July 8, 2008

Megiddo, Day 3

The big event of the day was when Parth poked himself with the handle of his hoe and got his contact stuck inside his eyelid. They made him leave to see a doctor, leaving Melissa alone in her square. Since I was basically sitting around looking bored in our square (we were waiting for Sascha to come map things, but there’s only one Sascha for the whole site), I went over to help. Phillipe was also there, and after instructing us what we should do, noticed that we both pickaxed badly. Thus began the afternoon’s pickaxe lesson. I can now swing a pickaxe like a pro, albeit with less control than before, but also less backache. (For some reason the outside of my forearms really hurts though. Maybe from troweling.) He kept reminding us that “this is an educational program! I must teach you proper techniques so that you do not develop bad habits!” These bad habits included pickaxing gently and saving every piece of pottery. (Norma made us save all of them – “every sherd is sacred – you can sing along!”) From that square we saved about six pieces of pottery (compare about 35 from my other square), but all the astragalies. We had an entire mini-lesson on astragalies in between the pickaxing and shoveling dirt – they’re the hand bones, per se, of a hooved animal, one below (above?) the phalanges. Of course, now everyone must pronounce “phalange” the French way. Probably a good quarter of the people speak French in Area Q – Phillipe, Amandine, and another girl whose name I don’t know; Parth speaks French; Tatiana speaks French Canadian; I hear it around. At one point Phillipe forgot and started instructing me in French until I confusedly asked, “Parlez vous Anglais? Ivrit? Russky?” Maybe I should learn some sarcastic French phrases.

Speaking of that, there were Israeli-Arab workmen on Area J today and yesterday. I have no idea what they’re doing, but the one is very, very old, with a white moustache and a red kefia. We also have a medic with a rifle. I wondered why there was some guy sitting at the tel reading so early – I figured he was a tourist who had slept over because it was free or something. On my way down to the bathroom later, I noticed he had a gun.

In my original square we found a flattened storage jar. Area J found a human jaw. They think when the Early Bronze Agers were building their temple, they built over an older burial ground. (The Neolithic people buried their dead on the hillsides.

When we took the tel tour on Sunday, we went into the water tunnel. It was much bigger than I expected when I read the book. David’s tunnel is nothing compared to it.

We are continually learning the extent of the Chicago expedition’s damage to the site. Yes, it’s really amazing how much they uncovered (there’s a whole mini-tel at the side where they dumped their probably millions of square feet of dirt), but they removed all the Greek and Persian remains and much of the Iron Age. Quite sad. Although I can just go to work and walk through all the artifacts neatly displayed in the Canaanite hall.


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