Biblical Archaeology Review 15:1, January/February 1989
Excavation Opportunities 1989

First Hand: A Poet at Ashkelon

By Lois Sargent

Digging at Ashkelon

It is not the dead that die,

It is their whispers

Stifled by the sands.

We seek the sherds,

Companions of their lives,

But hear no voice, no sound,

Except the wind,

Whirling through the trees,

Except the sea,

Surging toward the shore.

They have no voice

But leave their mark.

We read the messages

In stone, in clay,

In alabaster, marble, glass.

Each coin, each scrap of metal,

Piece of clay,

Becomes a syllable of language

For us to fashion words,

Retell and recreate,

Describing how they lived

And what they wore, ate, used—

We long to hear them speak

To know that life

Is more than fragments in the dust.

We came to volunteer our services, to excavate the buried Philistine city of Ashkelon. Each of us harbored the hope that we would “find something.” We were, indeed, searchers.

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