A Day with the Duttons (or, How Much Can Gentiles Pack Into a Sabbath?)

Last weekend I had the privilege to be with Trent and Rebekah Dutton. The Duttons are a great couple with an interesting story. Both are computer programmers with experience in military applications. Their interest in biblical geography and archaeology grew as they taught Bible classes at church, and piqued after a tour of Israel with Ferrell Jenkins in 2012. In short, they made a career change and are starting the two-year process to earn an M.A. in Biblical Archaeology at Wheaton College. (They were both accepted to Wheaton and are going through the program concurrently.) The first stage of their program is to excavate at Ashkelon with the Leon Levy Expedition for its full six-week season, followed by a semester of coursework in Jerusalem. They will then move to the Chicago area for the remaining 1-1/2 years of the program (with another Bible Lands dig next summer to boot.)

They and I have mutual friends who helped us to connect in Israel and spend part of a weekend together.

Trent and Rebekah Dutton enjoying the waterfalls and pools of Ein Gedi. Rebekah did, in fact, stand under one of the waterfalls. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Trent and Rebekah Dutton enjoying the waterfalls and pools of Ein Gedi. A few seconds after this photo was taken, Rebekah went over to a waterfall and allowed it to drench her. Trent got some excellent photos of the experience which will no doubt be posted on their joint blog. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

After Ein Gedi we went to the Dead Sea for a long, relaxing float as the sun began to set. I’m afraid I have no photo of that experience since my camera batteries had died, though the Duttons were able to get some nice shots of their first experience in the water. We enjoyed a quiet Friday evening by the Dead Sea as Shabbat (Sabbath) began and rested for our adventures the next day.

Our Sabbath morning began by driving south along the Dead Sea and then moving up into the Negev toward the ancient city of Arad.

We drove up from the Dead Sea to the ancient fortress of Arad. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

The ancient fortress of Arad. During the time of Moses, Arad’s king attacked the Israelites and took captives. Later, the descendants of Jethro (the Kenites) settled in this area.  During the Iron Age (kingdom period) the fortress protected the border against Edom and the Amelekites. Arad was destroyed several times in the kingdom period and has produced ostraca (inscriptions on pottery) that reveal something of the development of Iron Age Hebrew. The fortress has been restored to appear as it did during the time of the kingdom of Judah. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

After Arad we drove WNW to Beersheba (Beer Sheva). This city was considered the southern boundary of Israelite settlement. (“From Dan to Beersheba…”) Abraham spent a number of years around Beer Sheva and no doubt would have entered the city from time to time for trade, consultations, negotiations for water/grazing rights, etc.

Trent at Beer Sheva. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Trent Dutton at Beer Sheva. He is standing next to a replica of an altar that was destroyed during Hezekiah’s religious reforms. The original altar was part of a high place in the city and is on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Iron Age Beer Sheva had casemate walls with private dwellings abutting the inner wall. This architectural style did not exist in Philistea, Canaanite cities, or in northern Israel. In Canaan, this design was unique to Judah and can be found at other southern sites such as Khirbet Qeiyafa and Tel en-Nasbeh (Mizpah).

Rebekah examining Iron Age casemate walls at Beersheba. Visitors are required to wear hard hats to enter the underground water system that was carved into the bedrock during the early Iron Age. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Rebekah examining Iron Age casemate walls at Beersheba. She is standing in an Israelite house that abutted the city wall. Noticing her hard hat? Visitors at Beer Sheva are required to wear hard hats to enter the underground water system that was carved into the bedrock during the early Iron Age (kingdom period). Photo by Luke Chandler.

After Beersheba we drove north to the Judean foothills (Shephelah). Most restaurants are closed on Saturdays due to Shabbat, so we enjoyed a nice gas station lunch by the Elah Valley consisting of sandwiches, chips, and chocolate. As it happens, Khirbet Qeiyafa was just a few minutes from our lunch spot…

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Our gourmet lunch from an Elah Valley gas station. It actually turned out quite nicely. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

After giving the Duttons a tour of Khirbet Qeiyafa, we drove to the coast, to the land of the ancient Philistines, where they gave me a tour of Ashkelon.

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The Canaanite rampart and gate (under the roof) at Ashkelon. This rampart circled Ashkelon on three sides (the fourth side was the beach) and protected the city in the Middle Bronze Age – around the time of the Patriarchs. Philistines moved in centuries later and became the new proprietors. This was the city where Samson killed thirty Philistines and took their clothes to satisfy a bet he lost in Judges 15. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

The view from the top of the rampart by the gate. Yes, there are far worse places to excavate than on a beach with an ocean breeze. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

The view from the top of the rampart by the gate. Yes, there are far worse places to excavate than along a picturesque beach with an ocean breeze. (Photo by Luke Chandler)

Trent and your truly standing next to Crusader walls at Ashkelon.

Trent and your truly standing next to the ruins of Crusader walls at Ashkelon. Ashkelon was a major base and port for the early Crusaders. Richard III (Lionheart) stayed here for a time during his campaigns against Saladin. The Muslims eventually leveled the entire city to prevent it from ever again being used by crusading Europeans. From an archaeological perspective, this protected the site from further development and preserved many nice things for us to find. (Photo by Rebekah Dutton)

We ended our day with a hot meal by the beach in modern Ashkelon. The Duttons went to their excavation hotel to rest up for work the next day while I drove back to Jerusalem that evening. From the Dead Sea to the Negev, to the Shephelah, to the coast, to Jerusalem – with numerous site visits – all in one day. And with great company.

As I write this, the Duttons are in their last week with the Ashkelon excavation. You can follow their blog as they wrap up the dig and prepare for a semester in Jerusalem.

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About LukeChandler

Luke holds an M.A. in Ancient and Classical History and has been an adjunct professor at Florida College in Temple Terrace, Florida. Luke and his wife Melanie have five children. He serves as a minister in English and Spanish with the North Terrace Church of Christ and participates annually in archaeological excavations in Israel. Luke also leads tours to Europe and the Bible Lands.
This entry was posted in Biblical Archaeology, Christians in Other Places, General Archaeology, Israel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to A Day with the Duttons (or, How Much Can Gentiles Pack Into a Sabbath?)

  1. David Perlmutter says:

    Luke you missed 2 great lunch opportunities! Closest is Mike & Sharon’s Bistro in Kibbutz Galon, a South African grill restaurant. A few minutes further in Kibbutz Gat is La Terra Promessa, an Italian & Indian restaurant open only on weekends or for groups during the week.

  2. Great photos — reminiscing about prior visits to several of those locations. We look forward to having Trent & Rebekah back with us in Chicagoland when their sojourn there is over!

  3. Reblogged this on ἐκλεκτικός and commented:
    Great photos — reminiscing about prior visits to several of those locations. We look forward to having Trent & Rebekah back with us in Chicagoland when their sojourn there is over!

    • lukechandler says:

      They mentioned to me they were planning to worship at Downer’s Grove. I’m sure you’ll discover some time to stroll the Oriental Institute with them!

  4. vanbraman says:

    I had a great time with Trent and Rebekah last year on the tour with Ferrell. Maybe someday I can help them on a dig :-). Going on a dig is one of my bucket list items.

    • lukechandler says:

      How about coming with me to dig at Lachish next year? I’ll be getting details together on that in the next few months. It’s an opportunity to dig at one of the legacy sites in Israel. The trip should fall somewhere in the late-June through mid-July range. What do you think?

      • vanbraman says:

        I will dig up your e-mail and we can start talking about it. I thought that you were going to be at Socoh next year. We did not see much of Lachish when we were there, but heard a lot about it from Ferrell.

    • lukechandler says:

      The plan for Socoh changed when it turned out Hebrew U. and Tel Aviv U. both applied for an excavation permit there at the same time. Tel Aviv ended up taking Socoh but we are getting Lachish instead. Lachish is mentioned in the Bible of course, but also in extra-biblical records. Sennacherib’s panels (now in the British Museum) depict his assault and capture of the city, and archaeology has identified the Assyrian ramp from that very siege. It’s a unique junction of archaeology, ancient records, and the biblical text to illuminate the same specific event. I can’t wait to dig there and become a part of the site’s history myself. What an opportunity.

  5. Pingback: Friends traveling in Israel on the Sabbath | Ferrell's Travel Blog

  6. Pingback: Wandering Thoughts | Braman's Wanderings

  7. Pingback: Archaeology Dig- a Day in the Life | Trent and Rebekah

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