Excavating the Negev with a Prehistoric Archaeology Grad Student

Curious about the Prehistoric Archaeology MA program? Check out this student reflection to get a better look at the life of an archaeology grad student at the University of Haifa!

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upload_27_10_2015_at_09_45_26After our week of surveying at Dor, we were off to the Negev desert for a few days. We stayed in a Bedouin style tent, including full kitchen and wood stove. (If you haven’t eaten shashukah in the middle in the desert, have you really lived?)

Our first night we were thrown right into “picking” through samples. Basically after the collected dirt is washed and sifted we go through the remains and separate botanical findings and animal bones. Some of us were even lucky enough to find shards of glass and some traces of copper.

But it wasn’t all work! We got a chance to explore the beautiful desert around where we were staying, just in time for an amazing sunset. And if that wasn’t good enough, while we were wandering around we even found a stone tool!

But the next day we were up bright, early, and ready for whatever was coming our way… which ended up being a sand/mud storm.

We were at the site of Halutza excavation site, which foupload_27_10_2015_at_09_45_04cuses on a bio-archaeological study looking at causes of the rise and fall of the Byzantines in the Negev. But this site’s REAL claim to fame has been the first discovery of grape sees from the Byzantine Era. These grapes were used to produce “the Wine of the Negev”- one of the most popular wines of its time.

(For more information about “the Wine of the Negev” click here)

During the day we were digging in a Byzantine refuse pile trying to collect more samples for picking and ceramics to help
with dating, tracing imports, and looing for more traces for food.

Onupload_27_10_2015_at_09_45_13 the last day we were in the desert we were suppose to dig a half day and then be on our merry way back to Haifa. But that plan was quickly abandoned due to a SANDSTORM! So we quickly had to go back on site and cover where we had been digging before it was buried under copious amounts of sand. However, the real problem starting when it began raining during the sandstorm (if you can do the metaphorical math, that means we were trying to get from the site to the train station in a mudstorm). What a way to end a desert dig!

I’d like to say a special thank you to Dr. Guy Bar-Oz and Dr. Lior Weisbrod, the directors of the study, for allowing us to join for a few days. Also, thanks to Kyle Murray and Inbar Scharf for the photos used in this post.

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For more information about the Prehistoric Archaeology MA program, click here or email infograd@univ.haifa.ac.il.

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