Posted by: thedirtybaker | August 24, 2011

Indiana Baker and the Last Minute Rush

This covers the highlights of my last few days in Israel, after I returned from Europe.

The shade from excavations. Just seeing the shades made me excited to be there!

It included a day of work at the antiquities authority, an insane day of work in Ashkelon (I was there for 28 hours, and I worked for 23 of them!), EXCAVATION, and errands.

First of all, big thanks to my sister and brother-in-law in Ramat Bet Shemesh, who put me up for the end of my trip.  This included my arrival at 4:30 a.m. from the airport. Since my sister has insomnia, and knew that she might not be able to go back to sleep, this was an especially big imposition, and she was very gracious about it.

I had a rental car so I could do everything I wanted to do in those few days.  When I got to Eldan in the middle of the night, the woman at the desk was skeptical:

Eldan rental car company

Her: Didn’t you want an upgrade?  It’s only a few more dollars.

Me: That’s ok – I’ll stick with what I ordered.  My mechanic friend told me to go with the Fiat.

Her: You know that’s a manual transmission car?

Me: I didn’t, but ok.  That’s fine.

Her: I mean, it’s a stick shift.  Don’t you want an automatic?

Me: No, thanks, I’m fine with manual.

Her: Are you sure you can drive a manual?

Me: Yes, my car at home is an 89 Civic – manual.  I’ll be fine.

(My internal response was: Yes, I’m american and female, AND I know how to drive stick shift, so SUCK IT, lady.)

So, highlights:  When I finished working at the Antiquities Authority, I went back to

D’s house, where she had several of the kids from downstairs visiting, in a rotating cast of characters.  She still has some of her favorite books, toys, and games from late childhood, and picks up library books to read to the younger kids.  She suggested that the kids check and see if I read as well as she does.  I must have met their standards, because they had me read all of the available kids books to them.  At some point, they

Nancy Drew, from The Secret of the Old Clock

heard me refer to “Aunt Nancy,” when talking to D.  They thought that sounded funny, so D convinced them that our aunt is actually Nancy Drew, as she’s read some Nancy Drew books with the older kids. (Note:  Aunt Nancy called me when I got home and identified herself as “Nancy Drew.”  She loved it!).

The next day I got to play in the dirt, finally!  I went to a site where I excavated several years ago, Tell es-Safi, and worked for half the day in my friend J’s field.  J is one of my favorite archaeologists – he’s a skilled field worker, a great storyteller, a good friend, and extremely supportive.  I know that when I give a talk at the annual conference, J will be in my audience, even if I haven’t seen him yet (unless, of course, he misses the conference that year or is giving a paper in a conflicting session).  My last season in the field, J was working on the education and logistics side of that excavation, so he came and played in my squares (i.e. got dirty, working with the volunteers) whenever he had a chance.  So I’m extra welcome in his area now.

Driving up to Safi

I LOVED IT!  I was there for the second day of digging, and heard a lesson on who the Philistines were and why they were important.

J talking about the Philistines and the site of Safi.

In the past few years, they put up signs showing the directions of all the other cities of the Philistine Pentapolis on the highest point of the tell.

The signs to the other cities of the Philistine Pentapolis: Gaza, Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Ekron (though you can't see the Ekron sign from this angle)

A wall or threshold from the Crusader fort

Afterwards, I went to work in one of the squares supervised by someone whom I’d met before at conferences.  Initially, I assumed that the girl I was directly working was a supervisor, but then she told me that she wasn’t – because she’d just graduated from high school.  The supervisor wanted me to keep an eye on her and guide her – I stopped deferring to her as soon as I figured that out.  This square had a plaster bench

Large bone - I'm guessing probably a from a cow

or some other sort of installation that had been partially uncovered and then re-covered last year.  We were re-excavating and continuing on past what they reached last year.  It was fill (i.e. not good context), but there were some nice finds in it.  I really miss digging!

They stay at Kibbutz Revadim, which is the same place that I (and J, for that matter) stayed my first two seasons of excavating, when we worked at Tel Miqne-Ekron. They’ve done a LOT of improvements since then.  The pipe-and-tarp tents were replaced by air-conditioned guest houses, the bathrooms and showers were mostly turned into offices, and only the concrete porch remained mostly the same.

This trough used to be our sink - there were several faucets, and we washed up and did our laundry in it.

They also brought some large stone pillar bases and such from the site of Miqne to use as decoration in the kibbutz.

This was one of the pillar bases from Tel Miqne, from the large 7th century Temple. It's now being used as decoration by the kibbutz.

I spent that night in Ashkelon, worked my butt off trying to tie up all loose ends, and then experienced the other high point of those days: THOR!!! My friend, nicknamed Thor, was working at a nearby site.  I picked him up and we went out to dinner at Cuppa Joe at Katzrin.  Thor is one of the funniest and kindest people I know. Our funniest conversation of the night:

Th: I tried a few spinning classes at the gym.  It was a great workout, but I have to ask – doesn’t your butt get sore when you mountain bike and ride a lot?

Me:  Umm… not normally, as long as I wear bike shorts.

Th: What are those?

Me:  <looking at him in horror> They’re shorts with padding in the butt and crotch.

Th:  Really?  Those exist?   Because after a spinning class, I felt like I’d played catcher in a gay porn, only minus the bloody rectum.

And that, my friends, is Thor.  Kind, funny, and profane as all hell.

I got back to the states a couple of days later.  There might be some topical musings on the summer’s travel, but otherwise, this blog will be more U.S. based from now on.

I hope you enjoyed my summer travels –  I certainly did!

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