“I wanted to recommend highly the Archaeological Seminars – Dig for a Day . went with my 10 year old son yesterday. we had a brilliant time ! To keep him happy and busy and enthusiastic for 3 hours is not simple … this activity was perfect !”
Real Archaeological Dig!
Review by Deborah Dickson (August 2013):
WOW! what a fun,rewarding family day out!
Highly recommended – for all ages from 4yrs to teens to adults to grandparents!
So, what do you do there? Here was our experience…
We left from Raanana and the journey took about 1hr. We were told to meet a guide at the petrol station opposite the sign to the Beit Guvrin site. We were quickly met by someone from the dig who told us to use the bathrooms (there are none at the site), drink lots of water (there is none at the site) and stock up if we needed more while we waited for a few more cars to go in convoy up to Beit Guvrin. We got our kids ice cream too as we were early and you are not meant to eat on the site either…
We followed the convoy and parked our car and enjoyed a great introduction by our charismatic, lovely guide, Missie who chose our son to help explain how this site came to be by demonstrating with baseball caps how each new layer of building went one on top of the other over the years. We were all amazed to hear that there are 5000 caves on the site…with amazing findings there everyday – by ‘normal’ people like us.
Then we set off for our cave for the day – called ‘Parallel’. We left our belongings at the top and climbed down a rickety staircase into a cave that was being excavated by people like us. Here’s my daughter on her way down – very excited!
Once down we were shown how to use the tools and set to work! Amusingly the first thing Missie told us all to do was sit down…no more staying clean – it was time to get into the job and get dusty and filthy and start discovering! Some of my photos actually show the dust in the air – you will not stay clean – and if you do, then it means you didn’t get involved enough!
It took us a few minutes to find our area but it was not long before we started finding bones from animals and bits of pottery. These caves were the ‘basements’ of the inhabitants from over 2000 years ago, and were used to throw away their remains…as Missie put it, these bones are their leftovers from the bbq dinners and what they ate gives us another clue into what type of people they were and all sorts of other information. Similarly the types of pottery, what they are made from all complete the ancient picture.
We were very happy with our ‘good’ bucket including an old door handle, the bottom of a jug, many old bones (yuk!), charcoal, and bits of pottery. My son uncovered a large area of the basement floor – the first person to stand on it for over 2000 years!
He was thrilled and brushed it clean. My four year old took on the job of putting rocks in a bucket to help the clear out and enjoyed taking every find to one of the official ‘digger’ to see if it was any good.
Needless to say that when we were called to put our tools down it was hard to stop…it’s very addictive!
We then did a chain and passed the buckets of rubble up the stairs ready for the next stage – sifting through the rubble in case something else was in there. The kids loved doing this and we found a few more pieces of pottery!
Now onto the third part of our Archaeological experience…we went inside a cave that has not yet started being excavated. If you are claustrophobic or physically challenged this might not be for you…admittedly i did start feeling a bit nervous in there but once I realized the climb was from one entrance to an exit at the other end (which from on top was not that far away) I felt better about it – plus I knew I had to seem like I was happy as could be for my children who were having THE best time! They took the narrow entrances and slidey paths in their stride and were thrilled to be in a real cave – in the dark – lit by candles. It felt like a great family adventure and I was so glad I did it with them.
As a cute touch at the end the children were allowed to take from the bits of pottery that had no more use for the analysts. The cute suggestion to take home 9 pieces to make a chanukiah, to be able to light and truly represent the time period of the Chanukah story was a cute touch that my children appreciated.
I really think this is such a worthwhile activity to do with the whole family and an experience the children will talk about for a long time! Worth the money…and with a Matmon National Park card you don’t need to pay to enter the site (which also has the Bell caves and other sites to explore without a guide)