General Charles Bolden – NASA Adminstrator – visits the lab!

Today we had an absolutely awesome visit to the lab, General Charles Bolden, the administrator (=director) of NASA!!!

General Bolden, who insisted that we call him Charlie (and is an extremely friendly, open and interested person), came to the lab (along with Prof. Hershkovitz [BIU president], Mrs Hershkovitz, Prof. Arieh Saban [BIU VP for Research], and Ruthi Cohen [director of BIU external affaris division]), and received an explanation about various things that we are doing on the project.

I started out by pointing out, in humor, that archaeologists have many common things with NASA – one of them being aliens – NASA tried to find alien life forms, while we have to convince the lunatics that the pyramids were not built by aliens…

But seriously, we showed General Bolden several of the finds, and discussed their significance, particularly in relationship to the Philistine culture.

As just a few days ago we identified a very nice Late Bronze Age faience cylinder seal (which was found this year in Area E but was mislabeled as a bead), we showed General Bolden and the other visitors how one rolls the seal on puddy to see the incised scene (see picture below).

Then, after explaining how we try to utilize various aspects and types of scientific analyses the excavation, Adi very nicely demonstrated the use of our handheld XRF. We took the seal, and on the spot identified its composition. General Bolden was actually interested in knowing whether such a handheld XFF would be useful for Mars exploration (and help in discovering evidence of life forms [actually not…]). I also noted that the types of analytic equipment we take to the dig (IR Spectrometer, hXRF, microscopy, etc.) is quite similar to the range of analytic equipment that is on the Mars Rovers.

We then got into a very interesting discussion about similarities between the exploration of Mars and archaeological work (and we all offered to serve as archaeologists if they are needed in the future on Mars…). General Bolden also told us some interesting details about the recent discovery of water on Mars – and their significance.

And finally, we gave him one of the T-shirts from the last season, and explained that its connection to rocketry (Iron Domes…) fit in well with his background as well! Needless to say, we invited General Bolden and his family, to join us on the dig in the future!

Here are some pictures – what an astounding visit!

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