Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dean and Dina do archaeology

It's National Archaeology Day today in many parts of the world.
Click on the map to find activities to attend  in your area.

Israel is not participating but that's OK--every day is an archaeology day in The Holy Land! 
I'll show you what grandson Dean and I did when he came to visit in July.

We rose with the sun, took two buses to Mount Scopus, and walked way over to these stairs.
At the bottom, in Tsurim Valley, you see our destination, the long black tent.
On the horizon to the left is the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.

Please click on the photos you want to see in closer detail. 

I had booked (and paid for) Dean and me to work four hours at the sifting project, officially called the Temple Mount Antiquities Salvage Operation.

Just one Swedish family showed up; but on some days a big group or dozens of volunteers will come to work. 

First a nice staff archaeologist welcomed us and talked about the history of Jerusalem and about the sad need for such a sifting project.

In what at first looked like the Western Wall, "stone" by "stone" was rotated to reveal posters full of information for our guide's lecture. 

Each one chooses what he hopes to be the lucky bucket and pours the wet material onto the screen.

 Dean loved hosing it down with a pressure sprayer.
Wet sifting (see video!)  is much more revealing than the old method of shaking the dry material back and forth in the sifter.

I was proud of how my 8-year-old patiently and conscientiously examined each piece, looking for interesting finds.
Into the white plastic cups at the edge we sorted any pieces of pottery, plaster, glass, bone, metal, mosaic stones, and worked stones.

We didn't find any coins, seals, or jewelry, but the warm personal encouragement and teaching from Yuval was a treasure in itself.

 Everyone would combine their finds into sorting buckets.

 Then at the end of each 2-hour stint we all gathered at the exhibition tables and compared our finds of the day to pieces that had been found during the past ten years.

Orderly arrangement from First and Second Temple periods to Roman, Early Islamic, Mamluk and Ayyubid, Crusader, and Ottoman periods, all the way to Israel statehood days. 

Despite the heat, Dean wanted to continue till early afternoon.
We each took home a nice certificate to remind us of Dean's first initiation into archaeology.
I'm hoping he will want to work in the field when he is a bit older, just like his grandmother.

Happy National Archaeology Day from Jerusalem! 
 The Smithsonian has an article, albeit somewhat misleading and with some mistakes, about how the Muslim Waqf used bulldozers to dig into the Temple Mount and build a new mosque,  illegally.  Tons of  excavated earth was just dumped in the Kidron Valley.   This is why our salvage sifting of it  is necessary.


  1. Very interesting post, this had been something for my SpiderDan.
    Glad to here that your grandchildren enjoyed this:-)

  2. Dd you actually pay to work there? I hope it was worth of it!

  3. I love archaeology! It helps connect us to the past.

    An Arkies Musings

  4. Spiderdama, next trip SpiderDan can try his luck at sifting.

    Richie shalom. Right you are!

    VP, it cost 16 shekels for a child and 16 for senior citizen for each two-hour period, so I shelled out 64 shekels for the morning (~ 13 Euros). Adults pay 20.
    That's how it is in Israel. People come from abroad and are willing to pay for the excitement of digging or even just sifting.
    It was worth it to give Dean a hunger for archaeology.

  5. This is great! I bet Dean loved it. I would! :-)

  6. I read a novel a while ago that mentioned the bulldozong and the Waqf. It must be so intersting to live where there's so much history to be discovered.

  7. Wonderful where alike is possible, and happening.

    According to the map, neither does Greece take part.

    Please have a good Sunday.

  8. LUCKY Dean to spend time with his cool Grandma in the Hills of Jerusalem!
    Fun to catch up with you and your blog again, Dina!
    Kind regards from EAGAN daily photo

  9. You win best post of the day in my book, Dina. That's just wonderful.

  10. What a good thing to do! I checked the map, but I would have to go to Paris... Love the I dig Jerusalem T shirt!

  11. "I'm digging it." Great first image. He looks like he's ready.

  12. That must have been a very enjoyable day. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  13. This is such a happy thing for Dean to share with his grandmother. I love all your photos. Dina.

  14. I did this too the year I was in Jerusalem. It's so excited to find something an bring it to the archeologist for examination.


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