For the class I’m taking, the professor asked us to write these ‘impressions’, basically diary entries about what you did that day. I figured this would be the quickest way to relate every past day. I haven’t actually finished them yet (I’m way behind), but here are the first four.
July 6th, 2012
Today was our first day spent entirely on the bus, traveling from site to site. We technically started at Qumran but not before entering a cave where some of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. I must confess, though it was fun to see the place where people discovered some important artifacts, I couldn’t thoroughly move past the smell of dog that permeated through the cave. In any case, we traveled from the cave to the actual city of ancient Qumran and learned a little about the Dead Sea Scrolls.
From there we went to Masada where we learned a lot of history that was previously unknown to me. At school, I study ancient Greek and Roman history but we don’t spend much time talking about the Jewish Revolt in the late 1st century. When I went to Masada, I discovered this whole part of Roman history that I had never learned before and I was utterly amazed.
Apparently, one of the major battles during the Jewish Revolt took place at Masada, a Jewish city that is situated on a bit of a steep hill. After a long battle, the Jews realized that they would not be able to preserve Masada and so to resist Roman slavery, they systematically killed themselves – an act that would bar them from Heaven in Jewish law – and when the Romans reached the city they didn’t find anyone there barring a few women and children. The history at this site was exciting to learn about and it felt more real than any of the other sites I had been to yet. Still, I couldn’t help but think that this act of supposed heroism carried out by the Jewish warriors was in fact the wrong decision to make.
Next we traveled over to Ein-gedi and walked along a trail to reach a tiny waterfall. The waterfall was so refreshing that it moved my mind away from any pain I had and let me experience a sense of tranquility. It was also fun to watch some of the other students stick their heads in the waterfall and be shocked by how cold and powerful it was. This was definitely my highlight of the day.
Next we saw a synagogue and admired the structure and architecture. Admittedly, archaeology isn’t one of my interests so at times this is lost on me but I can appreciate that other people are interested in it and find it fulfilling in some way.
Finally we went to the Dead Sea – or as it is more aptly called the Salt Sea – and stepped in for a bit. Most people floated in it but I watched on the side, noticing the salt rocks that lined the shore and the minerals that ended up on my legs just from stepping in. I also noticed how warm it was, especially in comparison to any beach that I’ve ever been to.
Overall, the day was fun since we saw many sights, some of which I may have even forgotten to include. Each day has proven more exciting than the last.