In honor of International Women’s Day, we went down to the excavations of the City of David, and among the antiquities unique women’s power was revealed before our eyes.

Among the dozens of men working diligently in uncovering the remains of ancient Jerusalem, we met four special women, who taught us what woman power is. Since it is a difficult and Sisyphean task that requires a lot of strength – the field of excavation is mostly controlled by sturdy men.

Despite this, Shiran, Tehilah, Ayala and Devorah, who come in every morning full of energy to work, do not shy away from the challenge they face. Meet the women who are behind the revelation of ancient Jerusalem’s past!

“People keep asking me if I really dig, and I tell them that anyone can do it, both men and women – it doesn’t matter. Everyone has their own abilities and everyone finds their place in this kind of work.” says Ayala Diamant (20), who works in the City of David excavations.

The women take part in the various stages of uncovering the antiquities: after the excavation, which is done with the help of a pickaxe, the fallen earth is removed, from which the various finds are taken. All the excavation is done by human hands, without the help of mechanical tools. After the archaeological findings are removed from the earth, the earth is removed from the excavation area using a technique called a “bucket chain”. The full buckets are thrown by the workers from one to the other until the buckets are removed from the dig site. This is about 12 tons of dirt per day!

“I remember that on one of the days of excavation, I discovered a golden object, and in the end it turned out to be a gold coin, it was exciting!” Devorah Cohen (31) tells us that she immigrated from France and always dreamed of working on archaeological digs.

The work takes place in all weather: in the heat of the summer and the cold days of the winter. On the surface, it may sound simple to those of us who are used to working from an air-conditioned office, but try to imagine yourself washing and filtering pottery in freezing water when the temperature outside is 6 degrees celsius. By the way, the digging work starts at 7 AM, so sleep lovers can only dream of such work.

“It’s an unusual job, it’s not like selling clothes or being a waitress, like most of my friends. It’s a meaningful job with values” says Tehilah Zamiri (23), a resident of Jerusalem, “It’s cool to me that I’m finding discoveries in the digs and I’m the first to reveal them after 2000 years.”

And there are those who see archaeological excavation as a profession for life, “I always loved archaeology and was interested in it from a young age. When I was little our trips at home were always combined with historical sites,” says Shiran Aver (25) from Efrat. “I got to study the Land of Israel in high school and during a week of excavations in the 11th grade, we dug in ancient Tiberias and then I realized that this is the life path I want for myself. After high school I took the psychometric exam and decided to continue in the direction of archaeology”.

The meeting left a great impression on us and as a tribute to the City of David excavations, we went with the women for a special photoshoot in collaboration with “Nashim” magazine, inspired by the famous “We Can Do It!” poster.

In 1943, the poster was designed by the graphic designer J. Howard Miller as an inspirational image to raise the morale of the women workers during World War II. Over the years, the poster has become a symbol of woman power.

We Can Do It! poster

In 2016, the City of David women diggers came and gave additional meaning to “We Can Do It”: the power of Israeli women who uncover ancient Jerusalem’s past from the earth.

Photo by: Adina Graham

Makeup: Oshrit Gispan