Kayla Ray, a 2011 winner of one of the BAS archaeology scholarships, looks out over the blue waters of the Mediterranean from the rocky shores of Caesarea Maritima. As a dig volunteer, Ray was able to travel to Israel and experience Israeli and Middle Eastern culture firsthand.
Digs in Israel and Jordan are a doorway to the Biblical past, but they also offer volunteers the opportunity to immerse themselves in modern Israeli and Middle Eastern culture. Dig volunteers who travel to Israel and Jordan not only learn how to excavate, but they also see the sites of the Bible and meet people from different backgrounds. These are experiences that dig volunteers treasure for the rest of their lives.
Every year, winners of our archaeology scholarships (the BAS Dig Scholarship) tell us about their overseas adventures in Israel, Jordan and elsewhere, recounting how their travels exposed them to Israeli and Middle Eastern culture and the region’s languages, foods and customs, not to mention the incredible sites and monuments of Biblical lands.
While a volunteer’s workweek revolves around a strict dig schedule, there is usually plenty of time on weekends to see the sights (and sites) and explore the country. For those who travel to Israel to dig, many projects offer organized field trips to various sites and regions around the country, including Masada, the Dead Sea and Galilee. In Jordan, winners of BAS’s archaeology scholarships have traveled to Petra, Amman and Wadi Rum.
For many who travel to Israel, however, nothing quite matches the experience of seeing Jerusalem for the first time. “Jerusalem is an overwhelming and powerful city,” wrote Erin Pruckno, a winner of one of our BAS archaeology scholarships in 2007. “I loved the bustle and barrage of people in the Old City, and the terrifyingly fun walk through Hezekiah’s Tunnel that found us knee-deep in freezing-cold, pitch-black water.”
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to volunteer on an archaeological dig? I Volunteered For This? Life on an Archaeological Dig is a free eBook that gives you the lowdown on what to expect from life at a dig site. You’ll be glad to have this informative, amusing and sometimes touching collection of articles by archaeological dig volunteers.
Working on a dig also gives volunteers the opportunity to dive into the language of the host country. Though English is the lingua franca used on most excavations, volunteers who travel to Israel to dig are bound to pick up some Hebrew phrases in the trenches. And on digs in Jordan, where volunteers regularly work side-by-side with workmen from local villages, many winners of our archaeology scholarships tell us of their triumphs in learning their first few phrases of Arabic. Kristina Glicksman, a 2007 winner who worked at the site of Khirbet al-Mudayna, told us, “I really enjoyed working with the Bedouin and trying to communicate with smatterings of Arabic and English and lots of hand gestures.”
Digs are almost always international affairs, composed of archaeologists and experts from around the globe. In addition, dig volunteers, including the winners of our archaeology scholarships, come from an array of backgrounds and typically include college and graduate students, retirees, school teachers, vacationing archaeology or Bible enthusiasts, and everyone in between. As such, digs are an excellent way to learn about and experience the world’s diversity.
Working on a dig is much more than just archaeology and learning about the Biblical past. It’s also a chance to experience Israeli and Middle Eastern culture and broaden your horizons.
Click here to learn about 2012 dig opportunities in Israel, Jordan and beyond.
Based on Joey Corbett, “Join a Dig, See the World,” Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 2012.