Local time at Horbat Omrit, Israel

Friday, May 29, 2009

Day 14: the morning

I arise after 4 am and prepare for the day. Load my pack, try not to forget the water bottle, have a tea, maybe some oatmeal, and head down to the bus for 5am departure. A solemn, quiet crowd files on. A ten minute ride, half over roads barely there, broken by a too-noisy conversation or 2. We trudge up the last few hundred yards of road that the bus can't handle and emerge onto our ancient hilltop.

At our squares we get our direction for the day and gather our wheelbarrow, picks and hoes, brushes, trowels and buckets. We communards are ready! The dawn has started and the light would have inspired van Gogh. As the sun rises unseen behind the Golan the far valley walls are shrouded in pink and the green valley floor is magical. I stop to watch this unfold as I uncover stones to conjure with. After the end of the first hour when the sun pops up over the eastern hills we know another day is just beginning. Time to sweat!

Our square is not yet a meter deep but half-way to bedrock, we hope, based on nearby diggings. A large wall (too large?) bisects our square. What was it for? At the far end, near the bucket (picture to follow in a few minutes) is a slight opening that was a door. We can see the jamb and the holes for the door poles. The 2 sides have different soils but little identifiable pottery. We may just have to follow the wall to find more information. We did find a "ballista", a perfectly round stone a little larger than a hardball that the Romans launched as a missile. We felt a little continuity with our landmine and I hope it was there only because some young boy was playing soldier.

Gabi Mazor, an Israeli archaeologist who works here with us, is going to give us a talk tonight about growing up in Jerusalem during the 1948 war. I'll try not to be provocative.

Here's a picture I just took. How we spend our afternoons:

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