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WILMORE, KY—The Lebanon/Israel conflict might seem very far away for most college students returning to campuses across the country last month. However, the war hits a little closer to Asbury College senior Jonathan Grant.

grant1.jpgThe 22-year-old history major from Mishawaka, Ind., returned to the U.S. from a 3-week archeological dig on the coast of Israel at the end of July. Grant was part of a team from the University of Berkley in Calif., which organized the dig at Tel Dor.

In the weeks before the war, Grant and his team unearthed ancient pottery shards, animal bones and teeth, small idols, figurines and coins. Tel Dor, the only natural harbor on the coast of the Israel, has been under the control of Assyrians, Greeks, Phoenicians, and Romans at different times during the last several thousand years. The artifacts discovered by Grant and the archeological team dated back to pre-Phoenician times (ca. 1200-800 B.C.).

“It was really exciting and overwhelming to know how much work there is to be done,” Grant said. “Everything was precious to me, but there is so much it’s impossible to fully appreciate every artifact.”

Grant said one of the most exciting finds was part of a mosaic floor; Dor is the home of one of the most ornate Hellenistic floors in the world.grant2.jpg

On July 12, though, everything changed. Grant and his team found out from the director of their program that two Israeli soldiers had been captured.

The next day his team heard bombing in cities surrounding their dig site including Hafia, located just 10 miles away. They saw planes and helicopters flying overhead all day.

Fortunately for Grant, he was scheduled to leave Sunday after the conflict began. Initially shut down because of the bombing, the airport reopened right before his plane was to depart.

Grant said the directors of the dig reassured him that that their location was one of the safest areas in Israel and there was no cause for alarm.

grant3.jpgThat wasn’t the case back home, however. Unsure of his situation, friends and college officials began calling Grant’s parents to find out his status.

“It meant so much to my parents that the Asbury College community would call to check on me and my family,” he said.

Grant flew out of Tel Aviv and after several stops around Europe, he finally arrived home—narrowly missing the airport shut downs at Heathrow Airport in England.

“God really protected me this whole trip,” Grant said. “He always had someone there to guide me to the next step.”