It may seem a bit odd to begin a new excavation season far away from home with the words ‘homeward bound’, but of course this is not a normal travel trip. For a veteran of the Kinneret Regional Project, the guest house of Karei Deshe is a home away from home. We arrived on the 17th of June after a flight that required us to get up far too early. However this did allow us to meet up with the Swiss and Finnish staff members of the project during the voyage. We travelled to our home on the shore at the Sea of Galilee together and spent an evening catching up in the wonderful garden of the guest house.
|The lab is just about ready to go.|
So far, we have managed to build up the shelter lab so that all the staff members can begin working and the specialists will have the space they need to work on their areas of interest. This required us to make a courtesy visit to the Tabgha pilgerhaus and unload the storage room. The sauna-like conditions of the place allowed us to acclimatise somewhat to the conditions which are so typical of the region. Byron McCane and his crew of American students arrived from Jerusalem in the afternoon and a group of staff members was able to empty the shelves in the local gas station during the evening, in their eternal quest for more beer and chocolate milk.
Not everything is going well in the Galilee though. The water height in the lake is only one metre above the red line which indicates severe water shortages. This has made the water withdraw unusually far on the beach of the Sea of Galilee. Because of the lower level, the lake also warms up considerable more. The current water temperature is quite warm for the time of the year. Furthermore, a few nights back there was a fire at the monastery complex of the Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha. Some offices and a large hall were damaged, but the church itself and the mosaics didn’t suffer damage and apart from a few people with breathing problems, everyone was okay. Currently, the suspects for the arson are a group of ultraorthodox teenagers, but the investigation is still ongoing.
|The Church at Tabgha.|
Despite all this, it feels good to be back. It’s been a year since we were here and longer since we did any actual field work. Everyone is glad to see each other again itching to get stuck in. We're still not enamoured by the thought of five weeks of chicken, but we will have no problem in forgetting that once the finds from a fresh season of digging start coming in. I will be happily clicking away with my camera for all four weeks!