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Akron Church Pastor Assists in Archeological Dig

Story by Heidi Shoemaker
Published 9/5/2012

Five years ago, Jerry Chase, pastor of Ohio Conference’s Akron First church and a trained Geographic Information System (GIS) specialist, worked with the Andrews University Horn Museum (Mich.) to purchase a GPS system to be used for measurements during their archeological digs. Due to conflicts, however, he was unable to participate that year. This year archeology staff from Andrews and La Sierra (Calif.) universities invited him to serve as a GPS and GIS specialist during a visit to their ongoing digs in Tall Jalul and Tall Ataruz, both in Jordan.

The GPS system, which includes a rover, base and radio, helped Chase provide horizontal measurements within a 1-centimeter accuracy, and within 2 centimeters vertically. “Historically, archaeologists used tape measures, strings and levels to measure location. The GPS is faster, more accurate and enables data collection to flow into the digital world,” Chase explains.

Chase and his father, Robert, who accompanied him on the expedition, also helped with the Ataruz dig by providing an 18-foot rope ladder they created and built, which enabled the team to more safely enter a cistern.

Did the team find anything game changing? Not entirely. According to Chase, “Julal was a perfunctory dig to clarify structures found in priors years.” However, the team did locate pottery dated from the latter part of the early Bronze Age—the time of Abraham—near a pool structure that dates back to the time of Solomon. Also, in the shaft leading into the Ataraz cistern, they studied the “relief of the Bull,” a carving of a horned bull’s head. The bull is an illustration of the kind of worship done during the time of Ahab. During the summer equinox, the sun shines directly in the center of the bull’s head, illuminating the carving.

During his days off, Pastor Chase and his father visited sights in Jordan relating to aspects of Bible history, including places where John the Baptist preached and baptized, and the cities of Decapolis. Chase hopes to take part in future digs and to further his GIS studies.

“I’m very thankful to the Ohio Conference for the five-week Sabbatical and the opportunity of a lifetime to participate in a world-class archeological expedition,” remarked Chase, who also received overwhelming support from his congregants.

While visiting archeological digs in Jordan, Jerry Chase, pastor of the Akron First church, works with the GPS system he helped the Andrews University Horn Museum (Mich.) purchase.


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