Israel 2010

Yom Kippur has long since passed here in Israel (and everywhere else, I suppose), but I think this blog post is some kind of way of atoning for the fact that I never wrote one last year (at least that seems to be how Dr. Strange sees it). He also mentioned failing me (before remembering that I’m not here taking a class). But that’s neither here nor there.

The flight was uneventful, but those are the best kinds of flights. I slept on and off, in between the watching of movies and the eating of meals, and though we were delayed an hour in our departure by a late connecting flight from Nebraska, we made it to Tel Aviv by 6:30 or so the next day (Tuesday, May 25, for those of you keeping track). Dr. James F Strange (affectionately known as “Abuna”) picked us up in Tel Aviv and drove us up to Nazareth, where we enjoyed a hot dinner of roast beef and the companionship of friends both old and new. It was off to bed after dinner, though I stayed up a bit longer, checking email and reading a bit from Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Sleep came quickly once I finally put the book down.

Jet lag didn’t hit, at least not as hard as it has in the past, and I woke up around 7:30 when Abuna came knocking on my door. Day one in Israel has been as first days often are: happening in fits and starts, but still enjoyable and worth the getting up for. Breakfast was the typical fair of bread and jam, and pastries, and was followed by a brief orientation meeting. The meeting concluded and a group of us trundled off into Nazareth to change money and get the lay of the land. The city hasn’t changed much. Some shops are gone, but the ones we frequented are still there. The weather is a bit cooler in late May, but by noon, the sun was making its presence known and we came back to the hotel.

There’s not much else to report from Israel, except that tomorrow remains a hazy future. Apparently we don’t yet actually have a permit from the Israeli Antiquities Authority, so tomorrow may be a day of touring (either the site of Sepphoris itself or of some other sites in the Galilee, like Bet’ Shean and Bet’ Shearim or Caesarea and Meggido), or we may be in the field as early as tomorrow, setting up shade cloth, stringing balk lines and generally preparing for the season. As this is the final season of the USF excavations here, the majority of the work will be taking down balks to help clarify the relationships between existing and surfaces. Essentially, the work is excavation in miniature, taking place on a much smaller scale (a balk is a 1 x 4 meter rectangular section of earth whereas a complete square is 4 x 4 m). Either way, I’m excited to get my hands dirty and to get to know our new crew members better. This promises to be an excellent season of digging (and also of analyzing data back home in Birmingham).

So, until next time, pray for the peace of Israel.

Aaron

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