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Michelle's Travel Gallery | Michelle's Favorite Cities | Miscellaneous

Israel

Israel

In 1998 Pomona College and the Claremont Graduate University sponsored me to go on my first archaeological dig. I joined a team of archaeologists excavating at Tel Harassim. This is my first dig certificate. I survived!

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We stayed on a kibbutz. For those who aren't familiar with Hebrew, a kibbutz is a kind of collective farm. It's like a commune where everyone has a job and works for the benefit of the community. You eat together and sleep in similar houses (for us that meant a house with no air conditioning in the 110 degree heat). The first kibbutz was founded in Palestine in 1909.

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Our day would begin at five in the morning when it's cool enough to dig and not brutally hot.

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And there sure was plenty of digging.

 

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The artifacts are sorted into baskets

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At night the leading archaeologists would gather everyone together to discuss the day's finds and talk about what would be happening the next day. These meetings usually took place at about ten o'clock.

 

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While on my archaeological dig I gained some serious muscles wielding a pick-axe and heaving wheelbarrows full of dirt down a hill and then back up again.

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And more digging...

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Masada is one of the most astounding archeological sites I have ever visited. This is a hilltop city where the Jews took their last stand against the Romans. All the inhabitants of Masada— save three or four— chose to end their own lives rather than surrender and live as slaves.

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According to Flavius Josephus, a first century Jewish Roman historian, Herod the Great fortified Masada as a refuge for himself in the event of a revolt.

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To climb to the hilltop ruins of ancient Masada, whose walls were built in 70 BCE, requires serious effort. Needless to say, I took the tram.

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On Monday our workweek starts over again. It's up at five am and ready to work with coffee in hand.

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The Kibbutz's name was Kfar Menachem. It was established in 1943.

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On the weekends we'd leave the kibbutz to go site seeing. Here is the dig team at the Dome of the Rock.

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Uncovering a 2000 year old mosaic in the desert.

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Having fun on the dig. In the searing heat people had to amuse themselves somehow.

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At the entrance to King David's City, where the walls are fortifications still remain, a camel takes a rest.

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A view of Dome of the Rock from the roof of our hostel

 

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Behind a gas station archaeologists discovered something incredible beneath a huge mound of dirt. An ancient Roman Coliseum.

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The streets of Old Jerusalem

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The dig team

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Acco is as old as Jerusalem. Alexander the Great passed through Acco, as did many others throughout history.

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Eleven years later I returned to Israel to film an episode on Nefertiti for The History Channel's show The Naked Archaeologist.

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What Masada used to look like. You can see where King Herod's palace would have been in this recreation.

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At the top of Masada. Even in March it was brutally hot!

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On the Mount of Olives is a church.

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The Church on Gethsemane

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Church on the Mount

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In the Grotto where Jesus hid.

The Garden of Gethsemane

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Overlooking Jerusalem from the Garden of Gethsemane.

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The Dome of the Rock

   
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