My Summer Experience: Cathie Moore

I participated in an archaeological dig in Israel

Cathie Moore
Ancient Art History

I spent my summer in Israel on an archaeological dig on Tel Megiddo for seven weeks. My workweek was Sunday through Thursday, with Friday and Saturday off.  The week was crazy busy.  We got on the bus to the site at 4:30 a.m. each morning, and by the 8 a.m. breakfast, it felt like I had already carried what seemed like hundreds of buckets of dirt and dripped just as many buckets of sweat.  

But after only a few days, we adjusted to the pre-dawn morning labor with beautiful sunrises on the Tel. We returned to the Giv’at Haviva kibbutz, which we affectionately called the compound, by 2 p.m. for lunch and then our education packed evenings began at 4 p.m. with pottery and bone washing. That was followed by field techniques classes, dinner, and then the staff would give lectures on some of their favorite topics. Most lectures were over by 9 p.m., which very quickly became my new bedtime.

I learned many things during my time in Israel. I learned about stratigraphy, the Iron Age, the Middle and Late Bronze Age, proper archaeology techniques, how to use a Total Station, and what a tabun was, but the favorite thing I learned at Tel Megiddo was that if you are not sure if you found bone or pottery, lick it; bone sticks to your tongue, pottery does not.

I cannot write about my two months in Israel without commenting on the war that began during my visit. During my archaeological dig in Israel, I thought more about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict than ever before in my life. Before going to Israel, the situation there was just another Middle Eastern conflict that I did not understand. I fought in the Iraqi war in 2004 when I was in the Coast Guard. One of the reasons I chose to dig in the Middle East was because I wanted to find a different perspective on this land and its people. Before leaving for the summer, I had hoped that my experience in Israel would give me some insight as to why these two peoples have so much trouble getting along, but I found that it had just the opposite impact.

Spending two months in Israel, during most of which they were warring with the Palestinians, sparked an interest in me to learn more about these two peoples and their cultures. In the little time I have had since my return to conduct research, I have learned that they have a deep shared history that should unite them, not tear them apart. I discovered some of this history on my dig at Tel Megiddo. Not only did I find artifacts from the Iron Age—such as numerous tabuns, metallurgy by-products, pottery, flint, and jewelry— I also unearthed bullet casings from the 1948 Israeli War of Independence. Tel Megiddo was the site of numerous battles throughout the past 4,000 years, and there was no better way to learn about them than by slowly digging through the Tel layer by layer.

Updated: 01/23/2018 11:09AM