Town of Nebo Archaeological Project

Firsthand accounts from the field!

2017 Season – Trip to Southern Jordan

by Marko Maznic

This past weekend, the archaeological team set out to visit Southern Jordan. The majority of us were unsure as to what to expect. We only knew that we were going to visit from Crusader castles, Petra, and Wadi Rum. We had no idea what kind of experience was awaiting us at the end of the tunnel.

Our journey began bright and early on Friday morning. We all crawled out of bed and onto the bus by 8 am, many of us looking like zombies… After about 3 hours of driving, we reached our first major place of interest: Kerak Castle. This was a very heavily fortified Crusader castle that overlooks the city of Kerak and the valleys around it. We explored the castle for about an hour, uncovering all the hidden secrets that the castle had to offer. After that we headed to our next Crusader castle: Shobak.

Shobak is a mysterious castle built on top of a hill. What was really interesting about Shobak was the secret tunnel that passed through it. The tunnel was dark and full of steep steps. At times it was a little scary but after we all made it through, we all had smiles on our faces. This is my favourite Jordanian castle that I have visited so far!

After Shobak we all hopped on the bus and headed for our hotel where we would spend the night before visiting Petra the next day. The next morning we set our sights on Petra. This part was the highlight of my trip. Imagine walking through a beautiful, narrow canyon for a kilometre and a half when all of a sudden the heavens open and you are confronted by the pride of Petra: the Treasury. No words can describe it!

A few camel rides, some Bedouin encounters, and 8 hours later, we all packed our bags and left for Wadi Rum, a vast desert full of massive rock formations. We spent the night in a camp. By the time we were ready to go back to Madaba the next day, we had driven through the desert on the back of a truck, ridden camels, and attended a Bedouin-style wedding between two of the students (which was fake of course!). Wadi Rum now holds a special place in my heart and will for year to come.

Although many of us were exhausted after our trip to Southern Jordan, there was not a single person on the bus that day without a smile on their face. Given the chance, I would do it all again in a heart-beat!

2017 Season – Second Week on Site

by Ilmar Kanbergs

Things have been moving along quite quickly at the site and this week was our first, full 5-day work week.  It was a rather busy week of digging in the dirt as well over a thousand large rocks and buckets of dirt were removed from the squares. The hard work was well rewarded though with hundreds of pottery sherds, in addition to several walls which are believed to have been from a tower. This is where I am digging this season. Each square is unique with different finds in each, different excavation goals, more or fewer rocks, and a different dynamic between the students and supervisors. It’s great to see everyone getting along so well.  It’s also good to see that, despite the differences in the work needed in each square, everyone works very hard and is interested in finding anything they can.  At any time during the work day, if you were to look into one of the squares, you would find people picking at rocks, hoeing up soil, sweeping dirt, killing the occasional scorpion, and just generally working hard. At the same time we manage to have fun doing the work by talking and joking with each other as the day moves forward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been amazed at how much I have learned about the excavation process during my time here.  This week my square, aka “the tower team”, started to shut down our square which required us to map the visible stones by measuring where the corner of each stone was in relation to the edges of our square.  I have not had the opportunity to try this yet and it was interesting to see it done, though it became somewhat difficult to measure once we figured out that our square is on a steep slope.  However, we managed to find a way around the problem and successfully mapped out our square and then closed it.

Overall, our second week on site was a busy one. It was very productive and interesting.  I am excited about uncovering more of our wall and finding some objects. By Thursday you could tell that everyone was excited to have some time off and visit Petra.  I am looking forward to seeing what else we are going to find at Khirbat al-Mukhayyat.

2017 Season – First days on site

by Kaitlyn Specht

Tuesday July 4th was our first official work day on site. During that day, many of the groups cleared backfill out of previously excavated squares, while others started new squares. New squares have to be laid out so that they measure exactly 5 by 5 meters. We also learned how to do things like taking elevations for the squares that are going to be excavated during the 2017 season.

Over the course of the next few days, the different groups started to excavate their squares. The re-opened squares spent the week clearing the architecture uncovered last season so that they could continue excavating. Other groups spent the week excavating topsoil and establishing the limits of their squares. In our square, we came across a scorpions while we were excavating, but we managed to avoid disaster by shooing them out of our squares. One of the best parts of being at the site is the view. From here you can see the Dead Sea, the Jordan Valley, and, on a clear day, you can see as far as Jerusalem.

 

Thursday was our last day on site for the week, and Saturday was our second field trip. We went to the city of Amman and the Desert Castles. The first place that we visited was the Amman Citadel. The Citadel is home to many different buildings one of which is the Roman Temple of Hercules. All that is left is the podium and some columns that surround it. We were able to get up close to all of the buildings at the Citadel and take lots of pictures!

The next place we visited was the Roman Theater and Odeon. This theater is one of the only buildings left from the Roman occupation in Amman. The theater holds about 6000 people and sits on the side of a hill so you can see down into the city from the top. The Odeon, which is significantly smaller, only holds about 300 hundred people.

 

Before visiting the Desert Castles, we had lunch at a restaurant in Azraq. They had the best hummus some of us had ever eaten! The first castle we saw was Qasr Azraq. A castle made almost entirely of basalt. This castle was built in the 13th century. We got to explore the castle and even climb to the roof of some of the buildings.

The second castle we visited was Qusayr Amra. This site was built by a prince in the 8th century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The walls inside are covered in paintings depicting various activities such as hunting. There are also paintings that depict the story of Jonah and the whale. The ceiling of the bath house shows the zodiac symbols. After visiting the castle, the site guard had tea prepared for us and we got to sit with him and other workers before we moved on to our next site.

The site of Qasr Kharana was our last stop for the day. The castle was renovated in the early 8th century, but the function of the building is still argued today. The castle has two stories and many different rooms. We were able to explore both stories of the castle but sadly we could not go to the roof. We all had an amazing time and the second field trip was definitely one to remember!

2017 Season – Arrival and Orientation

by Lucy Hartlieb

Over the past few months, I have been looking forward to my upcoming trip to Jordan. I started to prepare by researching, reading, and trying my very best to pack enough supplies to last me for my amazing 5 week adventure. And now I am finally here!!!

My first week in Jordan is now complete and it was quite an eventful one. The usual dig schedule is from 5 am to 12:30 pm Sunday through Thursday, weekends in Jordan are Friday (the Muslim Holy Day) and Saturday. But for the first week, we focused on off-site work. We spent time getting settled in, touring the city, and learning about the various lab assignments to come.

Most of us arrived at the dig house on Thursday, July 29th. Our dig house is in a small neighborhood in Madaba, a suburb of Jordan’s capital city Amman. The communal-living style house is made up of 3 apartments, shared with students, supervisors, and volunteers.

Friday (June 30) was our first full day in Jordan. We spent it getting to know our housemates, getting an orientation for the field school, and taking part in a walking tour of Madaba. On the tour, Dr. Deb Foran led us around to nearby archaeological sites. We started by visiting the Madaba Archaeological Museum, which is located a mere 30 seconds away. The museum featured some artifacts that were excavated in previous years by students at our site. Next stop was the Christian Orthodox Church of St. George which contains the 6th century Mosaic Map of the Holy Land.

After that we visited Madaba’s Archaeological Park which has mosaics from different sites near Madaba displayed on the walls, as well as many in situ mosaics that date to the 6th century C.E. Lastly, on our way back to our new home we made a stop at Tell Madaba, an archaeological site located in the middle of the city that was previously excavated by our director and professor Deb Foran.

The next day was Canada Day. It was a relaxing day. We were assigned our supervisors and we met with our groups to go over the excavation manual. After lunch, we ventured out on a 15 minute bus ride to our dig site for a site tour. The site of Khirbat al-Mukhayyat overlooks the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea, and the West Bank. Later that night we hosted a Canada Day party on the roof of the dig house. Jordanians and other visiting archaeologists came for the celebration.

On Sunday and Monday we were separated into various groups of four to practice different lab techniques such as pottery drawing, soil sampling, section and top plan drawing, and pottery registration. Sunday was also our first lecture on the Early Bronze Age of the Levant.

We had a great week and are all very excited for our first day on site!!

2016 Season – Week 6 Update

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by Samantha Mittleman

As the final week approached, it began to set in for everyone that our six-week archaeological adventure was coming to a close. After digging at the site of Khirbat al-Mukhayyat for four weeks, the final week was spent completing all the lab work for the field season. There were many different jobs during lab week. I was assigned to pottery registration. This job entailed taking all the diagnostic pieces of pottery (rims, handles, and bases) from each square are writing sequential registration numbers on them. This is done in order to catalogue all the diagnostic sherds so that we have a record of all the pieces found; and you can only imagine after four weeks of digging how many pieces of pottery were collected! There were several other jobs during lab week. Some students were charged with drawing all of the stone, metal, bone, and ceramic objects that were collected over the four weeks. Data entry was also an important task during lab week. Students entered all of the recording sheets from the excavation into a database. Lastly there were our pottery drawers who took the diagnostic pottery sherds, after being registered, and drew them to find out what the complete vessel would have looked like.

Over the course of lab week, all the different groups slowly completed their jobs and some students were moved to other tasks, including me. I was lucky enough to move to the mending station. This job was basically a large puzzle. When a broken pot was found in the field, we would collect all of them and put them aside to be mended. When lab week came around, we would take all of these pieces and try to fit them together to reassemble the pot. I do have to say at times this was very frustrating because, unlike a puzzle, there was no picture at the front of the box. In the end, when I removed the tape to see the completed pot, it was very fulfilling to see the vessel that I put back together by myself. After these items are reassembled they are taken to the Madaba Archaeological Museum, used for study and sometimes put on display.

As the final week came to a close and we all began to pack up our things, we could reflect on the amazing six week journey we had just experienced; from the first night we arrived in Jordan not knowing anybody in the house to making long lasting friendships that will continue after our university years. Being able to be in the field, which we have heard so much about in the classroom, and applying the knowledge we have learned to discover new things about the site has had an incredible impact. Meeting the amazing people that live in Madaba, such as Mashoor and his family, Jalal and Yousef made it extremely difficult to leave. The weekly field trips we took to ancient historical sites located throughout all of Jordan were unforgettable. They gave us the opportunity to visit some of the amazing sites we learn about in class such as Petra, Jerash and the Desert Castles and experience them first hand. This experience was truly life changing and just reminds me of all the new and amazing opportunities that still lay ahead.

2016 Season – Week 5 Blog Update

Students enjoying their first visit to the Dead Sea

Students enjoying their first visit to the Dead Sea (Photos by L. Klein)

By Lukas Klein

This week the field portion of the Khirbat al-Mukhayyat Archaeological Project reached its conclusion. While I am personally elated at the prospect of not having to wake up at 4:30, the end of the dig portion of our project signaled that we as a group were nearing the end of our time together. The upcoming end to the dig season also signals a return to a regular routine–a process that I know will take a fair amount of time to adjust back into. Nevertheless, I feel a sense of accomplishment knowing that I have been able to be part of a successful archaeological field season. The end of the season also means that we will be soon going our separate ways. This feeling is bittersweet as I have made many friendships during my time here, friends that I hope to see when I return to Laurier in the fall.

The majority of the final week on site was spent cleaning the various squares while finalizing the data for soil locus sheets, instillation sheets, and architecture sheets. In my own square a large portion of the time at the beginning of the week was spent digging down to a level that was assumed to be a bedrock layer. Various elevations were taken with the total station and we as a square were confident in the belief that we had finally reached the bottom of our “pit”. This assumption was supported by the fact that little to no pottery was being collected at the time. Alas, this was not meant to be as we had instead reached a hard compact layer of soil, perhaps an Iron Age surface of some sort. While disappointing in some respects, the discovery of a new layer of cultural material entails further opportunities for obtaining a greater understanding of the cultural significance of our square. The rest of the week was spent completing the various measurements needed for detailed drawings of both a top plan and baulk drawings of our square. These tasks may seem tedious, but they are essential as accuracy is key when obtaining final measurements.

On Thursday, we were treated to a trip to Mount Nebo. The view was amazing and well worth the wait. Looking at the various restoration projects puts a smile on my face as it confirms that people care deeply for their history and their culture here in Jordan. Saturday rolled along and we were treated with our last day trip of the year, a trip to the Dead Sea. Our first stop was a visit to Umm Ar-Rasas. Inside the church of St. Stevens, the most intact mosaic in all of Jordan was viewed. It was breathtaking in its intricate and elaborate design, as various scenes seemed almost lifelike. The mosaic could be further appreciated due to the fact that it was left relatively unscathed by the acts of destruction and alteration evident on many mosaics in the region during the period of iconoclasm. Our next stop was to Machaerus, the site of John the Baptist’s beheading. The walk up to the top of this hilltop fortress was long but well worth the effort. Various ruins on both sites could be appreciated for their historical value as well. The last stop was the Dead Sea. Upon arrival we were treated to an amazing buffet. The food was delicious and the hotel was a site to behold. Covering myself with Dead Sea mud I walked into the warm but extremely salty body of water. The feeling of floating without sinking in the water is at first unnatural but was extremely enjoyable. The rest of the day was spent lounging by the pool until sunset. This trip to the Dead Sea is one I will not soon forget.

As the season comes to a close I reflect on the fact that the end of this trip is not the end but only just the beginning of my archaeological experience. Life is indeed not just about the destination but about the journey–a journey that I am enjoying immensely.

2016 Season – Week 4 Blog Update

Temple of Artemis at Jerash (Photo by H. Birdi)

Temple of Artemis at Jerash (Photo by H. Birdi)

By Harpreet Birdi

Another week of digging complete! Digging in the heat of Jordan is hard and tiring however, I have gotten used to the heat by now and the amazing breeze from the wadi blows our sweat away. Last week we finished excavating our first square, so this week we focused a lot on cleaning and excavating our baulks. It was exciting to finally excavate this portion of the square because it revealed what was hidden so close to us during the season; we had architecture and installations. It was surprising to see how far it truly continued. We found lots of objects and pottery in and around the architecture and installations. We were all looking forward to completing our square in Field C and moving onto Field B with the rest of the crew. We finally closed up our square, and being the last ones in Field C was bittersweet; we were the last people there but had a great opportunity to find more artefacts and appreciate the view.

After each day on site, we came home and washed all the pottery and objects we collected.  On Monday, instead of heading to lab and washing pottery we decided to help an NGO called Salam Cultural Museum. This foundation is dedicated to helping out refugees in Syria, Palestine and Jordan. We went over to their storage house to help organize the different donations they received. We were organizing clothes, shoes, wheelchairs, and crutches. While we were cleaning up the empty boxes and folding them, we found a litter of kittens in the back of the room outside in the courtyard. They were adorable and we scooped them into a box and the mother came by to take care of her babies. Overall, it was a great day and it felt nice to be a part of a great foundation and help make a difference in the world.

On Saturday it was our field trip day, we took a trip to a number of the desert castles and the famous Roman city of Jerash. We visited three desert castles, which were fascinating, including Qusayr Amra which had many paintings still preserved on the walls. It was a lot of fun to visit and really interesting to look at the architecture. Our last stop was at Jerash and it was absolutely beautiful. We walked down a large Roman road that was filled with columns and a lot of them had decorations on them. Because there were so many columns in Jerash, many people call it the city of 1000 columns. There was an ancient theatre and a temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis. At the temple, we met Jordanian employees that showed us the bottom of the temple that many tourists don’t get a chance to see. It was a bit scary because it was dark and full of bats. It was really cool to look at and it gave a new perspective to the temple. It was an adventurous week filled with new experiences and I look forward to opening up a new square in Field B and learning as much as I can in my last week of digging.

2016 Season – Week 3 Blog Update

The Treasury (el-Khazneh) at Petra (Photo by E. Jones)

The Treasury (el-Khazneh) at Petra (Photo by E. Jones)

By Emily Jones

Another week in desert paradise complete! While it’s still extremely hot and the work is heavy, I feel as though I’m becoming more accustomed to the weather and the work load. I have never been a morning person but watching the sunrise over the Wadi makes getting up at 4am almost worth it. At the beginning of this week my square moved to a new field after completing our previous unit. While Field C was wonderful for learning the basics of field work, Field B has been far more exciting. Upon opening our square we came across a large wall almost immediately, followed by a number of complete cooking pots. This is very exhilarating as it feels as though I’m discovering complete puzzle pieces to the past as opposed to merely fragments. Naturally the view from site will never get old, as we overlook the mountainous landscape all the way over to the Dead Sea and beyond to the West Bank. Being in this part of the world always seemed like a far-fetched dream, and to me looking out at the view of the Jordan Valley is almost as refreshing as a cold glass of water in the desert heat.

Following our second week of field work we had one of the most memorable weekends I think any of us could ask for. We ventured south to the crusader castles Kerak and Shobak and then on to Petra, followed by a night in the Wadi Rum. The castles were so cool, especially their architecture which many of us have just recently learned so much about. Seeing what we’ve learned about in real life is such a fulfilling experience. Kerak was beautiful and had very well-preserved architecture, which made imagining it at its prime far easier. While at Shobak many of us took the escape route out of the castle which was an extremely steep and dark tunnel which wound its way all the way down the hill. Both had their highlights and I could have spent hours at each, exploring the many rooms and passage ways.

After a day of sprinting around these ruins (trying to squeeze in all we could) we were pampered by staying in a luxurious hotel in Wadi Musa, just outside the gates to Petra. We all indulged in a refreshing swim, nice hot showers, delicious food and amazing beds (with air conditioning).

Saturday was spent exploring the Nabatean capital, which I believe was a definite highlight for everyone. Seeing Petra up close and personal was nearly surreal. While the 850 stair climb up to the Monastery was slightly more than exhausting, seeing the rock-cut architecture which so many of us have not only studied but seen in movies was amazing, to say the least. The red sand and enormous cliff faces were breathtaking as we hiked up the mountain to the grandiose monuments which stood at the top. It’s amazing to think of the Nabateans using Petra for its intended purpose and living in that world, as though it weren’t a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity simply to see it. I rode a camel through the Roman street passing the Amphitheater, Great Temple and up to the Treasury, feeling on top of the world.

This already amazing weekend continued as we trekked on to the Wadi Rum for a night at a Bedouin-style camp. Side note: “The Martian” was filmed there using the deep red sand of the Wadi to recreate Mars. The experience is one I will never forget. They made us an absolutely delicious meal, cooked in the ground, and welcomed us with wonderful hospitality. With food, music and traditional dancing I had an absolute blast partying in the desert with them. They put on a traditional wedding ceremony, choosing Sarah and Lucas to be the bride and groom, and showed us how to celebrate a (fictional) marriage, Bedouin style. Specifically, this included lots of clapping and dancing and pure merriment all around. Ending the night’s festivities, we wandered into the Wadi to stargaze at the vast and very visible night sky. I don’t think I have ever seen a brighter moon. I was able to hike up the cliff to our prime stargazing spot, just by the light of the Gumar (Arabic for moon), and enjoy the glorious night sky uninterrupted by light pollution. A few hours of star gazing ended with a wonderful sleep in a surprisingly cool (both temperature and style) tent. In the morning we were treated to a 3 hour long ride through the Wadi Rum to see some of its breathtaking sights. From the backs of pick up trucks the views and experiences were exhilarating. We saw huge red sand dunes, insane natural sandstone formations and even Lawrence of Arabia’s purported cave. The weekend consisted of continuous excitement and awe inspiring sights, making for one of the best weekends of my 22 years.  While being the most exhausted I think I have been, I don’t think I can quite express just how amazing the third week here has been.

2016 Season – Week 2 Blog Update

By Rachel Belcher

Students scaling the Roman Theatre (often called the "Amphitheatre") in Amman (Photo By R. Belcher)

Students scaling the Roman Theatre (often called the “Amphitheatre”) in Amman (Photo By R. Belcher)

Well we successfully made it through our second week here in Jordan and in my opinion the hardest week as it was the highly anticipated first week on site! It was definitely harder than expected but we all made it out alive and with some pretty amazing experiences in our books already. The work week here starts on Sunday and goes all the way until Thursday with Friday being our day off. Waking up on Sunday morning for our fist day on site was a whole mix of emotions. Excited, nervous, scared, curious and who could forget TIRED from waking up at 4:30am. It’s about a 15 minute bus ride to site and when we first arrived Deb gave us the grand tour of the mountainous area where we would spend the next four weeks working our butts off and learning as much as we could possibly soak in in what seems like both a long and short period of time.

One of the first things I noticed when I got to site was the unbelievable view that we got to look at for 8 hours a day. The site of Khirbet al-Mukhayyat looks over the Dead Sea, Jordan Valley and West Bank. It’s really convenient when you’re dying during the day to look at where you are and take in the enormity of what you’re actually doing. After the tour we split into our squares and got to work. The first day of course was the hardest as we all tried to train our bodies to adjust to the extreme heat and hard labour I’m sure were not used to at our cushy homes. Throughout the week peoples’ squares really began to develop and you could see the project starting to come together as a whole. Skills were developing fast and people were learning how to properly deal with things like paperwork as well as things going on in their square such as getting to use the pick axes or troweling away at the ground.

One of my personal favourite things about working on site, and also about being here as a whole is getting to work on site with some of the local Jordanians that live around here. I think it really adds to our cultural experiences as a whole getting to know them, having them teach us Arabic words, such as rock (of course) and being able to teach them some English words in return.

In addition to the 7-8 hours a day we spend on site we also get to spend about two hours a day doing lab work and practicing the jobs that we’re assigned too. The first hour of this is usually spent on the roof washing pottery and the second hour is spent doing something like data entry, pottery registration or if you’re lucky like me, pottery drawing.
This week was also an extremely exciting week for two reasons, the first reason was that we had not one but two birthdays this week. Ashley and Deb both celebrated their birthdays on site this week and we got to enjoy a lovely cake at breakfast for Deb while enjoying live music by one of the workers, Mohammad, who brought his oud which is a Middle Eastern type of guitar/lute, and sang for us on our break.

The second reason this week was so exciting was because we got to go on our first field trip. On Saturday we all packed into the bus (literally) and headed to Amman for a day filled with history. First we were able to go to the Amman citadel where Deb gave us a brief explanation of the history and then let us wander around and explore for about an hour. After taking many, many photos we all got back on the bus and traveled to our next destination which was the Roman “amphitheatre.” We all got to hike up the structure and hang out at the top. The view was absolutely incredible and it was an experience ill never forget. Our last archeological stop on the trip was supposed to be the new Jordan Museum but that plan got slightly derailed, as it was closed for the day. We finished our trip on Rainbow Street and soothed our disappointment of the closed museum with shopping and food and then headed home to get to bed early for another day on site.

Although this week had its ups and downs and it was an amazing experience that I wouldn’t change for the world. So even though I’ve never cleaned so much dirt out of my ears and nose and I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this tired, as I lay on my bed ready to fall asleep I think that everything will be worth it and even though I’m tired and sore it just means I’m working hard. I can’t wait for what the rest of this trip holds, bring on next week!! (AND PETRA!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

2016 Season – Week 1 Blog Update

By David Meyer

Students taking in one of Madaba's many mosaics as part of the Walking Tour that kicks off the 2016 season at the Town of Nebo Project

Students taking in one of Madaba’s many mosaics as part of the Walking Tour that kicks off the 2016 season at the Town of Nebo Project

After a long airplane ride and expensive airport food we arrived in Jordan at the Amman Airport. From there we were met by two of our dig leaders, Debra Foran and Steve Edwards, and brought to the house where we would be spending the next six weeks. We arrived late at night and were tired with jetlag so we slept and awaited the following day when our fellow students would arrive. The living conditions were slightly different from what I expected, particularly with regards to water usage, as it is a valuable resource in this part of the world.

Through the day more students arrived, though our excavation supervisors had already been here for the past week preparing for us. On Tuesday the 5th of July we started with a late 10am wakeup and breakfast, and then proceeded to split into our excavation squares, the groups we will be working in on site, to go over the excavation manual and to get to know the people we will be working with better. Later that day we had a short lecture on the Iron Age, the “in-class” portion of our field school. That night we were treated to local shawarma and sat together on the roof getting to know one another.

On Wednesday we were split into one of four separate groups to learn the lab techniques we would be utilizing in the field and in the lab including: pottery drawing, object drawing, baulk drawing and top plan mapping. These are important skills that we will each get a chance to experience throughout the excavation. As there was much to learn these lessons were divided between Wednesday and Friday, while Thursday held the highlight of this week, the walking tour of Madaba, the beautiful and historical city we are staying in.

Before the tour, Thursday started with the students splitting into their square groups to learn more excavation techniques including pottery and object labeling, soil analysis, square measuring, square photography, and GIS reading. These are all important and often daily functions we must complete on and off site during the excavation.

The tour was led by our professor and dig leader Deb Foran and started at the Madaba museum, located just next door to our house. We saw many beautiful mosaics including a large tree of life. The museum also included many types of pottery, figurines, some weapons, and even traditional clothing. From the Museum we then walked through Madaba visiting the Church of the Apostles, Roman Reservoir, The Church of Saint George, The Archaeological Park, the Church of the Martyrs and the Burnt Palace. The Church of Saint George was one of the highlights of this tour as it houses the legendary Madaba Map laid into its floor. This is a map of the surrounding Jordan area and beyond including Jerusalem, Jericho, Hebron, Bethlehem, Gaza and more. The church also housed many other beautiful mosaics which adorned their walls. Once the walking tour was over we returned for lunch, prepared by our chef Jalal who makes delicious lunches for us every day.

On Friday we returned to finish our lessons before getting the rest of the day off. That night we had a small party to end the week and had the entire of Saturday free to relax by sleeping in, going swimming and touring the local shops. After this day of rest, we go to bed early tonight to prepare for our 4:30am wake up. Yay. And our exciting first day on site.