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August 18th, 2006
Campers dig learning
archaeology hands-on

By Kyle Schulz, Staff Writer

It's not unusual for young children to spend their summer days digging in the dirt, but for the children of the Ramah Day Camp in Elkins Park, getting dirty is all part of the learning experience.
From Aug. 3 to 10, dozens of children of all ages participated in "Dig the Past," a program that recreates the adventure of an Israeli excavation.

The junior archeologists dug through a life-size tel (archaeological mound), uncovered broken replicas of ancient artifacts brought from Israel and used real archeological tools to clean them off.

Afterward, the campers took their findings to their own archaeology lab where they used glue to restore the broken artifacts to get a better picture of life 2,000 years ago.
The children then moved on to a daily life station where they learned why excavating ancient artifacts and studying their ancestors are important.

"Archeology digging is considered a national pastime in Israel," explained Aaron Greener, director and project manager of the program. "And not only are we recreating the site, we're recreating the whole Israeli archeology experience. We're trying to be as realistic as we can by using real tools. A lot of the kids have the feeling that they're not digging in a sand box and that they're at an actual archeology dig."

Greener, an archeologist who excavates sites in Jerusalem, said the program allows children to touch the past with their own hands and feel a connection with ancient Israel.

The idea for the program came two years ago when Greener and his business partner, Mechael Osband, a fellow archeologist, witnessed American travelers enjoying the excavation as much as the Israelis.

"We saw how much fun the Americans were having at digs in Israel." Greener said. "So we thought it would be a good idea to bring the experience here."

The two soon developed a large archeological mound for a summer program in Detroit, Mich., and their idea was such a hit that they took it on the road to other camps.

Rahmah Day Camp Director Sue Ansul said the program fits in with the camp's goal to build connections between campers and Israel.
"This was fabulous," Ansul said. "I think it was a great opportunity for hands-on learning and it helps connect kids to the culture and people of Israel."

Thirteen-year-old camp counselor Raina Haas of Bala Cynwyd said the children had a blast the past week and also learned some lessons.

"The kids really seem to like it," she said. "It's fun to be outside. It encourages kids to try hard to keep searching for stuff."

While excavating artifacts is no clean job, Jenna Nordlinger, 7, of Elkins Park, said she doesn't mind the dirt and mud so much as long as she doesn't have to sit in it.

"The dirt's OK, but I don't like sitting down in it," she said. "But it's interesting because we get to find all this neat stuff."

 

dig@digthepast.org | 617.945.0326 | Gdud Hermesh St. 16/5, Jerusalem 97545, ISRAEL