An Archaeological Dig in Armageddon

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The week after school let out for the summer, I found myself on an airplane bound for Armageddon. Really.  I’ll be teaching a class called “Archaeology and the Bible” this fall, and I thought it might be fun to go on an archaeological dig myself, as well as help prepare me for teaching the course. After a bit of Internet research, I volunteered for the Jezreel Valley Regional Project 2012 (, at East Tel Megiddo. Tel Megiddo, the site of many fierce battles in the Middle East over several thousand years, is also known by its Greek name, “Armageddon.”

Most of my fellow volunteers on the JVRP 2012 dig were college and grad student age, so keeping up with their pace was quite the challenge! We were on the bus at 5am every morning, heading to the dig site at the base of Tel Megiddo to search for more evidence of the “City of the Great Temple Builders” of Megiddo. Most of day, especially in the beginning, was spent pickaxing, shoveling dirt and clay, and carrying buckets of dirt, clay and rock to the waste pile. My lower back was very unhappy. Did I mention that it was very hot?

After removing several layers of dirt from the five meter square we were excavating, we began to see evidence of the city, specifically lots and lots of pottery, and more importantly, the foundations of walls. It’s a pretty cool thing to hold in your hands pieces of pottery from the Early Bronze Age (3000-2200 BCE) that may be as old as 5,000 years old! I found myself spending a lot of time clearing away debris on the wall in my square, and thinking about the everyday lives of the people who had built it. What must a typical day have been like for them?

I managed to return healthy and with all my limbs. All in all, it was a wonderful experience and I have lots of good stories to tell my class this fall!

The Rev. Joy Willard-Williford
Upper School Chaplain

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