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by RJ

I’m not sure what possessed me to go on an archeology field trip to Israel. As a 63 year old student at Claremont Graduate University, I should be sticking to my Philosophy of Religion courses. Yet, when I was approached by Dr. Tammi Schneider, the Field Manager of the Akko, Israel archeology project, it sounded like a fun adventure. And getting course credit made it an “easy” decision.

Of course, I had visions of an “Indiana Jones” type of adventure. Unfortunately, the reality did not meet those expectations. Not even close.

First off, the dig was in Israel. I’ve never been to the Middle East before and had no idea of the travel requirements. A 16-hour flight started things off slowly. Thanks to the jet lag and only a couple of hours sleep, it was time to head to our first day of “adventuring” at 5:30am.

Oh, we aren’t ready to start digging yet. First, we have to remove hundreds of sandbags and take them to an off-site ditch. I did this for the entire 6-hour day.

The second day is more of the same. It’s 90-100 degrees and I’m wearing a hat and long sleeve shirt (to protect me from some serious UV rays) so I’m drenched in sweat.

The third day we begin our work. There is no journey to an exotic temple to pick artifacts laying right on the ground. Archeologists, students and volunteers have already been digging in Akko for the past ten years. We are just taking it down another level – apparently the Persian era, whatever year that is.  You’ve seen in other blog posts some of the artifacts found. No gold treasures! A jug gets “the find of the day.” About 99% of what we dig up is broken pottery sherds (not shards. I was laughed at for calling them that, obviously exposing my lack of archeology knowledge).

Unfortunately, I try too hard to keep up with the young students and spend so much time in the hot sun pushing wheelbarrows that I get over-heated, almost sunstroke. So, I’m down for the count the rest of day 3. Day 4 on Thursday is another 6-hour day (this time in the pit with shade which keeps me alive). My body is breaking down. I can barely get back to the dorm. But more trouble lies ahead. In part 2, I’ll take you to the dark night of the soul and a subsequent discovery.

About RJ

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Archeology Field Work at Age 63: Challenges & Triumphs – Part 1