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Down and Dirty

Written by Pat Cantwell. Posted in

Have you ever imagined being part of an archaeological dig in Israel?  My first excavation was at Bethsaida with Dr. Romi Arav of University of Nebraska.  I was working on my Master’s degree in Biblical Archaeology and I was traveling to archaeological sites in Israel and Jordan with Dr. Steven Collins of Trinity Southwest University and a group of fellow students. 

This is a funny story.  First day you were to be on the bus at 6 AM.  Therefore I was up at 3 AM to shower, wash my hair, do my makeup. OOPs, I woke up my roommate.

We arrived at Bethsaida located at the northern junction of the Jordan River with the Sea of Galilee. It is a delta region, extremely hot and humid. Jesus had cursed the city (and I could see why) and its location had been lost until the late 1800’s.

We walked up a long hill when Dr. Arav stopped in a shadeless area and began to lecture.  The longer he lectured, the hotter I got.  Soon I was melted like a Popsicle.  My straightened hair was frizzed around my face, my clothes were sopping wet.  

I was assigned to work in the gate chamber where there was not even a breath of fresh air.  It was stifling!  I was so grateful when we got down in the dirt, the coool dirt.

Finally, the first break of the day.  I stumbled over the threshold stone at the city gate and as I was getting up I felt the coldness of the stone.  So, I just laid my head down on that cold, cold stone.

I may have been a prissy person when I arrived but I was also a quick learner.  The second day I slept until 5:30 AM, put on my filthy clothes, put my hair in a pony tail and with no makeup got on the bus.  I remember thinking to myself that I am so free now.  I was working on assignment from the Lord and that was all that mattered.

Someone took my picture while I was lying on the stone threshold.  Later back home I found Mark 8:22 which said Jesus brought a blind man out of the village of Bethsaida to heal him.  It was then I realized that Jesus entered and exited across the very threshold stone on which I laid my head.

That is what archaeology is all about meeting Jesus walking on this earth.

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Comments (1)

  • Lora Marney


    Your article in the book and here is wonderful. I remember Migiddo in the 100 degree heat. My brain was so fried that I could not even take notes. I don’t remember anything the tour guide related, just the blazing hot sun bearing down relentlessly.

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