Archaeology on TV : Time Team in Palestine
Archaeology on TV : Time Team in Palestine
It is a special edition of 'Time Team' the popular Archaeology show on Channel 4 with the usual host Tony Robinson. The series has returned and includes an episode filmed much further afield than usual.
After the opening credits Tony introduces the show.
Tony : Hello and welcome to another edition of 'Time Team' with me, Tony Robinson. And it's an extra special edition of the show today as we've left the distant shores of Old Blighty. Today we are in the Holy Land to look at a really interesting project taking place here. Yes! We are in Israel and we are going to investigate a new and exciting archaeological dig at this site near Bethlehem. With me is Ahmed Abdullah who is a Senior Archaeologist at the Birzeit University in Ramallah. Welcome to the show Ahmed.
Ahmed : Thank you very much Tony, I'm glad to be here with you. But I have to say right away that 'here' is not actually Israel.
Tony : It isn't
Ahmed : No, no, no, my good friend. Israel is over there.
Tony : Oh right! Over there behind that huge, big wall in the distance?
Ahmed : Hmm, not quite behind that wall. Not immediately anyway you know. It's more like three or four miles behind it.
Tony : I see. So what is immediately behind the wall?
Ahmed : The same as is here beneath our feet, the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Tony : Wow! That's quite a mouthful.
Ahmed : That's no problem, you can call it the OPT for short.
Tony : OK! I'll go with that. In other words the wall goes through your land.
Ahmed : Exactly! That's the Separation Barrier as the Israelis like to call it.
Tony : Oh that one? Yes, I've heard about it. But I thought it was on the border.
Ahmed : Allah bless you dear Tony. Many of you British make the same mistake. It is a little like your Hadrian's Wall is it not? Many of us are thinking that was a border too but as you know it is all in England.
Tony : Yeah that's true Ahmed. The Roman's certainly took a bath on that one.
Ahmed : They had baths on the wall?
Tony : Erm! No! Just a joke. I mean they didn't quite get it right
Ahmed : The Romans didn't get a lot right over here either.
Tony : I guess not. So how come this wall went off course?
Ahmed : Ohhh but it didn't. It's all a deliberate land grab you see, stealing more of our territory.
Tony : But I thought it was to stop terrorists.
Ahmed : They hope so but only once it's finished.
Tony: It's not complete then?
Ahmed : No No! Right now there's miles of gaps in it. I don't think the Israeli army have invisible force fields yet so the wall won't stop anybody.
Tony : We're going into Star Trek territory there. A fascinating introduction Ahmed but can we now move onto why we're here today. Let's go over to the site where I can see many of your colleagues working away there. Tell me more as we walk. First of all can you explain to me how the site was discovered?
Ahmed : Quite by accident Tony. One of those Israeli armoured bulldozers went over a land-mine and caused a hole in the ground which exposed these old artefacts.
Tony : My goodness! What an awful thing to have happened. But lucky for us I suppose.
Ahmed : And lucky for my uncle too
Tony : How come?
Ahmed : They were trying to knock down his house.
Tony : Oh dear! And obviously he didn't want that to happen.
Ahmed : Not really. Especially as he was still inside at the time.
Tony : But why did they want to bulldoze it?
Ahmed : Because he built it without permission.
Tony : I see.
Ahmed: Yeah, but they got no permission to be here so they can piss off.
Tony : I must admit it sounds a very extreme housing policy. Even worse than Westminster Council back in London.
Ahmed : Do they bust the Geneva Convention too?
Tony : I wouldn't put it past them mate. But here we are now at the site with all your guys beavering away. I notice that they are all wearing hard hats Ahmed, but there doesn't appear to be any hazards overhead. You're very safety conscious here.
Ahmed : So would you be next to a settler school.
Tony : Is that the building nearby up on the hillside?
Ahmed : That's right. In fact most of the Israeli settlements are up on the hills. It gives a good field of fire.
Tony : What do you mean?
Ahmed : I mean as soon as those kids come out of school it's raining rocks and stones like, you know as you English say, cats and dogs.
Tony : Why do they do that? Don't they like you?
Ahmed : I don't think they like anybody.
Tony: That's a pity but let's move on. Can I ask what this dig is over here? It's very unusual for a 'Time Team' excavation. I notice that most of your work is only 6 inches to a foot down but here there is a 6-foot trench. What have you discovered down there?
Ahmed : We discovered that it's a lot safer than up here!
Tony : Excuse me?
Ahmed: We built it for Parent's Day.
Tony : Sorry! I don't quite follow you
Ahmed : Up the hill.
Tony : Oh! For the school? Oh yes I see. You mean to say that the parents throw rocks too?
Ahmed : Are you kidding? Them mums and dads don't carry no stones, they got guns!
Tony : That's shocking. They actually open fire on you?
Ahmed : What do you expect? They're all trigger-happy. But you shouldn't really be surprised Tony my friend.
Tony : Why not?
Ahmed : Cos most of them are Americans.
Tony : I suppose the Yanks are always throwing their weight around when they're abroad. You seem to be working in very difficult and trying conditions.
Ahmed : At least the weather's nice
Tony : Amen to that. Our last show was up in Scotland in the middle of a snowstorm. Stuck in freezing Ecclefechan.
Ahmed : Can you say that on TV?
Tony : No worries Ahmed although I'm still on de-frost I tell you. But now, back to the dig. What have you found here so far?
Ahmed : We're pretty sure that we've found the remains of an old house that once stood here.
Tony : Underneath this parkland.
Ahmed : Yes! And we've also found many pieces that confirm it was a domestic household. Probably over a hundred years old.
Tony : And even at this early stage have you any ideas of what happened to it?
Ahmed : Oh yeah! The Israelis flattened it!
Tony : You seem pretty sure.
Ahmed : Well, they flattened everything else around here back then.
Tony : So you have a rough date for the destruction?
Ahmed : I got an exact date for the destruction!
Ahmed : Yeah! May 1948!
Tony : Amazing! How can you be so accurate?
Ahmed : C'mon Tony my good man! Read your history. It was called the Nakba.
Tony : Sorry Ahmed, I have heard of that too. Yes, around 800,000 Palestinians left the land. That's certainly what I'd call a mass movement.
Ahmed : That's what we call ethnic cleansing.
Tony : Ah-ha! So they didn't leave on their own accord.
Ahmed : Best not to mention accords around here.
Tony : Erm Ok! So I guess they didn't leave of their own free will.
Ahmed : You got it! They ran for their lives and so would you unless you wanted a bullet up the ass!
Tony : I can't imagine what it was like
Ahmed : I think you might Tony my friend
Tony : How do you mean?
Ahmed : I mean there's a gang of them settlers coming down the road right now and I don't think they like your cameras.
Tony : Cripes! So they are. And what's that they're shouting at us?
Ahmed : They say "Hit the airport Baldrick unless you want a bullet up the ass!"
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