You’ve been digging in the hot sun since dawn. Your muscles ache. Suddenly, your trowel strikes something hard. You call your area supervisor to watch as you gently brush away more dirt until an entire jar handle appears. The supervisor records your find in the expedition log. Then you pick up the handle and look at the inscription that was stamped on it more than 2,000 years ago. Fatigue and heat are forgotten.
Volunteers at digs this summer from Jalul in Jordan to Akko on the Mediterranean coast will dream of scenes like this. For some volunteers, who in past seasons have joined scores of other volunteers from different countries, such dreams became reality. Last year, diggers at Michmoret unearthed a collection of Attic Black Figure ware. In Jerusalem, excavators exposed a huge section of a 50-foot-high monumental structure and discovered six clay seals bearing names of people who lived in Jerusalem before the destruction of the First Temple in 586 B.C. At the underwater dig at Caesarea, scuba divers raised a stone anchor believed to date from 1200 B.C.
If you’re thinking of joining an excavation team, be sure to consider the many differences among the available opportunities in order to find the one that is right for you. You may live in a kibbutz guest house or a tent village, attend lectures for academic credit or simply for pleasure, dig in a city, or in a rural valley, or even under water. Costs vary, as does the length of time you’ll be expected to stay. But wherever you dig, you’ll find an international atmosphere and people who share your interest in the wonders of the past.