Hello from Newark, NJ. I am in transit back to Pittsburgh. We departed Vilnius on Sunday June 28th. I must say the research went very well. We completed six GPR grids in all and I was able to complete a draft map of the synagogue area that begins to tie the geophysics data with some of the spatial data we collected. Over the next few weeks the data set will be refined and numerous maps and diagrams will be created. Jon Seligman from the Israel Antiquities Authority, who was the onsite director of the project, was very pleased with what we were able to accomplish. As the data analysis continues we will continue to refine our interpretations for the structures that are buried at the site. Travel plans collided directly with the completion of Grid six on Saturday June 27th, and the data is still being prepared for eventual analysis at Geo Slice in Los Angeles. The Israeli Antiquities Authority is preparing a press release related to the work at the Great Synagogue. Once that one comes out Duquesne and Hartford will have press releases as well.
Travel on Sunday June 28th was rather eventful. Myself and Harry Jol were to fly to Vienna and then on to Brussels for two days of synagogue visits and touring. There are several synagogues in Brussels that date from the same period as the Great Synagogue in Vilnius. To see intact versions of similar structures is very important in terms of visualizing what is buried in Vilnius. We made it to Vienna, but the flight to Brussels was canceled. We were re-routed to Frankfort and then Brussels, arriving at the city center where we were staying at about 11 PM. The good thing was that all the equipment somehow made it to Brussels. We stored it at the airport so we did not have to haul several hundred pounds of gear around with us.
The two days in Brussels were very helpful in terms of better visualizing the Great Synagogue. The beer was not bad either! Travel from Brussels back to the USA has been uneventful so far. The gear made it to Newark, it cleared customs and has been rechecked. My flight to Pittsburgh leaves in two hours.
The news about the Nazareth research is that what we have completed thus far has made it into many press outlets based upon our news releases. Excavations ceased two weeks ago in observance of Ramadan. The plan was to begin excavating again next summer with a full crew of excavators and students, but the Greek Orthodox Council really wants to fast-track the excavation and complete it this summer! A plan is in the works to accomplish this. I have been invited to be part of the onsite team beginning August 4th, but at this point I do not know if that is possible given other commitments.
Got to go. I will update again soon