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Biblical Archaeology Review 2:1, March 1976

From the Volunteer's Viewpoint: History by the Bucketful

By Charlotte D. Lofgreen

“What brings you here?” is a frequent question of introduction when Tell Beer-Sheva volunteers introduce one another. The answers reveal students of archaeology from various universities coming for field experience, others looking for a new or different experience, Biblical students, or volunteers, like myself, interested in archaeology, this land and its history, or wanting to make a contribution to man’s knowledge of his past. There are not many such opportunities for someone who is “just interested” and “willing to work”. It is a unique experience. What is it like to participate in an archaeological expedition?

The time is 4:30 a.m., the music, coming over a loud speaker at maximum volume, is a mixture of Israeli and John Philip Sousa; the mood—what am I doing—permeates the semi-conscious as you trudge in the dark to rows of sinks to brush teeth. Nourishment is bread and milk or coffee. To the piercing shrill of a whistle, the work groups slowly place one foot in front of the other, up the hill until their area is reached. A bucket, trowel, pick, and sundry equipment is placed in your hand. An area supervisor advises you on filling buckets, hauling buckets, and emptying buckets. You remember another word for archaeological expedition is a “dig” and dig you do. This might be a volunteer’s first impression of the process of discovery into a tell.

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