We just completed our first week of excavations in the Barqa region of southern Jordan. My team of seven volunteers is working on an Iron Age structure that dates to the late 10th century/9th century BCE. Thus far the best find has been a shard of imported and painted Midianite pottery. It's a one period occupation site so the excavation has been pretty easy, except the floor is hard to find and in one area we blew through it and hit bedrock, which is only about 25 cm below the surface. Other teams are working on a Roman period farmhouse, and digging 1x1 m pits testing for metallurgical pollution over time. It's not an easy excavation. We live in tents, and several times the tents have been blown away due to the high winds. One day the visibility was very limited due to a sandstorm. But we're starting to get into a routine and things are going well. We wake up at 5 AM, eat breakfast, drive to the sites just before 6, and then work until 12:15. We eat lunch at 1:15, and then wash pottery and work on digital recording until dinner about 7 PM. Typically we are all asleep by 9:30. We work six days with two days off. This weekend we were in Aqaba where we went snorkeling in the Red Sea. Next Sunday on the 4th of July we're heading to Petra. Gilgamesh has been doing very well. There are some 19-20 year-old Canadians here that have been very good about taking Gilgamesh under their wings.
Here are two panoramic pictures. The first is of our camp, the second of our excavation site:
Our five days in Israel are winding down, as we head to Jordan tomorrow morning. One interesting thing that I've noticed is that because of social networking, Gilgamesh has been freaked out more than a few times by strangers who know quite a bit about him. For example, while Gilgamesh was running at Kibbutz Galon, a large man he'd never seen before named Mike Hammerschlag shouted in a South African accent "Hey Little Homan!" Mike explained to Gil that he reads Gil's blog. Also, at the top of Tel Megiddo, the archaeologist Eric Cline told Gilgamesh that he knew about Gil's soccer accomplishments and that last season in one game he scored three goals. And at the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, where Gilgamesh spent the first year of his life, all sorts of people who are strangers to Gil talk to him like they've known him for years, which they have. It's like a giant Greek wedding for Gil, where all sorts of relatives who you have no idea who they are show up and act as if you've been best friends. Though Gil is usually speechless in these situations, he's been doing very well thus far in our travels. I haven't even lost him once.
Eula White, Shavonda Wilson, Professor Eric Cline, and Gilgamesh Homan at Megiddo
Today I had the great privilege of taking Gilgamesh to one of my favorite places on earth. We went to al Haram al-Sharif, which translates literally as "the noble sanctuary" though most English speakers call it the Temple Mount. There we talked about Jebusites, King Solomon, Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac/Ishmael, threshing floors, the Holy of Holies, Herod, Jesus, sacrifice, Mohammad and his horse, the Umayyads, the Crusades, World War I, the wars in 1948 and 1967, the Ottomans, King Abdullah of Jordan's assassination, and Ariel Sharon and the Al Aqsa Intida, which began right before Gilgamesh was born.
I believe that if one can understand the history of Jerusalem, one can understand the history of Western civilization.
This summer Gilgamesh and I will be traveling to southern Jordan where we'll be excavating a large Iron Age structure in the Barqa/Feinan region of southern Jordan. This will be Gilgamesh's first excavation, and his first trip back to the Middle East since he was born in Jerusalem in 2000. Before the excavation we'll be visiting some friends in Israel and Palestine, and after the dig, we'll be spending a week in Egypt. We're also traveling with a Xavier student, Shavonda, and her mother, Eula. At the dig we'll be excavating with some very good friends and colleagues. The conditions will be harsh, as we'll be living in Eureka tents, and southern Jordan in the summer is very hot. One of my favorite parts of an archaeological excavation is interacting with people in very harsh conditions. People can pretend to be someone else for a few days, but under these conditions all of their cards are soon on the table. During the project I'll regret being there at times I'm sure, but at this point I'm looking forward to it. I hope we unearth some significant finds. Thanks to my friends Russ Adams and Jim Anderson who put this project together.
It seems we only work on fixing disasters when the press is taking pictures.
On September 2, 2005, Senator Mary Landrieu accompanied President George Bush on a helicopter tour of the breach in the 17th Street Canal. Hundreds of people were feverishly working to stop the flooding. The next day, Landrieu was shocked to see that there was nobody there working. It had been a staged photo-op. Today I read that BP bused in 400 extra workers for Obama's visit last week. Jefferson Parish Council Chairperson John Young said "It appears to have been a PR stunt by BP, not to say we don't appreciate the extra participation. We certainly need them, but we don't need them for just one day that happens to coincide with a visit from the president."
Today is the first day of Hurricane Season. It is also my wedding anniversary. Therese and I got married on June 1, 1991 in Omaha Nebraska. It's been 6 years of marital bliss and 13 additional years. To mark the event, I spent the day today converting some old VHS into a short digital movie. So feel free to time travel and witness our wedding and reception. Be warned, there is a tornado warning and an Elvis impersonator not wearing underwear. Therese and I met the Elvis impersonator at an Elvis karaoke contest. Elvis won, I got second place, and Therese's version of Hound Dog came in third. I should add that there were only 3 people in the contest. I should also point out that nobody was entirely certain Therese was singing Hound Dog.