August 2019 Updates
I am writing you from Jerusalem. This month’s newsletter will be different. Below is sort of a diary of the final week of July. I hope that you like it.
Sunday, July 21st
After an early morning stop at Lifetime Fitness, I preached at Sugar Land Family Church at 9:30 and 11:00 A.M. Then I had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory with Lynn and Wendy Lewis, Bobby and Julie Dean, and Ben and Rachel Caldwell – great friends all. After some final packing I headed to Bush Intercontinental Airport for my 8:50 P.M. departure. The eleven-hour flight to Istanbul was long, and I was stuck in a middle seat. At least there was wifi on the flight. Estimated sleep = 30 minutes. I explored the new Istanbul airport during my three-hour scheduled layover, which turned into four due to a delay. The two-hour flight to Israel passed quickly. Estimated sleep = 30 minutes. Disembark, go through passport control, collect bags, get rental car, drive to Jerusalem, unpack, and then to bed at 1:30 A.M.
Monday, July 22nd
Due to time change, see July 21st.
Tuesday, July 23rd
After a full 8 hours of sleep (PTL!), I got cleaned up and organized for the day – e-mails returned, messages sent, etc. It was my oldest daughter’s 34th birthday, so she got a really special message. Stacy is an amazing Christian woman, and we have always been very close. I had a cheeseburger at The Ambassador for lunch. Yes, cheeseburger! At 1:30 (13:30), I met Yoav Farhi at the new location for the Temple Mount Sifting Project at the top of the Mount of Olives. I worked as a supervisor on the TMSP for two seasons, and it was there that I became sold on the value of the wet-sifting process. Yoav is my numismatist (coin specialist), and we reviewed his chapter for the forthcoming publication of Khirbet el-Maqatir, Volume II which will be published in 2020. I called Orna Cohen, my conservator, and fired off a few dozen TBS, ABR, and personal e-mails. At 5:00 P.M., I did a 30-minute interview via Skype with Ted Wright (Epic Archaeology). I had a great dinner at my hotel (The Ritz) and then got organized for tomorrow. I went to bed early, but only slept a few hours – jetlag.
Wednesday, July 24th
I had a quick 6:00 A.M. breakfast at my hotel and then headed to Shiloh where a tractor was waiting for me at 7:00. Tractor? Yes, after three seasons at Shiloh, I have determined that two large platforms we have been excavating are fill from previous excavations. I suspected this very early in the process but decided to be safe, rather than sorry. It was hot, and I had no shade, but this one day saved my team a whole season of work. We are now in a clean archaeological context in the NW quadrant of Field H1 at Shiloh. A group of 42 volunteers from HaYovel worked with me all day, removing a mountain. HaYovel is a Christian organization which does volunteers work in Judea and Samaria.
Back at the Ritz, I spent some time with the manager, Issa (Jesus in Arabic), who is a close personal friend and then reviewed my presentation for tomorrow.
Thursday, July 25th
After an early breakfast, I headed back to Shiloh which is 20 miles north of Jerusalem. I supervised the removal of the rest of the NW platform, saving my team another year of grunt labor. Eureka! After work, I drove a few miles north to Ariel University to meet Leah Tramer in the pottery restoration lab. Leah restores our broken ceramic vessels, helping us to understand the assemblage from each time period. I drove an hour back to Jerusalem, showered and changed clothes, and drove to Shiloh for the archaeology conference. This was actually the reason for my trip. My presentation covered the finds from the first three seasons of the ABR excavation at Shiloh. My keynote address was at 7:00 P.M., and about 150 people attended. After I spoke, the director of the antiquities authority presented my with a plaque with the following inscription:
To Dr. Scott Stripling
In appreciation for your immense contribution to the development of Ancient Shiloh.
Shiloh Hakeduma Staff
Friday, July 26th
After breakfast, I drove to Shiloh with Sunrise Media and my colleague from TBS and ABR, Professor Doug Petrovich. Sunrise is creating an animated children’s video on the period of the United Monarchy. Doug is the historical consultant. When they learned that I would be in the country, they asked me to give them the Shiloh VIP tour, which I was happy to do. At 11:00, I met Aaron Lipkin back in Jerusalem on French Hill. Aaron and I are co-leading a tour of Israel in May that may interest you. He wanted to introduce me to Zvi Koenisberg, a veteran archaeologist who worked closely with Adam Zertal on Mt. Ebal. We continue to explore ways to properly finish Zertal’s work. The owner and manager of our hotel chain took me to dinner at my favorite restaurant, The Ambassador. I ate too much and stayed up too late.
Saturday, July 27th
I scarfed down a quick breakfast at 6:00 and then headed to Ben Gurion International Airport. The first leg of the flight was short and easy. The second leg was long and not as easy. Sine I don’t sleep on planes, I did get a lot done, especially since Turkish Airlines has wifi available for purchase on their flights. I finally arrived home at 9:00 P.M. and was warmly greeted by Janet and Shiloh (my dog).