Sunday, June 17, 2012

Jezreel Expedition - June 15, 2012

By Kelly Goodner

One of many rock-cut tombs discovered by the Jezreel Expedition.
Waking up at 4:10 this morning was as difficult as ever but of course we all did it. As we stumbled into the cars for the short trip to the slopes of the area around the tel, the realization that this was our final day of survey for the Jezreel Expedition set in. While the work was tiring and occasionally stressful my experience working with the team members and other students has been great.  Actually doing archaeology is such a different experience than sitting in a classroom or studying at a desk.  Exploring caves and cisterns, finding pottery and tombs: these are experiences that I will never forget and I am grateful that I got the opportunity to participate in the first season at Jezreel. I can’t wait to learn about the future work Norma, Jennie and the rest of the team will accomplish here!

Cooling off in Ein Yizreel (the spring) after a very hot morning.

Aces in the Hole June 14, 2012

By Emily Mella

While all of us on the trip are very interested in archaeology, sometimes some of our favorite moments have nothing to do with the discipline. Today's highlights for me were pancakes and pomegranates. We began the morning dragging a little, but perked up after Dr. Ebeling promised pancakes to the student who found the most interesting feature as we were tagging. Eventually we learned that the rumors about pancake Thursdays at the kibbutz were true and that we were all going to participate. We were excited to eat something different from our usual breakfast fare, and probably put a little too much syrup on our pancakes because we were a bit loopy after breakfast. We had been working for awhile when I discovered that some of the girls had been putting pomegranates into my backpack without my noticing, and the game began. We were working near a pomegranate tree and eventually the goal was to get a pomegranate into every adult's backpack without them noticing. It was a lot of fun and a nice way to distract ourselves from the heat. We recorded many cisterns today, as well as a few interesting tombs. Today was a very nice and lighthearted second-to-last day at Jezreel!

One of the 90+ cisterns that dot greater Jezreel.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Jezreel Expedition June 13, 2012

By Megan Anderson

Our spirits were high as we set out in the dark morning hours. We all piled into the cars and headed out to the site. We spent a very interesting day recording the old village walls which dotted the landscape, but what made today especially exciting was that Emma was the first to finally see one of the snakes that live in the undergrowth. Apparently more afraid of her than she was of it, the snake slithered away…hopefully never to be seen again.

Recording walls from the village.
That afternoon, instead of returning to the field, we had the opportunity to visit Tel Megiddo, or biblical Armageddon, where we joined members of the Tel Aviv University’s Board of Governors from Canada for a tour. Dr. Norma Franklin, who was a member of the Megiddo team for 19 years, explained the site and its significance. It was very interesting to hear how interpretations of the site have changed over the years as new evidence is uncovered. To end our tour we took 180 steps down into the water system, which was not only impressive, but more importantly on a hot day—cool.  The spring there is still active and we stood over a small pool of water deep inside the bedrock, where a tiny frog was entertaining himself by watching tourists.

Ending our day we came back to the kibbutz for dinner, and like the old ladies we are fast becoming, we were all sound asleep by 9:30pm.

Megan found this pot on the surface during survey.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Aces in the Hole June 12, 2012

Nate Biondi

“It’s time to make the doughnuts” is what I think every morning when I wake up at 4:15 AM.  It took us boys awhile to get ready this morning (us boys being Mike, Ian and me), but once we got moving we were good to go.  In fact, we had quite a bit of energy.  I started the day off singing “it’s getting hot in here” by Nelly and that got me in a good mood.  We spent the morning tagging possible features with caution tape so we could record them later. 

A sea of caution tapes marking potential features.
On previous days I usually did the locus sheet, making sketches, recording points, and describing the feature in general.  Today, I decided to change it up and measure because I feel bad about my illegible handwriting, which would make it difficult for anyone trying to piece the area together. Measuring isn’t as easy as it looks; I almost fell into a cistern twice.  This morning, however, we did find an exciting cave that had several niches cut in it.  People in antiquity made tombs out of pre-existing caves by cutting into the walls to make “rooms.” This cave could have had seven of these rooms.  Judging by the proximity to a modern path, knowledge of the existence of the cave is not in question, but I don’t know if anyone knew it was used as a tomb.  Later on that day Dr. E took a recording of Emily and me to ask us about our experience in Israel.  This is truly the most beautiful place on earth.  The climate is awesome, there is amazing vegetation, and the people are extremely welcoming.  I am very lucky to have a chance to help Norma and Dr.E.  Speaking of Dr E, we started tagging on the same piece of land where you may have seen Stonehenge in a previous posting.  We were not finding much until Dr. E popped up on a hill and found nine tombs. Nine!!!! Some of them were not completed, meaning that the carving wasn’t working out or the stone mason built them incorrectly. I guess it’s just an average day for the Rock Goddess (Dr. E). 

One of nine rock-cut tombs we found today in Area K.
This has been the best experience of my life.  It is not every day that I get to travel to a foreign country with eight of my best friends and other amazing people.  This brings today to a close, as for tomorrow morning… “It’s time to make the doughnuts!”

Jezreel Expedition blog June 11, 2012

Michael Koletsos

Today was a day that would test the patience of even the most experienced archaeologist.  We arrived at the site just before 5am, but could tell very quickly just how warm it would be throughout the day.  The humidity was so incredibly high that it felt like our clothes would never dry from our perspiration.  By 6:30am everyone was ready for a break.  We continued to make many discoveries from our surveying, but by 10am it was clear that we could not work anymore.  Most of us were still tired from our weekend excursion to Jerusalem.  So we headed back to the kibbutz, cleaned up, and had lunch.  People seemed to relax as we traveled to the University of Haifa to visit the Zinman Institute of Archaeology, which is sponsoring the project along with the University of Evansville.  Our group met a number of friendly archaeologists who gave us a tour around their facilities.  It was quite an enjoyable experience for us all.  We even explored the Hecht Museum located on the University’s campus, which was filled with a diverse collection of artifacts from many areas of the world.  I enjoyed the organization of the collection and the displays.  One of the most interesting displays for me involved ancient toys and game boards, since they were similar to items many of us had as children.  Looking forward to our work tomorrow!

Dr. Michael Eisenberg of the Zinman Institute explains a display of Heracles/Hippos at the University of Haifa.

June 8, 2012 Report from Jezreel

Hilda Torres

Our work this morning was an interesting start to the day. We were running a little late, but we were able to catch up with the tags that we had not finished yesterday. My team, “Jezebel’s Revenge,” was able to find many different rooms that we originally thought were disconnected walls. The other team, Willendorf Warriors, ended up finding more dead cows today. They have such great luck with finding dead cows. My team also measured plenty of different caves. I ended up going into two caves today and there were some hidden treasures in them.

In the first cave that I went inside by myself, I found an old horse shoe. The second cave that I entered with Mike Koletsos had a nice jar handle attached to part of a vessel. Mike was the one who spotted this wonderful piece of pottery that could have belonged to the villagers from the area. Another great discovery I made today consisted of small chunks of tesserae that belonged to a floor. Sadly, I was not able to find the floor from which these pieces of tesserae came, but now we know that there are plenty of floors to uncover.

Friday, June 8, 2012

June 7, 2012 Aces in the Hole

Sarah Carlton

Sarah and Mike measure a wall "hidden" in the undergrowth.
Thursday proved to be an interesting day in most every regard. Today we finally split up into two groups in order to “bag ‘em and tag ‘em” more efficiently; what I mean is we went through loci much more quickly. Sadly, though, I wore my shorter pants in the morning and nearly died due to the evil, prickly plants. In the afternoon we continued our morning’s work of recording features, and, lo and behold, another dead cow was found! The poor beastie had fallen into a cave of sorts and died inside. L My team found several caves with wall enclosures, and Megan giddily explored them all. All in all the survey of the site is running along smoothly. Also, team Willendwarf Warriors (pronounced  Villaindwarf Warriors) are much, much better than team Jezebel’s Revenge – just sayin’.

Nate and Megan recording the GPS coordinates of a feature.

June 6, 2012 Aces in the Hole

Kelly Goodner

Surveying through very tall weeds in the early morning hours.
So 4:30 am in Israel comes early but not bright. Waking up when it’s still dark outside is always hard but hey I’m in Israel so it’s worth it.  Instead of talking about the survey, I am going to talk about the field trip we took in the afternoon.  Rather than returning to the field on Wednesday afternoon we took a field trip further North to Tel Hazor where Dr. E  picked up ground stone tools that she plans on doing further research with.  Our first stop was Tel Hazor where we were given a tour by Dr. E.  FYI the tel is bottle shaped; yes Mom I did learn something in college!  The highlight of the tour was the water system the residents of the tel built for retrieving water in times of siege.  This was the highlight for two reasons: it was impressively sized as well as much cooler then standing out in the hot sun on the tel.  For lunch Dr. E treated us to falafel, a tasty mix of fried chick peas and salad goodies stuffed into a pita.  On our way back to the kibbutz we stopped at the Mount of Beatitudes on the Sea of Galilee, which includes a church and grounds with spectacular views of the sea and surrounding areas.  We then stopped at the Israeli baptism spot on the Jordan River. It was a beautiful area and we got to see two cute little otter-like creatures. The final stop on our field trip was a parking lot with a great view of Tel Bet Shean.  We then returned to the kibbutz for dinner exhausted and hungry. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Jezreel Expedition blog June 5, 2012

By Emma Dunleavy

…and on the third day we began our survey near the spring of Jezreel. We trampled, traversed, and tripped our way through grass, weeds, and plants taller than our heads. Surprisingly, we were able to discover a path in the undergrowth which might have been used in the 20th century. After our heroic stamping through the bush we surveyed a cleared open field and collected fragments of pottery, flint and basalt. We found many fragments of pottery dating from the Early Bronze Age to the Byzantine period. In the late afternoon session we returned to Jezreel to survey a large remaining section of the eastern slope. Many of us felt like mountain goats while surveying, and I believe a few bleats could be heard coming from our team. The finds this afternoon were among the most interesting yet: a large olive or wine press cut into the rock as well as an unfinished sarcophagus still in a quarry.

Surveying on the terrace near the spring in the morning.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Aces in the Hole June 4, 2012

Jezreel Expedition Blog Entry June 4, 2012 by Emily Mella

Today was our second day of surveying, and I was in charge of filling out locus sheets for the morning. While my drawing skills leave something to be desired, I enjoyed filling out the forms and making sure that we documented each feature that we came upon. After we recorded some easily identifiable features, we plunged into an area of very thick brush and cacti to see what we could find. Some areas were full of prickles and difficult to cross, but we were able to uncover some interesting things, including two mosaic floors, lots of evidence of quarrying, and channels cut into the bedrock. After breakfast, we took a tour of the tel and enjoyed seeing the remains of the tower and examining the many pottery sherds that we found on the surface.

Visiting "Jezebel's Tower" on the tel.
This afternoon we returned to the lower area of the hillside and came across a dead cow that had inexplicably gone unnoticed the day before - most of us didn't even notice it until we were almost on top of it. We documented quite a few caves and several cup marks cut into the rock, as well as more evidence of quarrying. We surveyed the other half of the field, and Sarah and I got stuck on an overhang while looking at a neat cave. The two of us ended up having to backtrack and take the long way back to the others. After more measuring and documenting (I recorded GPS coordinates this afternoon), Mike and I went searching for our missing brush, which somehow ended up near the dead cow. Overall, it was another hot, tiring, itchy, interesting, sunny, eventful, and successful day!

Jezreel Expedition 2012 Blog: "Aces in the Hole"

Each of the eight students participating in the 2012 season of the Jezreel Expedition will post a blog entry detailing work at the site each day.

June 3, 2012 by Megan Anderson

We were up bright and early for our first day to meet the dawn as it rose over Jezreel.  Our fearless leaders Dr. Jennie Ebeling and Dr. Norma Franklin handed out jobs and clipboards and we began our survey of Area L, which is east of the tel.  We found amazing features, including several of the many cisterns that dot the landscape and several other rock cut features.  At 10:00 am, we took a long break for breakfast and enjoyed delicious Israeli fare compliments of Kibbutz Yizreel.  After our rest we took to the field again.  Nate Biondi and Sarah Carlton kept everything organized by taking detailed field notes and Emma Dunleavy and Mike Koletsos documented the finds with cameras (assisted by Emily Mella and Kelly Goodner).  When it came time to survey the lower portion of Area L later in the afternoon, we continued in true Indiana Jones fashion as we fearlessly rolled under a barbed wire fence to reach the pasture beyond.  There we were not disappointed, as we found many more features including a multi-chamber tomb located by Emma Dunleavy which we were able to enter.  Hilda Torres scaled its side to take measurements and Megan Anderson used a GPS to record its position.  All in all our first day in the field was both very exciting and productive, helping us to gain a better understanding of the site of Jezreel.

Stonehenge at Jezreel? No, it's modern art.