There are many ways to do field trips. Our recent field trip to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Tx, to view the Dead Sea Scrolls the seminary owned and the seminary’s recreated dig site of Wadi Qumran where the scrolls were written over 2,000 years ago was primarily intended for the two students doing KONOS History of the World 1; however,……since it was such an opportunity AND we DO homeschool entire families, we took along three siblings who were mature enough to behave and get something out of the field trip. Our young guide, Marcella, was working on her Ph.D. in archaeology at the seminary and was extremely informative having had a great deal of experience on digs herself. The finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls is an incredible story, not only about how they were found but how Israel came to possess them, is definitely a miracle that I considered it too much to learn on the field trip. For that reason, I had prepped, especially the young kids, about the scrolls by reading them a book about the Dead Sea Scrolls and showing them oodles of pictures. Often times a field trip can be the initial exposure to introduce a subject, but if you think kids will be lost or become disinterested or not appreciate the priveledge they are having, build up and preparation is a better way to go.
Since it was an hour drive to get to Fort Worth from McKinney, I opted to start with an activity….a tour of the recreated ruins of Wadi Qumran and the dig for artifacts first before we viewed the Dead Sea Scrolls and toured the museum. We knew from our reading that most experts agree a Jewish breakaway sect called the Essenes wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, but we did not know the Essenes participated in ritual bathes. The recreated city of Qumran showed large square pits with stairs leading down into the pits indicating the pits were ritual bathes, but the stairs had a small wall down the middle of the stairs. “What was the purpose of the wall?” Marcella asked the kids. After a few more leading questions, the kids got it. Dirty going down in and clean coming up out do not need to touch least they contaminate the clean!
Next, it was the kids turn to excavate with the tools provided and uncover items they found. They took care not to hurry and be patient always keeping their site areas clean with brushes as Marcella said. Three kids found a column they began to excavate and two found a buried jar. After 45 minutes of digging, Marcella said we had to move on to see the scrolls, but the kids had definitely experienced what it was like
to be on a archeaological dig and the techniques required of and archeaologist ….PATIENCE!!!!! Jameson reported to his dad, “We found a clay jar, with a handle, but we couldn’t just jerk it, out and we did not have enough time to dig it out completely.”
After our digs, it was time for our second stop, The Dead Sea Scrolls, which were totally amazing! We learned that the Essenes wrote below the line from right to left….which is why the writing is so straight on top…mostly in Hebrew but also in Aramaic, Greek, and Nabataean-Aramaic…..AND Marcella pointed out where the papyrus pieces were sewn together to accomodate the very long scroll of Isaiah!
Everything from photographs of translators translating the Dead Sea Scrolls with cigarettes in their hands (Augh!!! Can you imagine if they had dropped ashes on the scrolls???!!!!) to the replicas of the jars the scrolls were stored in were completely astounding!
Finally, we quickly went through a small museum of the seminary’s ancient artifacts of period pottery where you could see the distinctives of each period as well as trace the progression and changes in the design of clay oil lamps through the ages. There were several Assyrian wall reliefs showing an Assyrian king and an Assyrian seige of a city.
This was an AWSOME FIELD TRIP with an AWSOME GUIDE! Guides make a huge difference, so I recommend a lot of prayer before hand. Not all field trips turn out to be so wonderful, but I am PTL for this one!