Omer Ze’evi, a super important staff member of the Kiriath-Jearim staff, will be in charge of data recording, computers, tech, and measurements in the upcoming 2017 season.
He is a graduate student, currently working on his Master’s thesis, titled “El Amarna in the Shephelah: A 14th century BCE assemblage from Tel Beth Shemesh.” Apart from that, Omer specializes in digital applications in archaeology.
Since Omer is a seasoned excavator, we asked him for a list of his 10 tips for a great season:
#1: Pack smart and don’t overdo it. When you pack your travel bag, make sure you have all the field essentials first (e.g., good shoes, fresh socks and underwear for each day, shirts, sunscreen, hat, water bottle), then pack the basic afternoon gear (e.g., sandals/flip flops, none-sweaty t-shirt, more socks and underwear, comfy cloths to lounge around in), only then start thinking about the extras like a set of clothes that you can wear outside (if you are planning on going to any of the holy sites make sure that it is appropriate). Remember that the dig is not a fashion show and there is no judgment among excavators when it comes to wardrobe choices, as long as it is clean and not smelly, and comfort comes first. You’ll probably regret not having suiting attire for the dig hours rather than fancy clothes for the afternoon. Although its summer here in Israel, it could get chilly in the evening, so make sure to pack yourself something a bit warmer just in case.
#2: Be open to new experiences. People from all over the world are joining us this summer for the experience of being part of the first season of Kiriath-Jearim. Make sure you are being a good roommate, and not leaving a hot mess everywhere you go. Unexpected things may happen during the season, things we can’t always plan for. Try to be flexible and calm if things change last minute. This is the first season of Kiriath-Jearim. Even if this isn’t your first dig, and you are used to doing things a certain way – be open to learning new techniques from other excavators.
#3: Take care of yourself. Excavating is a physical task that is usually done during the hot summer. Don’t forget your sunscreen (it can make or break you) and drink a lot of water (drink more than you’re used to, you’ll feel awful if you don’t, trust me).
#4 Don’t overdo it. Everyone wants to do a great job, and we want to reach the best results during the season, but that shouldn’t be done at the expense of your physical well-being. Even though staying up all night talking to the new people you’ve met, or catching up with old friends is great, you still have to make sure you get a good night’s sleep. You can’t dig on fumes, especially during the hot summer days. If we are already on the subject of the excavation’s “night life,” there will be no supervision regarding alcohol consumption, however – drink responsibly! Remember that you are waking up early the next morning to work outside, and be mindful that we are sleeping in a monastery so you can’t be too loud or drunk on the premises.
#5 Team work. If you see someone is struggling with a specific task, help them out. If you can’t lift a full wheelbarrow and someone else is doing it for you, offer to fill their water bottle instead. If you see someone who has been sifting all day long – offer to change tasks with them. We are all one team, working for the same goal; if someone gets injured and can’t come to work the next day because he over strained him/herself – it’ll suck for everyone.
#6 Update staff members on everything that’s going on. Staff members are here for you, not just as your supervisors and instructors on how to dig, but they really do genuinely care about you. Furthermore, you are their responsibility during the season, so they really do have to know what’s going on with you. If you are unwell, nobody will force you to work, but you have to let someone know what’s going on with you in case you will need any assistance or just so they don’t freak out that you’ve gone missing. The same goes for the weekend, when we are not excavating. If you are planning a trip somewhere, let one of the staff members know what your plans are. If you are given a task that’s too hard for you physically, speak up, let them know, there is plenty to do that may be more suitable for you.
#7 There are no stupid questions. You are going on the excavation to learn. If you are not sure what exactly you are doing – ask! Your supervisors will even appreciate it, they’re always happy to talk about their excavation to anyone, that’s how they became supervisors. I also believe I do a better job excavating when I know what I’m looking for instead of when I’m just going blind into the ground.
#8 Listen. Paying attention and being attentive to all the instructions you are given will go a long way for everyone involved. I’m not just talking about the instructions your field supervisors will give you. Throughout the day there will be different announcements regarding the pool, laundry, bus rides, time tables, lectures, food, shopping, afternoon work and much more. Make sure you listen so that you don’t miss out on any activity that you are meant to participate in, or worse – miss the bus that is supposed to take you to your flight.
#9 Remember that we are guests. The place where we will be sleeping is amazingly beautiful. I’ve seen it, I think it will be the best accommodations I’ve ever had on a dig. HOWEVER, this is the nuns’ home and we are guests at the monastery, so we have to be extra respectful to them, especially if we want to be able to return next year.
#10 Smile! Remember that when working and living together things can get a little intense and that strong emotions can be contagious. This goes for both positive and negative vibes. So, try and be the one who spreads the joy!