CALL FOR PAPERS: Tell en-Nasbeh after 85 Years at the 2011 ASOR Annual Meeting

CALL FOR PAPERS: Tell en-Nasbeh after 85 Years
ASOR Annual Meeting, November 16-19 , 2011, San Francisco, CA

The excavation of Tell en-Nasbeh, begun in 1926 by William F. Bade of Pacific School of Religion, and carried out over five seasons through 1935, was one of ASOR’s earliest affiliated archaeological projects, and was supported by some of ASOR’s early founders, such as W. F. Albright. The site contained primarily Iron I-II deposits, as well as material from the Early Bronze I and Persian into Roman eras. While the Iron Age deposits were the most extensive found, they were also relatively shallow, and, combined with the rather rapid and rough excavation methods of the time, allowed the excavation of approximately two thirds of the site, much of it to bedrock. This allowed for the unparalleled recovery of much of the Iron Age town plan, its fortifications, and many artifacts. Approximately 60 tombs were excavated as well. While archaeological excavation, recording, and publication techniques and standards have greatly improved over the last 85 years, the Tell en-Nasbeh excavation data continue to provide rich resources for scholars interested in the periods uncovered at the site. The aim of this session is to allow scholars who continue to draw upon the Tell en-Nasbeh material to present some of the fruits of their labor.

If you would like to present a paper related in some way to Tell en-Nasbeh please contact the session co-chairs (below). The deadline for submission of abstracts is February 15, 2011. Membership in ASOR is required to present at the annual meeting. For membership information go to: . For information on registering for the meetings go to: Other information about the annual meeting is available on the ASOR web site

Jeffrey R. Zorn
Cornell University

Aaron Brody
Pacific School of Religion

NSF Points to Open Context for Publishing Project Data

The National Science Foundation’s Archaeology Program links to Open Context ( as an option for grant seekers to archive and disseminate archaeological research data. See here for an example. The NSF also links to Digital Antiquity’s tDAR ( project, a related effort with greater emphasis on North American archaeology.

Earlier this year, the NSF announced new data sharing requirements for grantees. Grant-seekers now need to supply a plan for providing wide access and long-term preservation of data and documents created as part of NSF-funded research.

This new requirement has the potential for improving transparency in research and also opens the door to new research directions that integrate results from multiple projects. It also demonstrates how data sharing is becoming an expected outcome of the research process. This is something that many other fields have been practicing for a few years now, but archaeology and other “small-team sciences” are a few steps behind (largely because the small-scale, localized nature of archaeological data production makes it hard to come up with common solutions for sharing and archiving these data).

The downside of this development is that grant seekers have additional work in creating a data access and management plan. Many grant seekers will probably lack expertise and technical support in making data accessible.

At the upcoming ASOR meeting in Atlanta, the creators of Open Context are offering a workshop called “Publishing Archaeological Data from the Field to the Web.” This workshop will address the new NSF requirements and discuss how to prepare datasets for dissemination and archiving. It will also discuss related data sharing initiatives relevant to Near Eastern archaeology.

All ASOR meeting attendees are welcome to attend this workshop, which will take place on Thursday November 18 at 2pm.

For more information, contact Sarah Witcher Kansa.

FEATURED POST by Christopher Rollston: The Probable Inventors of the First Alphabet

The Probable Inventors of the First Alphabet:
Semites Functioning as rather High Status Personnel in a Component of the Egyptian Apparatus

Christopher Rollston


For some time, there has been discussion about the social status of those that developed (“invented”) Alphabetic Writing (i.e., elites or non-elites). Therefore, the nuanced discussion between O. Goldwasser (2010 and BAS web site) and A. Rainey (BAS web site) is the continuation of an old (and important) debate. Rainey contends that the inventors of the alphabet were sophisticated Northwest Semites that knew the Egyptian writing system. Goldwasser argues that the “inventors of the alphabet could not read Egyptian, neither Hieroglyphic nor Hieratic.”

As an Ausgangspunkt for these comments of mine, and to facilitate understanding for those not familiar with the data, I should like to reiterate certain factors that have formed the basic contours of the entire discussion for some time: (1) Non-Alphabetic Writing (i.e., Mesopotamian Cuneiform and Egyptian) is first attested for the terminal chronological horizons of the fourth millennium BCE. (2) The alphabet was invented once and this arguably occurred during the early second millennium BCE. All alphabets derive, in some fashion, from this original alphabet. (3) The script of the Early Alphabetic inscriptions is modeled on (certain aspects of) the Egyptian script, as Egyptologists have noted for some time (e.g., from Gardiner to Darnell). (4) The language of the Early Alphabetic inscriptions is Northwest Semitic, *not* Egyptian (e.g., ba‘lat).

Continue reading

ASOR Opens its Boston Archives

ASOR Archive

Cynthia Rufo is archiving more than a century of archaeological records and photos. Photo by Vernon Doucette.

BU Today (Boston University) is announcing that ASOR (The American Schools of Oriental Research) is opening its archaeological archive in Boston to the public.

Included in its collections are diaries of archaeologists; rare photos of various excavations, including Qumran in the West Bank, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered; and miscellanea, like a reproduction of an 1873 sultan’s permit for a dig in Palestine.

Be sure to make use of the archive when you are in the Boston area.

The American Schools of Oriental Research archive is open to the public, by appointment, at its headquarters, 656 Beacon St., Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Access is free. Those interested should contact archivist Cynthia Rufo at 617-358-4428 or at A description of the collections can be found here.