Randy's Archaeological
Excavation Page
email: Randy@Antiquity70CE.com


Welcome, everyone!

As many of you know, I spent four weeks this past June participating in a field excavation at Caesarea Martima in Israel. The trip complimented my studies in Second Temple Period Archaeology and was meant to help me decide in which direction I want to focus my last few semesters, that is, whether I want to pursue a career in field work or in more refined areas, such as academics or museum curating. The whole event was a learning experience not only academically, but also socially and culturally. Israel is an amazing place and I have an affinity for the Middle East; I feel very much at home there. I am particularly drawn to Judaism and its vast history, as well as how it relates to and affected the birth of Christianity in the first few centuries of the Common Era. (I think I'm really a Jewish boy stuck in a Christian body!!) Ancient Caesarea sits about forty miles north of Tel Aviv right on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It was built by Herod the Great at the beginning of the decade just before the Common Era and was destroyed by the Mamluks in 1291 C.E.

One of the most spectacular features of Ceasarea is its man-made harbor which was not only an engineering wonder, but a stroke of economic genius. Because there are no natural harbors along the coast of the Levant leading to Egypt and the southern Mediterranean Sea, it offered sailors and businessmen traveling from the northern Mediterranean a place to anchor along their way to North Africa's major empires and city-states. Its location made Caesarea an ancient melting pot for culture and commerce. Take a look at the official Caesarea webpage for more information about and some photos of the underwater harbor excavation. You can see the harbor in the background of some of my photographs.

Although underwater excavations continue to be undertaken in and around the harbor structure, I am not a diver and was content to dig on solid ground. I was assigned to work in a trench in that dated from the Islamic period, c. the tenth century C.E. We unearthed some very fun and interesting artifacts, including a number of oil lamps (two of which I found), a very unique and unusual bone talisman (I was excited to have found that one, too), a whole cooking pot, a ring, and about eight coins dating from the first century B.C.E. to the fifth century C.E. I discovered that it was more exciting and rewarding to unearth walls that eventually become whole structures than the little trinkets we regularly uncovered. By the end of the four weeks, we had reached the bottom of a ten foot deep cess pit and removed three drainage channels. We appeared to be uncovering some sort of shop or small home, although we couldn't be certain from the evidence that became available over the short four weeks. The ample supply of expensive pottery suggested that the area was inhabited by a wealthy family.

I tried to select a few pictures that capture the spirit of the trip. The photos on these pages are not only from the excavation, but also from my travels around Israel during that month. The picture to the left captures the quintessential feeling of the trip. I was in Jerusalem over the Sabbath, so I donned a kipot and followed some of my Jewish friends into the prayer area along the Western Wall. I was able to meditate and participate in the communal services that take place regularly at the wall and, on this particular day, during the Sabbath celebration. I was very moved and honored to have been a part of that event. I particularly like this photo because it catches the feel of Jerusalem. I'm standing in a bright orange Gap shirt between two Jews who are worshiping the same faith in two different ways. Jerusalem is a hodge-podge of culture, science and faith. Scientists, local residences (both Arab and Israeli), and pilgrims mix together in the same city searching for very different truths. It is quite a spectacular and unique experience.

The woman you will see often in these pictures is my good friend Mara who traveled with me. She kept me sane most of the time. The gentleman is Sam, a student from Columbia University who we adopted and with whom we became quite good friends. Enjoy! 06/2000





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