricultural with a strong Jewish work ethic.

Shai and Judith explained that there were no paychecks like we see today but everyone worked on the Kibbutz and all had what they needed. A kibbutz such as Ginosar now has tourism as part of their income but grow almost everything that is needed such as fruit and vegetables. Shai and Judith have been with us at the dig site constantly and have been a great support! Judith is a correspondent for KPTM Fox New in Omaha, Nebraska and has spread the word about Bethsaida. Shai, a retired engineer has been a valuable asset in plotting areas at the did site.
Dr. James Strange, Professor at the Universtiy of South Florida and known for his excavation of Sepphoris, lectured on the Archaeology of Galilee. Volunteers hear him explain how archaeologist had to develop interpretive techniques to be effective at archaeology: what can be infered from the religion of the time and the social structure. He added that there must be a context in which we can understand the ancient world and much, much more! Dr. Strange noted that there are 24 major sites (such as Bethsaida) with sustained archaeology. Intriguing!

What a perfect way to end the day!

Safe Travel!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

First Week at Bethsaida Part 3

Good least here in Israel. I want to share some pictures of the Bethsaida Dig site before we have done too much "changing" of the landscape. Now...use your imagination and see if you can picture the locations. Captions tell you where you are! Ready? Let's go!

As you enter Bethsaida, this sign greets you with information
about the ancient Bethsaida, some of its finds and history.

This stele lists the original universitie and colleges in the
consortium that has been excavating Bethsaida. I will try to
get a better shot for you!

This "street" leads to what may be a marketplace on the
left and the already excavated Four Chamber Gate just
ahead. HARD on the feet! Isn't that sky beautiful?

Here we are coming up on the Gate, the stele are on both sides.

You can see the stele here as well. To the left is one of the high places and I will get a picture of that for you as well. There have been a number of finds down through the years, may have been offerings!

This is the threshhold to the Gate to the City.

The following pictures are of the four chambers...(Four Chamber Gate!)

Here is a close-up of one of the steles.

Don't want to bore you, but leave you looking for more.
Next time, I'll share information about the lectures that we have
each evening. Don't forget to give me your comments and suggestions! Until then...Safe Travel!

Monday, May 26, 2008

First Week at Bethsaida Part 2

Hello, again. I thought you might like to know the schedule that Bethsaida volunteers are getting used to:

5:30 a.m Depart from Ginosar on bus to Bethsaida Dig. Those who do breakfast start
setting up for the hungry crew.

6:00 a.m Go to assigned area and begin! We had to of course set up each of the areas. This is the beginning of Area C workspace!

It took some muscle and creativity to get the tarp up to protect us from the sun!

9:00 a.m. Everyone comes to the area and has breakfast outside. Food is brought
from Ginosar daily for the morning meal.

Fresh fruit, bread, cheese...

Great fellowship!

9:45 a.m. The crew returns to their assigned areas and keeps working. Here I am looking for that

"special find."

Looking for the "find." Sifting out the rubbish!

And again... And again!

11:00 a.m. Popsicle break! What a joy since it is hot!

12:15 p.m. Everyone cleans up the area and report to the bus pick-up spot. We head

back to Ginosar for lunch. (In the staff room since we are too DIRTY to eat

in the regular dining room!)

4:00 p.m. Pottery reading is next and we learn so much about the time, the style, the
usage of the pottery. Some is labeled, photographed and stored and the rest is
discarded. Who wants this piece??? Here I am again separating the rims from the handles from the bones from the flint...Are you impressed? (Somebody is checking my work!)
Separating pottery shards/ Counting pottery shards.

Dr. Rami Arav explains the difference between
Iron Age II and Hellenistic rims! Boundless
enthusiasm! Wish you were here to hear!

7:00 p.m. Evening meal in the dining room.
8:00 p.m. Lecture on special topics and to give us background that we all vitally need!
Did you enjoy that? Next time I will share some of the dig photos from all areas and a little bit of the lectures we have heard. Until next time...Safe Travel!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

First Week at Bethsaida

Hello and welcome to my Travel Notes. I have already completed my first week and oh has there been so much to learn and quickly.

I arrived a Tel Aviv Airport Sunday, May 18, 2008 and the view coming into Tel Aviv as we broke through the clouds was stunning as you can see above.

Although I had to wait several hours at the airport for the Bethsaida bus to arrive, I was able to meet many of the rest of the team...take a look at the smiles!

The gentleman at the bus mike is Dr. Rami Arav, Director of the Bethsaida Excavations Project Dig and professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. I have the good fortume of being one of his students and hearing about Bethsaida firsthand. Our first stop was registration at the Ginosar Inn and it is there that you can see me...I am in the middle wearing a striped split skirt and a blue shirt. I, too, am all smiles and here due to the tremendous generosity of a special donor and the Biblical Archaeological Society under the direction of Hershel Shanks. I hope you will enjoy my messages as much as I am going to enjoy sharing them with you!

On the first day, Monday, Dr. Arav gave us an extensive list of dos and don't and then took us to the Areas of the dig. I have been placed under Dr. Elizabeth McNamer, Rocky Mountain College, in Area C. You can see that among my duties was setting up for 9:00 am breakfast. Tune in tomorrow and I will fill you in on our rigorous schedule and share more pictures! Until travel!