July 18, 2008

Megiddo, Tour Day

Today we had the tour of other tels with ongoing excavations. The first was Hazor, and it was pretty nice. It had a cool breeze and we shared their breakfast, which was much better than ours. I sat at a table with someone who had just graduated from UChicago and majored in Ling who I had never met. They said they found half a sword the other day. They were also doing mud brick reconstruction of the temple/palace – they experimented with a few different kinds and now have a small-scale mud brick operation going on. Next was Kinrot, on the west shore of the Galilee. It is a joint excavation between the universities of Bern, Mainz, and Helsinki, and the director is Swiss. (“My name is Stefan Mungli,” it sounded like, although I’m not sure if Mungli is actually correct. “Maybe you can not hear me, but also maybe you can not understand my Swiss English.” He wore a matching red polo shirt that looked like it was, at one point, rather nice before it got holes all over the stomach, and had so many tools hanging off his belt it might have jingled when he walked. He also had a large – think pirate-sized – gold hoop earring in one ear, and the kind of puffy, round face that makes one think of a gnome.) Theirs is a tiny dig, only one area, and boiling hot; they have a really nice small temple, a large residence, and an Iron Age street in between. It was really interesting to see the street all nicely laid out. They also had a total station, which is what we used in Chicago – instead of taking the levels of artifacts and floors using a fancy measuring stick and what’s basically a glorified telescope (“the dumpy level”, it’s called, because most of the sights are made by a company called Dumpy), they use a laser GIS system that they plug into the computer. Phillipe told Stefan (they worked together before) and us, on the bus, that the total station was a waste of money and you could do the same with a dumpy, but I think he’s just jealous, as he’s been saying “if only we had a total station” for the past two weeks. (As have I and Will and anyone who has worked with one before.) Also, “total station” just sounds a lot cooler than “dumpy level”. Kinrot also had mud-based conservation efforts, but instead of looking like artwork, their three mud workers looked like (take your pick based on your generation) the brickmakers in “The Ten Commandments” or the mud people of Canton. They were completely covered. Also, being a European excavation, they wore odd clothes underneath their muddiness, like two layers of cutoff shorts.

We stopped at a McDonald’s on the way back since the kibbutz doesn’t serve food on Fridays. It was not as good as I remember (the last time I had McDonald’s was probably 8th grade, maybe before). I had a chicken sandwich. I followed it up with a Spongebob ice cream from the store next door – I expected it to look like Spongebob, but was disappointed to find out that it was just a yellow (pineapple lemon, it tasted like) popsicle with a white bottom (same flavor).

Our barbecue dinner was much better though. Turns out the Finkelsteins always have a Shabbat dinner barbecue (with a quinoa dish and marinated chicken, no less – marinated!), so we stopped by for some of that too.

Still haven’t decided whether to go to Caesaria or not.


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