Archaeology Weekly Roundup!

Israeli archaeologists are suggesting a small stone seal found recently in the excavations of Tel Beit Shemesh could be the first archaeological evidence of the story of the biblical Samson.

Buried by Vesuvius nearly 2,000 years ago, archaeologists at Herculaneum have excavated and carried out the first-ever full reconstruction of the timber roof of a Roman villa, the House of the Telephus Relief.

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Platt Fellow Uncovers 19th Century Excavation in Bronze Age Site

Carrie excavating in the trench North of Building 1 at Maroni-Tsaroukkas. Photo: Sturt Manning.

By: Carrie Fulton, 2012 Platt Fellow

In 1897, an expedition by the British Museum to Cyprus opened a number of pits in search of tombs in the lower Maroni Valley at Tsaroukkas, removing many objects of interest and backfilling the pits they had created.  Fast-forward about 115 years later and thanks to the generous funding from the Platt Fellowship through ASOR I was able to join the Kalavasos and Maroni Built Environments (KAMBE) Project for a month of excavation.  The project, led by Dr. Sturt Manning (Cornell University) and Dr. Kevin Fisher (University of Arkansas), has focused on using geophysical survey to elucidate patterns in the Late Bronze Age occupation for this region of Cyprus, and this season they added excavation to ground truth their findings.  I would like to take you through one of the trenches I worked on as I learned about stratigraphy and site formation processes.

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Week 1: The Price of Progress

The building on Site 52

By: Amanda Hopkins, 2012 Heritage Fellow

When I returned to Jordan for the 2012 dig season  of the Madaba Plains Project excavations at Tall al-`Umayri, with a fellowship from ASOR, I was dismayed to find that my proposed survey site now hosted a large and fully constructed shell of an apartment building dug into the center of it. There on Site 52, (a few kilometers north of `Umayri which was discovered in the five-kilometer-radius survey several years ago) stood a modern edifice.

This apartment building should not have been here. What should have been here was a deposition from the late Iron Age that included rectilinear structures, perimeter wall lines, a cistern, cup holes, terraces and field embankments.

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Archaeology Weekly Roundup!

AFP PHOTO/EGYPTIAN MINISTRY OF ANTIQUITIES

 

French archaeological mission has discovered a funeral boat of First Dynasty King Den, dating to about 3000 BC, northeast of the Giza Plateau, indicating earlier presence at the Archaic period cemetery.

In November 2011, when Chris Birks Archaeology excavated a trial trench in Great Ellingham, Norfolk, on the site of a future housing development, little did they know that they were about to uncover one of the biggest Romano-British burial sites in the region.

Illegal digs threaten Pakistan’s Buddhist past, threats have emerged to centuries-old sites from illegal excavations by amateur archaeologists and criminal gangs who compete to unearth relics worth millions of dollars abroad.

The University of Innsbruck said that archeologists found four  600 year old linen bras in an Austrian castle. Fashion experts describe the find as surprising because the bra had commonly been thought to be only little more than 100 years old as women abandoned the tight corset.

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Heritage Fellow Uncovers Unique Mudbrick Wall

Stephanie Boonstra in front of mudbrick wall

By: Stephanie Boonstra, 2012 Heritage Fellow

On Friday, May 4th I arrived in Madaba, a small city in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, at 2:30am and completely exhausted. After the eight-hour flight from Toronto to Frankfurt, the seven-hour layover in the large German airport, and the four-hour flight from Frankfurt to Amman (complete with screaming toddlers), I was more than ready to pass out on my bed. However, I decided to send my parents a quick email to let them know I arrived safe and sound. When I opened my email I was shocked to see an email from “ASOR Fellowship” with “Dear Stephanie, I am pleased to inform you that…” in the subject heading. A full twenty minutes later (the internet was not the fastest) the email loaded and I was able to read that I received the Heritage Fellowship! The relief and excitement that I experienced in that moment still brings a smile to my face.

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Heritage Fellow Digging in at Neo-Assyrian Site

By: Dylan Johnson, 2012 Heritage Fellow

Thanks to the ASOR Heritage Fellowship, I am currently participating in my fourth archaeological excavation season. This is the first year I am working at the site of Tell Tayinat in southern Turkey, having worked three previous seasons in excavations around Israel. The site is best known for its Neo-Assyrian temple and Bit-Halini palace, but also has exciting Early Bronze Age occupation. We are situated in a region called the Amuq plain, across the street from the equally famous site of Tell Aççana (ancient Alalaḫ).

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Archaeology Weekly Roundup

The ancient quay that was discovered in the port of Acre, Israel. Photo: Israel Antiquities Authority

An ancient harbor where warships may have docked 2,300 years ago has been discovered by archaeologists in the Israeli port city of Acre.

Archaeologists have unearthed a temple to Demeter in Sicily dated to around the 6th century BC.

Archaeological work in Oregon’s Paisley Caves has found evidence that Western Stemmed projectile points — darts or thrusting spearheads — were present at least 13,200 calendar years ago during or before the Clovis culture in western North America.

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Magnetic Heritage Fellow Digs in the Negev

By: Michele Stillinger, 2012 Heritage Fellow

Thanks in part to the ASOR Heritage Fellowship, I am completing my first field season in Israel collecting archaeomagnetic samples for my dissertation research.  It has been a very hot four weeks in the Negev desert, where we are excavating at the Iron-Age site of Khirbet Summeily, a small tell near the Bronze and Iron Age fortress site of Tell el-Hesi.  These sites were recently featured in the Near Eastern Archaeology Magazine (Vol 75, No 1) as locations along the transportation route between Gaza and Hebron.  Summeily is significant because it sits on the very edge of the Philistine/Judahite border and contains elements from both cultures.

My previous excavation experiences were rather uneventful, so I was pleased to find an immediate abundance of pottery sherds and learn about the various local styles from our directors, Jeffrey Blakely and James Hardin.  I was especially excited to find one of the first lithics, a beautiful chert sickle blade.  The digging techniques are slightly different than what I am used to; for example, this is my first experience excavating mudbrick walls, which are often difficult to distinguish from the compacted loess sediments surrounding them.

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Report on Mosaics Discovered at Huqoq in Israel

Female face in Huqoq mosaic. Photo by Jim Haberman

by Jodi Magness

In June 2011, a multi-year excavation project began in the ancient village of Huqoq in Israel’s Lower Eastern Galilee, directed by Professor Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and co-directed by Dr. David Amit and Ms. Shua Kisilevitz of the Israel Antiquities Authority, and sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Brigham Young University, Trinity University (TX), the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Toronto. Continue reading

Archaeology Weekly Roundup

A 1,000-year-old hoard of gold coins has been unearthed at a famous Crusader battleground where Christian and Muslim forces once fought for control of the Holy Land, Israeli archaeologists said.

Hernando De Soto’s route through Florida is as elusive to modern archaeologists as the gold the famed Spanish explorer sought throughout the southeastern United States, but now archaeologists have discovered a new De Soto site in Central Florida.

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My Life in ASOR

By:  Jennie Ebeling, Associate Professor of Archaeology at the University of Evansville and Co-Director of the Jezreel Expedition

Jennie Ebeling at Jezreel, June 2012

I became a member of ASOR when I attended my first ASOR annual meeting during my senior year in college. I had spent one semester of the previous academic year in the Overseas Program at the University of Haifa and was about to return to Israel for a 10-day trip to gather sources for my honors thesis during Thanksgiving break the following week, and I was able to attend the meeting because it was held in Washington DC, close to home. I was a bit star-struck in the sessions I attended, for at the time I was an avid consumer of cable shows with titles that included the words “mysteries,” “Bible,” and “secrets” and I recognized many of the talking heads from these programs. This was before I was accepted into the graduate program at the University of Arizona and long before I knew that I would eventually have a career in Near Eastern Archaeology.

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Several centuries of glass in one summer

Carrie Swan excavating glass

By: Carrie Swan, The Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World, Brown University, 2012 Platt Fellow

As a glass artifact specialist, my research is not limited to a particular time period or geographic region, so I am able to study material from a range of times and places. It’s incredibly interesting and rewarding to view material culture over a long chronological sequence, and to study the particular ways in which glass was produced and used within various regions and by different cultures. This summer I’ve been fortunate enough to work with two different projects, studying the glass assemblages unearthed during the excavation of Horbat Huqoq in Israel and Hisn al-Tinat in Turkey.

Huqoq is a Jewish village located in the Galilee region of Israel, just west of Lake Kinneret and within the area of ancient Migdal, Capernaum, and other villages made famous by the life of Jesus. The site dates primarily to the Roman-Early Byzantine period, but our excavation project actually has three main goals: 1) to study the ancient village, 2) to study the synagogue of the ancient village, and 3) to study the “modern” Arab-Palestinian village of Yakuk that was built on top of the ancient village but abandoned in 1948 and bulldozed in the 1960s. Continue reading

THE STATUS OF WOMEN IN ASOR

By: Beth Alpert Nakhai,  University of Arizona

In a recent article in The Atlantic, Anne-Marie Slaughter reflected on the question, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” (July/August 2012; vol. 310/1: 84-102).  For women working in Near Eastern archaeology, this question is likely one they have asked themselves (and their colleagues, partners, spouses, and friends) many times!  For several years, I have been engaged in a research project designed to describe and assess the status of women in ASOR.  Last fall, ASOR president Tim Harrison appointed me to spearhead an Initiative on the Status of Women in ASOR.  I sent out an email inquiry to our membership, asking people to share their thoughts on the status of women in ASOR and in Near Eastern archaeology.  Slightly more than 2000 people received the email.  The fact that almost half those people opened it indicates a high degree of interest in the topic; more commonly, only a third of ASOR emails are opened.  Some 160 people, divided fairly evenly between men and women, sent me responses.  These responses were mixed: brief, long, bullet-pointed, stream-of-conscious, positive, negative, enthusiastic, battle-weary.  A number of people, junior and senior alike, requested anonymity – but others were willing to be named.  I have opted to keep all responses anonymous, since attribution is not a valuable condition for this project.

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Heritage Fellow’s Mysterious Find at Khirbat Ataruz

By: Christine Chitwood, 2012 Heritage Fellow

Ever since I decided to embark on the adventure of archaeological studies, I have been told by professors that, “it’s not what you find, it’s what you find out.”  With this simple phrase, I was satisfied to participate in past field excavations, as well as my current excavation at Khirbat Ataruz, funded partly by my acceptance of the 2012 Heritage Fellowship. It wasn’t until the season was in full swing, that I discovered that sometimes, it isn’t even what you find out that makes archaeology so rewarding.

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Team Discovers Lost Color on the Arch of Titus’ Menorah

Procession on the Arch of Titus. Image courtesy of Dr. Steven Fine.

From June 5 to 7, 2012 an international team of scholars led by the Yeshiva University Center for Israel Studies in partnership with the Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Roma undertook a pilot study of the Arch of Titus in the Roman Forum, the ancient civic center of Rome, Italy. The focus of attention was the Menorah panel and the relief showing the deification of Titus at the apex of the arch. Continue reading

Ossified Territory and Theaters of the Absurd: Personal Reflections on Taking Students beyond the River

By:  Elena D. Corbett, Penn State Erie, The Behrend College
The views expressed here are those of the author. Please see the full disclaimer at the end of this essay.

Mural on the Cardo, Jerusalem.

Quite by accident at what is still a fairly early point in my career, I have been at the helm of several study abroad opportunities for American students in Jordan.  Within recent days I returned to Amman from Jerusalem having accomplished a personal first:  as part of an institutional collaboration, a colleague and I had led a group of students forth and back across the river.  What follows is my attempt to grapple with a truly inarticulate mess of thought and feeling about the experience.

I don’t get to Jerusalem as often as I should.  The reasons are many, but revolve mainly around an overwhelming sense of absurdity that grows more cynical as years pass.  Continue reading

Heritage Fellow Finds a Stone with Ancient Drawing in an Iron Age Reservoir

Abelardo Rivas with the team of Jalul Square W-7, Dr. Randall Younker, Dr Elena Gregor, and the stone in situ at the center of the square. On the left of the group is the partition wall and on the right side the plaster of the reservoir.

By: Abelardo Rivas, Andrews University, 2012 Heritage Fellow

This year I participated, thanks to the Heritage Scholarship, in two excavations in Jordan. My duty was to supervise two squares, one at Tell Jalul and a second square at Khirbet Atarutz. Our goal for the season in square W-7 at Jalul was to trace the development, on the southern slope of the central depression in field W, of the wall and plaster of the Iron Age water reservoir found last season. To our surprise, during the first week we found a wall that seemed to be completely unaligned with the wall of the cistern and we thought it was perhaps a sharp turn. Continue reading