“Our bus departs before dawn, filled with the sounds of a spoken Bible passage, prayer, and song. Arriving at the dig, we climb the hill and pause at the top, enthralled again by the view of Jerusalem. As I reflect on the terrain and Joshua’s strategy to capture Ai, the ruins underneath me are transformed: the ancient gate looms tall and impenetrable, and the sling stones are freshly chiseled—held in the strong hands of a warrior who used them 3,500 years ago. Hoisting a pick, I’m eager for another day of digging and fellowship with my team.”
Each year, volunteers with Associates for Biblical Research testify to the life-changing experience of digging in the Holy Land.
The experience Vanessa describes here isn’t limited to trained archaeologists. In fact, Vanessa is a volunteer. Since 1995, Associates for Biblical Research has been digging 9 miles (14.5 km) north of Jerusalem at Khirbet el-Maqatir, the probable city of Ai recorded in Joshua 7–8. Volunteers from around the world join ABR on this exciting dig every year, no experience required. Each year, volunteers testify to the life-changing experience of digging in the Holy Land.
Rebekah, another volunteer who heard of ABR’s dig in Answers magazine, learned so much from the experience in 2014 that she plans to return this year:
“I read Answers magazine to learn science-based Bible apologetics, but I didn’t put archaeology in this category until I read "Getting Archaeology Right at Ai" (Answers, July–September 2013, pp. 36–38). Then I decided to join the 2014 dig team. We saw the valley where the Israelites hid in ambush. We dug up pottery and watched the staff expertly date it to Joshua’s time. We learned about artifact dating, architectural structures, ancient Israelite culture, geography and chronology. I saw firsthand how the evidence supports the biblical account. I realize now why people enjoy archaeology. I’m glad I went, and I can’t wait to go back!”