This was the day we'd been looking forward to yet dreading the 5:00am start. In the event it wasn't too bad, Bill and I had packed our bags the evening before, so we just had time for a quick peanut butter sandwich and a cup of coffee before boarding the van out to the site. It was cool and only just light when we reached the site.
Imagine a wide lush valley - the Huleh valley. The hills on either side are bone dry, the grass burned yellow. On the easten side of the valley we can see Lebanon. Our side of the valley is Israeli and is essentially a part of the Golan heights. Our side is largely fenced off, as much as anything to keep us off the hills which are covered with landmines.
At our site, the work in previous years has excavated much of the two temples, and has also shown that at least in Roman times, the later temple (Temple 2) had been approached by a street lined with columns and perhaps covered over.
Part of this years work is to find the route of the street and how it crossed over a nearby shallow wadi. (valley). To this end Bill and I were assigned to different teams each of which was set to clearing all the surface grass and loose stones from a 5m square. This took most of the morning, then we set about measuring the elevations of all the larger stones embedded in the ground. Some of these left in each square were clearly part of the structures we expected to find, others perhaps just loose stones from a fill somewhere. Before beginning the excavation of the 5m squares we had to create a scale drawing of each square and photgraph each area. We'd prettty well finished this at the end of the days work. So perhaps tomorrow we'll actually begin excavations....
By the time we left the site the sun was up and the temperature into the late 80s, the bugs were active as well - small gnat like things that buzzed around your easr and sometimes bit you. Quite unpleasant!! Of course there's lots of kidding around about the snakes, scorpions and spiders said to be in the area. A prize has been offered to the person who kills the most scorpions of the whole period. So far I've yet to see my first!!
We're starting to get to know the students who are very friendly and seem an interesting bunch. Most of them seem to be in degree programs with a strong religious/history focus and I'm enjoying talking to them.
But as I write this, it's mid afternoon and the whole kibbutz is quiet - most people seem to be asleep....Bill is dozing in a chair under a tree. The temperature is well into the 90s. When it cools down a bit I plan to go for a run. It's only about 3.5 km around the perimeter fence, but there is a steep hill at one side of the kibbutz. At the top of this is a pill box facing the Golan. The perimeter fence is high and topped with barbed wire and in places razor wire as well. We have an armed guard at the gate which is manned 24/7,all this belieing the current tranquility of the place.
That's it from me, time for my run.