Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Jericho and Photospheres!

Today there's lots to tell about, and I probably won't be able to do it all before I need to go to Arabic class. So there's three main things I want to touch on. Here we go!

1 - Jericho Field Trip
Monday is our regular field trip day so far. We only had a half a day, so we really rocketed through the sites we saw. This week we went one of only 3 times to the West Bank. Paranoid people, don't you worry. We had security and are always aware when we go. Here are some of the sites we saw:
  • Tell Jericho: Home of The oldest city in the world... that we know of - Just in case you don't know, a Tell is a mound of earth, covering layer after layer of civilization. They are everywhere in Israel. I kind of didn't believe they existed at first, because my American upbringing just can't see the reason why someone would build new stuff on top of a bunch of old rubble. There are a few reasons why they did this throughout history, but let's just say the easiest one to understand is fortification. It elevates the city above everything around it, giving it a defensible position. That being said, below a photosphere (more on that later) on top of Tell Jericho. It doesn't even begin to explore what's there, but it's a start. We got to walk around this tell, look at the oldest standing structure known to mankind, the Neolithic tower, and even take a look at a trench dug in the tell, which let us see all of the different layers of earth. One particularly interesting layer is a black one, when the city was burned down and left in ashes. We could also see remains of a wall along the outside! Lots of cool stuff.
Tell Jericho (Photosphere)
The Neolithic Tower: The world's oldest known standing structure. 
It goes deeper down on the inside
  • Herod's Winter Palace - This is the Herod that was king of the Jews during Christ's time. You know.. the one that killed all the babies... and his wife... and his kids. He was a megalomaniacal, paranoid man. Lots of dead people around him. But he was also a brilliant builder. He built like, dozens of palaces, I swear. Some of the tallest mountains in the area are man-made. He would build up ridiculous amounts of earth and put a palace on top. The Herodian was the biggest, grandest one of these, and it's where he was buried. Some archaeologists just discovered his tomb about five years ago, and it's on display in a special exhibit in the Israel Museum right now. I've seen it. It's pretty cool.
  • Judaean Wilderness - (Matthew 4) This is the area where Jesus went to fast for 40 days to be with God. Notice the almost absolute barrenness of the landscape. Not much to eat other than rocks. On the way there, I had an experience I'll never forget. Those of you who have been on a road trip with me know that I don't get sick for anything while traveling. I can read a book while looking backwards in a car for 8 hours with no motion sickness. But as we were driving to this overlook at around 11:30 AM, I started feeling a bit queasy.  Lucky for me, Sister Woods had a little bit of bread for our bus when we got off. It only took 5 hours after breakfast and I started feeling sick as soon as I entered the Judaean Wilderness, but the Savior had no bread and no water out there for 40 days in the hot sun! I can attest from personal experience that it would have taken immense self-control to do what He did.
Judaean Wilderness Overlook (Photosphere)
It is so useful in my gospel study to be able to see the places that I read about in the scripture! It's fun to stand at the top of a little hill and your teacher point a few feet away, saying, "When Joshua came to conquer Jericho, his spies went to check the place out. Rahab the Harlot helped them do this. She lived right along the wall, so it would have been in this kind of a spot along the wall."  It's amazing!

Okay, so if you don't know about photospheres, you obviously haven't been around me much in the last year or so. I love photospheres! They are like a 3D picture that puts you in the center and lets you look all around you. One of my specific responsibilities on the memories committee is to take photospheres in some of the great locations worth capturing. This album is now public, and I update it weekly as we journey to new sites. So far it includes locations such as the Temple Mount (Dome of the Rock), the entrance to The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Beer-Sheva overlook in the Negev Desert, Jericho, Judaean Wilderness, and maybe 1 or 2 more I can't think of right now. Check it out!

There's always more to say, but never enough time to say it all. Until next time!

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