Outside the Classroom: Revisiting the Archaeological Tours of the Fall Semester

Posted by on Apr 8, 2013

Outside the Classroom: Revisiting the Archaeological Tours of the Fall Semester

Whoever told you graduate school entailed sitting in the library and reading until your eyes crossed was… well, only partly right.

If your interests happen to lie in the realm of archaeology of the ancient Near East, one of the greatest advantages to studying in Israel is the proximity of your spot in the library to the archaeological sites you’ve been reading up on. During our fall semester, my fellow peers and I visited more than 10 sites excavated by the university over the past few decades.Often, the men and women who directed these excavations headed the tours, adding another dimension to these already incredible visits.

The Megiddo Tour

First, we headed to Megiddo to see what Professor Israel Finkelstein and his team were up to as they rapped up their 2012 season.

Steve Weiner of the Weizmann Institute was there to enlighten us on the benefits of using Microarchaeology in the field by showing us his current project at Megiddo. We all walked away knowing we needed to find more friends who are scientists.

Steve Weiner dives into the science of a destruction layer:



















Megiddo’s gate complex:



















The Aphek, Izbet Sarta, and Beth Shemesh Tour

Professor Shlomo Bunimovitz led us to Aphek, Izbet Sarta, and Beth Shemesh to discuss topics such as the Egyptian occupation in the Land of Israel and Canaan, the Middle Bronze collapse, and new construction of the Early Iron Age.

The famous ‘Egyptian Governor’s Residence’ at Aphek:



















Prof. Bunimovitz explains connections between the Biblical literature and archaeology at Izbet Sarta (photo by C. Smitheram):



















Students pose as pillars at Prof. Bunimovitz’s site, Beth Shemesh:



















The Lachish and Azekah Tour

For our Iron Age lectures, Ido Koch brought us to the excavations at Lachish and TAU’s current project, Azekah.

Students learn about the geography of the Hebrew Bible as they gaze upon the Ellah Valley:



















Ido explains to students Mark Cavanaugh and Abra Spiciarich that a massive gate complex once stood in that spot at Lachish:



















The Beit Guvrin and Maresha Tour

Archaeology of Israel in the Persian and Hellenistic periods took us to the unusual site of Beit Guvrin-Maresha. Professor Oren Tel steered us through this almost entirely underground site. We entered Maresha by way of a staircase much like the one pictured below and did not surface until almost an hour or two later. Underground water cisterns, industrial installations, tombs, and more awaited us inside these limestone caves.

Blake Hewie takes a phone call inside the labyrinth of Maresha’s underground caves:



















Students photograph the Columbaria of Maresha:



















A Loculi Tomb with restored drawings (photo by P. Tobin):



















The Caesarea Tour

Our final field trip of the fall semester drifted us up the coast to the large port city of Caesarea. Itamar Taxel, one of the course’s lecturers, guided us through the many millennia Caesarea stood as an important junction of ancient Mediterranean international trade.

Marble columns and mosaics from the Roman period sit in the forefront against Crusader-era Caesarea:



















A compilation of shot from Caesarea. Clockwise from top left: pottery sherds left behind; a restored bathhouse mosaic; the harbor of ancient Caesarea; a beheaded and be-footed Roman statue. (Photos by A. Spiciarich and M. Shamah):

























What may have been Herod the Great’s swimming pool!



















The impressive aqueducts of Caesarea. We had a lot of sand in our shoes after this one:



















Students with lecturer, Itamar Taxel, look out on a beautiful day at Caesarea: