'o da Trade
of your soon to be BEST FRIENDS! The "tureah"
(however it is spelled!) & the wheelbarrow.
Recently in a discussion with my good friend and fellow archaeologist
Klaas Vasteenhuyse over coffee, he related a story to me that
really puts things in perspective when dealing with an archaeologist
and his/her tools. While sipping coffee, I excitedly showed
him the new excavation trowels I received as a birthday present.
Of course, the receipt of "trowels" as a birthday
gift would probably be seen as an insult to anyone other than
an avid gardener or an archaeologist.
Anyhow, my friend upon close inspection of the sharp edge
on my trowel, remarked at how he brings his trowels to his
grandfather for sharpening. This comment at first seems passing,
but upon further elaboration he mentioned how his grandfather,
who worked with his hands for his entire life, took much joy
in sharpening my friend's trowels. The trowel represented
a tangible tool, one that his grandfather knew and could relate
So, where am I going with this, you dare ask? Well, this little
story best describes archaeology. The act of excavation utilizes
the most basic of tools: trowels, wheelbarrells, picks, buckets,
and much hard labor. But these tools represent only a portion
of what constitutes archaeology. Archaeology is an intellectual
activity, where the brain becomes the most important tool
at our disposal. Thus archaeology represents a truly balanced
discipline, consisting of a hearty group of rustic individuals
who enjoy being outside and in the dirt, but who also enjoy
the stimulation brought by intellectual discourse.
Since "Tureah" hasn't yet arrived, we're going to
delve deep into the memoirs of "Kim". Though such
a statement might strike dread into the hearts of some, they'll
just have to deal with it! As I mentioned in my welcome,
archaeology brings together a wide diversity of people, many
of whom find themselves immersed in close quarters with other
strangers. But the wonder of it all is that each of these
"strangers" shares the inner desire to experience
new and exciting things, thus providing a common ground.
My participation in archaeology has broadened this desire
of mine to cross cultural boundaries. On my first trip to
Israel two years ago, I wasn't quite sure of what to expect.
But my worries were soon quelched by the comraderie and closeness
that strenuous work, long hours and one's own feeling of "foreign-ness"
brings. The true beauty of archaeology is that it links people
of all nationalities, all religious backgrounds together in
their shared interest in discovering and understanding humanity's
But as you board the plane, heading east towards the land
where history lives, remember that upon your arrival it will
be you who is the "foreigner". Be humbled by this
fact, for it will make your experience all the more richer.
Approach this trip not with the perspective of 'I'm an American
(or "Westerner", since not just Americans can read
this!) in a foreign country', but rather just think of yourself
as a foreign guest who's visiting a gracious host. Be inconspicuous;
recognize the differences between your own culture and that
of your host, relish in the diversity. There is a world out
there, full of new, exciting and wonderful experiences and
I assure you that your trip to Israel will only be the beginning!!
[ COMING SOON!!]