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MSU excavation team leaves Israel amid military action

July 22, 2014

BY ALEX HOLLOWAY
Special to Daily Times Leader

A collaborative excavation trip to Israel between three universities, including Mississippi State University, got cut short as regional tensions between Israel and Palestine flared up again.
Mississippi State University’s Cobb Institute of Archaeology acted as the hosting institute as staff and students from MSU, the University of Wisconsin and State University of New York (SUNY) Purchase traveled to southern Israel to an archaeological site near the northern fringe of the Negev Desert, near the city of Be’er Sheva.
The group left Israel via a midnight flight out of Tel Aviv and returned home on Sunday.
Cobb Institute Archaeological Worker Dylan Karges, of Starkville, said about 25 students from the three universities and 15 staff used the trip to work the site of a suspected Israeli village on the edge of what was commonly known to be Philistine territory.
“I’m working with Jimmy Hardin with the Cobb Institute at MSU and he specializes in the Iron Age Israel,” Karges said. “The site we’re working was suspected to be a small, rural Israelite village that may have been occupied previously by the Philistines. It would have been right on the border or pushing the border out toward the Philistines on the coast.”
However, as tensions began to flare in the region in the aftermath of the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli students, Karges said the group decided it was best to cut the trip short and return home.
“Our main concern became staying out of harm’s way,” he said. “We relocated at some points and ultimately made the decision to get out.”

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