A Grand Day Out: Field Trips from the Field

Blog post by Nathan Downey

At the conclusion of the work week, the GPP squad is allotted a glorious 36 hours to rest our weary trowels. But even when we are not busy slinging soil and sweeping silt, the appreciation of archaeology, ancient history, and all things old remains firmly rooted in our minds. We are extremely fortunate to have our weeks punctuated by short excursions to the Galilee’s finest archaeological offerings.
DSC_0455Scaling the Mt. Arbel cliffside

After the first week of tireless excavating we set off southward towards the Sea of Galilee to  hike the cliffs of Mt. Arbel. We were saddened to find that much of the Iron Age fortress embedded in the cliffside was closed for conservation. Nevertheless, the crew thoroughly enjoyed exploring the many caves dotting the rock face and spotting local wildlife such as Procavia capensis, the Rock Hyrax. We returned to our van after a steep climb and set out to the eastern end of the Sea of Galilee to visit the Roman period site of Hippos (Susita).

Hippos_SusitaLooking out over the Sea of Galilee from Susita

Week two’s day off consisted of an excursion to the site of Rujm el Hiri. The site, possibly Chalcolithic or Early Bronze Age in date, is known for its megalithic concentric stone circle arrangement as well its purported reputation as a new age energy vortex. Guided by nothing but a faint memory of past visits and the swirling lifeforce of the universe our fearless team leader led us to the peripheral settlements of the sites and then on to the central megalithic structure, and eventually into the inner sanctum.

ChalcoHouses_Rujm_elHiriLearning about the arrangement of ancient Chalcolithic houses near Rujm el-Hiri

 

Rosemary_emerging_R alHiriRosemary gets caught in the vortex of Rujm el-Hiri

We made a b-line for the beach for our third day off, enjoying a short day trip to the coastal city of Akko. First, we were treated to an exquisite multimedia presentation on the significance of the Turkish bathhouse in Akko, highlighting the rich history and practices at the once-bustling social hub. At the Treasures in the Wall museum we examined the day-to-day life in Akko through the material culture left by prior generations of inhabitants. Later, the gang went a little deeper into the winding subterranean tunnels beneath the streets of Old Akko. Once we returned to the surface, we stopped at Hummus Said, a reported contender for the coveted “best hummus in Israel,” moniker, to sample the spread and assess the hype.

Akko_BathhouseThe Turkish bathhouse presentation may or may not have been narrated by a young Steven Seagal

 

Akko_tunnelsIn the tunnels beneath Old Akko

Our 4th week of hard work was rewarded with a trip travelled to Montfort castle, a hilltop outpost built by the Crusaders. After exploring the ruins, we made a quick stop in Ma’alot-Tarshiha, for the first falafel sandwiches of the field season.

crew_MontfortBefore the hike across the valley to the castle

For our final day off in the field, our friend from the kibbutz and regional cycling guru, Eli, took us to view some dolmens he happened to come across on his many bike rides around the North. Many of these ancient stone tombs sit a mere stone’s throw from the roadside, countless motorists whizzing by scarcely giving these ancient tombs a second glance or thought.

Crew_DolmenThe gang assesses the mighty roof slab of a dolmen

 

crew_near_dolmenOn the next ancient rock tomb

 

Crew_overlooking GadotListening to Eli’s tales of Kibbutz Gadot

I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to visit these amazing sites. I would like to thank the directors for organizing these trips. I would also like to thank our friends at the kibbutz especially Eli for his perspective and direction. I will remember these day trips and adventures fondly long after I have left the Galilee. And should I have the good fortune find myself in any more old city tunnels, mountain fortresses, turkish bathhouses, or hummus shops, I will be reminded of the joy that I felt peeling back the layers of history with the GPP 2017 excavation team.

 

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Meet the Team!

Jennifer Feng is a Geographical Studies major at the University of Chicago. She is our resident turea (a draw hoe) expert, keeping the section straight and level, even in the 100+ degree heat.

Jen

 

Nathan Downey is an Anthropology/Biological Sciences major at the University of Chicago, with an interest in palaeo-ethnobotany. Nathan is our resident lefty and enjoys felafel and sleeping outside. He respects the rocks in the section, even when he’d rather not.

Nathan

 

Blair Heidkamp is a graduate student of anthropology at the University of Cincinnati, writing a thesis on spindle whorls in the Pottery Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and Early Bronze I. This is Blair’s third season with the GPP, and her seventh project overall, and her wisdom and experience have already proven invaluable.

Blair

 

Emma Menio is beginning her graduate studies in geosciences at the University of Arkansas this fall. Her academic interest lies in remote sensing, and for this project, she is the resident surveyor/geologist. She’s also an expert with the pickaxe, taking down levels with gusto.

Emma2

 

Rosemary Hanson is a former Anthropology major who now teaches at an elementary-school in Seattle, WA. This is her second season with the GPP, and she enjoys obsessively straightening the balks and sneaking dates from the kitchen.  

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Chad Hill is field director for GPP, and a research associate at Dartmouth College who specializes in zooarchaeology and aerial survey. He is working remotely this season to spend more time with the newest member of the Hill family, Elora! The team is both extremely excited and a little jealous: digging is just not the same without Chad’s quick wit, sharp trowel, and tech savvy at the ready.

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Yorke Rowan is a co-Director of the GPP. An anthropologist and archaeologist by training, Yorke specializes in ground and chipped stone artifacts. He also specializes in strategic driving, dodging potholes, wild boars, and basalt rocks in the trusty Budget rental van.

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Morag Kersel is a co-Director of the GPP. Professor of Anthropology at DePaul University, Morag specializes in the study of the antiquities trade in the eastern Mediterranean. She is registrar, surveyor, and manager who keeps the team on their toes with questions like: “Are you drinking water?” and “Did you label that?”

morag

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Ready for 2017

It has been quiet on the GPP blog for too long. But this week we are getting ready to head out to the field and begin excavating at the new (to us) site of Tel Nes/Tell Sanjuk.

Yorke Rowan, Morag Kersel, and myself were out at the site over the last few days getting the site prepared.

We laid out a grid with our fancy new GPS equipment:

 

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GPS surveying

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Grid corners marked with stakes

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Accessing the site currently involves some difficulty

 

We also performed a drone survey, which gives us great images of the site, as well as spatially accurate maps:

 

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GoPro image of the site

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Another GoPro image of the site

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Hillshaded Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of the site

 

So now we are ready for our crew to arrive to begin the GPP’s 2017 season!

More Field Trips

The crew made a day of Mount Arbel, Tel Yaqush, and Belvoir.

Druze Fortress, Mount Arbel. (Photo: ACH)

Druze Fortress, Mount Arbel. (Photo: ACH)

(Photo: ACH)

(Photo: ACH)

Team photo at Tel Yaqush (Photo: ACH)

Team photo at Tell Yaqush (Photo: ACH)

Aerial shot of Tel Yaqush (Photo: ACH)

Aerial shot of Tell Yaqush (Photo: ACH)

GD (left) and SC (right) at the Crusader castle of Belvoir.

GD (left) and SC (right) at the Crusader castle of Belvoir.

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ACH in the moat at Belvoir.

ACH in the moat at Belvoir.

The team was also treated to a day of site tours at Tel Tsaf a chalcolithic site, and Ein Gev a Natufian site.

Site tour of Tel Tsaf.

FK  giving a tour of Tel Tsaf.

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Site tour of Ein Gev.

LG giving a site tour of Ein Gev II.

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NM talking about the fauna at Ein Gev II.

Meet the Team!

Lets take a minute to get to know our fantastic team participating in the GPP2015 survey season at Wadi el Ashert!

The directors: Dr. Yorke Rowan, Dr. Morag Kersel and Dr. Austin (Chad) Hill

Note: Wearing hats, one Beko, and drinking water.

Note: Wearing hats, one Beko, and drinking water.

Also, Chad and Yorke do a lot together.

Consulting one another in the field.

Consulting one another in the field.

Breaking first ground at Wadi el Ashert

Breaking first ground at Wadi el Ashert

Helping with the test pits.

Helping with the test pits.

Walking along cliffs at Arbel.

Walking along cliffs at Arbel.

Being dynamic at Belvoir.

Being dynamic at Belvoir.

Jordan Brown is a graduate from Whitman College Class of 2014, and has also participated on an archaeological project in Jordan. Jordan also speaks Yiddish.

at Tel Te'o

JB at Tel Te’o.

Shannon Cooper is a graduate of The University of Chicago Class of 2015, and is one of the UC interns for the summer. Shannon can read and write in Hieroglyphs.

SC in Akko.

SC in Akko.

Georgia Dixon is a rising Junior at the University of Chicago and also one of the UC interns. Georgia has a straight line of freckles on her right arm.

GD digging test pits at Wadi  el Ashert.

GD digging test pits at Wadi el Ashert.

Rosemary Hanson is a graduate of Whitman College Class of 2014.  She has also participated on an archaeological project in Jordan. Rosemary just spent a year in China teaching English.

RH checking for soil color.

RH checking for soil color.

Blair Heidkamp is a return member of the Galilee Prehistory Project.  She graduated from the College of Wooster this May, and has also participated in archaeological projects in Jordan. Blair hates spiders.

Making sure everyone has water.

Making sure everyone has water.

Riley Patterson is a graduate of Whitman College Class of 2014, and GPP is her first field season! Riley can ride a bike no-handed.

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RP catching some shade on survey.

Lexi Tatar is a rising senior at University of North Carolina Greensboro and GPP is also her first field season! Lexi is dog mom to a Buffy the St. Bernard.

LT in the Mediterranean.

LT in the Mediterranean.

Guest post by Dr. Emily Hubbard

GUEST BLOG: EH leaves us for Tel Tsaf and below are her notes on GPP2015.

This summer, my Israel dig itinerary was empty during the first two weeks of the GPP survey this year. I weighed up my options:

The choice was obvious…but I opted to join the GPP survey anyway! It was my first time doing field survey and test pitting, so I looked forward to learning new and exciting skills! With a great team and fabulous leadership we embarked on a truly memorable adventure. In a stroke of inspired unoriginality, I have decided to share with you some of the lessons I learned during my two week stint.

  1. On average, 3 archaeologists can fit in a 1/2 metre2 test pit (note: small sample size suggests further research is required).
Grow your own archaeologist: dig hole, add water and voila!!

Grow your own archaeologist: dig hole, add water and voila!!

  1. Broken shovel handles are still valuable tools
From debutant to hard-core archaeologist and raising baseball star!

From debutant to hard-core archaeologist and raising baseball star!

  1. Surveying through field is preferable to surveying through thistles and spiders (this one surprised me too!).
“Seriously, it was a human sized spider” said BH.

“Seriously, it was a human sized spider” said BH.

  1. Morning yoga is essential to injury prevention.
triangle pose aka trowelnasana (right?)

triangle pose aka trowelnasana (right?)

  1. Always use the correct tools for the job.
“Are you sure the other crew needs ALL the tools, YR?!?!”

“Are you sure the other crew needs ALL the tools, YR?!?!”

  1. Test-pitting is all about team work.
“You’re doing great YR, keep up the good work!”

“You’re doing great YR, keep up the good work!”

  1. Archaeology is not for the faint of heart.
There’s no crying in archaeology!

There’s no crying in archaeology!

  1. You probably need to drink more water!
JB and BH demonstrate that staying hydrated is serious business.

JB and BH demonstrate that staying hydrated is serious business.

  1. When one transect ends, another begins….
No flag, no transect. That is the rule…that we just made up….

No flag, no transect. That is the rule…that we just made up….

  1. Um, I honestly don’t know what the lesson here is…….
ya, I’ve still got nothin’!

ya, I’ve still got nothin’!

Thanks to everyone for a great couple of weeks! Hope to see you next year?!

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Week 2 Update

Day 5:

It’s our one day weekend and time to go see more archaeology! Our first stop is Tel Te’o (also conveniently located not 500m from an Aroma), which is a Chalcolithic site located in the Hula Valley.

Participants navigating the brush at Tel Te'o. (Pictured left to right: EH, BH, RP, SC)

Participants navigating the brush at Tel Te’o. (Pictured left to right: EH, BH, RP, SC)

Team photo courtesy of the drone (a dronie if you will).

Team photo courtesy of the drone (a dronie if you will).

Next stop was Rujm al-Hiri in the Golan, another Chalcolithic site with a ridge of ‘row houses’ located near a megalithic structure.  ACH was able to get some amazing aerial photos and video with our drone.

Excavated portions on the ridge at Rujm al-Hiri. Photo: ACH

Excavated portions on the ridge at Rujm al-Hiri.
Photo: ACH

ACH discusses the excavations at Rujm al-Hiri. Photo: BH

ACH discusses the excavations at Rujm al-Hiri.
Photo: BH

The megalithic structure at Rujm al-Hiri, photo taken by the Phantom 3 drone.

The megalithic structure at Rujm al-Hiri, photo taken by the Phantom 3 drone.

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Participants relaxing in the tomb at the center of the megalithic structure.  (Pictured left to right: SC, EH, LT, GD, JB, RP, RH)

Participants relaxing in the tomb at the center of the megalithic structure. (Pictured left to right: SC, EH, LT, GD, JB, RP, RH)

Ending our long day at the Bezelet (Basalt in Hebrew) Brewery for some lunch and brewskis.

Ending our long day at the Bezelet (Basalt in Hebrew) Brewery for some lunch and brewskis.

Day 7:

EH gave a lecture on her dissertation research from Tel Tsaf, another Chalcolithic excavation in the Jordan Valley.  She explained the methodology of micromorphology and her findings in relation to the Tel Tsaf excavations.

EH giving her lecture.

EH giving her lecture.

Day 8:

We started test pits today!

ACH and YR breaking ground at Wadi al-Shert.

ACH and YR breaking ground at Wadi al-Shert.

The goats added to the scenery this morning.

The goats added to the scenery this morning.

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