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Showing posts from 2014
Nazareth, Israel, 24 October 2014
Dear Family, Friends, and Colleagues,
I’m supposed to be on my way to the airport, but I awoke at 6 am to find that my flight is delayed exactly 3 hours and 17 minutes.I’ll look for somewhere to lodge a complaint if it ends up being 3 hours and 19 minutes.
When I do leave, I’ll be heading to NYC, where I’ll get to spend the better part of a day seeing my Joanna (my youngest sister), Jonathan (brother-in-law), my mother, and Leo, my newest nephew.Until now I’ve had to be satisfied with photos and videos, but soon I’ll get to hold him for myself.I’m looking forward to meeting him.
It has been a fruitful trip.My father did arrive, and I got much done that I needed to do.I spent many days hiking Shikhin’s hills, and I was able to see archaeological features that others had told me about, and in some cases mis-identified.Now I can say with some confidence that of Shikhin’s three hills, the village, its synagogue, pottery and lamp industry, as well as grap…

The hotel staff's response to, "May I have an apple, please?"

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First Sabbatical Post

Nazareth, Israel, 15 October 2014
Dear Family, Friends, and Colleagues,
I’m writing from my desk in room 407 of the Galilee Hotel in Nazareth, the same room they give me every summer.It’s meant for a couple or even a small family, since it’s outfitted with both a double (here a king size) bed and a twin.This level of grace and hospitality is typical for the hotel staff.Earlier I asked for an apple and returned to my room to find a plate with two apples, a banana, and a bunch of grapes, with a liter of water and a stemmed glass besides.I’ve already made myself a cappuccino in the hotel’s coffee bar, and had a nice chat with Subhe Hamed, our main contact here and a longtime family friend.I’ve seen lots of old friends and been hugged and kissed on both cheeks by many men.The women shook my hand, American style.
The flight was notable only for the fact that I slept little, which is unlike me.The drive north was more eventful, for it rained a good, solid downpour just north of Tel Aviv.Th…
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The whole crew, including students from Kinneret Academic College, with wheelbarrows for scale  The crew of I.6  The cleaning crew of I.8, minus Will Worthington  The crew of I.3, minus Hannah James The crew of I.5, minus Anna Moseley Gissing
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Half of the threshold to a double-leafed door, found last year.  Other half of the threshold, found last year but turned over this year to reveal its thresholdness. Foundation stone for the threshold that changes our thinking about the synagogue.  The half of the threshold that we found last year is visible in the upper left-hand corner.
--> Fourth Letter from Jerusalem
Dear Family, Friends, and Colleagues,
This year the incident that kept me from this log on the fourth weekend was the illness and one-night hospital stay of a volunteer (Dear Samford Administrators: not a Samford student), who appears to be restored to about 95%.
We have finished our excavations and are now in Jerusalem, from where we traveled for dinner last night to a lovely tent restaurant near Bethlehem.We had to leave our rental vans and walk through the Israeli checkpoint, since Avis would cancel our insurance were we to drive into the West Bank.The two guards we saw were behind what I assume is bulletproof glass.Both appeared superlatively bored and were fiddling with their phones. It would have been a different story had we be been Palestinians, even Christian Palestinians, as our dinner hosts were.
The archaeology of Shikhin continued to present challenges this season.The evidence of pottery production at a huge volume challenges n…
Third Letter from Nazareth
Dear Family, Friends, and Colleagues,
We have now completed two weeks of excavation in squares opened last season or even the season before last.The complication of the structures and stratification has made a slow go of it. There is lots of destruction to sort out.The worst culprits are pottery dumps in two squares, one of which lies over 1-½ yards deep.People chucked it next to two walls so they could lay a plaster floor at a desired height.The other just looks like a plain old dump, and it contains large pieces of broken pots.These pieces are telling us all sorts of important information, such as what kinds of vessels Shikhin’s potters made.Contrary to an older view, they appear to have made most of the known Galilean forms.They also experimented with new forms.This is an important piece of information, because for the most part the ancients didn’t value individual expression.No Rachel Ray cookware to compete with Mario Batali cookware.That may explain w…
Second Letter from Nazareth
It’s Sunday morning and I’m in the hotel’s coffee bar, waiting for the students whom I will take to Haifa, whence they will take the train to Tel Aviv.One student has an Israeli friend who lives there and will tour the students around the city.Today is our day off, so the group is scattering to various outings.I will get some work done, and I’ll drink my fill of cappuccinos.
We have had a good week of archaeology. Digging has gone slowly because our area supervisors are new to their positions and they are proceeding with caution, but that’s to be expected.We would rather see caution than abandon.Some of our folks have sharp eyes and have already turned up two lamp molds and some lamp fragments of various types.We have been finding an abundance of both ever since we began digging, which means that we’re uncovering evidence that Shikhin’s potter’s produced lamps.That is now beyond question, in my opinion.My partner, Motti Aviam, thinks that we are going to f…
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First lamp mold found on the second day of digging by Hannah James  Drawing in curbstones of a Roman road  Mary Knapp carries the prism pole.  Hannah James, Mary Knapp, and Abuna  Christina Schmitt surveys in the Roman road. First day: clear the site of thistles that have grown during the winter rains.
First Letter from Nazareth
I begin this post on Friday morning because I think Sunday will be a busy day. [Note: Internet was down most of the weekend, and the general business of the dig has occupied my time, so I am posting on Wednesday.]
The advance crew arrived safely, and after I collected a rental van from Avis we headed to Nazareth, where we met my parents and staff of the hotel.We received many warm greetings in a medley of English, Arabic, and Hebrew.  As we have come to expect, we ate well in the hotel’s  renovated dining room, then most of us showered and were in bed early.
The next day at the site we met Motti Aviam, our Associate Director and a professor at Kinneret Academic College on the Sea of Galilee (doesn’t the name alone make you want to enroll?).He delivered the surveying equipment that he stores during the year, we discussed logistics for the coming season, and then our team began to survey in the archaeological grid.Most of the students had received some traini…