Working a Hawaiian archaeological dig

March 22, 1992|By New York Times News Service

Q: I saw a television program about archaeological excavation sites in Hawaii dating to the original Polynesian settlers. Is it possible to spend my next vacation volunteering to help in such a project?

A: Archaeological digs are "extremely active" in all the Hawaiian islands, according to a spokesman for the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, which has been involved in such work for many years.

In general they take the form of habitation sites, canoe sheds, temples and fishing shrines. And each year, the spokesman said, the date of the digs "keeps getting pushed back and back."

At one time, he said, it was thought that the oldest sites dated to A.D. 400 or A.D. 500. But fire pits and habitation sites at a dig on the north shore of Oahu have now been established as dating to before the time of Christ, he added.

It is not always possible to match vacation dates with active field work, according to a spokeswoman for the museum's volunteer office. But visitors are welcome at just about any time to help in the lab, she added.

Prospective volunteers should write to the Volunteer Office, Bishop Museum, P.O. Box 19000-A, Honolulu, Hawaii 96817; or call (808) 848-4180.

Q: Are there any direct flights from New York to Malta? And can you get there from Sicily by ferry or hydrofoil?

A: There are no direct flights by scheduled airline from New York, but the Mediterranean island can be reached directly from most major European cities, including London, Frankfurt, Paris, Rome, Zurich, Amsterdam, Athens and Madrid.

Valetta, the Maltese capital, can also be reached by regular ferry and by hydrofoil. The hydrofoil trips leave from three places on Sicily: Pozzallo (90 minutes), Catania (three hours) and Licata (two hours, 15 minutes).

The frequency depends on the time of year, ranging in Pozzallo and Catania from twice a week from April 1 to May 31 to seven or more trips a week from July 15 to Sept. 8. Service from Licata is limited to twice a week from July to September.

The hydrofoil trips, run by Virtu Ferries, 3 Princess Elizabeth Terrace, Ta'xbiex, Malta (318854), cost from $68 one way to $110 round trip. Also available is a ferry and car rental package, using Europcar vehicles, costing from $156 a day to $611 for seven days.

The regular ferry, Tirrenia Navigazione, leaves from two places on Sicily, Catania and Syracuse. The ferry leaves Catania on Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, and then picks up passengers in Syracuse.

The trip takes 8 1/2 hours from Catania and 5 1/2 hours from Syracuse. High-season, one-way fares (June 1 to Sept. 30) from both ports range from $61 to $67. Low-season, one-way fares (Oct. 1 to May 31) range from $50 to $56.

For more information on Malta, contact the Malta National Tourist Office, 249 E. 35th St., New York, N.Y. 10016; (212) 725-2345.

Q: Some years ago I read about a privately run museum in Munich devoted to Jewish life as it was before the Holocaust. Does the museum still exist?

A: The museum you have in mind, the Judisches Museum Munchen, opened in April 1989 at 36 Maximilianstrasse and is still operating. The result of a private effort by an art collector and gallery owner, Richard Grimm, its exhibits are designed to acquaint visitors with Jewish customs, culture and the history of Jewish life in Germany.

It is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. It is closed the rest of week. Admission is free.

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