Archaeology and Art History

Jezreel Expedition 2014 Blog

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Jezreel Expedition Experience posted by Anastacia Peadro

Not all archaeological excavations are created equal. As a PhD candidate specializing in Near Eastern Archaeology at the University of California-Berkeley, I can tell you that, mostly, the dirt is the dirt is the dirt. All over the world the earth yields beautiful, wonderful, exciting, mundane artifacts - jewelry, figurines, sickle blades, broken pieces of pottery, you name it. And those artifacts tell all sort of stories about the people who made those fabulous and ordinary and marvelous things, stories that are both familiar and surprising, stories that link us to them and show how different we all are, yet how much we are also the same.

DSC07423 resized 600

So what really makes a dig, what sets one apart from another, are the people. From the director(s) to the supervisors to the excavators, who you're digging with is the unspoken key to a successful archaeological excavation. This is why I loved my time with the Jezreel Expedition. First, there are the Directors, Jennie Ebeling and Norma Franklin. The director of an excavation sets the tone for the entire dig, and Jennie and Norma have cultivated an enriching and encouraging environment for students and scholars. Though not unheard of, it's also still relatively rare for women to act as directors of excavations in Israel, so it's also encouraging for a young female archaeologist like myself to have those sorts of role models and mentors in the field. Then there is Area Supervisor, Ian Cipin, whose skill and demeanor in the field made him an absolute delight to work with, as well as a great teacher to learn from - the kind of teacher that makes you feel like you're learning from each other. Finally, there is the excellent staff and volunteers, a mixture of students, professors and interested lay people, who are just as immersed and entertained by the craft of archaeology as the things we excavated. 

DSC08067 resized 600

And that's the best part of being at Jezreel. It's the craft that counts. Everyone is learning. Everyone is teaching. It's the kind of excavation that is truly set apart. 

Written by Andrea Creel

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Why Come to Tel Jezreel? posted by Anastacia Peadro

The team at Jezreel includes several volunteers in our 50s and above who have no obvious staff or academic role. We are here as amateurs in the original sense – we study archaeology for love.

IMG 8956 resized 600

(Mordechai Abraham and Martha Hellander visit the community garden in the German Colony, Jerusalem. - Photo by Martha Hellander)

Our backgrounds and reasons for joining the dig vary. We may be recently retired, our children grown or gone. Perhaps our work or family lives took us away from an early fascination with digging or playing on the land and at last we are free to indulge. We detach from our usual surroundings hoping to gain new perspectives on Israel, on the stories of the Bible, and especially on ourselves. 

describe the image

(Golden sunrise strikes the entrance of a cliff-dug cistern where Sheila Bishop (L) and Annette Mangus are working. - Photo by Martha Hellander)

Eager to challenge or renew our physical strength and endurance, we rise before dawn, lift heavy buckets and wield pickaxes and tourias alongside students who could be our grandchildren. We share meals with scholars whose learning we hope to absorb, and listen to kibbuz members eager to reflect on how they ended up here—stories that invariably include trauma from the deaths of beloved parents, siblings or grandparents in the Holocaust. Some of us may find it healing to provide witness when there is little else to offer.

describe the image

(Mordechai Abraham of Jerusalem excavating a cistern above the wine-press. - Photo by Martha Hellander)

Before actual digging begins, we must clear wild oats, uproot caper bushes, topple clumps of giant fennel that waft the scent of licorice, and trample stalks of wild carrot and purple globe-thistles. You may hear the lifelong gardeners among us whispering apologies to plants we would cherish elsewhere. We scoop soil and scrape eroded rock with our hands, trowels and brushes to uncover what lies below while sharing ribald jokes and easy banter. We collect and tag the oxidized coins and dirt-encased basalt grinding stones, the animal bones and dusty glass, the pottery rims and handles, rusted horse shoes, the pointy flints, the nails, barbed wire, shrapnel and shell casings. We learn to measure and survey, and to build lightweight shade tents that billow and float like black sails on a sea of wild wheat. We handle ungainly tools with increasing precision and speed. We draw upon our life experiences and studies—in farming and landscaping, in stonemasonry and horsemanship, in software design and journalism, Biblical literature, organizational management, mathematics and the law—to predict the line of a wall, trace chisel marks along a waterway carved into a bedrock scarp, or interview old-timers about their lives. We come willing to be surprised by beauty—a glance up from our digging may connect with the gaze of a lean, long-horned heifer peering over some rocks, a regal white bird perched on her back. If we look down while walking, one might discover, as I did, the long wing-bones and feathers of a black stork that died, most likely by collision with the power lines, during migration from Africa to Europe. Any day we might unearth an iridescent beetle, a scorpion who raises tail and claws when startled, a wriggling knot of pink worms in a baulk, or the lime-green belly of a spider. We feel a keen gratitude for these gifts enhanced by our awareness of life’s caprice and berevity. Some of us come here because we feel more alive, or serene, or closer to the Divine at Tel Jezreel in the so-called Holy Land.

Written by Martha Hellander

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Traveling with the Jezreel Expedition posted by Anastacia Peadro

One of my favorite things about participating in the Jezreel Expedition is all the various opportunities I have for traveling around the surrounding area during field trips. While we spend a lot of time digging, we also get the chance to visit and tour historical sites as well as other places of interest.

DSC04610 resized 600

At these sites, the informative tours that we receive really help to provide interesting background information and historical knowledge. I also love the fact that we often receive a little bit of time to explore the location on our own and look at things that specifically interest us. Another great thing is the opportunity to visit entire different countries on these field trips, like we did in Jordan just a few days ago.

DSC09274 (2) resized 600

All in all, being able to learn more about the local history and culture of the area, as well as doing it in a fun and engaging manner is what sets field trips as my favorite thing about Jezreel

Written by Michael Sullivan 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Returning to the Jezreel Expedition posted by Anastacia Peadro

After my first experience with the Jezreel Expedition in 2013, I was really excited to return. It was such a great experience to work in the field and travel throughout Israel. I was only able to return for the last two weeks of the Jezreel Expedition 2014 and it's already been a few days since I got into the country.

DSC09816 resized 600

It was not hard to adjust to being here and I was glad to work alongside people like Ian, Julie, Dr. Ebeling, and Shelia. I just started excavating this year so there is not too much I can say about the experience so far. However, excavating has been a lot smoother than last year with less rocks in the way and I've been discovering more artifacts which is really exciting.

DSC00040 resized 600

I also finally got to use a metal detector for the first time and it was a lot of fun. I am looking forward to seeing what the next days bring.

Written by Ashley Motes

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Favorite Kibbutz Location posted by Anastacia Peadro

Hilda Torres, Michael Sullivan, and Kelly Goodner describe their favorite locations on the Kibbutz. The Kibbutz Yizre'el is the location where members of the Jezreel Expedition reside during their time at the excavation. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Nazareth Village posted by Anastacia Peadro

Field trips are an exciting aspect of our expedition in Israel. One of our weekly Wednesday field trips was to Nazareth. To me, the most exciting part of this trip was a tour of the First Century Nazareth Village. The reconstructed village actually functioned as a terraced field during Jesus' life and now continues to grow olive trees and produce olive oil, wool, and woven textiles for tourists.

DSC07517 resized 600

We were given a walking tour of the site and saw many aspects of life and activities in the first century. I found it fascinating to learn about first century technology and architecture that was reconstructed and is still used in the village today.

DSC07568 resized 600

The "villagers" gave the tour a lively atmosphere, while the guide was knowledgeable and catered to our archaeological questions. It was an incredible experience that I will never forget. 

Written by Kelli Duggan

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Caesarea posted by Anastacia Peadro

This year I spent my birthday in the city of Caesarea. The festivities began with a trip to the beach. Caesarea beach rests against the backdrop of an incredible Roman aqueduct. It is the perfect place to wade into the Mediterranean. Technically, swimming isn’t allowed, but that doesn’t stop locals (or crazy Frenchmen) from taking a dip.

DSC05572 resized 600

After the beach we went to Caesarea Harbor. The artificial harbor silted up centuries ago and the site and the nearby ruins of King Herod’s Palace are now a national park. Not only is the park an ideal place to watch a gorgeous Mediterranean sunset, you can also get great pizza there!

DSC05943 resized 600

All in all, it was probably the most incredible birthday I’ve ever had.

Written by Morgan Davidson

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Learning a Different Way posted by Anastacia Peadro

I am a third year doctoral student at Vanderbilt in the Graduate Department of Religion studying Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel. In addition, I am ordained clergy and I spend a great deal of time dedicated to ministry. My interest in archaeology is relevant to both my work as a burgeoning scholar and as someone squarely situated in the church. During the school year I spend my days and nights in the library, in class, teaching and learning both in an academic setting and in the church. I enjoy what I do; I find great purpose in it.

However, my time digging at Jezreel brings new meaning to the work that I do. While participating in the dig, I get to see history unfold before my eyes. It is a new way of learning and being; to peel back the layers and try to piece together the world of people that existed long ago.

DSC06360 resized 600

I was reluctant to participate in any form of archaeology when the opportunity presented itself last year. However, after being a part of the Jezreel team last year and this year, I can’t imagine any of my work moving forward without this experience. In each moment I find myself trying to cultivate a larger picture that fuses together biblical literature, historical data, and the tangible material world that surrounds me each day on the tel.

Written by Yolanda Norton

Friday, May 23, 2014

Exciting Excavation posted by Anastacia Peadro

I am really enjoying my time here. The area is just beautiful and I am so excited to travel and explore the country. Excavating is tiring, but very rewarding and I am finding that once getting into "the zone" I can just keep going and completely lose track of time!

DSC05444 resized 600

It's exciting when you find nice pottery and artifacts, and very gratifying when you're able to spot the difference between dirt-encrusted, man-made objects and the seemingly endless supply of rocks on the site.

DSC04489 resized 600

Already, we have been here almost a week and I cannot believe how fast the time has flown. I am so excited to see our site develop over the remaining three weeks of excavation and also to see what other adventures are in store for our time in Israel and Jordan. I can hardly wait!

Written by Catie Witt

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A New Adventure posted by Anastacia Peadro

Israel is an amazing place! Surprisingly, it is not too hot. Actually it is quite cool in the mornings and when the wind picks up. Being able to watch the sunrise everyday has been a magical experience. 

DSC04021 resized 600

The flowers surrounding our trenches are beautiful.

DSC04886 resized 600

It is the most exciting feeling to find artifacts; digging is a new adventure everyday.

Written by Stephanie Marcotte

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A New Day's Sunrise posted by Anastacia Peadro

DSC03764 resized 600

Before I left for Israel, I just wanted to go to the beach and watch the sunset. Instead I was watching the sunset from the seat of an airplane. After being up over 24 hours with very little rest, I arrived on the Kibbutz, meeting several new people. We said goodnight and prepared for a 4:00AM wake-up call. We slept in until 4:30AM and waited at the bus stop by 5:00AM to start our day. Being mine and many others first time to Israel, Norma took us on a tour of Tel Jezreel. As we learned the history we slowly descended down to the work site, but not before we could witness something majestic.

Back home the only time I am awake at 4:00AM is from studying or traveling. I've seen the sunrise a few times, said "that's pretty" and moved on. Something was different in Israel. As the sun rose around the mountains, the misty valley below became clearer. It was very surreal knowing that as I watch the sunrise and usher in a new day, back home was closing their eyes for bed. The view was beautiful and as Norma spoke you could almost imagine the history unfold as you looked down to the valley. 

As we continued, we were introduced to the worksite from last year as well as our site for this year. Still in its early stages, I am super excited to see what our efforts will reveal. 

Written by Ashley Kippley