Tel Dor… Tel Awesome!!!

Finally I arrived at Tel Dor last night after a long, arduous, happy, yet stressful journey that began last Thursday.  It all began with the usual packing, shopping and laundry on Thursday my Dad and I had to race up to LAX to make our connection, which we missed, but luckily we were able to get on the next flight out to Madison, Wisconsin where we needed to be at my cousin’s wedding by 7 o’clock. Well, we made it with seconds to spare. After a wonderful weekend with family, and a happy Fourth of July wedding, my family drove to Chicago, where my flight went out at 4 on Monday.  After a short layover in Philadelphia, I was on my way over the Atlantic and the Mediterranean and arrived yesterday in Tel Aviv.

At 11:30 last night my family friend dropped me off at Kfar Galim (Waves Village) where all of the Tel Dor volunteers are staying, but no one was awake since wake up time is at 4 am daily – luckily I had called earlier and talked to the director and was able to sleep on her couch for the night. Waking up was very hectic as a staff member had to show me to my room at 4:15 and I had to be dressed and on the bus at 4:30 – luckily I packed my excavation backpack before I went to bed.  Despite being a little disoriented, I found my way to much needed coffee and then to the bus. The site is a twenty minute drive from the village, so if you miss that you have to find your own way there.

After unloading the bus there’s a ten minute walk to the site through a stunning beach and up the Tel’s hill. The first thing that we do every morning is unload the storage container to get our much needed tools. Since today was the first day on the site (there was supposed to be a site tour yesterday, but apparently there was fire on the Tel) everyone was given a hoe and a small pick axe and we had to remove a thick layer of vegetation that was covering the entire sight.  After hours of weeding in the already excavated Area of D1, first snack break, and breakfast, we were finally split up into different areas – mine being D2 – and then we had to remove the plants in our Area.  Finally after we finished there we were able to start removing dirt from plastic that was covering the top layer of our area.  We are nearly finished with that task, so I expect to start actual excavation tomorrow.

Today was a tiring first day mostly out in the hot Israeli sun, and lack of sleep and jet lag didn’t help.  However, the people here seem really passionate, friendly, and excited, most of them being other students from different universities around the United States. The next two and a half weeks here should be a great time working on the beach,  and then I’m off to Tel Bet Yerah near Tiberias for two weeks and back to Ramat Rahel near Jerusalem for one week (last summer I spent four amazing weeks there).  I’ll keep the blatherering coming as I progress through my trip, but now it’s about 10 pm here and I have to wake up in six hours, so I’m going to bed.

L’hitraot and b’hatzlaha (goodbye and good luck),

Aaron Muller

ps. Since I had trouble posting this last night I’ll write quickly about what happened today.  I woke up today with a minor cold and feeling pretty bad, but summoned the strength to get out of bed and get to the Tel.  After getting our tools we immediately started to remove dirt from the plastic covering the squares and then emptying the torn, plant infested sandbags that were on top of the baulks created by a previous excavation.

After a few hours of that and a couple breaks our supervisor showed us how to remove the top sections of the baulks and taught us how to interpret the different patterns in the stratigraphy, so as to remove the correct later material.  We worked on that for a little bit and then went to breakfast, where I went to the little mini market to buy some ice cream and orange juice.  That along with breakfast was just the boost I needed to get right back to work removing the baulk.  The section I was removing was some sort of dump with basic Iron Age pottery, bones and shells, but one piece especially caught my attention.  This was a bichrome shard with lines and circles painted on both sides – according to my supervisor this was Phonecian, but possibly Mycenean pottery.  This makes sense since Dor is a port city on the Mediterranean.  Although we still haven’t dug down I think that tomorrow we will start.  The area that I’m working in is some sort of large complex structure, possibly a palace from the Iron I period.

–Aaron Muller


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