Saturday, May 12, 2012

Archaeological Dig and City Tour

Okay this is the post I said I was going to write forever ago. Back in February I participated in an archaeological dig for credit. For three weeks I went to the dig site Sunday through Thursday 7am-3pm. The site I was at is across the street from the City of David. It is called the Givati excavation. Givati is the name of the parking lot they are digging up. They have been digging at this site for several years now and every year the parking lot gets smaller and smaller.

Every morning I took the train down the the Damascus gate of the Old city. I walked straight through the Old city and exited at the Dung Gate on the other side. Because the dig started at 7am I was usually walking through the Old city around 6:30am. Not much is open that early in the morning unless the shop sells pastries, coffee or newspapers they won't open until later in the morning when the tourists arrive. Not many people get to experience the Old city that early in the morning so one day I took my camera with me. It was raining that morning and they cancelled the dig that day. It's no fun trying to dig in mud. So for the rest of that morning Annie and I walked around the city and took pictures.

First I will take you on my route from Damascus gate to the other side of the Old city. To the left is Damascus gate.

This is just inside the gate. I know this picture isn't very exciting. I plan to go back to the city in the afternoon when everything is open and walk the same route to show how busy the Old city gets.

Here I've just turned the corner. The paving stones are very slippery when wet. So walking through the Old city on a rainy day is a slip n' slide adventure. Wear shoes with good traction and even then be careful.

I've walked several feet forward here. The green door on the left side of this picture is the location of my favorite falafel stand in the city.

There are paths on either side of the falafel stand above. Here I took the path to the left. The metal doors are openings to shops.

Further down the path. Notice the sign above the arch is in Arabic. This is the Arab quarter of the Old city.

I'm early enough in the morning that children are still heading out to catch the bus to school.

Here I wanted you to see the different sizes of paving stones. The larger stones in the middle are the oldest ones.

As narrow as some of these areas are people still drive cars around in the Old City. In some places when a car is coming you have to press your back up against the wall and turn your feet sideways to let the car pass.

I had a few pictures that didn't turn out too good because of the rain. This is the next good one.

Notice the street sign in the upper left corner. This is how you know where you are in the Old city. However I'm directionally challenged and I still get lost pretty easily inside the old city walls.

This gives you an idea of how close the shops are to each other.

Notice the bags of bread hanging on the door to the right of the picture. The owner of this shop has an arrangement with one of the bakeries to sell some of their bread. They just hang the morning delivery on the door and no one bothers it.

The Western wall. This is as empty as you will ever see it.

Here I have exited through the Dung Gate. Straight ahead of me is the Mount of Olives. Notice the curved tents to the right of the picture this is the dig site.

A closer look at the dig site. You can see where the level of the parking lot used to be and how far down they are now.

This picture shows you the areas they have already excavated. There are two videos on youtube of my professor giving a lecture to tourists about their findings. These videos are from a few years ago but they are still interesting. Here is part 1 and part 2

This is the Dung Gate going back into the city after they told us we were not digging that day.

This is the picture that everyone who has ever been here has taken. This picture is in all the guidebooks.

I have no idea what this is but it looks cool.

The next few pictures are random streets in the Old City.

I knelt down to get this picture.

The stairs. There are several places in the Old city that look like this. The ramps are the width of the wheeled carts they bring down to restock the stores.

I think this was around 8:30am. Some of the stores were starting to open up. I've decided to split the city tour into two posts since I took 139 pictures that morning. I'm having a hard time narrowing down which ones to show.