Jen Thum writes:
One Week to Go!
Shalom from Haifa, my tentative home until next week when I return to Tel Megiddo, absolutely the most amazing site ever (as I’m sure you’ll find once you arrive next week if you’re a first-timer)! If you ignore the bugs and the black snot, it really is paradise.
I have to say that I’ve really, seriously, honestly been waiting (anxiously) to return to Megiddo since the end of the 2006 season. I remember daydreaming about what it would be like two years from then—what I would be like, what my relationship would be like with my new friends and my new boyfriend (yes, you can find love at Armageddon), how far I would come in my study of archaeology and how I would feel about another trip to Israel (a close second to Megiddo for the most amazing place ever).
The year after my first season at Megiddo was unquestionably colored by my experience there: I spent an infinite amount of time in Washington, D.C., where most of my friends from the dig went to school (I have to be honest and tell you most of that time was spent partying—we had a series of “Megiddo Reunions” at GW during the fall semester of 2006, most of which were a mess of debates about the finer points of archaeology and the best recipe for Jell-O shots); I consulted my professors on how to guide my studies toward Levantine archaeology, focusing myself more narrowly and preparing to choose a dig like Megiddo for the coming summer; I hung the postcards I bought at the Megiddo gift shop on my dorm room door, along with an explanation of all of the elements of the site as seen in the pictures. People would ask me how I got into archaeology, and my answer was always a simple, one-word reply: Megiddo.
The past year has been less reminiscent for everyone who dug on the Tel in 2006: it was instead time for us to get excited, get planning and get everyone together for a second trip to the Jezreel Valley. Immediately after Robyn LeBlanc (arguably my best friend from Megiddo 2006, also a blogger) and I came home from our respective fieldwork experiences last summer, we started to talk about going back to Megiddo. Over the following semester there were lots of emails, get-togethers, nagging and talk of supervising squares. By the time Adam Prins and I left for our study abroad program in Egypt for the spring semester, everything seemed to fall into place. A few months ago we visited the Tel for the first time since 2006—it’s a little overgrown, but it looks just lovely.
Adam and I haven’t been in the States since New Year’s Day, but one week from today we’ll feel right at home when we reunite with some of our best friends. I’m anticipating a celebratory sing-along at the playground with Matt Schaeffer (it’s a tradition) upon our arrival. After that, there are lots of new people to meet, old friends to catch up with and new traditions to start.
For many of the returnees, the new challenge of supervising a square is something to look forward to (and perhaps be scared about, but hopefully our square-mates will help ease that fear). For the newbies on the Tel, this will undoubtedly be the best archaeological experience of your lives: I advise you to learn from everyone around you, make connections with volunteers and professionals (they also make great friends), never pass up a day at the pool, never leave your peanut butter where the ants can find it, and keep your trowel with you at all times (it’s great for flipping hamburgers).
I wish everyone a safe trip to Israel—I’m excited to see/meet every one of you!
Things to look forward to at Megiddo:
– Sing-alongs at the playground AND in the square (well, if you’re in my square or Robyn’s square… I can’t speak for anyone else)
– Throwing millipedes and other creepy-crawlies at your square-mates
– Battling the scorpions in your sandbags
– Grilling burgers with your trowel
– The Dress-and-Drink party
– Getting super-excited about your first find, most likely a pot sherd, and then realizing that there are thousands of them under your feet
– Shopping trips to the kibbutz store: Elite chocolate with Pop Rocks!
– Lectures—they’re fun for lots of reasons, but I’ll let you figure out why for yourselves (hint: see next bullet on list)
– Goldstar beer
– The daily battle for tuna sandwiches at breakfast
– Wheelbarrow rides
– Your new roommates
– The walk up the Tel at sunrise
– The famed Jerusalem trip
– Learning to speak 4 languages in the square (“Yalla!”)