Monday, July 17, 2006

Amateur Archaeologists Get the Dirt on the Past
We were at Tel Maresha, in the 1,250-acre Beit Guvrin National Park, which lies in the Judean plain an hour southwest of Jerusalem. Everyone in the group had signed on to become an archaeological excavator in the three-hour Dig for a Day program, run by Archeological Seminars (972-2-586-2011;; $25; $20 for ages 5 to 14), a company started 25 years ago by Bernie and Fran Alpert, archaeologists and Chicago natives.

. . .

There are three phases of an Archeological Seminars dig. Typically, a guide will first take a group of as many as 20 people down into a cave, where they will participate in an excavation. With shovel in hand, they spend the next 45 minutes digging through the dirt (remember to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty), searching for pottery shards, bones, glass and the occasional piece of metal, often coins.

That just seems kind of weird. Digging for 45 minutes? How do you maintain any continuity? Maybe in that particular context, it might work.

OTOH, in the latest SAA Archaeological Record (March 2006) there is an article by Lawrence Moore arguing specifically for this sort of archaeological tourism (among other things; that issue is not yet available to non-subs), so this may be the shape of things to come.

BTW, the January issue is now non-sub accessible, so go forth and read it.