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Digging deep

Students from an Edmond college are digging up history on an archaeological trip in Israel.

Greg Horton August 29th, 2012

Students from Edmond’s Herbert W. Armstrong College recently traveled to Israel to work on an archaeological dig site possibly linked to King Solomon.

About 20 Armstrong students and faculty members were sent to Jerusalem to work with Hebrew University’s Eilat Mazar, an Israeli archaeologist best known for her claim of having discovered the palace of King David. She has been unearthing a wall near Jerusalem’s Temple Mount that she dates to the time of King Solomon.

Often criticized for her use of the Hebrew scriptures as a means of dating or identifying objects, Mazar nevertheless has managed to unearth remarkable finds.

Her critics, including Tel Aviv University archaeologist Israel Finkelstein, told National Geographic that caution is necessary when attempting to use sacred texts to identify finds. However, he agreed that Mazar’s latest excavation could have been part of Solomon’s wall, a defensive structure referenced in the Bible.

Armstrong spokesperson Shane Granger said an advance group led by college president Stephen Flurry moved to Israel in June to prepare for the archaeology group’s arrival. The students are with archaeology instructor Brent Nagtegaal, an Armstrong alumnus with four previous excavations to his credit.

Among the students is Monica Antonio, a 21-year old senior from the Philippines. This is her first trip to Israel, and she said she is excited to “touch history.”

“I’m excited to see where the biblical kings lived,” she said. “Digging up history is the most exciting part.”

Class credit is being given for the excavation work. The group will remain in Israel until shortly after New Year’s Day of 2013.

Also with the group is Callum Wood, a 21-year-old junior from Australia. He said the group has been taking basic Hebrew classes to help with the transition.

“We’re staying and working in the heart of Jerusalem,” he said. “We’re living in the German Quarter and digging at the base of the Temple Mount.”

Wood said he volunteered because he sees it as a great opportunity to see Israel and participate in history.

“I’m a landscaper for the college,” Wood said, “so I know how to swing a pickax.”

A selection of Mazar’s previous findings is currently on display at Armstrong Auditorium.

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