9-11 rememberance
       Israel 2006 
Kenosha News
2006 08 - Kenosha News Article 000
2006 08 - Kenosha News Article 001
2006 08 - Kenosha News Article 002

text from August 3, 2006 Kenosha News article by Terry Flores  -  Inntrepid

Group finishes dig in Israel befor worst violence erupts

by Terry Flores  tflores@kenoshanewd.com

Even before the intense violence between Israel and Lebanon erupted last month, a Carthage College professor and his students participating in an archaeological excavation near those countries’ border sensed the evidence of an enduring conflict that was always a mere stone’s throw away.

Earlier this summer, professor Dan Schowalter, chairman of the college’s religion department, and eight Carthage students visited the Omrit site in northern Israel for the first time as a part an excavation partnership with Macalester College.

While the group left before the violence intensified in July, early in their five-week session that began May 15, Schowalter said they experienced shelling that came from Hezbollah fighters near the southern border of Lebanon.

The students and Schowalter stayed at a kibbutz called Kefar Szold, six miles southeast of their dig site.  The kibbutz is located about 10 miles south of the Lebanese border and three miles west of Syria.

“When the shelling took place, we were told we had to go to the bomb shelter, an aboveground reinforced structure.  We used it, not so much as a bomb shelter, but it became our everyday work area,” he said Wednesday, as he clicked away on his laptop at the digital photos of the artifacts that included oil lamps, jewelry, pottery and gold coins from a 13th century Arabic settlement.

Schowalter said the artifacts remain in Israel and have the potential to be exhibited at the Israel Archeological Museum.

The shelling “was a disconcerting experience,” he said.  “You feel real concerned about the fact that you have students.  If there had been further problems, we’d have discontinued (the dig).”

The Carthage group left Israel JUne 25, a couple of weeks before the more sustained fighting began.

Schowalter, who has led the dig for Macalester the last seven years, said the area has always experienced tensions.

Fortunately, the remainder of their time unearthing artifacts from the site - which is home to an early Roman imperial temple complex and another temple built by Herrod the Great to honor Augustus, the first Roman emperor - was not as jarring, he said.  The site also has evidence of Byzantine and Arabic settlements.

Yet the site has attracted a lot of attention over the centuries -  especially from a military stategic standpoint dating back to the time of the ancient Romans.

“If you look at it now, it’s a continuation of a theme in terms of modern realities,” he said.

The significance of the site wasn’t lost on the students, he said.

Carthage students Amanda Kidwell, 21, and her fiance Zac Myers, 22, both of Kenosha, said they feel fortunate to have participated in the dig.

Myers, a senior who is studying both  archeology and geography, said since the fighting began he’s thought about the site’s value to history.

“It’s kind of like, you try to look back and imagine what it looked like back in the day (of ancient society),” he said.  “For the most part, it’s interesting to see that it’s a very significant place or could be considered a significant place to fight over.  You really don’t find too much ancient weaponry ... but we have a lot more of the site to dig up yet.”

For Kidwell, the kibbutz was a special place where she formed a strong bond with  people who took care of them.  In the days after Myers left and the violence began she, she said she could almost visualize what was going on.

While she was there, she remembered the beige, heavily armed Israeli helicopters that would fly twice a day to the borders.

“They had big guns attached to the bottom of them.  But the feeling at the kibbutz was, ‘This is the life.’  No one really seemed to get anxious about, so why should we?” she said.

Kidwell said most of the time her focus was on the dig and the immersion in the culture.  When they weren’t working, the students traveled to other well-known sites in Jerusalem and to Masada, the site of the Great Jewish Revolt.

“It was very heart-wrenching the first few days after we learned of the fighting,” said Kidwell, a senior and studying psychology.  “It’s such a beautiful and amazing country, and we really go to know Israel.  So hearing about it and the violence really got to me because such wonderful people have to live through such a thing.”

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last edited 8-10-2006



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