We left the hotel early today in order to go to an archeological dig at Maresha. We traveled about an hour from Jerusalem heading south and west into the valley. We traveled through an area where David fought Goliath in the times of the Palestine’s. Our tour guide had Drew read the story from the bible on our ride home from the dig. The dig was part of a program called Dig for a Day. The entire site is funded from the money made from visitors. In addition, all of the excavation is conducted by the visitors like us.
Our tour guide, named Lena, was very nice and very informative. Lena told us that she wasn’t an archeologist, she was a tour guide. The majority of the people that worked on the site are actually tour guides and only a few archeologists were there. We spent time in a cave filling buckets with dirt and finding small artifacts. The cave was pretty amazing. Lena told us about how the caves were used and it seems like most of the trade was conducted underground since the temperature was much more consistent and definitely cooler. The temperature about ground in the summer would be about 90 degrees, but it is in the mid-70’s all the time in the caves.
While we were digging and sifting through the dirt I identified 4 pieces of pottery as did a number of other people. One person found a small bone, which was probably the head of a small bird. One of the members of our group actually found the floor of the cave, which seemed to be a pretty big deal. They believe that the cave we were in was part of a water system under the town. After we finished digging we carried the buckets up from the cave and sifted for more fragments. From there the fun really began. Lena took us to some caves that were not very excavated, so we had to climb through small holes and weave our way from one small cave to another. The kids had a blast and it was pretty fun for me.
Once we finished digging and climbing we headed for a short lecture about what they have found at the site, which is pretty cool. This site has not been lived on for a couple thousand years, but for a few thousand years before that it was a very popular place. The main reason is it’s location in the middle of the trade route from Egypt and Africa to Syria, the rest of the middle east and Europe. From the dig we headed out for lunch and a 45 minute bus ride back to our hotel.
I will continue the day in another posting ….