An archaeologist's rig? (part 13)

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Of all the rides featured in this stunning series few have reached the pinnacle of the sublime.

That just changed.


If this doesn’t sweeten your Valentine’s Day, you are truly a cold being.

I came across this engineering marvel on the island of Mykonos, Greece, many years ago. If the creator is still alive, I’m sure it is still running. At least parts of it are. In something.

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While touring in Israel-Palestine, we use a slightly larger vehicle. Our standard coach seats 50, has lots of glass, air-conditioning, wifi, and often is labeled Mercedes. Wheelmen like “Johnny Magic” pictured here (center) are key to our safety and success. I couldn’t do what I do without these dear friends.

For a complete list of travel opportunities in 2019, see our schedule here. You may also contact me at for more details.

Steering oar


I came across this architectural fragment on our recent visit to Corinth, Greece. It depicts an sailor steering a ship using a oar. These oversized oars, steering oars, or quarter rudders were a common apparatus on vessels throughout the Greco-Roman period. On larger ships they were lashed or attached to the ship to ease the labor of the pilot.

The true sternpost rudder seems to have originated in first-century China. Only later did Mediterranean shipwrights adapt the technology.

The stern of the ship depicted here is adorned with a goose-head, a common motif of Roman merchantmen.


A few seats have become available on our Johnson University Study-Tour to Israel-Palestine slated for March 12-23, 2019. If you are interested in being a part of this high-energy student trip, contact me immediately at The roster needs to be finalized mid-December. Sign-ups are closing soon.

It's what you can't see


This is hardly an impressive photograph. I snapped it from an upper deck of the Celebrity Reflection. Rising to meet the eye is the roiling wake of this enormous cruise ship.

But somewhere below the Mediterranean foam is the Hellenic Trench. It represents a lively seam in the earth’s crust. The African Plate is slamming against the Hellenic Plate. The seafloor deforms and hundreds of kilometers of seafloor have already disappeared, slipping under the Greek lip. Earthquakes are common throughout the region.

The deepest part of the Hellenic Trench is the Calypso Deep. At 17,280 feet, it is also the deepest point in the Mediterranean Sea. They say the water is toasty way down there at 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Biologists recognize this as the only warm-water abyss on the planet. Looking for a Mediterranean grenadier (Coryphaenoides mediterraneusor) or a deep-diving sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus)? This is where you find ‘em gamboling about.

Now look again.


We have several travel experiences planned for 2019 (see list here). These are organized on behalf of educational institutions or church groups. If you are a leader who is interested in crafting a unique travel opportunity for your organization or if you are an individual who would like to join a group, shoot me an email at

Steady Girl


Vicki holds the cruise ship Celebrity Reflection against the pier in Rhodes Harbor (Greece) while other passengers board. This and other amazing adventures will be reported here on Bible Land Explorer in the near future.

In the meantime, it’s back to work.

We returned home safely last night.


We are cooling our heels stateside for just a moment. Next group up is New Life Christian Church from Chantilly, Virginia. We will be traveling with these fine folk over the Thanksgiving break (Nov 19-29). Brett Andrews, Sean Cronin and Pat Furgerson will share teaching responsibilities. For more on this upcoming opportunity, see New Life’s website here.

The Maidens get a facelift

The Erechtheion on the Athens acropolis is a 5th c BC temple dedicated to Poseidon and Athena. On its south side (right) is a porch with a roof supported by draped figures (or Caryatids). It is famously called the "Porch of the Maidens." As is obvious from the scaffolds, even the loveliest of figures can use a facelift from time to time.

Date of slide unknown.

Reminds me of Helm's Deep

View to Grave Circle A, Mycenae. This circle, measuring 90 feet in diameter, was excavated by Heinrich "Homer-hunter" Schliemann in 1876. Nineteen bodies were found here, complete with weapons and utensils and gold masks. One was identified as "The Death Mask of Agamemnon," the name drawn from a legendary ruler of Mycenae. We appreciate Schliemann's fabulous find but now know that his identification was erroneous; the graves are from the 16th century BC, hundreds of years before the Trojan War.

Finding our land legs

Touring the Aegean by ship is a great way to pack convenience and efficiency into a single experience. Shan Caldwell, Lydia Knoll, and Adina Waddell disembark at the Turkish port of Kusadasi. From here our 2003 student group from Cincinnati Christian University visited the biblical site of Ephesus.