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Digging at Megiddo 2012 – an Experience of a Lifetime

Posted by on Aug 5, 2012

Digging at Megiddo 2012 – an Experience of a Lifetime


It has always been a dream of mine to have the pleasure and the ability to get involved in an excavation in Israel or the Middle East in general.

Insufficient funds, summer classes, and various odd jobs have always been a barrier in my ability to even think about excavating at Tel Megiddo. However, on July 8th, 2012, as part of the International MA Program in Archaeology and History of the Land of the Bible, those barriers fully collapsed and my ambition for the field has only begun. 


Areas S at Tel Megiddo

Working in Area S

I was assigned to Area S at Megiddo. Boy, was I in for a ride. For some reason other archaeologists frowned when they heard the sound of “Area S” coming out of my mouth. I was told from the first day that if the Megiddo Expedition happened to be part of the Harry Potter universe, “Area S would be none other then Slythern”.

Our Area supervisor, Mathew Adams, explained that Area S is a past excavation that University of Chicago discontinued and has been the result of a tense physical working environment (in the first session) due to its complicated stratigraphy.

Turning into Archaeologists through Field Work

Due to my two and a half year experience in Cultural Resource Management back in the U.S., I was allowed to become a square supervisor and a few responsibilities were assigned. Furthermore, what I saw from the 7 week students elevated my respect for archaeology even further. Students who have never been involved in a single excavation in the past were digging specialists after the first session. Students who were up to five years younger then I were pushing tons of dirt a day as well as providing sufficient paper work at the same time. Youngsters who barely saw a single month out of college were using total stations and fully managing the site. The efficiency that I saw coming out of Area S was nothing like what I have ever seen in the U.S.

The International MA students in Archaeology and History of the Land of the Bible with Prof Finkelstein at Tel Megiddo

Using tense vigorous work, Matt Adams turned children into archaeologists. It’s one thing to speak of archaeology in a classroom and a completely different notion in the field. As the weeks went by, tons of dirt removed, and exposed walls beginning to show up, I realized my ambition for the field of archaeology was right for me (something that I have had doubts about before).

Where is My Wall?

Every day Dr. Finkelstein would walk by the areas and watch us work and sweat as he was sitting in his king’s chair (it was actually a lawn chair). As a joke he kept on asking, “Gennadiy, where is my wall? Why is my wall not in your square? I want my wall.” One time as a joke I responded with, “Abdi-heba didn’t have any walls!”

Discipline and Reward

Gennadiy and the International MA students at Tel Megiddo

The discipline I received from the expedition was even more rewarding. Waking up everyday at 4:30 am, working from 5 until 13:00, and eating at regular times every day was a systematic training method for me that might not sound appreciating but in fact it was. 

The last day was extremely sad. What we’ve been through these past four weeks (some for 7 weeks) was an experience of a lifetime that I will cherish through out my career. Megiddo was my first and only excavation so far in Israel. However, my teachings from Megiddo have convinced me to get involved with other excavations in the country and to further my career in archaeology.