Scholarship Winners Speak Up

Every year, the BAS Dig Scholarship program provides students and aspiring archaeologists with the ability to volunteer at ancient sites in Israel and Jordan. In 2013, BAS awarded more than 20 scholarships. Read anecdotes and view photographs submitted by our 2013 scholarship recipients below. Click here to visit the 2014 digs listings.
 


 

BAS scholarship recipients Austin Andrews and Bryan Bozung pose with the recently uncovered mosaic at Huqoq.

Austin Glock Andrews
Huqoq

“Every day, we left for the site at 4:30 AM and worked until we had, according to our superiors, the best on-site archaeological breakfast in the whole world at 8 AM. From then we worked until we broke for lunch. The area that I worked in specifically was in the ancient village portion of the excavation, which helps to contextualize the daily life of the community residents that would have used the synagogue during the Late Roman-Byzantine period. This being my first taste of actual archaeology, I know for a fact now that I have chosen the right field of study. One of the most spectacular moments of the trip was when we were all called over for the exposure of some of the mosaics. As our site conservator crouched down in the square, we all watched in wonder as she wiped off the final remaining layer of earth to expose the beautiful mosaic floor of the synagogue.

In addition to being a digger on the excavation project, I also participated in a variety of other activities while studying abroad in Israel. As I was earning college course credit, I took part in the weekly lectures presented by our phenomenal team of specialists, which ranged from mosaic preservation to pottery typology. We also went on regular field trips to local archaeological sites, among which were a medieval crusader castle-fortress, a Roman temple, prehistoric caves, and, naturally, several ancient synagogues. In addition to local excursions, we made one two-day trip to the southern portion of the country to the Negev desert, where we rode camels and saw a range of natural and archaeological sites. Toward the conclusion of my trip in Israel, we went to a concert in the ancient Roman theater at Caesarea that was built by Herod the Great. We also had several interesting swimming opportunities: in the Sea of Galilee and in the Mediterranean Sea and I would often swim in the local springs associated with the origins of the Huqoq community after a long day of hard labor. Additionally, I encouraged our mosaic specialist, Karen Britt and site conservator, Orna Cohen, to have an arts and crafts workshop where we were able to make our own mini-mosaics from tidbits found around our living quarters.

On the whole, this experience was a highlight of my life and I very much hope to return for many years to come!”
 


 
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to volunteer on an archaeological dig? I Volunteered For This? Life on an Archaeological Dig is a free eBook that gives you the lowdown on what to expect from life at a dig site. You’ll be glad to have this informative, amusing and sometimes touching collection of articles by archaeological dig volunteers.
 

 

BAS scholarship recipient Sophia Avants taking elevations at Tel Akko.

Sophia Avants
Tel Akko

“I spent July at Tel Akko in northern Israel. I am hoping to include archaeological evidence in my dissertation, and came to this dig eager to learn methodology as well as increase my knowledge of the region. While a full-formed archaeologist does not spring from one dig, I have come away with a sense of the types of problems material evidence creates and how scientists work to solve these problems through mapping and contextualizing finds in order to develop theories of stratification.

The area to which I was assigned contained two walls that remained a puzzle throughout our month of excavation. One wall was a field stone wall which extended beyond a ‘tower’ of ashlars. We wondered if the wall was built to pre-existing ashlars , or whether the ashlars were inserted as a foundation for another wall. Another fieldstone wall came up perpendicular to the ashlars. Across from the ashlars was another group of ashlars, raising the question of whether these two ashlar sets were architecturally related.

One of the first tasks that I was assigned was to articulate the space between the ashlars and the field wall. This revealed that ashlars and fieldstone wall were not constructed at the same time. As the dig progressed, we found that the stones in front of the ashlar tower had a foundation trench. This site contained debris from when the wall was constructed. This section in front of the ashlars could be linked more definitively to the perpendicular wall leading up to the ashlars. We also found an earlier phase of the fieldstone wall alongside the perpendicular wall.

By the end of the dig, the question still remains as to whether these fieldstone walls abut or cut into the ashlar tower. Whereas the ashlars point to Persian-era construction, the pottery found adjacent to them points to Iron Age IIc. We found several mendable pots, including a stash close to the conjunction of the walls during the last two days of the dig. Also near the end of the dig, we were able to locate mudbrick alongside the fieldstone wall. This seems to be a new stratum, although it was not determined, by the end of this summer’s dig, whether the mudbricks could be considered Iron Age IIb.

Thus, the work of the month provided new information about the walls and their conjunctions, but did not solve the initial problems. Over the weeks I gained a better understanding of how pottery dating and the work of uncovering wall construction could provide sets of data that add to a fuller picture. The archaeological process carefully documents remnants, but depends on chance preservation of clues to the questions we bring to the site. All we can do is measure our finds and test the relation between architecture and material. One of the most interesting insights I gained from this summer’s archaeology is that, excavation does not so much answer our questions as sharpen our thinking of the problems.”
 


 

Annikka Bouwsma at Ashkelon.

Annikka Bouwsma
Ashkelon

“This past summer, I worked as a summer school student volunteer with the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon. I worked in Grid 51, excavating several phases of a Phoenician street from the Persian Period. I learned many techniques and how to apply these to the excavation process—this trip did so much for my understanding of archaeology, reinforcing many concepts that I had previously learned as well as introducing me to many new concepts in the discipline of archaeology. It also gave me the spectacular opportunity to work as an archaeologist in the field. I was personally able to excavate a puppy skeleton (one of the many found at Ashkelon). I experienced both the seemingly unrewarding but ever so necessary digging as well as the delight of finding and carefully excavating an unknown object and the anticipation that goes along with discovering what it was used for. Finding unique objects was not the only exciting thing—I learned a bit about how to interpret the relationship between stratigraphy and architecture and thereby to determine the architecture’s relationship to phase.

Aside from the actual work of excavation, I was able to see other parts of Israel as well as other archaeological remains. I got to experience a different culture and see places that I had heard about all my life. I did not do all this alone, but with the friends that grew from this experience. The summer school also provided lectures about the history of Ashkelon and archaeology in general and further incorporated my work with my intellectual pursuits. This trip to Israel and the work that I participated in taught me so much and I am so grateful that I was able to participate in this opportunity—I loved it.”
 


 

Bryan Bozung excavating just outside the synagogue wall at Huqoq.

Bryan Bozung
Huqoq

“Thank you BAS for helping me to have an amazing opportunity excavating this summer. I was able to participate in the excavations at Huqoq in the Galilee under the direction of Dr. Jodi Magness. This was my second year participating in the dig and we had more incredible finds this season including more stunning mosaics in the synagogue we are excavating. Images of the mosaics were just recently published in the September/October 2013 issue of BAR. This year I returned to Huqoq as an assistant square supervisor in the synagogue area. It was in the square I was working in that we discovered the mosaic depicting the scene from Judges 16:3 of Samson carrying the gate of Gaza on his shoulders. Not only did I have the great opportunity of excavating part of the synagogue, but I had the opportunity to actually uncover and work on the conservation of the newly discovered mosaic with our conservator Orna Cohen. It was an incredible experience to be a part of the discovery of these mosaics depicting scenes from the bible and other Jewish traditions.”
 


 
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to volunteer on an archaeological dig? I Volunteered For This? Life on an Archaeological Dig is a free eBook that gives you the lowdown on what to expect from life at a dig site. You’ll be glad to have this informative, amusing and sometimes touching collection of articles by archaeological dig volunteers.
 

 

BAS scholarship recipient Owen Chestnut stands next to the preserved mudbrick walls at Ashdod Yam.

Owen Chestnut
Ashdod Yam

“I just wanted to express my appreciation to BAR for the chance to excavate in Israel this past summer. I spent several weeks digging at Ashdod Yam and it was a wonderful experience. I have excavated in Israel previously, but this was my first time digging with a largely Israeli team. It gave me a chance to learn some Modern Hebrew while I was doing what I love, archaeology.

I am a Ph.D. candidate at Andrews University and am working on a late Iron Age site in Jordan, called Tall Safut. During my time at Ashdod Yam I was hoping to gain more experience with Late Iron Age imported pottery and specifically pottery imported from Assyria. At first we were largely excavating in Hellenistic occupation levels. This fact was slightly disappointing, but was nonetheless informative as I have little experience with the entire spectrum of the Hellenistic period. There were many imports mixed in with other Hellenistic pottery and this gave me hope for the Iron Age material.

For the last week and a half we started excavating the fortification wall at the site. This feature is the most impressive I’ve excavated. A mudbrick wall 4m thick and preserved 5m high! The hope was to come down on a surface that would date the wall and help us understand if it was built by the locals or by the Assyrians. We found that surface and it was covered in broken sherds dating to the Late Iron Age! We achieved our goal for this season and hopefully next year Ashdod Yam will reveal much more, including some Assyrian pottery.”
 


 

BAS scholarship recipient Victoria Criswell shows off a small find at Tel Dor.

Victoria Criswell
Tel Dor

For six weeks this summer I was fortunate enough to participate as a student in the Tel Dor Archaeological Field School in Dor, Israel. Once at Tel Dor I was introduced to the many welcoming staff members and other volunteers from all over the globe. I began excavating in the Roman period area at a spot originally thought to be a hypocaust-part of a Roman bath house system. This area was considered the “missing link” between the biblical period areas and the rest of the site. I enjoyed learning how the areas related as excavation progressed and as we began to understand the areas. Even though the physical labor and rigorous schedule was challenging, I loved every second of excavation! I was educated on proper excavation methods as well as tool and instrument use. And of course, the most exciting part of excavation, I was able to find artifacts such as valuable pottery sherds, faience, Roman coins, animal bone remains, iron nails, and architectural features-
all important to understanding the site.

Field school didn’t end once volunteers left the site. I attended pottery washing and analysis sessions daily in the afternoon. I also enjoyed evening lectures about Dor that discussed subjects such as Greek art at Dor, the importance of Dor as a port city, and the biblical significance of Dor.

Not only did I learn these practical and educational lessons, but I learned “life lessons” at Dor that helped me personally grow. The physical, mental, and hands-on educational challenges of field school created a greatly rewarding experience. I would like to sincerely thank the Biblical Archaeology Society as well as the donors to the Dig Scholarships. Your contributions have made a significant impact on the financial accessibility of attending my dream field school. Thank you for supporting my experience at the Tel Dor field school and for contributing to my personal and educational growth.
 


 

Scholarship recipient Leah DeGrazia laughs with crew members at Tel Azekah.

Leah DeGrazia
Tel Azekah

“From mid-July until the end of August I had the opportunity to dig at Tel Azekah, Israel under the dig supervisors Oded Lipschits and Yuval Gadot. This was my first dig and though I had no previous archaeological experience, I quickly grew to love it. I was part of the team digging in area South 1. S1 is located on the top of the Tel and has structures dating from the Iron, Late Bronze, and Early Bronze Areas. In addition to pottery, we found coins, an arrowhead, donkey bones, and part of a tabun. My most exciting find was a purple tanzanite scarab that I found while dusting. I had the benefit of having wonderful supervisors in my area and they were very proactive about teaching me both the basics of digging (pick-axing, shoveling, maintaining sections, dusting, etc.), and also the more administrative side of archaeology such as opening loci, developing top plans, participating in pottery reading, and drawing sections. Because of this, I now have a better understanding of how complex and meticulous the archaeological process is and an appreciation for those who devote their time and energy to teaching students like myself that archaeology is more than just digging holes and finding old artifacts and structures.

My time spent at the Lautenschlager Azekah Expedition was very positive and I feel very lucky and appreciative for the opportunity to participate in this dig! I hope that I am able to return again some time again within the next few years.”
 


 

Volunteers at Tel Dor.

Sarah Glynn
Tel Dor

Through the generosity of the Biblical Archaeology Society and its donors, I was able to participate in the 2013 Excavation Season at Tel Dor near Haifa, Israel. The site itself was founded in the Middle Bronze Age, served as a commercial center and entry to West Asia, and was occupied by Canaanites, “Sea peoples”, Israelites, Phoenicians, Assyrians and Persians. Dor is mentioned in the Bible in Joshua 17:11; 12:23; Judges 1:27-28; 1 Chronicles 7:29; and 1 Kings 4:11. During Solomon’s rule, Dor was an administrative district. After his reign, Dor became a major port of the Northern Kingdom. Dor continued to be a larger port city until the construction of the harbor at Caesarea by Herod the Great. The harbor at Caesarea may have contributed to Dor’s slow decline.

Three areas of Tel Dor were under excavation during the 2013 season: D2, D4, and D5. Volunteers and students were grouped according to area and worked exclusively in one area for the duration of the season. I was fortunate to work under the direction of Professor Elizabeth Bloch-Smith, who is an amazing teacher and person. Her energetic passion for her work quickly transfers to all the volunteers working with her. She was always eager to show her volunteers the methods of excavation and to explain the reasons behind them. She never hesitated to pick up a pickaxe herself and work her way through a wall. It was truly a pleasure and an honor to volunteer under her tutelage.

The season began by weeding the areas that were to be conserved and excavated. The volunteers broke up into their respective groups and started the process of clearing out their areas. Slowly, instead of weeds, dirt appeared in the buckets. Volunteers learned how to distinguish deposits from winter from the other dirt placed on top of plastic, which is used to preserve the loci into the following year. Once volunteers removed the dirt that weighed down the plastic and the winter deposits, the real excavation began.

In D2, volunteers, including myself, had the opportunity to learn how to draw loci, using scales and other technical means. Taking opening and closing elevations for loci is another skill that every volunteer cultivated. Our supervisors guided us through the myriad of tasks. We refined our ability to spot bones, pottery with shape (“indicatives”) and other materials that need to be recorded. Each area had a recorder, who maintained top plans, loci information and coordinated the finds. Occasionally throughout the average workday, a volunteer would discover a “special find,” such as a striking piece of mosaic or a complete vessel; the recorder would catalog these special finds and they were sent to the Tel Dor Museum for analysis. With our eyes on our work, we listened to the directors discussing the period and function of the structures we were excavating; each of us were eager to learn the relationships between the structures. Once structures were analyzed and photographed, deconstruction began. I had the opportunity to deconstruct two walls during my stay. Buckets filled up and volunteers lined up to throw full buckets to each other up to a pile of dirt on the tel. Eventually, the bucket chain turned into a well-functioning and efficient machine of dirt transport.

The archaeological experience did not end with the end of the daily tel work. Each volunteer experienced a day of museum work, wherein they learned skills such as registration, restoration, and cataloging. Afternoon activities included pottery washing and reading. Everyday resident experts in pottery would review the pieces collected by the volunteers; they would explain the purpose and the time of the important/interesting pieces. While they inducting us into their vast knowledge of ancient pottery, we scrubbed pieces of pottery that would be examined the following day. During one of these pottery washings, I discovered that I was washing a figurine head, with a beard and a conical hat; this head originally looked like a rim of a jar with the dirt on it. With a jubilant heart, I circled the pottery washing area showing it to every volunteer and supervisor that would listen to me. It was quite a memorable day for me and I was glad to partake in the history of the site in this way. Indeed, pottery readings by the experts were my favorite activity during the excavation season. I learned the difference between Roman, Attic, Imitation Attic and Iron Age pottery. Lectures enriched our experience further daily; each had a different topic given by a different expert.

At the end of the season, the sun shades came down. We all participated in cleaning the areas as much as possible. The photographer ran around the tel capturing each locus for posterity prior to the plastic protection. It was strange to see the tel without the sun shades and without the full number of volunteers taking out dirt and rocks from their respective areas.

It was a sad but jubilant day when we had finished our tel work. Plastic was laid down and dirt was placed on top to weigh it down. We felt like we accomplished much that season and, yet, we wished we could stay and continue to dig. The goodbyes to fast friends began. We had grown close to one another by working, eating, learning and living in the same area for six weeks. The dirt and sand ceased to cling to our bodies as it did everyday at the tel. I had the distinction of being the dirtiest in our area, and quite probably on the entire tel, for at least two work days.

Reflecting upon the experience, I am very glad that I had the opportunity to go and participate in such an excavation with such wonderful and gifted people. I set out to learn the methods employed by archaeologists firsthand and this is what I did. I now have a better appreciation for the work that went into an object when it is displayed at a museum. I also have a better understanding of how archaeologists conduct their work and how an object, from discovery, finds its way into publication. It is by this appreciation and knowledge that I hope to enrich my own research. I would strongly recommend this experience to anyone with the means, the time, and the desire to learn about archaeology and to cultivate a love for this field of study.
 


 

BAS scholarship recipient Jesse Isom at Abel Beth Maacah.

Jesse Isom
Abel Beth Maacah

When I arrived at Tel Abel Beth Maacah in northern Israel, I was immediately struck by how beautiful and green everything was. I had seen pictures of the southern (sweltering) part of Israel, but I had the good fortune of visiting the most pleasant part of the Land of Milk and Honey on my first visit to the Holy Land. The rolling hills of the Huleh Valley and the towns and orchards that dotted them were very charming.

On the northern end of the mound that used to be Abel Beth Maacah, high in the acropolis, is a modern Israeli bunker and trench system—one of many that stares down Israel’s northern enemies. On the southern end of the tel we spent a few weeks uncovering what’s left of the massive fortifications that had failed to stop Tiglath Pileser III from destroying the city in 733-32 BC. It’s fascinating to see the modern and ancient defenses juxtaposed in one place—a tangible reminder that the hill is still a battlefield even after all these years.

I have never worked so hard in my life; I’ve gained a new appreciation for the artifacts that are displayed in museums around the world. It’s a great privilege to help advance our knowledge of the distant past. The bones and pottery we found—essentially garbage left behind by the ancients—were carefully washed, sorted, identified, and cataloged. I suppose the Israelites who lived there (or were they Arameans?) would be baffled at the care and effort we expended on these things. It was enjoyable work, and my fellow archaeologists were fantastic company. I’m happy to have been a part of the first season of excavations at Abel Beth Maacah.
 


 

BAS scholarship recipient Sarah Klavins at Tell es-Safi.

Sarah Klavins
Tell es-Safi/Gath

On the eastern edge of the Philistine coastal plains and the western outskirts of the Judean Shephelah stands Tell es-Safi, the ancient Philistine city of Gath. During the month of July specialists, students and volunteers from Israel, Australia, Canada, Korea, the United Kingdom and America, to name a but a few, make Tell es-Safi their home away from home.

I first came to Tell es-Safi/Gath in 2009 as an undergraduate student with a small team from the University of Melbourne, Australia, led by Dr. Louise Hitchcock, searching for direction after changing my major for the fifth time and finding my future at a crossroads. Although I had no spectacular finds that season, by the end of that July I knew I had found my calling. Fast forward four years to 2013, and I found myself in the same predicament as I had in 2009. This time my undergraduate degree was complete and I had three seasons at Tell es-Safi already under my belt. I was once again at a crossroads with a world of possibilities before me and a little ticking clock in my head reminding me that time was running out. I returned to Israel, back to Tell es-Safi, wondering if I could once again find some inspiration in the ancient ruins of Philistine Gath.

The Tell es-Safi/Gath project is run in a way that promotes a learning environment accessible to students, academics, specialists and general spectators alike, giving participants the opportunity to touch the past and become a part of history. As well as the opportunity to participate in basic fieldwork, participants are also exposed to a number of different sub-disciplines within Near Eastern archaeology. By working closely with a team from the Weizmann Institute of Science, volunteers were given the opportunity to work in the field with specialists in zooarchaeology, osteoarchaeology, and microarchaeology. New technological methods were introduced by the Canadian team, led by Dr. Haskel Greenfield and his team from the University of Manitoba. These new methods were employed by the use of a 3D high definition LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) laser scanner. The scanner was used to provide measurements of the macro topography within and surrounding the excavation areas, high definition scans and images of the site for later reference and a three dimensional record for finds at the site. Our typical day began at 5:20am, working on the Tell during the coolest hours of the day. Afternoons were spent washing and reading pottery, cleaning bones, completing paperwork and wet sieving soil samples before racing off to our next field trip, visiting different archaeological sites in the area. In the evenings at Kibbutz Revadim we were exposed to a number of different disciplines in a lecture series by specialists in pottery, archaeoastronomy, jewellery, linguistics and archaeological science, to name a few.

The small University of Melbourne team of seven students that I had originally been part of in 2009 grew this year to forty students, our largest team yet. Sharing my knowledge from previous seasons, I was able to help teach some of the new volunteers, to see their technique develop over their time on the project and watch them make their own fantastic discoveries. The joke is often made that the best finds on a dig are hidden in the baulk, as was the case with the horned altar found in Area D during the 2011 season. This year proved to be no exception to the rule. While taking down a baulk in Area A2, in addition to the ubiquitous pottery sherds and animal bones, we uncovered a beautiful faience baboon amulet, a scarab with an Egyptian inscription, a large piece of a bichrome decorated strainer-spout jug and fragmented loomweights.

My own spectacular find came in the middle of the third week after I’d been tasked with taking down the remaining part of a small 50cm x 50cm section to meet the level of a cobbled surface that had been uncovered in 2010. With confidence, and yes, perhaps a little arrogance, I assured my supervisor that there would be nothing to be found there and I would have the task completed before the end of the week. Famous last words.

After articulating a well-preserved mudbrick, I stumbled upon what I thought was a piece of bone and began to try to find the continuation of the bone. What I uncovered was actually the rim of what turned out to be an ivory object. I have long dreamed of finding ivory since reading about the ivory objects found at other Philistine sites such as Tel Miqne-Ekron, Ashkelon and Tell Qasile. With a well-timed visit to the site by Amihai Mazar, the director of the excavations at Tell Qasile, it was hoped that some light could be shed on this mystery object. Unfortunately its identity remains a mystery to this day. Because the object was so fragile a conservator named Gali Beiner from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was called in to excavate the object safely, and I was fortunate enough to be able to help her.

Working closely with Gali was an amazing opportunity; she was very patient and explained every step of the excavation process to me as we worked on removing the ivory object safely. She not only made sure that I understood what my task was, but she also explained why we excavated the ivory object as we did. It had been decided that chemicals to preserve the shape of the object could not be used during the excavation process so that the object could be taken for sampling without fear of contamination. To preserve the shape of the object it was decided that the object would be taken out in a block of soil, which involved excavating around the object (collecting numerous sediment samples in the process for further testing) so that the object could be slowly excavated in a lab safely at a later date. As a result, the section I was so confident I would finish before the end of the season has not yet met the level of the cobbled surface.

My time at Tell es-Safi/Gath this year has proved to be invaluable. As always, I was able to meet many different people from around the world from all walks of life, make what I hope will be long lasting friendships and, most importantly, once again be inspired in new ways by the specialists I was fortunate enough to work with.
 


 

BAS scholarship recipient Christina Loscalzo at Omrit.

Christina Loscalzo
Omrit

My journey with the Omrit Settlement Excavations near Qiryat Shemona was influenced greatly by my love of education. A few years ago I was looking forward to teaching high school history when an introductory archaeology class took hold of me. In my education classes, I was being trained to identify and help support the way students can learn critical analysis through reading, math or science. But what about learning those skills within the social sciences? I saw that archaeology could be a useful tool in the modern social studies classroom. It could be an innovative way to teach students how to analyze multiple types of sources and practice source criticism. Now more passionate about Classics and knowing the value of first hand experience, I knew that I would be most effective teaching archaeology by actually going into the field. And with the Omrit opportunity at hand, I knew that this was my chance to try.

The five weeks I spent in Israel were some of the most informative and exhilarating weeks of my life so far. I spent that time digging in a square with students from Williams College, Carthage College and the City University of New York at Queens. I excavated and learned about many artifacts. At night I listened to lectures from experts in archaeology, history, and religion. And on weekends I toured other sites in Israel to gain context necessary to understand our own site.

During the excitement of it all I found the connection between critical analysis and education through the beauty of ceramic analysis. On the weekends our group worked with a ceramicist on the material we found within our square. She “read” the pottery sherds that we had found during the week’s digging and also taught us how to do basic analysis on the finds. It is amazing to think about the amount we can analyze and find meaning in a line of poetry, but until I experienced this trip I would not have realized the beauty in analyzing pieces of pottery! This was the missing piece! This could be a different way to teach students about critical thinking. Ceramic analysis could show students how looking at small details and context can help construct a more complete picture and access deeper levels of meaning from data, whatever its nature. My trip to Israel was an experience that has made me question a bit of everything, whether my preconceived notions of archaeological study or what adventures I may pursue in the future. Even so, I still plan to pursue my love of teaching, now equipped with new educational tools from this unexpected glimpse into the past. I aim to help others understand the potential of archaeology to give students the tools to not only about think critically about the past, but also to apply these tools in the present.
 


 

BAS scholarship recipient Marilyn Love at Tel Jezreel.

Marilyn Love
Tel Jezreel

Last summer, I spent four weeks excavating at Tel Jezreel, where I had the privilege of working with an international team of people, and staying at Kibbutz Yizre’el, which is one of the few active kibbutzim remaining in Israel. The Jezreel Expedition is directed by Dr. Norma Franklin (Haifa University) and Dr. Jennie Ebeling (University of Evansville). Tel Jezreel was surveyed in May 2012 using LiDAR technology and GIS mapping in order to determine which areas would be excavated in the first season. After analyzing the LiDAR scans, it was determined that we would open the 2013 season by investigating an Iron Age wine press and an area off the tel near a spring called Ein Jezreel.

I supervised two squares in Area S, the region near the spring. Over the course of the four-week season, we uncovered hundreds of basalt tools, including grinding stones and pounding stones. In Area S we uncovered six walls and five massive pits. These intrusive pits contained broken pottery sherds and basalt artifacts dating as late as the Byzantine period, but underneath the pits we found a Middle Bronze Age stone covering. Once we reached the walls and surfaces, we realized we had several domestic phases of the Early Bronze period. Our small finds were impressive; including a basalt ax blade from the Early Bronze Age, thousands of flint pieces, several spindle whorls, and several Khirbet Kerak sherds.

After the season ended, I worked on a research project that placed our findings from the 2013 season in the Canaanite religious context. I presented my project at the end of the summer at my university’s summer undergraduate research fellowship forum. This experience will indubitably help me to advance in my academic career and has solidified for me that archaeology is a discipline that I want to pursue for the rest of my life.
 


 

The Tel Dor team.

Alexandra Lupu
Tel Dor

I am not an archaeologist by training; I am more used to tackling the issues surrounding the study of ancient Near Eastern texts and languages than to reading vertical sections or reconstructing ancient architecture from the remnants in a square. Nonetheless, I am fascinated by the ways in which archaeology complements textual study to give a broader picture of the history and culture of the biblical period, and as someone aspiring to do research and teach in the field of ancient Near Eastern history, I have been trying to glean as much practical knowledge as I can about the archaeological method.

I have had the good fortune to live and study in Israel in the past, and I also had the opportunity to take part in the 2012 season at Megiddo. I found the latter experience so enjoyable that I couldn’t wait to repeat it. The area I was digging in at Megiddo was from the late Iron I period, so I was eager to find a site focusing on a different era in Israel’s history; thus I chose the (comparatively) small coastal site of Tel Dor, where a couple of groups were excavating Roman and Persian-Hellenistic remains. Helped by generous funding from the Biblical Archaeology Society, I jetted off to Tel Aviv at the beginning of July.

My first task at Dor was to sketch a top plan of a rock formation in my new area. My previous archaeological experience had been restricted to articulating architectural features, exposing floors, making clean vertical sections, and digging with a pick–all aspects that I, as an untrained outsider, naturally associated with archaeology. I had never really thought of architectural drawing, which involves no digging at all, as an integral part of the archaeological method.

This spirit of discovery characterized my stay at Tel Dor. At Tel Megiddo my work had been restricted to the tel alone, which was perfect for a first archaeological experience; I was thrilled by thediscovery of potsherds, bone fragments and olive pits. At Dor, on the other hand, all of the volunteers were offered entirely new insights into the various components of archaeological research. In addition to onsite work, I got to see the work that went on at the Tel Dor Museum (housed in the pretty red-brick ‘Glasshouse’, an old glass-making factory from the nineteenth century) and at the so-called “container”, an enormous metal box containing all of the artifacts saved from previous excavation seasons, dating back to 1980. I was privy to parts of the pottery sorting, classifying and data entry processes, and I even got the opportunity to sort and organize pottery from past seasons. I learned about diagnostic pottery sherds, and which ones are considered important enough to save, label and catalog, and about methods and techniques involved in pottery reconstruction.

I was also fortunate to be exposed to other field techniques that I had not previously used. Dor is the first place where I learned how to wet sieve material – a technique that involves scooping dirt into mesh sieves, and swooshing them around in water to disperse mud particles and leave behind tiny fragments of pottery, shells, bones, flint, and charcoal. This whole process was made easy by the convenient location of Dor on the beach, and several rather enjoyable mornings were spent cooling off in the sea as we sifted our dirt!

The Dor experience as a whole left me with an enhanced understanding of archaeology as a process, from the various techniques involved in the actual “digging” to the cleaning, processing, analysis and storage of artifacts that are just as crucial to the success of a season. I wish to thank the Biblical Archaeology Society for their generosity, which enabled me to undertake this intellectually stimulating and culturally enriching expedition.
 


 

BAS scholarship recipient Elizabeth Mauer at Tel Kabri.

Elizabeth Mauer
Tel Kabri

My scholarship made it possible for me to dig with Eric Cline at Tel Kabri in Northern Israel for six weeks during the summer of 2013. I found it to be particularly rewarding to be able to stay the entire six week excavation season. Seeing the entire process from removing topsoil to backfilling gave me a deeper understanding of all the different aspects of field archaeology. Though I am particularly interested in lab part of archaeology I am very glad to have done a dig so that I understand how the artifacts I work with are found. Our big discovery this season at Tel Kabri of a storage room with 42 complete vessels presents a fascinating opportunity for residue analysis. I am hoping to follow up with an internship with associate director Andrew Koh who will be conducting residue analysis back in his lab at Brandeis University. My career interests are in this type of combination of archaeology and chemistry, learning not only what the storage vessels held but how to preserve them for the future.
 


 

BAS scholarship recipient Allison Mickel atop a camel at Petra.

Allison Mickel
Petra
I love working in Petra, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, a place people dream about seeing, that they research and see in movies, that they immediately know as one of the major archaeological sites in the world. I’ll admit, it is pretty spectacular to be working somewhere so glamorous—to be able, each morning, to take a short and direct drive before beginning work in the heart of this enigmatic and monumental city carved from stone. But the fame of Petra is intertwined with the long history of excavations that have happened there. This is what I’m interested in: becoming part of this long cultural memory of archaeologists, and in preserving it.

This summer, I was fortunate enough to be granted one of the Biblical Archaeology Society’s dig volunteer scholarships. Thanks to this opportunity, I was able to participate in excavations at the Temple of the Winged Lions in Petra, Jordan. My experience this summer extended far beyond digging. I was able to make lasting friendships with the local community, start off on a research project for the next several years, and connect archaeology’s investigation of the past to issues in the present in ways I never would have expected.

The project I joined has a long name—The Temple of the Winged Lions Cultural Resource Management (TWLCRM). It might be a mouthful, but it reflects the primary mission of the project, which is not only to continue excavations begun in the 1960’s by Philip Hammond but also to protect and conserve the resources uncovered during Hammond’s excavations and by those still digging today. This involves guarding against degradation, as well as a restoration initiative. Furthermore, the title of the project signifies the directors’ commitment to engaging the local community. They employ team members from the surrounding towns of Wadi Musa, Umm Seyhoun, and Beidha, and the project runs year-round to encourage ongoing connection between the archaeology and the people who live there.

For me, this was incredibly fortunate. As a PhD candidate at Stanford University, my dissertation research aims at collecting the oral histories of long-term excavations in the Middle East held by local communities, and comparing these memories to the written record of these excavations. TWL has over a half-century of history in the area and in the archives, so I threw myself into assembling both of these bodies of information.

This meant that my Arabic skills had to go up—way up. The first interview I had with someone on site, I went home and wrote a lengthy journal entry about how impossible this all was. I even started brainstorming new, more feasible, more English-based dissertation ideas. But it got easier. I met several people willing to serve as cultural intermediaries and pseudo-translators, people I needed less and less as we bonded more and more. I grew to understand increasingly the complexities of the Bedouin population’s relationship with archaeology—their emotive connections and economic frustrations. Their stories were not always what I expected. While Dr. Hammond is often painted as a colorful caricature in the archaeological mythology (there are stories about his riding a white horse to site!), the people I spoke to demonstrated an extremely intimate, balanced, and personal understanding of his life and personality.

Amid tea-breaks, sifting, applying consolidant, and—of course—digging, I had so many opportunities to connect with diverse groups of people and to record their recollections about the history of archaeology in the area. The Temple of the Winged Lions is one of the first projects in the area to focus so emphatically on involving the local community; these stories and memories have never before been recorded. Here I was, one of the first people to ever look at history of archaeology at Petra from the Bedouin perspective—and in so doing, becoming a part of this history myself!

It’s become clear to me through this research that many of the issues most important to these local communities in the present are linked in with archaeology and its history. Archaeologists employ members of the community on a seasonal basis, and even what we find affects tourism and therefore, many people’s economic well-being. The relationships between communities, NGOs, and the Jordanian government are extremely complicated; archaeology places a major role in shaping and governing these relations. I’ve learned about workers’ past experiences on excavations, and worked with my new friends to generate ideas for how future projects could be inclusive in truly revolutionary ways. Things like community meetings, lectures in Arabic, and designing new recording systems which wouldn’t require knowledge of English or an archaeology degree—these are all ideas for community archaeology, developed in collaboration with community members by learning from the past ramifications of archaeology at Petra. Even archaeology, a discipline focused on understanding history, can innovate to improve its own future and that of the communities we are embedded in. This summer, I’ve begun to see how I can do just that.
 


 

BAS scholarship recipient Ariel Polokoff excavating pottery at Tel Kabri.

Ariel Polokoff
Tel Kabri

The opportunity to dig at Tel Kabri this past summer was intellectually stimulating, physically demanding and deeply rewarding. Tel Kabri is a Bronze Age Canaanite palace in the Western Galilee region of Northern Israel. The excavation is lead by Drs. Eric Cline of George Washington University and Assaf Yasur-Landau of the University of Haifa, with Dr. Andrew Koh of Brandeis University serving as Associate Director.

I was very excited to participate in my first archaeological excavation. My first three weeks at the field school taught me the specifics of how to dig, record, organize, and better understand what was being found, along with the general layout and information about the site. I then spent an additional three weeks cataloging the pottery, flint, shell, bone and special finds being excavated. Cataloging refined my understanding of how to organize information coming out of the ground, and deepened my appreciation of all the different steps that go into recording the various findings. I also began to work on an independent research topic. Integrating my interest in Art History with Archaeology and under the direction of Dr. Cline, I’ve determined to study the Aegean style frescos that have been found over the past few years at Kabri. I will consider whether the painting style reflects an Aegean influence over the Levant – or vice versa, and hope to add my voice to a much debated subject.

Archaeological excavations are not without their rigors. A typical day on the Tel Kabri dig begins around 4:45 AM. With a cup of coffee in one hand and a water jug in the other, I would climb onto the bus taking us from the Western Galilee Field School to the site. We arrived around sunrise and immediately started working. Our day went from 5 AM to 1 PM, with two breaks for breakfast and snacks. The digging itself was typically completed around 12:30 PM, at which point workshops presented the key dig concepts to be grasped. Returning to the field school, lunch and breaks would follow until about 4 PM. Many would nap, do homework, hang out with friends or visit the beach (which was conveniently right across the street). Activity then recommenced with pottery washing, cataloging, or another field school class. The night would end with dinner followed by an archaeology lecture. This hectic schedule made the days very full, and fly by.

From Thursday afternoons to Saturday evenings, however, we were given the opportunity to travel around Israel. Together with friends from the dig I hiked the north, explored Haifa, and toured Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. I especially enjoyed exploring the vibrant life of Tel Aviv and Old Jaffa, as well as the historic areas and nightlife of Jerusalem. We visited many sacred places, and basked in the country’s beauty, diversity and history.

While it all was enjoyable, the work stands out. There is nothing quite as satisfying as finding a piece of pottery, as rewarding as uncovering a special find, or as exciting as discovering a new room or floor. Being the first to unearth these pieces of history that have been hidden for thousands of years – or serving on a team that is doing so – is extraordinarily gratifying. And beyond intricate objects the artifacts of common material culture and even ancient trash serves as a link to the people of the past.

I am very grateful to the Biblical Archaeology Society for the help that made possible this amazing experience. My experiences this past summer heightened my understanding of archaeology and its methods, and reinforced my determination to study further and contribute more.
 


 

BAS scholarship recipient Amanda Pumphrey at Tel Akko.

Amanda Pumphrey
Tel Akko

My time at Tel Akko this summer was truly a memorable experience. The concept of Total Archaeology that is promoted at Tel Akko is critical to understanding what it means to be a part of the excavation Tel Akko. The notion of Total Archaeology as explained by our directors Dr. Anne Killebrew and Dr. Michal Artzy is an interdisciplinary approach to excavation and asks questions such as: Who are we digging for and why? How does the past influence the present? How can the contemporary Akko community be involved? What are the connections between excavation, heritage, and conservation? Throughout the season, I had to opportunity to learn more about Total Archaeology through excavating and pottery labs, from engaging in an outstanding lecture series, through participating in conservation workshops, and through partnering with the organization S.H.A.R.E.: The Society for Humanitarian Archaeological Research and Exploration.

During the day, I participated in the field school on the tel. From 5:30am until 12:30pm, I worked in two squares, QQ20 and RR20, as an assistant square supervisor. Having the position of assistant square supervisor allowed me to holistically understand both sides of archaeology: the excavation process as well as the tedious documentation process and paperwork. The goal this season for the squares QQ20 and RR20 was to better understand the relationships between the architecture in the squares as well as confirm the stratigraphy with the pottery readings from the ceramicists.

In QQ20, we uncovered a floor surface connected to one of the walls as well as a continuation and possible corner to another wall. We also removed a floating wall. At the end of the season, it was determined that QQ20 is within both Stratum 4 which is Persian, to Stratum 5 which is the Persian/Iron Transition. In RR20, we uncovered a continuation of one of the walls and dismantled two different walls. It was confirmed at the end of the season that the main wall is Iron and the pottery from the excavation was predominantly Iron II. RR20 was determined to be at Stratum 7 which is Iron II.

During the afternoons and evenings, I attended pottery lab and the lecture series. Washing and reading the pottery from my squares was informative as I learned how to distinguish pottery from trained ceramicists. The lecture series was insightful on multiple levels. All of the lectures whether about Ancient Near Eastern history or the debates on conservation and preservation in Israel all related back to Akko. Broader themes were consistently contextualized by using Akko as main example which was helpful in understanding how Akko fits into the larger picture as an archaeological site, a local community, a natural harbor, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Through the lecture series, the concept of Total Archaeology was grounded as we learned from scholars who are trained in ANE history, from local Israeli archaeologists, from local citizens of Akko who are engaged in activism, from members of the Israeli Antiquities Authority who do work on preservation and conservation, and from religious historians. Having a wide variety of speakers and lecture topics that all connected back to the past, present, and future of Akko was highly educational and necessary in understanding Akko’s unique positionality both historically and contemporarily.

Lastly, working with S.H.A.R.E. was probably the highlight of the excavation season. For two weeks, local Jewish and Arab youth excavated with us and participated in conservation workshops in the Old City of Akko with us. It was amazing to meet local youth and learn about the history of Akko and the contemporary context of the city from people who had grown up there. Part of the Total Archaeology project at Tel Akko is community outreach and involvement and I believed that partnering with S.H.A.R.E. was a great way to implement this goal. One evening the youth from the program gave us a tour of the Old City of Akko and told us all of the urban legends and stories they learned growing up. It was a certainly a fun and memorable night. Also, during our last week of excavation a local kindergarten class visited the site for two days and learned about archaeology through helping us sift the dirt buckets. They learned how to distinguish bone, shell, and ceramic sherds as well as special finds. On their last day on the tel, they baked a huge brownie cake for everyone and shared it with us during breakfast!

Overall, the experience at Tel Akko this season was definitely unforgettable. I felt like I have learned more than I ever could sitting in a classroom in Claremont, CA or from reading a text book. Having the hands on experience of archaeology through field work, learning about the documentation methods and paperwork, hearing lectures from various disciplines, meeting local youth, and participating in conservation workshops in the Old City of Akko portrays how experience and active learning is critical to education. I am ever thankful to the Biblical Archaeology Society for assisting me on this journey which enabled me to be a part of this amazing program at Tel Akko.
 


 
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to volunteer on an archaeological dig? I Volunteered For This? Life on an Archaeological Dig is a free eBook that gives you the lowdown on what to expect from life at a dig site. You’ll be glad to have this informative, amusing and sometimes touching collection of articles by archaeological dig volunteers.
 

 

BAS scholarship recipient Valerie Schlegel at Tel Abel Beth Maacah.

Valerie Schlegel
Abel Beth Maacah

This summer, I had the pleasure of joining the team at Tel Abel Beth Maacah for their inaugural dig season. Located in the Hula Valley, in northern Israel, I was far enough north to be able to see the border of Lebanon on one side and the Golan Heights from the other. This site is especially interesting because it not only is in a lesser-known area, but it also in a key location between Israelite, Phoenician, and Aramean communities. When we broke ground the first week, we right away were able to uncover what we found to be an Ottoman terrace wall. Not far underneath that we uncovered walls that, based on the pottery that was found, suggests Iron Age I. In the area that I was working in, we were able to see quite a few walls starting to appear and even intersect, an exciting find indicating that we were working in a domestic area. For the entire dig crew uncovering the area it was amazing to work on the site and watch it slowly be revealed and realize that we were the first people in many, many years to see these structures. One of the most striking finds on the dig involved a jug that, after careful cleaning, revealed ring-shaped objects within it later identified to be silver!

Not only was it the first time this site was being dug at, but also it was the first time I had been on an archaeological dig and my first time in Israel! For myself, I was able to feel a much stronger, more tangible connection to the land of Israel and to the ancient people. While I was on the Tel, I was able to look out and see three different areas of land: Israel, Lebanon, and the UN-demilitarized zone. The fact that I was standing there seeing different borders helped me understand the significance of the area in ancient times and how it was a connecting point between different ancient communities. Participating in an archaeological dig was very hard physically, yet one of the most rewarding things I have done. I learned how important it was to keep your area level, the detailed attention needed to find little changes in the dirt, and that it IS in fact possible to clean dirt. I had a great experience getting all of the “dirt” about archaeology and a better understanding of ancient history. I am very grateful for BAR for being able to help with this experience of a lifetime!
 


 

BAS scholarship recipient Kamil Sobczak at Tel Jezreel.

Kamil Sobczak
Bethsaida

When I was a little boy I always dreamed of adventures in faraway lands. To my imagination especially appealed stories I heard in Sunday school. I wanted to visit the land described in the Bible in order to see with my own eyes all these mysterious places. This interest naturally expanded to the field of archaeology which has become my life passion.

During my studies I came across information about an archaeological site located north of the Sea of Galilee. Furthermore, it was recognized as Biblical Bethsaida which used to be the capital of the Kingdom of Geshur known from Hebrew Bible and also mentioned in the New Testament as the place of Jesus most significant miracles and birthplace of three apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip. This seemed to be the archaeological site I had always dreamed of.

The director of excavations was professor Rami Arav on behalf of the Consortium of the Bethsaida Excavations Project led by the University of Nebraska at Omaha. My University had taken part in the project for three seasons before I started my studies so I could not participated then. Thanks to professor Ilona Skupińska-Løvset, who was the leader of the Polish excavation team then, and all her stories about excavations, I only needed financial support to go there. At this point Biblical Archaeology Society came to my rescue. The generosity of donors I am extremely grateful to, allowed me to fulfill my personal and professional goals. Having received the confirmation of scholarship, I became the happiest man on Earth.

At the first day of the dig we had an orientation at the site. Professor Arav told as all important things we had to know about excavations, safety and history of Bethsaida. He is without any doubt a great archaeologist and scientist with a witty personality and outstanding sense of humor. You can always count on him and you can be sure that he will find time to answer all your questions. From the first day I will definitely remember two things. One is a little bit trivial but I have seen for the first time a family of hyrax running alongside ancient walls. The other is a magnificent view of the Sea of Galilee from the top of the tell which stayed with me till the end of season.

The next day we were asked to choose a part of the archaeological site which would be our workplace for the next week. Following my interest, I chose an area called ‘A west’ supervised by Dr. Carl Savage, Assistant Excavations Director of Bethsaida Excavations Project. Thanks to him, I learnt a lot about the topography of archaeological site and relics we found during the excavation. After a couple of days under his tutelage, I started to distinguish walls and other artifacts from unimportant rocks.

At this point it is necessary to give some details regarding our daily routine. We stayed at Kibbutz Ginosar Hotel and every morning at 5 we gather around to get to Bethsaida by bus. After taking tools I climbed the top of the hill where we dug to 9 a.m. (breakfast time). Since a great majority of volunteers was from the United States, I must admit I was surprised how popular peanut butter is. After breakfast we worked to 11 a.m. which was one of the best points of the day – ‘the popsicle time’. Every day right to the square where we worked one of the volunteers brought us cold popsicles. Combine that we a refreshing breeze of the Sea of Galilee and you can fully appreciate the place and company of such nice people working with you.

The area ‘A west’ at the first layers was Roman and Hellenistic period, however, having gone deeper, we got quickly to the Iron Age layer. One thing made our life more difficult. It was Syrian military trench cutting through our square. Since then there was a lot of dirt sifting I was dirty all the time. It conjures memories of a childhood play in sandbox, however, with more exciting findings. We explored a lot of pottery pieces and beads. What struck me most was the fact that beads from our area were mainly Phoenician. We returned to the hotel for lunch at 1 p.m. and after that we had some free time. With some of my new friends we went to the beach or swimming pool. Around 4:30 p.m. we had the lab work and later there were very interesting lectures given by the members of Bethsaida excavation and prominent archaeologists from all over the world. Weekends were the time for trips. Staff of Bethsaida Excavation Project was extremely helpful in arranging tours around beautiful Sea of Galilee and the whole country.

Thanks to Biblical Archaeology Society, I spent unforgettable moments in Israel. It was the best vacation in my life which allowed me to collect lots of materials for my Ph.D. thesis. I hope that I will return one day to Israel for another season of such magnificent excavations.
 


 

BAS scholarship recipient Yulius Telaumbanua at Tel Jezreel.

Yulius Telaumbanua
Tel Jezreel

The involvement in the Tel Jezreel Expedition was a challenging and wonderful experience. It was challenging because that was my first time participating in a dig without any training or excavation. I came to understand that archaeology should be done carefully because once a layer has been dug, there is no way to put it back in the same position as it was. Without careful and detail records we risk losing the important data each level provides. I was in a tension of being exiting to explore new things and being alert not to ruin the evidences.

Joining for the second half of the expedition also created another challenge. When everyone else had some training, I had to start from the beginning even to remember the names of the tools, the artifacts, and the loci names. Furthermore, the Tel Jezreel expedition just started to dig this year and we found huge numbers of rocks. It was tiring and hard work. Fortunately, all members of the team were supportive, and in the end I really enjoyed the two weeks digging at this site.

It was a wonderful experience because I took part in the excavation of one of the most important places in the Northern Kingdom. Being at Jezreel brought alive what I read in the Hebrew Bible, such as the story of Naboth’s vineyard and Jezebel. It is a fertile valley with water spring, a lot of plants and vegetation. It is not surprising that Jezreel became one of the most vital and inhabited places in the ancient Israel. In our excavation we found a wine press as well as different kinds of walls dated back to the Bronze and Iron Ages. And I also found a round corner of a wall at the square I excavated. I was surprised to discover that underneath the sand and rocks, there were hints of ancient civilizations at Jezreel. It made me so excited.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the important works of of Dr. Jennie Ebeling and Dr. Norma Franklin at the Tel Jezreel Expedition. Since Jezreel is an important place in the Northern Kingdom, I believe that the expedition’s results will contribute significantly to the knowledge of what happened at Jezreel in ancient times and how the culture developed. The site will enrich our interpretation of the Hebrew Bible.
 


 

BAS scholarship recipient Christopher Thompson with a belt buckle uncovered at Ashkelon this summer.

Christopher Thompson
Ashkelon

This summer I had the privilege to work at the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon. I helped open grid 44, a new grid on the top of the South Tell. We chose that area of the site because of the prominent view it had of the sea, and because it had the best breeze. Both of these characteristics made it a desirable place to excavate, just as they would have made it a desirable place to live in antiquity.

The top layer of agricultural fill were removed with a bulldozer, because they were simply plowed soil that was devoid of architecture. During that first day I was involved with helping to clean out grid 51. But the next day, Starting at 5:00 am, we were out excavating at grid 44. It took us to about breakfast to get the area cleared up enough for us to start breaking the grid into units. Walls had started to pop out by the end of that first day. As the days passed I found an incredible amount of stuff. I was nicknamed “The Human Sifter” by Tracey, my grid supervisor. I was really good at spotting small objects. Among the objects I found were 20 coins, and a lapiz lazuli tile which was about the size of my pinky nail. On the tile were 2 words written backwards in arabic. We had a great group of volunteers working in 44, most of them had no archaeological experience but quickly learned how to properly excavate.

The occupation in our grid started with Crusader/ Islamic but we also uncovered a Byzantine mosaic with a religious inscription on it. On the last day of the excavation one of the areas in the grid hit clean Roman material. I also helped work a late shift in grid 38, the longest running grid in the site, because it was finishing up this year and needed the extra manpower. Working through Iron I Philistine occupation, and Late Bronze Age Canaanite material was different from working in grid 44, but still a welcome experience.

In the end I got to become friends with a great group of people and I helped unearth interesting and previously unknown parts of history. I hope that I will be able to go back in a year or two as an assistant square supervisor.
 


 

BAS scholarship recipient Jeremy Williams with his wife at Tel Burna.

Jeremy Williams
Tel Burna

I have spent the last several years studying and learning about the history, culture, and language of the Ancient Near East. The more I learn and the greater understanding I gain, the more my appetite grows for greater knowledge and insight. This fascination with the Ancient Near East caused me to greatly desire the opportunity to excavate and visit the land that I have studied and thought so much about. Through receiving a BAS dig scholarship, I was able to realize this dream.

My wife and I spent three weeks excavating at Tel Burna, which is in the Shephelah region (the border between the Philistines and the Israelites). Tel Burna is an exciting site in that it is possibly the location for Biblical Libnah. The two main areas of the tel are dated to the Iron Age and the Late Bronze Age. I was able to excavate in the LB area in which we were able to uncover many different vessels used for storing food. It was intriguing learning firsthand about the way people lived around 1300 B.C.E!

We also took several field trips to other tels in the area. This was a highlight for me in that we explored many important sites (Azekah, Lachish, Gath), and we got to learn from archaeologists about the significance of each place. Lachish in particular stood out to me as it has the only (as far as we know) existing Assyrian siege ramp from the violent campaigns of Sennacherib. It was absolutely incredible being able to picture this well-known attack, imagining the terrified inhabitants of Lachish watch as a ramp is being built in order to take over the city.

Overall, it was an incredible experience uncovering 3,000 year old artifacts, learning immense amounts about archaeology, and coming to a greater understanding of this amazing land. I am so thankful for the BAS scholarship making it possible for me to go; I hope to go back soon and soak up more of this beautiful country.

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