Showing posts from 2017

Third Letter from Nazareth and Jerusalem

Sunday June 11 Through Sunday June 18, 2017
As I begin, it’s Sunday evening and tomorrow we start our last week in the field.I’m sitting near the top of a hill called Jebel Qat, just east of our site and a little over a mile north of Sepphoris.I’ve driven students to their field exam among the ruins on this hill, and I am listening to the wind rattle the loose cover of the porch roof that shades my head.The porch belongs to a hut that houses young men who guard the surrounding fields from produce and livestock poachers.The western breeze cools me.
This is the week I most wish to be back home but have the most to do. Closing down a dig season may require more work than starting one.Crew members will be at their busiest too, as they finish digging, trim and draw balks, sweep for final photos, and help other squares to do the same.Many will spend both mornings and afternoons at the site, so we will be on the lookout for exhaustion.The evening work, however, feels more relaxed and peac…

Second Letter from Nazareth

Sunday June 4, 2017
Dear Family and Friends,
Today is Pentecost Sunday for Christians, the month of Ramadan for Muslims, and a few days past the feast of Savuoth (Weeks) for Jews, and we are now at the midpoint of the dig.It seems improbable that time could move so swiftly.We must start thinking about how to close down excavations, and I am anticipating returning to Laura and sharing the rest of my summer with her.The work, however, is immune to such longings.It still demands precision.For its part, precision requires that we care about what we’re doing.That is part of the human element I talked about last week.
In the life cycle of the Shikhin Excavation Project, it is also time to start thinking about when to halt, or to interrupt, excavations in order to publish.Digging not only uncovers buildings and objects, it also reveals more questions, and we have to decide which ones we will try to answer.In the end, sometimes we conclude that we will publish what we have. I am learning t…

First Letter from Nazareth

Sunday, May 28, 2017
Dear Family and Friends,
It has been a busy 11 or so days in Israel, and I missed my deadline for my first letter.I have been pleased with the people and the weather: both are suited for our operations.
This year I feel acutely the void left by my parents, Jim (“Abuna”) and Carolyn Strange.This is not because we cannot operate without them.After all, expeditions all over Israel get by without either of them setting foot on their sites.It is because of who they are to me and to the dig.I feel it most, not at breakfast, which my mother brings to the site, or at pottery reading, for which I rely on my father’s expertise, but as I pass by their room while knocking on doors at 4 a.m. I hope for their return in 2018.
The early crew arrived on Tuesday May 16 and quickly got to work the next day.They prepared our store room, oversaw the delivery of tools and toilets to the site, began digging the southern half of a square that we opened last year, shot i…