In the 1990s, I was a graduate student at Princeton, NJ and won a competition to study and experience field archaeology at Beth Shemesh, Israel. But Malaysian citizens were not permitted to visit the Holy Land. Exceptions are made for religious pilgrimage. However, since Christianity does not really practice formal holy pilgrimages, seeking such an exception would be stretching the truth somewhat.
So the likelihood of a Malaysian biblical archaeologist in the 1990s was slim to none. Yet, there I was for my first excavation in 1997, armed with a special dispensation by the Malaysian government upon the request of Princeton Seminary to allow me political passage in the name of science.
This was how a Malaysian boy became an accidental archaeologist.
Here is a glimpse into a typical day from my last dig, at Megiddo (biblical Armageddon) in Israel during the 2018 season.
-Dr. Ron Choong