by John Strong
June 17, 2011
There are no pictures to go with this entry, I’m afraid. This entry is about what happens before the day of excavating, before dawn, which is quite important to me.
The day begins early for an archaeological team, for we want to beat the heat of the day. We also need the remainder of the day to understand what we discovered in the field. So, bright and early, we awake around 4:00 am and have first breakfast. First breakfast is simple, consisting of peanut butter and some type of jelly. Many of our volunteers like the chocolate spread Nutella, which purports to be healthy, but I eschew it because I am convinced it is merely Betty Crocker chocolate cake icing packaged under a different label. We will get second breakfast, by the way, on the tel, and it will be more substantial (cereal, cheeses, some vegetables, and coffee!).
Then, for everyone else, comes the dash for the bus, which arrives at 5:00. I say “everyone else” because I do not dash to the bus, but instead, this year, I brought my bicycle and I enjoy a ride through the woods and fields to arrive at the tel. No matter how the day of excavations went, I get to enjoy two good bike rides a day—one going to the tel, and another returning from the day.
This brings me to my real point of this entry. My days excavating begin quietly, and they begin with the moon. Whatever the phase, and right now, the moon is full, I enjoy seeing it. It always brings to me a sense of connection with my family back home. The moon that I see in Israel will, in just a few hours, be the moon seen by my family in Springfield.
As comforting as that is, however, soon the sun rises over the eastern horizon and the dawn of a new day. And about the time the sky begins to lighten, about the time that I arrive on the tel with my bike, I see the first vehicles of the staff and the bus carrying our volunteers rumble down the dirt road toward the tel. Within moments, the calm of the pre-dawn breakfast and commute to the tel will be broken with the screech of the opening of our squeaky container doors, the clanking of tools being carried up the tel, and the process of discovery beginning once again.