Local time at Horbat Omrit, Israel

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Day 13

It's starting to get a little warm these days. 87F at 3:30pm in the shade. Seems a lot warmer. No clouds and no rain since we've been here. Lots of lawn and plant irrigation at the kibbutz keeps everything green.

Well, our old square needed cleaning up for its final photograph so I did a lot of that today. Our water pipe (incoming/outgoing?) looks neat. It's about 4 feet down.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Day 12

Things are moving dig-wise. The ceramic drain- or waterpipes were more apparent but difficult to follow. We did find 2 pipes extending out of the side of the hill into the wadi near our square. Neat. But the square is now closed.

Our team is moving across the wadi, up the hill, to a site that has a plastered wall barely sticking out of the ground. The site has a great view of the temple site and of the valley. A new square means loads of work to get it started. Pictures to follow.

We went on a tour of Golan battle sites with an Israeli veteran this afternoon. Picturesque hills with great views of valleys make great sites for tank battles, but bright sun and haze don't make for great pictures so I'll leave you with this one:

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Day 11

Down we go - moved 5 tons of earth today (4 cubic meters) - found drain pipes. Looking for the road foundation. Will never find it.

John and I have had to move to a new room (don't ask) so we had a housewarming party. 'Twas a great success.

It's now 8:30pm local time and we're off to a lecture on ancient Roman religion.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Day 10 - Official Report

Hello Friends of Omrit,

The first week of the 2008 excavation at Omrit has progressed very nicely. We opened two squares near the entrance to the colonnaded way leading to the temple complex. Square supervisors Amy Fisher and Willis Jensen are working with a great group of volunteers and Omrit super-veteran Greg Stoehr is supervising the field. Our hope is to clarify the nature of the entryway, and the road leading to the temple. In addition, we want to determine if there was only one colonnade, or two. Once we have finished in these squares, we hope to move across the valley to the north in order to search for the roadway and any associated structures.

While we are not digging in the area of the temple this season, we did do some preservation work in the area west of the early shrine before the volunteers arrived. In March of this year, a visitor to the site found a fragmentary Aramaic inscription in this area. The inscription is now being analyzed and appears to date from the 4th century B.C.E. This would make it by far the earliest artifact we have cataloged. It’s relationship to other activity on the site requires further analysis. We will keep you posted as information becomes available on this interesting piece.

Our week ended with a bang, when another visitor to the site reported finding a Greek inscription in the valley north of where we are digging. On Saturday morning (5/24), our whole crew helped to remove this large stone and move it up the hillside, and secure it in the truck for transport to the storage shed. This is definitely the heaviest stone we have moved by hand at Omrit, and as you can see in the attached picture, we used ancient lifting technology to do so. We are grateful to Gavri from Kibbutz Kfar Szold who loaned us the 4 meter beam to make this move possible.

Dan Schowalter

Day 10

Not much happening today, our square gets deeper and deeper...

So here's: Moon over Omrit

Day 9

Caesarea Maritima was super. A harbour built almost from scratch over the course of 12 years by Herod the Great to honour Augustus.

We looked first at the temple to Augustus but this is in far worse condition than óur'temple at Omrit, and in fact I wasn't able to sort out the stones of the original structure from those of the later Byzantine building.

After the temple, we walked out along the breakwater to look back at the town. This gave a magnificent view across the the harbour of white buildings, dark green grass and palm trees all set off by the yellow sand of the hippodrome. Classic Mediterranean!

Later, we walked along through the hippodrome trying to imagine what it must have been like in Roman times to sit up in the stands and watch the chariot races against a background of the sea and its cooling breezes. Almost adjoining the hippodrome is Herod's palace with its swimming pool set into the rocks of the shore. Fantastic place.

After Caesarea, looked at the aqueduct which brought fresh water from the mountains into the town and then drove on to Haifa. This is a city which has expanded very much since the 60s when I was last there. we drove in past offices of Microsoft, Intel and other American hight tech organizations.

At the University visited the Hecht Museum and look at a set of exhibits relating to the Jewish Rebelliuon and its suppression by the Romans. Impressive.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Day 9

Well, Saturday continued yesterday after I blogged. We went off to Banias where a spring gushes forth from the Mount Hermon range with one of the three major tributaries of the Jordan. I'll not burden you with the Grotto of Pan but just show you a river picture. Sort of like north Georgia, only lusher.
Later last night we had BBQ cooked by one of kibbutzniks. Right in front of our room, in fact, and a good time was had by all.

Today we started with a trip to Caesarea Maritima, the seaport that Herod built on the Mediterranean as an entry port for his Roman friends. A beautiful place. Here's John with our buddy Paul and a crusader castle (and restaurant) in the background:

After this we went up to a museum at Haifa University. We were (very much) treated to a tour of an exhibit by its curator. The exhibit featured the Galilean aspects of the Jewish Revolt of 67-73CE. Tonight back to blog, eat and sleep.