Desert Safari

After a week of 4 AM breakfasts we returned to a more relaxed schedule. We walked to the Grand Court Hotel for our pickup bus and transferred to a meeting place at the Mount of Olives overlook. We found our bus 14 and rode down, down, to sea level, and down, down, some more.

At Kahlia Beach on the Dead Sea we met our Bedouin guide Ali. We embarked on a desert safari advertised as for “the more adventurous.”

Ali first took us to a high cliff overlooking the Dead Sea. The air was hazy with dust and some humidity. Ali said it may be from a storm in the Sahara or somewhere. This kind of weather is hard on people with asthma.

We took the 4×4 Toyota deep into a nature reserve in the Judean wilderness. Ali has a wealth of knowledge of the desert plants and animals. He also has a great sense of humor, mentioning something about getting lost in the wilderness for forty years. Easing the Toyota across boulders in a washed out part of the trail, he said not to worry, it’s his wife’s car

He found a bit if shade under a cliff and served us watermelon and cookies.

Then we went looking for scorpions.

This tree he said is a Bedouin forest. It’s actually a thorn tree, maybe like the one used for Jesus’ crown of thorns.

We finished the day with a float in the Dead Sea, the lowest spot on earth.


Shiloh Sifting

At Shiloh we used the normal excavation method of working in 5 meter squares. We “drain the bathtub,” taking down the level of the square in a uniform fashion, unearthing pottery pieces and other objects inside the square.

In addition, they have a full-time metal detectorress, Ellen Jackson. She usually finds several coins per day around the site. When she comes to your square, you remove all the metal tools and vacate the area. Usually it’s time for a water break.

One of the unique features here is the emphasis on sifting. All of the dirt, minus the rocks, from the square is sifted. The team on dry sifting finds additional bones, flint, pottery, etc. The small pieces left in the sifter screen are then bagged in mesh bags.

The bags from dry sifting are then wet sifted. Additional small objects, including coins and scarabs, are found using this method. Julia and I first learned about wet sifting at the Temple Mount Sifting Project back in 2019.

We had a great week if digging and sifting. We’ll stay in the land for a couple days of exploring.