BIBLE HISTORY DAILY

Scholarship Winners Speak Up

2019 Dig Scholarship Recipients

Congratulations to our 2019 dig scholarship recipients! The Biblical Archaeology Society awarded scholarships to 12 individuals who would otherwise not have been able to participate in an archaeological excavation. These volunteers joined excavations throughout the biblical world and helped uncover history. They devoted countless hours, hard work, and enthusiasm to this pursuit. We applaud their efforts and offer our sincere thanks to the donors who funded this year’s scholarship program:

David B. Beckham

George Blumenthal

Edward and Raynette Boshell

David and Jemima Jeselsohn

W. Mark and Becky Lanier

Leon Levy Foundation, Shelby White, Trustee

John and Carol Merrill

Hugh Montgomery, Jr.

Samuel D. Turner and Elizabeth Goss

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The Biblical Archaeology Society, publisher of Biblical Archaeology Review, annually offers dig scholarships of $2,000 each to people desiring to participate in a dig and demonstrating financial need. To apply, send a résumé, cover letter, and contact information for two references (professional or academic) in an email to [email protected] or by mail to BAS Dig Scholarships, 4710 41st St., NW, Washington, DC 20016, USA. In your letter, explain where and why you want to excavate, and why you should be selected for a scholarship. Priority will be given to first-time dig participants. Applications must be received by March 31, 2020.


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.


Margaret Nicole Bracey

Photo: Ronnie Ward

Khirbet Auja el-Foqa

Words cannot do justice to explain my amazing, wonderful experience at Khirbet Auja el-Foqa, an archeological dig in the Jordon Valley. Thanks to the scholarship I was awarded from BAS, I was able to experience two dreams: first, of going on a dig and, second, of going to Israel. I will be eternally grateful for this opportunity. Volunteering and living in Israel with some of the most interesting and intelligent people from around the world was truly a once in a lifetime experience. Honestly, I loved every minute of learning, working, and being completely submerged in different cultures. My favorite and probably the most spiritual part was seeing more of God’s creation by getting up early each morning, riding through the mountains from Jerusalem to Jericho, arriving at the site just as the sun rose over the Jordon Valley, and discovering history in the beautiful desert. The month-long trip was quite entertaining; I laughed for days with my new friends, as if we had known each other forever. I celebrated my 39th birthday on a Saturday tour day—and what a day to remember at the Dead Sea, Jordon River Baptism site, and Masada. I truly enjoyed the fieldwork that was physically challenging, yet also rewarding, and set in a relaxed atmosphere. You could say I carried a lot of buckets!

Before this incredible journey, I knew nothing about archeology or even that much about Israel. However, I have studied the Bible my whole life and have attempted to understand it. Summer 2019 was the first season for this particular site. It is important to research how this site may explain the connection between the Kingdom of Israel and Judah to the land of Ammon and Moab. It may also shed light on when the Israelites settled the land and whether this site was a fortress to protect from invaders. Could it have been deserted or destroyed by Assyrians, Babylonians, or even before? We can report that the city walls date back to Iron II, the time of the Divided Monarchy, as well as an earlier wall that may date to late Iron I. During the dig, we found enough pottery to open a store, grinding stones, an arrowhead, a spearhead, and possibly an administration building. There is much more to explore and discover in the upcoming seasons.

The memories that will remain with me from now on are the special connections I made. I learned from a family of Bedouins living near the ancient establishment that their traditional, modest lifestyle is a desire for simplicity, and they choose this life. I can completely understand the desire and admire the peaceful, loving people. As with every misconception made about an unknown culture, to me, I always thought it was a matter of being poor and uneducated. I bonded with the volunteers of the dig, and I can also claim I am now a part of the Bedouin tribe at Khirbet Auja el-Foqa. My heart is on the hilltop in the fortress tower, the walls, the pits, the friendships, and now the history of the archeological area—until I return again.

To anyone who has ever felt the calling to volunteer on a dig, have faith and go for it! I also suggest applying for a BAS scholarship and joining a dig with the professional team of the Jordon Valley Excavation Project. Allow your heart, life, and mind to be transformed.


Kristina Donnally

Khirbet a-Rai

I distinctly remember sitting in my ancient Near Eastern history course the fall of my second year of college when I decided to change my concentration from Classical Archaeology to Near Eastern Archaeology—after a class on the Middle Bronze Age. Two years later, I stood in the desert of Israel as an intern at the archaeological excavation of Khirbet a-Rai. When I received the BAS scholarship, this financial support did not simply mean that I got to embark on an incredible experience, but it also meant that I got to follow my dream career. That is exactly what I got to do this summer as I worked with the amazing team at Khirbet a-Rai, led by Dr. Yosef Garfinkel and Dr. Kyle Keimer, along with Saar Ganor of the Israeli Antiquities Authority. I personally worked alongside the supervisor staff for Area A, an area that proved to have multiple large building complexes dating to the 10th and 11th centuries B.C.E. As an official intern, I assisted in the documentary processes of field work, including recording loci, finds numbers, elevations, square diagrams, and more. I also was the assistant lab manager and participated in pottery reading, pottery cataloging, and small finds cataloging. Khirbet a-Rai even made the news this summer, as our team announced that we believe the site to be the biblical town of Ziklag, an interpretation the team was able to make after the discoveries of the past three years of excavations.

As this was my second year at a-Rai, it was incredibly rewarding to be out of the purely learning phase and to participate in more upper level work. While the term “exhausting” is an immense understatement in describing how we all felt during the dig, the 3:50 AM mornings, hours in the heat, dirt encrusted skin, and blister covered feet were all worth it in the end. The feeling of uncovering a complete vessel dating back 3,000 years, or an Egyptian amulet, or the corner of the wall you were so desperately searching for is worth all the sweating and yawning we endured. It is thanks to the great generosity of the Biblical Archaeological Society that I was able to experience those feelings over the three weeks of work we did on site. Without this scholarship, I would never be able to manage my own excavation square, discover a faience amulet, or help take residue analysis samples from 3,000-year-old complete vessels. Archaeology is incredibly hard work, and it is definitely not for everyone. Yet for me, it is a dream come true, and I will never be able to express in words the wonder and fulfillment I feel when I stand covered in dirt and sweat, documenting some find that was just uncovered. Working at Khirbet a-Rai was an extraordinary experience, and I cannot wait to continue my Near Eastern archaeological journey.

My deepest gratitude goes to the Biblical Archaeological Society, the amazing team at Khirbet a-Rai, my incredible professor Jonathan Waybright of Virginia Commonwealth University, and to all the other amazing staff, volunteers, and students who worked so hard this summer on site.


Demorick Green

Tell Keisan

The Tell Keisan excavation, directed by Dr. David Schloen, Dr. Gunner Lehamann, and site supervisor Dr. Elizabeth Bloch-Smith, was my first hands-on introduction to the world of archaeology. The experience and confidence that I gained from this dig were vital for my development as a scholar. During my time in Israel, I learned new approaches to answering research questions. In addition to learning different archaeological methods in the field, our daily lectures reinforced my command of Israelite history and filled gaps in my knowledge. Under Dr. Bloch-Smith’s leadership, we were up bright and early, ready to work. She assured me before we started that the dig was going to be a great experience, and it was just as she said.

Before we began the dig season, we took a site tour led by Dr. Schloen and Dr. Lehamann. They taught us about the history of the site and about the people who live in the surrounding areas. Being there and seeing the work from past excavations gave me a sense of pride because I knew that after this season I would be among those who contributed to uncovering the site’s history, in a way making me a part of that history.

Every day, we arrived at the foot of the tell and had to walk up a steep hill. That trek will definitely get your heart pumping before you start digging! Once we made it to the top, the view was stunning. Tell Keisan overlooked a kibbutz, so just imagine looking down at an olive grove and listening to sheep calls, while the sun illuminates more of the surrounding cities in the distance. It was a tranquil experience. That view put a smile on my face every morning, and it is something I miss often. In contrast, the dig was hard work. This experience strengthened my appreciation for the hard work archaeologists do to excavate and preserve our human history. It is fun, but it is not easy. The first day was not for the weak. I had no clue how much work it took to start excavating. Scooping dirt, hauling buckets of dirt, and dumping barrels of dirt seemed endless, but the camaraderie we built in our square made time fly.

I had the pleasure of being a part of square 38, where my square supervisor was Oliva Hayden, a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a great instructor and took time for those of us who were new, not only teaching us different methods and techniques but historical significance as well. Each day, I loved coming up with different theories of why my area looked the way it did and had the types of materials it had.

Pottery washing was one of my favorite parts of the day. We would gather in a circle with our buckets and brushes and build community. Washing pottery had other perks. When you clean the sherds, you reveal its beautiful color and, if you’re lucky, a decoration or an inscription. Pottery washing gave us more than enough time to strengthen our bond. Square 38 was a group of beautiful people from different experiences. In our square, we built bridges that I plan to maintain.

I would be remiss if I did not mention Revital Meir. She is a doctoral student at Ben Gurion University and one of the dig’s ceramists. She is very knowledgeable in her field and extremely hospitable. My interactions with her and Dr. Lehamann helped make my time in Israel memorable. The Tell Keisan dig was an amazing experience. I had an opportunity to learn more about a field I aspire to enter and meet amazing people who, through our short interaction, have made a lasting impression on my life. I want to thank the Biblical Archaeology Society for aiding my journey toward academia and participation in this dig. Without your support, this would not have been possible.


Sarah Harrington

Abel Beth Maacah

This summer, because of the Biblical Archaeological Society’s generous support, I was provided with the awesome opportunity to join an archaeological excavation in northern Israel. My site, Tel Abel Beth Maacah (ABM), is directed by Dr. Nava Panitz-Cohen and Dr. Naama Yahalom-Mack of Hebrew University and Dr. Robert Mullins of Azusa Pacific University. While there, I was able to learn under my professor, Dr. Cynthia Shafer-Elliott, who organized our trip from William Jessup University.

At school, my focus is on the archaeology of the Old Testament periods. ABM, as we call it, was my first dig, and it certainly did not disappoint! There is something unique about uncovering physical history that cannot be experienced from reading someone else’s accounts. This dig also taught me the importance and difficulties of interpreting archaeological findings. “Let the dirt speak to you” is a phrase we would jokingly throw around, but it also holds a lot of truth. One of my favorite parts of the dig was watching our dig leaders discuss recent findings and debate the implications of uncovered structures or discoveries in light of previous seasons. There are so many factors that go into the dig reports and publications that the rest of the world never sees.

When one thinks of archaeology, the most common picture that comes to mind is the fieldwork, and this was certainly fun. We picked our way through many layers of dirt (and chalk!), learned how to properly sweep dirt, and felt the excitement of discovery whenever we hit a wall or a floor or yet another oven. This is not where the story (or the feeling of discovery) ends, though! At pottery-washing, we would all “ooo” and “ahh” over the designs that were revealed for the first time in 3,000 years, and later, when this pottery was sorted and catalogued, we watched with amazement as our leaders identified vessels and dated them with ease. We sifted, picked out tiny animal bones from dirt samples, and wrote on hundreds of pieces of pottery. All of these tasks are part of the larger excavation, and each brings clarity to archaeologists, now and for the future, on the nature of our site throughout its history.

This may have been my first dig, but I already know it will not be my last. Thanks to the support of BAS, I was finally able to excavate in Israel, solidifying my desire to pursue archaeology as a career.


Sohel [Moni] Islam

Tell Dhiban

This past summer I had the adventure of a lifetime and participated in an archaeological excavation at Tell Dhiban in Jordan. I am extremely grateful for the Biblical Archaeology Society and the scholarship that secured my participation in this field school, as I wouldn’t have been able to attend otherwise. I will be forever grateful for their generosity!

Tell Dhiban is a site with a record of around 6,000 years of continuous human occupation. The cross-cultural component of Tell Dhiban—previously being the capital of the biblical Moabite kingdom, a Nabataean outpost, a Byzantine city, and a conquest of the Islamic caliphates—was one of the most intriguing aspects to me. The site is most famous for the Mesha Stele, one of the most extensive Iron Age inscriptions discovered in the region that also provides the basis of evidence for the now extinct Moabite language.

Throughout the field school, I was able to engage in numerous aspects of archaeological research: from excavating to using the total station to participating in water flotation to washing pottery and, of course, filling out paperwork. We had weekly lectures and pottery readings, and overall I learned so much about not just Iron Age archaeology within the region, but archaeology as a whole. We also went on trips to some truly amazing sites in Jordan, including Machaerus, Mount Nebo, Jerash, the Amman Citadel, the Desert Castles, Petra, and, my personal favorite, Wadi Dana. The beauty of Jordan was unimaginable, and I have no doubt I will come back in the future many times over.

While I certainly loved the fieldwork, lab work, our weekend trips, and the food, the aspect that made the field school in Dhiban most enjoyable and memorable was the people. The program was administered by directors Bruce Routledge, Melissa Kutner, and Katherine Adelsberger, all of whom offered their knowledge and expertise throughout the program. The field supervisors were great as well, always being patient and helpful in the field, as well as ensuring that we were enjoying ourselves, an absolute necessity while being in the blazing heat of the sun for hours on end. The people of Jordan were some of the most gracious and hospitable people I’ve ever met, resulting in a totally comfortable and welcoming atmosphere for all of us. Last, but not least, my fellow peers—they came from all across the world with so many interesting stories and perspectives, and we certainly made our share of unforgettable memories during our five weeks together. I was lucky enough to make friendships that will last a lifetime, and I truly had some of the best experiences of my life during my time in Jordan! Thank you again to BAS and its generous donors for making such an experience possible!


Channah Klapper

Tell es-Safi/Gath

This summer, I had the opportunity to spend a month digging at Tell es-Safi/Gath. I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first archaeological dig, but it was a lot of fun! Gath is the site of an ancient Philistine city, and it is where Goliath (of the David and Goliath story in the Bible) was from. It was really cool to see this famous biblical site in person. The area at Gath where I was working contained materials from the time of the Judges, a little bit before David and Goliath’s time. This is one of my favorite biblical periods to study. It was so exciting to investigate the physical realities behind the biblical stories and to personally uncover and handle artifacts from thousands of years ago.

On my first day at Tell es-Safi, we toured the site, which Professor Aren Maier of Bar Ilan University has been excavating for more than 20 years. In previous years the excavation has focused on the tell itself, but recently the focus has shifted to the lower city that lies along a now-dry wadi below the hill. The remains of Gath’s city walls are still visible along the wadi. We split up into separate areas; my university’s team was assigned to area Y, which is supervised by Dr. Jill Katz of Yeshiva University (YU). Jill explained to us that last year the YU team found a fired mudbrick structure that has yet to be conclusively identified. We began to clear the brush off of the space around last year’s squares, where we would be digging new squares. By the middle of the second day, we were ready to start excavating. It took me a few days to adjust to our early start and the physical strain of digging for many hours every day, but I soon found myself growing stronger and being able to work longer and more effectively. Over the course of the summer, in my area we found what appears to be the stone foundation of a large Iron I building, as well as a lot of pottery.

One of the things I loved about the dig was how the environment facilitated bonding with other volunteers, as well as professors and supervisors. It was awesome to spend time with such an amazing, diverse group of people. I met people from all over the world with a wide variety of life experiences, and it was so interesting to hear their stories and get their opinions on various subjects. In particular, we had many religious Christians and many religious Jews on the dig, and it was wonderful to observe and participate in many open and respectful interreligious dialogues. I was also able to bond with other students whom I hadn’t previously met from my own university, as well as the professor supervising my university’s area.

Thank you to the Biblical Archaeology Society for making it possible for me to have such an amazing and educational experience this summer.


Iñaki Marro

Azekah

While finishing my courses at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, I am thankful to the Biblical Archeological Society (BAS) for the great opportunity they have offered me to join the Lautenschläger Azekah Expedition, co-directed by the Tel Aviv University and the University of Heidelberg. It has been rewarding to work with an interdisciplinary team formed by archeologists, theologians, historians, and students coming from different traditions and nationalities. Unlike my first archeological experience in 2015 at the City of David (Givati Parking Lot), Azekah was a research excavation. After the morning fieldwork, we had the chance not only to join several field school sessions on documentation, stratigraphy, zooarchaeology, ceramic or archeological reports, but also to attend to the evening lectures held by renowned scholars. Sometimes in the afternoon or on the weekends, we visited other archaeological sites, such as Tel Lachish, Tel Hadid, Kiryat Jearim, or Tel Moza, and listened to explanations of ongoing excavations from their current directors.

As an (emerging) biblical scholar, I am deeply convinced of the necessity to increase the dialogue between the biblical and archeological data—to reshape our reconstructions of the past according to the (re)new(ed) readings of both the written and material evidences. During the two weeks spent in Azekah, I personally witnessed how open-minded, less ideologized interdisciplinary teamwork in biblical studies is possible. Again, thank you so much to the BAS and to the great team of the 2019 Lautenschläger Azekah Expedition in Azekah!


Emily Miller

Hippos-Sussita

I’ve always been fascinated with uncovering mysteries of the past. This summer I had the opportunity to do just that. I participated in the archaeological dig at the city of Hippos-Sussita on the east shore of Sea of Galilee in Israel. Guided by Professor Patrick Scott Geyer and Dr. Jerome Hall of the University of San Diego, my efforts focused on excavating the South-West Church. The sixth-century Roman church is one of seven churches at the site, but it possesses many unique characteristics. A highlight of my work there was the discovery of a fresco that most likely adorned the church walls. Revealing the fresco required careful and detailed work. I enjoyed discovering this treasure and learning more about the artwork daily. The discovery of the original door knockers from the church site was also an exciting find! I spent many days uncovering and cleaning the mosaic floor of the church, included fascinating inscriptions. I worked closely with Professor Geyer and Dr. Hall, along with many other specialists in various branches of archaeology. All were gracious in sharing their knowledge and field methods. I learned more than I thought possible in a month! The team worked hard, and the hot weather required a very early start to our days, but the experience was rewarding and memorable.

The ancient city of Hippos-Sussita is a sprawling site located on the top of a mountain. The dig consists of multiple work areas active throughout the summer. Staff and volunteers from all over the world work in teams to uncover the artifacts and buildings of Hippos. Founded after 200 B.C., Hippos-Sussita was a walled city belonging to the Decapolis, a group of ten cities that were centers of Greek culture. The residents were primarily non-Jewish. As the city developed, it was populated by mostly Christians. In the eight century, a strong earthquake destroyed the city, and it was never rebuilt. Excavation of the site began in the 1950s, and there remains much to uncover.

During my stay I lived at the beautiful Kibbutz Ein Gev with a group of students representing the University of San Diego. The kibbutz is a popular seaside resort and a beautiful place to spend a summer. While there I had the added opportunity to gather pollen samples from Magdala for research I am conducting with Professor Geyer.

Generous support from the BAS allowed me to realize my dream of participating in a biblical archaeological dig. I will forever be grateful for the scholarship that made this amazing experience a reality.


Celeste Onchuck

Tel Tsaf

The time I spent as a volunteer at the Tel Tsaf excavation project this summer was one of the best learning experiences of my life. Doing something hands-on is a good way to understand and learn new things. With dirty hands, I truly did learn so much.

Initially, I was not looking to work at a prehistoric or Neolithic/Chalcolithic site. I wanted to go to an excavation where the archaeologists were dealing with a much later period, but I do not have any regrets of going to Tel Tsaf for my first dig. The methods we used there enabled the close examination of all artifacts, from the tiniest olive seedpods to the structures the ancient people built from mudbricks. Shoulder to shoulder with the students and archaeologists, I dug 5 centimeters at a time, placing every grain of dirt into buckets to be sifted and examined closely. At other times, I sifted through the dirt that we excavated. I handled animal bones, flint tools, pieces of intricately decorate pottery, handmade beads, and even pieces of obsidian dated at around 7000 B.C.

Each day began at 4 a.m., as I hear is the case at most excavation sites, and we would work at the site until close to 1 p.m. Tel Tsaf is located in the Jordan Valley, and “hot” does not really describe how it felt, but the experience was worth the heat! After lunch, we would head to the lab where we would wash pottery and other finds. I enjoyed that as well because I was able to see the artifacts more clearly.

Another enjoyable part of the experience was meeting and getting to know the archaeologists and students from other places . I liked being a part of Dr. Danny Rosenberg’s team. I also enjoyed times like our daily meals together, and I learned more about other cultures than I knew before. Interestingly, there was another person on the team who grew up in my home state of Alabama. It’s a small world!

I am a middle school history teacher, but I have always wanted to be an archaeologist. Thanks to the Biblical Archaeology Society and this scholarship, I was able to learn more than I ever thought I would about archaeology. This experience confirmed what I thought—digging is something I truly enjoy. I hope I will be able participate in many more digs as I seek to pursue my Ph.D. in ancient Near Eastern studies and as I continue to teach ancient history to middle schoolers.


Andreas Osiander

Tel Burna

This past summer I spent two weeks volunteering and excavating at Tel Burna in Israel. Under the direction of Itzhaq Shai, the Tel Burna Excavation Project has been digging this site for ten seasons. It is believed to be the site of biblical Libnah, as well as having importance in the Iron and Bronze ages.

During my entire two and a half weeks in Israel, I was surrounded by new eye-opening experiences. Before I discovered this opportunity, I never would have imagined myself in Israel. I am incredibly glad I was able to visit this beautiful country and experience all I did. One weekend when we were not digging, I visited Jerusalem and spent my time skateboarding with some locals. Even with our different cultures, we were easily able to connect through our hobbies of skating and music.

A typical day on site involved being awake by 5 a.m. and getting ready to drive half an hour through windy roads and up a ranch trail. After a short trek to the top of the tel, carrying supplies from the truck, we set up our sites and started to work as we watched the sun rise over the golden horizon. Between all the digging, we had breakfast and a “fruit break,” which involved filling up on hummus and watermelon. After eight hours of digging, we got back to the kibbutz we were staying at, washed up, and ate lunch. If picking up loads of pottery shards wasn’t enough, we had to handwash them when we got back, but this was nice to see the detail and paint on each piece. In our downtime, we walked to the kibbutz’s small shop, bought snacks and drinks, and lounged around until dinner.

During the two weeks I was excavating, I was in section B2 under the supervision of Aharon Tavger and my professor, Matthew Suriano. This section focused on exposing the outer fortification wall dated to the late Iron Age. For the majority of the time, I was situated in the same square, which we started excavating this season. This was a very interesting process for me as it allowed me to see the different methods and tools used as we got deeper and uncovered more. This section was opened to extend the wall to a building, uncovered the previous season, and eventually locate what we believe to be an entrance.

My studies at the University of Maryland, College Park are focused in mechanical engineering and art history. Since my archaeological knowledge is limited to an introductory course, I wasn’t very familiar with all the history of the site. It was interesting to hear about all the history, and it blew me away knowing that this area was inhabited thousands of years ago. However, while on the site, I was mostly interested in learning about the field process. The reason I wanted to join this excavation was because I wanted to know what happens on site, see the equipment used, and learn all the methods involved with excavating. I wanted to research how a mechanical engineer could fit into an archaeological site and use this knowledge to guide my future career.

The most interesting method I learned was the application of 3D models. At the end of every day we took extensive photographs of the section and, using a process called photogrammetry, compiled the photographs into incredibly detailed 3D models. The use of this technology allows us to closely examine the site and its features without being at the tel. This hit me close, because as an engineer, I frequently work with modeling and have experience using a similar process of 3D scanning. This showed me that there is place for an engineer in the archaeological world. I left the site feeling even more inspired to get involved in this field and use my knowledge and passion to contribute to its innovation.

Receiving the dig scholarship allowed all this to come together. With the generous support of the Biblical Archaeology Society, I was able to cover most of the expenses needed to make this experience possible. The scholarship gave me a sense of responsibility to learn as much as I could while at the dig. The entire time I was on site, I was analyzing every method we used and thinking what could be done to make it safer or more efficient.

I had the opportunity to expand and deepen my passion and knowledge for art history and archaeology. This experience had a large impact on my future studies. I learned that mechanical engineering does have a place in the art world and cemented my idea to double major with art history as well. It helped me visualize a future field toward which I can guide my studies.


Samuel Pfister

Tel Kabri

With help from the BAS dig scholarship, I was able to spend much of my summer working at the site of Tel Kabri in western Galilee. The ongoing excavation project was initiated in 2005 by directors Assaf Yasur-Landau and Eric H. Cline. A few of the project’s main goals are the continued exploration of the more than 6,000-square-meter Middle Bronze Age palace at the settlement and the further study of Bronze Age Canaanite society and economy.

I was delighted to return to this site after volunteering as an undergraduate during the 2017 excavation season. As a member of the excavation staff this year, it was a privilege to oversee in the field and (continue to) teach some of the students that I had taught the previous year as a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the George Washington University.

During the course of excavation, I was assigned to work in Area D, at the acropolis of the tel (ancient city), where excavation of the massive palace has been underway since Aharon Kempinski began the first archaeological work at the site in 1986. In previous years, excavations revealed a massive three-room wine cellar and production facility, and it was expected that continued work this year may reveal an extension of this winery. Although the results of organic residue analysis on a storeroom full of large vessels found this past year is forthcoming, it appears as though this season’s results uncovered yet another storage room!

Archaeology of an occupation floor is a careful endeavor. In order to better organize the work, we set up what is known as a fine grid. By stringing our large 5-by-5-meter squares into smaller 50-by-50cm subsections we could continue with targeted excavation and record more accurately from where on the occupation floor material remains were coming. Other techniques, such as sorting soil samples run through a flotation machine, will be able to give archaeologists an idea of the room’s function and answer questions like, what were they eating at this site? What was the production process of the wine cellar? What species of plants were grown and consumed at this site?

My participation in the Kabri project has really helped me grow as a student of archaeology. It has introduced me to wonderful friends and admirable mentors, and I look forward to returning in 2021.


Casey Sennett

 

Tel Akko

Thanks to the generous scholarship from the Biblical Archaeology Society, I was able to spend five weeks at the Tel Akko Total Archaeology Project in Akko, Israel. The excavation is co-directed by Drs. Ann E. Killebrew and Michal Artzy, and it was my first time excavating at an archaeological site. Akko is located along one of the few natural bays in Israel. Tel Akko was once along the coast, but shifting coastlines caused the city to move from the tell to the current Old City of Akko, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in the second century B.C.E.

As an anthropology and Jewish studies major, I wanted to experience the culture of Israel and see if I enjoyed working in a field setting. I knew that it was easy to like archaeology on paper, the field does seem rather adventurous in the Indiana Jones, the Mummy, and the Tomb Raider franchises, but I knew that the field was more tedious and scientific than pop culture’s depictions of it. Although I was nervous that the dirt and bugs might scare me from the field, I ended up loving my time digging. I found nothing more exciting than entering my square each day and wondering what lay under the stones, dirt, or debris I would be removing that day.

In addition to digging, I also had the opportunity to attend a three-day conservation workshop on the Akko aqueduct, which was constructed by Suleiman Pascha from 1814 to 1815 and was in use until 1948. It was amazing to have the opportunity to experience “total archaeology.” Not only was I able to excavate at Tel Akko, but I was also involved in other aspects of archaeology, including a pedestrian survey and volunteering in the pottery lab. My experience at the tell taught me about various aspects of archaeology and allowed me to determine archaeology as a possible career and interest of mine. I would not have been able to learn this, however, without the financial aid from the Biblical Archaeology Society. I am so thankful to have been a recipient of this scholarship. Excavating at Tel Akko was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I am so grateful to have had.

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