Erin is a Ph.D. candidate at Tel Aviv University, writing her dissertation on cult in the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
She is also a staff member of the Kiriath-Jearim Expedition and has also worked at Tell es-Safi/Gath, Tel Azekah and in the Negev Highlands, so she is an excellent person to ask for advice on packing for an excavation.
So, let’s get right to it! What is the first thing you put in your bag when you start packing?
Socks and underwear, and plenty of them!
How much is plenty?
Probably about a dozen or so. And I always pack my good working shoes! Sneakers with a hard toe, preferably also breathable because of the heat. Tennis shoes will do, but if you can find something more protective for your toes, you’ll be better off.
What’s the best tip you have about work clothes?
Comfy, but also things that can sustain the outdoors, are loose, light, and will provide protection from the sun…. plus, I know it sounds weird to pack a sweater for the Israeli summer, but when you wake up early it can be a little cold.
And how about after work clothes?
I usually pack one pair of jeans or long pants, and one pair of sweatpants or yoga pants, just so I have options. But it’s really important to also have another pair of shoes or sandals so your work shoes can have some time to air out. I usually have one set of clothes that are a bit more “fancy” because there are some afternoon activities that go on (last season we even had a “fancy party”), or we might go out in the evening to a restaurant. But if I’m forced to pack really lightly the secret is… to have tops and t-shirts that can be both afternoon and work attire.
And a swim suit… there is an amazing pool right in the kibbutz we are staying at!
If you are planning on traveling to Jerusalem, the Baha’i Gardens, Nazareth, or other religious sites, you will need to bring appropriate clothing. For ladies, this is either long pants or a long (knee-length or longer) skirt and a shirt that covers your shoulders. For men it means wearing regular pants, and sometimes also long shorts.
What are some other excavation essentials?
Sun screen, hat, and water bottle are a must! It’s also important to bring mosquito repellent, wet wipes, shampoo, soap, a notebook and writing utensils, allergy medication, eye contact solution, phone charger, and feminine products. But I don’t get too stressed about these kinds of things because there is a store a few minutes’ walk from where we will be staying.
Other than that, I bring 2 towels with me, one for the shower and another for the pool.
I also bring a small bag, so I can put in it all the things I’ll need during the dig day, and…if you’re planning on doing your laundry in the kibbutz you will also need a mesh bag.
What do you put in your dig bag?
Other than my sunscreen, hat and water bottle, I bring a granola bar or a light snack. We get breakfast and lunch but sometimes I need an extra little something. Hand sanitizer, baby wipes, and, because I wear contacts, I also bring my contact case and glasses in case some dirt gets in my eyes.
And for those who are coming from overseas, what are things that they must do before?
As I said, you’ll find any product you might need here in Israel, and it’s likely that you’ll even find the brand that you’re used to. However, make sure you fill up on any prescriptions of things that you regularly use.
If you’re coming from the US you should pack a plug converter.
You should also make photocopies of your passport and put them in different bags, just in case. Look online for phone plans in Israel, for about 100 shekels you could probably find a good pre-paid plan that will last you the entire month, and you may need to contact your carrier unlock your phone for overseas travel.
Don’t forget to tell your bank that you’ll be in Israel!