With a land as historically rich as the Holy Land, there's always a wealth of meaningful discoveries for archaeologists to make. And 2018 was no different. The Times of Israel's Amanda Borschel-Dan tells us about several of the astounding finds made by archaeologists in Israel during the past year, including one that provided healing to American veterans:
Turning swords into plowshares, a small group of United States military veterans spent several weeks this summer at Israel’s Beit She’arim National Park archaeological excavation. Unlike many who join seasonal excavations, the former military personnel were as much digging for healing as for artifacts.
While reporting on the field of archaeology, I have been privileged to cover many important finds that may shift the way we understand the ancient world. In this case, it is the very act of looking that shifts the way the veterans see the world today.
In a Skype conversation with Stephen Humphreys, founder of the American Veterans Archaeological Recovery (AVAR), the former US Airforce aircraft maintenance officer said, “As soon as I touched the dirt, I fell in love...”
it was while physically digging into the past that the US veterans’ traumatic experiences in the Middle East (most served in Iraq or Afghanistan) began to recede.
The Beit She’arim dig is headed by Haifa University’s Dr. Adi Erlich and Rona Evyasaf. It is a community excavation open to all — from children to the elderly. The only prerequisite is a desire to work, said Erlich. So the team of veterans found itself alongside Israelis from all walks of life — Jews, Arabs — washing dishes, digging, pushing wheelbarrows.
While being careful to minimize the hype, Humphreys described the excavation as a very healing experience.
Archaeologist Erlich agreed: “I see that excavation, the physical work, dirt, is very good for processing experiences. It’s a way to forget yourself in the past, and understand you’re a very small part in a larger cosmos.”
Here are five other stories from 2018 which made me rethink my world...