The First Months: Living in Tel Aviv, Studying at TAU / Benjamin Douglass
Living in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is truly a city that never sleeps. Every day, from before sunrise to well after sunset the streets are full, busy, and loud. Waking up for classes is easy. The Sun is shining, people are walking about on their daily routine, and the streets are full of cars, taxis, buses and motorbikes honking at each other to get out of the way. After classes your time is yours to do with as you wish, and Tel Aviv offers a dazzling array of activities. Outdoor markets, shopping malls, parks, beaches, and museums are everywhere you look.
Near campus, there is the Ramat Aviv shopping center, Tagore Square shopping plaza, the Eretz Yisrael Museum, the Diaspora Museum, and a nice beach on the other side of Sde Dov Airport. There is also an open park that follows the Yarkon River, great for an afternoon walk or run.
Ancient Jaffa. Just a walking distance from Tel Aviv.
South of the Yarkon River in the center of the city, the opportunities are endless. Dizengoff St. and Ben Yehuda St. are full of shops and cafes that warmly invite the casual window shopper. The main beaches of Tel Aviv are just a short walk away from the main tourist streets. The Sarona neighborhood, one of the oldest quarters of Tel Aviv, is a must-see. The historic city of Jaffa is just a short trip south, and its flee market, harbor, and slower atmosphere is a welcome break from the bustle of Tel Aviv.
Studying at TAU
When on campus, the workload varies. Mondays are the busiest days, Wednesdays are fairly busy, and Tuesdays and Thursdays are not that taxing schedule-wise. We are always practicing our Ancient Greek or thinking about state formation in the Levant. Usually there is a short break between classes, which gives us time to grab a quick bite to eat or buy a cup of coffee for the next class.
The content of the courses ranges from the historical background of pre-Biblical Levant to the archaeological discoveries at specific sites like Megiddo. Each class invokes a different methodology of teaching, giving us as students a different view of archaeological academia. With Professor Israel Finkelstein we are learning the history of archaeological research at the site of Megiddo. His very interesting lectures go into detail about the methods applied to trying to understand the course of habitation at such an important site, and focuses a great deal on stratigraphy, absolute dating, and connecting the details to the broader picture.
Ceramics class at TAU
With Dr. Omer Sergi we are taking a much different approach while learning the general history of the Levant. Most classes we come prepared to discuss and argue about different interpretations of the archaeological finds. We read for class two opposing views, identify their underlying claims and the evidence presented, and examine the strengths and weaknesses of both sides. This active learning and discussion of the history of the Land of the Bible gives us as future experts the tools to analyze other scholars’ work. This will give us the necessary methods to make contributions in to the field in the future. Both styles of teaching are valuable for archaeologists and students of biblical history.
Class with Dr. Omer Sergi
This coming Friday will be our first archaeological tour, which we are all anxiously awaiting, as it will provide us with a chance to visit the sites we have been discussing during the beginning of our studies. Seeing and touching the artifacts and sites that are memorialized in the literature is one of the great benefits to studying here in Tel Aviv, with some of the leading figures in Levantine archaeological and biblical research.