First Post 2013



Dear Family, Colleagues, and Friends,

I traveled without incident from Birmingham (where I met Claire Oldfather), Atlanta (where we met Aaron Carr), and JFK (where Rachel Stivers-Bender joined the group).  “Without incident” does not include Aaron’s upgrade to business class, my sore tailbone, or the loss of one piece of luggage, which has since arrived.  So everyone and all things are safe and sound where the temperatures are hot but cooler than Birmingham and the view of Shikhin nestled on the edge of the Bet Netofa Valley surprises the eye like an unexpected postcard from Tuscany.  Then you see the thistles.

We landed July 2, set up stores and collected our surveying equipment on the 3rd, and on Independence Day made our first trek to the site, only to discover that someone had blocked the gate we used last year (and out of which some cows escaped) with large stones.  Naturally we moved them.  We judged that enduring a Moshavnik’s ire is preferable to stripping out the oil pan of our Avis on the tractor path on the other side of the hill.  We used the task of surveying in our squares to form the four students/Area Supervisors into a surveying team.  If time allows while we’re here, I’d like to survey in the Roman road that runs east and north of our hill.

Last night, the fourth, the hotel had a surprise dinner of hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries (“cheeps”), and cake for us to celebrate the holiday.  “Hamburgers” turned out to be shish kabob, which here means ground beef with onions and spices grilled on a skewer.  The dinner also included hummous and falafel.  It was delicious.

Tomorrow (Saturday) the rest of the team arrives, so we’ll do a light tour on Sunday and begin digging Monday. The last two weeks of the dig 30 students from Kinneret College will join us.  I anticipate a season of excellent archaeology and a robust expansion of our understanding of Galilee in the Hellenistic and Roman periods—the age that saw the birth of both Christianity and the Judaism that produced the Talmuds—even in only four weeks of digging.

Of course we are paying attention to the disheartening news from Cairo and Syria.  In the face of that, life goes on here as normal.

Still, pray for the peace of Israel and all the Middle East.

James

P.S. To keep abreast of more frequent (and briefer) posts from the dig, join our Facebbok group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/shikhin/) and follow us on Twitter (@shikhindig).

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