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November 11, 1979 - Image 16

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The Michigan Daily, 1979-11-11
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The Michigan Daily-Sunday, Nov

Page 4-Sunday, November 11, 1979--The Michigan Daily

Tel A nafa: Linking Israel s past andfiut

"I tried to tell her how if you could not accept
the past and its burden there was no future, for
without one there cannot be the other, and how
if you could-accept the past you might hope
for the future, for only out of the past can you
make the future."R
-Robert Penn Warren,
"All The King's Men "
HE ISRAELI excavation site Tel Anafa
rises gently out of an expanse of fruit
trees' and cotton fields in Upper Galilee.
It is this mound of earth, tranquil in its
re a ive isolation, that a team of University ar-
chaeologists has chosen as the locus for its in-
vestigation into the debris of an ancient culture. For
the past two summers the excavators have dug six
days a week, seven hours a day, a few handfuls of
earth at a time, trying to piece together a 100-by-40
yard section of history. As they recapture and
preserve this history, the archaeologists at Tel
Anafa (translated "Hill of the Heron") also provide
a link between past and future. By acknowledging
the importance of distant events, and trying to
restore them for posterity, they affirm-the con-
tinuity of human existence and express a certain
faith in its heritage.
The fighter planes that fly incessantly over the
tel-situated on the border separating Israel, Syria,
and Lebanon-are trying in a very different way to
seize those same roots. But history for the par-
ticipants in the Arab-Israeli conflict is, quite
specifically, a means of proving one's rights to the
much-disputed Mideast territories. The diggers and
armies basically ignore each other in their respec-
tive searches, and the noise of the planes blends into
the background.
"It sounds intrinsically boring," University
junior Nick Cahall says of his work. "But if you're
willing to look at it romantically, you are peeling off
not just dirt but events of history. It becomes very
absorbing." Concurs senior Helen Smith, "Roman-
tic is the only word for it-except, of course, dusty
and exhausting."
This sense of romance, along with the rigorous
Elisa Isaacson is associate editor of the Sunday

By Elisa Isaacson

work schedule, absorbs the diggers enough that the
fighting plays a small part in their daily lives. "You
hear the air raids, you get used to them, and you
find they don't mean much," says Cahill, a two-year
veteran of the Tel Anafa excavation. "It's really not
dangerous up there-in any way. It's sort of like
hearing traffic outside-and I'd be much more
terrified to dig in downtown Detroit than in the Up=_
per Galilee." Cahill admits, however, that though
the raids are "something you get used to, I don't like
getting numb about something I feel, on purely
moral grounds, should affect me."
But other students insist the Arab-Israeli conflict
"does affect the way you live in Israel"; the
precautions taken have merely been ingrained in
the peoples' existence. At the pre-season lecture,
diggers are warned not to walk alone'at night and
not to pick up "strange metal objects." It is second
nature for Israelis to show their purses upon entering
stores, and the guards patrolling shops are not
looking for shoplifters.
XCAVATION AT Tel Anafa began only
after Israel took the Golan Heights from
Syria in 197. Israel has been hosting
more and more excavation teams in the
pa ew years; because of its strategic location as a
meeting ground between East and West, the coun-
try's rich legacy dates back for thousands of
generations. Following the 1967 war, the Israeli
government promptly invited an archaeologist
from the University of Missouri to excavate Tel
Anafa while the country's hold on the Golan lasted.
The site proved an extremely wealthy one, and
digging continued through 1973. In 1978 University
Classical Archaeology Prof. Sharon Herbert, a
member of the excavation team in the early seven-
ties, organized the present program, which is fun-
ded by the University and the University of
Missouri, and by a matching grant from the
National Endowment for the Humanities.
This particular project-the excavation of a small
section at the Hellenistic period level (150-80 B.C.),
between one and two meters under-is slated for
"completion" next summer. The 1980 session will be
eight weeks long, and Herbert said she expects
about 50 student diggers. Applications are being ac-
cepted through Herbert, who said the two major
requirements are enthusiasm and an ability to work
hard. Students must pay their own way on the dig,
but there is opportunity for up to three University
credits for the work. Evening lectures and Saturday
field trips to other excavation sites supplement the

'practical knowledge gained during the work day.
The fee is "whatever it costs to keep (the studen-
ts)," according to Herbert. One student estimates
he spent $1,200 on room, board, and air fare last
summer. In addition to the University students, the
summer-digs are populated by more itinerant
amateur archaeologists from all over the world and
from all walks of life. Professors, homemakers,
journalists and the like will dig a few weeks at a
time, some out of long-standing serious interest and
others just for a lark. Most pesons in the field agree
that on-the-job experience is the best way to learn.
"Archeology is one of the few professions left that
has an apprentice system," says Herbert.
The traditional nine-to-five work day is moved
forward four hours at the tel to avoid the sweltering
afternoon sun. After a light breakfast of bread and
jam, coffee or tea, the diggers hop on a bus for the
20-minute ride to the site. The light repast is enough
to tide them over for the first few hours of
crouching, trowel in hand, to sift the earth for clues
to the nature of a culture that has been extinct for
2,000 years. At times, the work is undeniably
monotonous. Israeli natives as well as tourists
gather at the edge of the site to glimpse the un-
.covering of history, but the thrill of the hunt eludes
most of them. "That must be dull," is the cheerful
comment most ofen tossed out to the perspiring
diggers. "It's a little like being in the zoo," Herbert
says of the scrutiny.
As the morning wears on, backs become sore and
knees become stiff, but practically all the students
agree the discomfort is immaterial. "It takes a
while to get used to squatting, but it's not like you're
digging ditches on a road crew," says Cahill. Ac-
cording to Herbert, the only physical prerequisite
for a digger is a relatively healthy body. "You have
to be in good shape," she explains, "but you don't
have to be a Charles Atlas." The most strenuous ac-
tivities are hauling dirt and breaking up mud brick
with sharp instruments.
Nevertheless, the second breakfast, at about 9
a.m., is a welcome diversion from the shovels and
pottery shards. This time the.fare is more substan-
tial: Hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers,
peanut butter, and, on occasion, sweetrolls. Despite
the physical exertion, some diggers claim they lose
their appetite because of the heat and the early
Michael Rosenblum

hours. In fact, travel agents have been known to
promote "excavation vacations"-the scholar's
equivalent to "Send this boy to summer camp"-as
weight loss programs. Because the progress is slow
(only two or three inches of soil are removed in a
single day) games like Botticelli have become
popular to wile away the hours..
A cool breeze usually blows in from the Jordan
River around 11 a.m., and the diggers take a 15-
minute "water break" during which they splash
the sand and sweat off their bodies. The work day
for most ends at noon, just when urban business
executives in the nearby city of Kiryat Schmona are
leaving their offices for lunch. The diggers then
relax for an hour, washing the day's pottery before
they return by bus to the hostel, their summer
sleeping quarters. Afternoons are free, as are
Saturdays, and usually occupied with sunning,
swimming, sleeping, or shopping and sightseeing in
Kiryat Schmona. Toothpaste, shampoo, candy bars,,
and other necessities of life can be purchased in
town, along with 50-cent beer and iced coffee-a
blend of coffee beans, ice cream and liquor.
HE DIGGING process itself is one of
history in reverse: The earliest civiliza-
tions have been submerged under layers
of later ones. The archeologists must be
pa ientenough to wade through the layers that may
not correspond to their period of specialization,
because none of these once-in-forever artifacfs can
be tossed off lightly. "If there's a major period sit-
ting on top of the city you want, look for a site that is
already exposed," advises Herbert. The Univer-

sity's team is concentra
at Tel Anafa, because
from that era are the m
The Israelis, however,v
much a part of their ma
terested in the earlier 1
500 B.C. They would lik
tlements of the Old TeE
assert their right to the la
The main attraction f
appears to be the remai
The tel is located at the
trade routes-from Dam
Sea, and up and down the
have unearthed artifact
as export vessels, such
bottles. The dates on th
pinpoint the time in whi
"As a Hellenistic site, T
important in the Medil
While most cities from
during the Roman Empi
site experienced only mi
This preservation of Hel
layers of often oppress
unusual, and that makes
The diggers have been
two sessions on the ruins
all the trappings of
structure's former sple
remaining nsaic floors
purpose of thL three-yes
stand," through this sin
workings of an ancient
Setting a time limit for
restricting, but Herbert
reasonable length of tin
importance of the site.

Sharon Herbert

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