Arnit: Every time you blade, especially if the soil is a little moist, you get this incredible picture. It's like wood grain. You can see lines, and you can see some patterns. That's what I do. It's like planing the ground and being able to see every minute thing that's taken place. Rodent holes, tree holes, tree berms, you name it. You can see it when you're diving down. One of the problems I have is that the more stuff I discover, the more archaeologists, certain ones, have an issue with it.
Zhang: Why’s that?
Arnit: Well because, I'm on the machine, and I made the discovery, not them. It’s just a few of them it rubs wrong. I see things that nobody sees and it drives them nuts. I can see tremendously delicate color changes. It's only because I've done it for so many years, and I'm dedicated to it.
Zhang: What's the most exciting site you’ve worked on?
Arnit: The footprints! I've always, always, always thought, one day, I'd find a footprint. Somebody had to have stepped in the mud, but they always ended up being rodent holes.
When I was trawling this silky sediment off of this harder surface, I came across what I thought was a rodent hole. So I got out and just cleaned it off with a brush and noticed, it looks kind of like a foot. Then I cleaned up one end of it and it dropped into a heel cup. Then I got pretty excited. I got to the bridge of the foot, and then my hair started standing up on the end of my arms, and I kept excavating down into the toes.
Man, I tell you, I started laughing and crying at the same time. I was literally standing up, turning circles because I just didn't know what do. I had my phone in my hand, and I was trying to call, but I didn't know who. I was just so excited. I've never had that feeling ever in my life.
To me, it was like scratching off the last number and you just won a million bucks. To me, that's just my million bucks. It was absolutely amazing.
Zhang: Was there anyone else around when you made that discovery?
Arnit: No, well, I don’t care if they see me cry. I put this huge mound of dirt and leveled it off and put a fence around it so people can walk up and look down onto the site. I would be down there talking to them and explaining. When I was telling them about that part, because it was so new, I would get choked up at that point. And then you just hear people people go, "Uhhhh." Wish I didn't do this, cry like that, but it's a happy cry. Bringing those footprints back to the sun.
We had one set of footprints, where there was a bigger man, and he came from the west. We had these government trackers, military guys, that did tracking like in Kuwait. And they came and looked at the footprints, and they were just going crazy over this one area.
They said, "C'mon, I'll just show you this." They said this guy was walking and then he stopped, and he brought his foot up, and then they go, "See the heel slide? What this guy did, he was walking, and he stopped, and he looked over his right shoulder. that's very typical of somebody that stopped and looked." Just stand there and look to your right, and your right heel slides over a little. "Just imagine, right now, we know a man was standing here 3,500 years ago and looked over his right.” That was very surreal.