I learned some valuable lessons yesterday. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem to Ein Gedi. As we'll be working at Marj Rabba soon, I wanted my students to learn more about the Chalcolithic period. So our goal was to hike to the famous Chalcolithic temple above Ein Gedi, and talk about Ghassulian material culture, objects such as cornets and the ritual objects from Nahal Mishmar
. So we walked in the Nahal David, and then started climbing. The first lesson I learned was that I am older and far more out of shape then I was the last time I did this. The second lesson I learned was that my Birkenstock sandals were not the best choice of shoes for this trek. But the most important lesson came about 30 minutes into the walk. Gilgamesh, carrying our shared backpack, decided without asking that he'd race ahead. Ein Gedi is on the shores of the Dead Sea, which is the lowest place on earth. Because the water evaporates, the place is always very humid, and it's very hot in the summer. It was 41 degrees celcius yesterday, or about 105 fahrenheit. Every time I thought we'd reach the apex, the trail would turn and there would be 100 more steps. I was getting exhausted, but more dangerous, I was getting seriously dehydrated. Also, my students didn't pack enough water for themselves and one student, Alexis, was starting to get a headache, a bad sign of dehydration. Gilgamesh had our large water bottle in the backpack, and that would have been enough for all of us to stay adequately hydrated. I quit sweating, was getting a bad headache, but slowly with much resting we marched up and onward. Finally we came to the Chalcolithic temple. Then suddenly, there was Gilgamesh. He said he had gotten lost. I said to him, with a very dry mouth and breathing heavily, "Gilgamesh, can you think of anything in that bag that I would need to survive out here?" He gave me the water bottle, but it was empty, as he had drunk all of the water. So Gilgamesh agreed to go back down to the visitors center, get the water bottle filled, and then meet us as we were descending. We took some photographs of the temple. But we were too tired to walk up a bit higher to get a better perspective. Here's the temple in a panorama shot:
Eventually we made it back down, found Gilgamesh, and then sat for an hour in the shade drinking liter after liter of water. It all turned out OK in the end, thankfully.