Archaeological Dig

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By: Ronnie Sugerman
Today in Sdei Chemed (or should I say Nevah Zion) we set off early in the morning for an archaeological dig. After an hour drive we were greeted by our enthusiastic tour guide Missy. She told us that there are over 5,000 caves in Tal Merisha? and then proceeded to take us to one of them.
One by one we left the heat and entered the cave. We were immediately cooled off from the sun by the cave’s natural air conditioning. In the cave Missy explained that the people of Merisha used these caves as storage houses, but after being conquered they filled the caves up with dirt so that their enemies could not benefit from them. Our job was to sift through the Merisha citizen’s garbage in an attempt to learn about them and how they lived. 
The camp was divided into two rooms. Each camper was given a pickax  a trowel, and several buckets. The digging then immediately started. Using the pickax we would gently (yet very excitingly) make a hole in the dirt, then use the trowel (or our hands) to sift through the dirt looking for anything of value, which if found would get put into the find bucket, and then the remaining dirt would get thrown into the garbage bucket.
The camp as a whole found an array of items: countless pieces of pottery, animal bones, animal teeth, charcoal, and chalk (just to name a few). Not only did you feel a sense of accomplishment with every find (which only fueled your fire to find more), but knowing that you were the first person to touch these artifacts in over 2200 years made you feel important.
After we finished digging in the caves, we brought all the garbage buckets back out with us. Our next job was to sift through them in order to make sure there weren’t any valuables left in them that we might have missed. There were three people per sifter: one to dump the contents of the bucket onto the sifter and one on each side to shake the sifter. This was not only a source of fun, but also a good exercise.
Lastly, Missy took us to a cave that had not yet been excavated. We all went through in single-file line and were immediately enclosed in darkness. The only means of light were little white candles spread throughout the cave. It was a blast finding our way through the dark and shimmying our way through the tiny holes. On our way out we were allowed to take as many pottery pieces as we wanted as souvenirs, a cherry on top of an awesome trip.

On the way back to camp, we stopped at an indoor pool for some swimming. Jumping into the cool pool after a hot day outside was rejuvenating  But what started off as a calm swim quickly turned into an all out water battle. The goal: hit as many people as possible with the floater balls provided in the pool (splashing is allowed). Having Rabbi Adelman, Rabbi Rose, and Rabbi Reznek join us made it all the more fun. Sdei Chemed can transform a simple activity, such as swimming, into one of the best moments of camp so far.
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