2012 ASOR Annual Meeting Is a Tremendous Success

The 2012 ASOR Annual Meeting in Chicago
breaks records and is a tremendous success!

A record 925 ASOR members gathered in Chicago from November 14–17 for the 2012 ASOR Annual Meeting. The annual conference is the premier gathering for scholars, students, and lay enthusiasts who conduct research or are interested in the history and archaeology of the eastern Mediterranean region. This year there were more than 450 paper presentations on topics ranging from prehistoric to Islamic periods and the present. Topics covered everything from conservation strategies and the archaeology of Anatolia to current issues in biblical archaeology. While all of the papers were presented in English, many languages could be heard in the hallways with scholars in attendance from Iran, Turkey, Cyprus, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Australia, Asia, Europe, North American, South America, and Central America. The event truly has become the premier international conference of the year for the history and archaeology of the eastern Mediterranean. Continue reading

Archaeological Conservation Strategies in the Near East, Fri. Nov. 16

conservation session flyer

Click to Enlarge

By: Suzanne Davis and LeeAnn Barnes Gordon

This year we are pleased to announce a new workshop session for the ASOR Annual Meeting, Archaeological Conservation Strategies in the Near East. Both conservators and archaeologists tend to present research within their own fields, effectively segregating the disciplines. But this year, thanks to ASOR, we have an opportunity to foster collaboration and promote information sharing among conservators and archaeologists working in the Near East. As conservators who work on excavations in the Near East, this topic is important to us and we hope you’ll find it interesting and important, too.

The workshop contributors will present multi-disciplinary projects and research on archaeological heritage from Egypt, Israel, Turkey, and Iraq. Topics examined will include regional trends in conservation, balancing preservation and access, site management, treatments of challenging materials, and collaborations with local conservation and archaeological communities. Moderated discussions between the presentations will engage the contributors as well as the audience, creating an ongoing dialogue that we hope will ultimately improve preservation for archaeological materials and sites in the Near East. If you have questions, insights, or just an interest in these topics, please join us. Continue reading

Secondary Context II Announcement

Site ravaged by looting, SE corner of the enclosing walls of the inner city, Al Resafa, Syria. Image, courtesy of the photographer, Thomas Schutyser

ANNUAL MEETING 2012 (Chicago)
Considering Theory and Method for The Study of Objects of No Known Origin

Having examined the complex issues involved in research ethics and the study of unprovenienced material in 2011, we focus on Theory and Method in 2012.

Rather than asking “Should we?” or “Shouldn’t we?” study, present, publish, or exhibit objects of unknown origin, we look forward to considering how best to determine guidelines or suggested practices in an arena where opinions are admittedly complex and often contested.

In 2012, our presenters address the conscientious treatment of unprovenienced artifacts, corpora and collections. New, responsible ways to exhibit and/or publish such works are also considered.

Continue reading

ASOR annual meeting supersaver rates end Sept 23

ASOR’s annual meeting supersaver rates end at midnight on Friday, September 23 when most registration fees will increase $30. Please register for the annual meeting by following the link on the ASOR home page (www.asor.org).

ASOR has secured additional rooms over the annual meeting dates at the Westin St. Francis Hotel. Please book your room online by following the link on the ASOR home page. Please note that making your hotel reservations and conference registration are two separate steps.

Please do not hesitate to contact the ASOR office by phone at 617-353-6570 or at asormtgs@bu.edu should you have any questions. We look forward to seeing you in San Francisco this November.


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: http://www.asor.org/membership/individual.html . For information on registering for the meetings go to: http://www.asor.org/am/registration.html. Other information about the annual meeting is available on the ASOR web site http://www.asor.org/.

Jeffrey R. Zorn
Cornell University

Aaron Brody
Pacific School of Religion

ASOR announces 2011 Aviram Prize sponsored by the Dorot Foundation

Aviram Prize 2011 sponsored by the Dorot Foundation

The Dorot Foundation announces its sponsorship of a prize, administered by the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR), to honor Joseph Aviram, Director of the Israel Exploration Society (IES) for seventy years and President of the IES as of January 1, 2010.

The $2,500 Prize will be awarded for the paper selected by a committee of distinguished judges (Profs. Eric Meyers [Duke University], Jodi Magness [University of North Carolina], and Lawrence Stager [Harvard University]). The primary criterion of the winning paper will be that it most advances the scholarship of its given field. Papers should be no more than 30 pages in length, and the winner must be available to present a version of the paper during a special hour-long session at the 2011 ASOR annual meeting in San Francisco. The paper may be by a scholar of any national origin who received her or his Ph.D. within the last five years (since 2005). The paper can be on any topic that is consonant with ASOR’s mission statement. Papers submitted for consideration may be a revision of a paper previously presented at an annual meeting, but the paper should not have been published before the 2011 ASOR annual meeting.

The submission deadline is February 15, 2011. While the paper that is submitted to the committee of judges may be up to 30 pages in length, the winner of the prize will need to read a version of the paper in a special 60-minute time slot. Papers must be submitted electronically by email as a PDF document to ASOR at asormtgs@bu.edu. Receipt of all submissions will be confirmed. The subject of the email should include the following: “Aviram prize submission.” Please also include the following information in the body of the email with the paper attached: candidate’s full name, institutional affiliation (if any), e-mail address, mailing address, date of receipt of the Ph.D. degree, name and e-mail address of dissertation adviser. After the announcement of the prize, the winner will be expected to become a professional member of ASOR (if he or she is not already a member), register for the 2011 ASOR annual meeting, and attend the 2011 meeting.

ASOR 2010 Annual meeting featured in Science Magazine

The 2010 ASOR annual meeting has been featured in a “Meetings Brief” in Science Magazine. The conference report by Andrew Lawler summarize papers or sessions on research projects headed up by Israel Finkelstein and Steve Weiner, Greg Mumford, and Roy King. Check out the following links for summaries of the reports (full download require access to Science):

  • http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6010/1472.1.summary
  • http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6010/1472.2.short
  • http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6010/1473.short

As a reminder, new session proposals and individual paper proposals are currently being accepted for the 2011 ASOR annual meeting to be held Nov. 16-19 in San Francisco, CA. The deadline for new session proposals is December 15, 2010. The deadline for individual paper proposals is February 15, 2011. Details on session proposals and individual proposals can be found at the following URL:


Call for Papers for ASOR’s 2010 Meeting

Posted by Kelley Bazydlo

We are happy to announce that the UPDATED Call for Papers for ASOR’s 2010 Annual Meeting is now on ASOR’s web site and includes new Member-Organized Sessions that have just been approved by the Program Committee. This year’s meeting will be held at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia from November 17-20, and you can find full information about registration, travel, and accommodations on ASOR’s web site. We encourage you to register for the meeting and to book your rooms today!

The Program Committee has worked hard to develop a diverse offering of sessions. For those who would like to present papers, make sure to review the “List of Sessions for 2010” and begin submitting your abstracts for review and inclusion in the 2010 Annual Meeting.  We are also happy to announce that we are launching a new online system for Abstract/Participation Submissions.  You can access this new online system by clicking here.  The deadline for submission of abstracts is February 15, 2010.

On behalf of Elise A. Friedland and Andrew M. Smith II, Program Committee Co-Chairs, I thank you for considering becoming a part of the academic program. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions or comments. I look forward to seeing you this November in Atlanta.

How To Punish Your Liver in New Orleans

New Orleans is the birthplace of the cocktail, and ASOR members know much about hepastocapy. So when you need a break from meetings and papers, here are a few famous places within walking distance to kill a few brain cells.

  1. Get a sazerac at the newly reopened Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel (123 Baronne Street, 504-648-1200).
  2. Get a Pimm’s cup at the Napoleon House (500 Chartres Street, 504-524-9752).
  3. Take a spin with a Vieux Carre cocktail at the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleon (214 Rue Royale, 866-338-4684).
  4. Try a rum based drink at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, the oldest bar in America. Then come back to the meeting and talk like a pirate (941 Bourbon Street, 504-522-9377).
  5. Get a a mint julep, or better yet, a Davenportini, while listening to Jeremy Davenport at the Ritz-Carlton on Thursday from 5:30-9PM or Friday/Saturday from 9PM on (921 Canal Street, 504-524-1331)
  6. Get an absinthe frappe at Tujagues’s saloon (823 Decatur, 504-525-8676).
  7. Conjure the ghosts of Frank Sinatra, Jean Lafitte, and Mark Twain with a ramos gin fizz at the Old Absinthe House (240 Bourbon Street, 504-523-3181).
  8. They have over 100 types of martinis at the Bombay Club (830 Conti Street, 504-586-0972).
  9. Join the other tourists by the fire fountain for a hurricane at Pat O’Briens (718 St Peter).
  10. There are several cocktail walking tours. The Original Cocktail Tour is a good one. So is the Southern Comfort Walking Cocktail Tour. The Museum of the American Cocktail is at the Riverwalk Mall which is also near out hotel (504-569-0405).

Voodoo Dolls of the Ancient Near East

On Saturday, November 21st, from 6-8 PM, the American Schools of Oriental Research will close out its annual meeting in New Orleans with an outreach session entitled “Voodoo Dolls of the Ancient Near East.” It’s free and open to the public, including our friends in town for the Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting. The session will be somewhere inside the Astor Crown hotel at the corner of Canal and Bourbon. Here’s the lineup:

  • Michael M. Homan (Xavier University of Louisiana), Presiding
  • Sallie Ann Glassman (Island of Salvation Botanica/La Source Ancienne Ounfou), “Vodou Spirits and
    Sacred Vodou Flags” (20 min.)
  • Gary O. Rollefson (Whitman College), “The Glory Belongs to Our Ancestors: The Neolithic ‘Ain
    Ghazal Statues and Plastered Skulls” (20 min.)
  • Christopher A. Faraone (Univeristy of Chicago), “Voodoo Dolls in the Greek and Roman Worlds: An
    Update” (20 min.)
  • Sara A. Rich (Catholic University, Leuven), “Manipulated Miniatures: Haitian and Mesopotamian
    Figurines Defy Human Destiny” (20 min.)
  • William G. Dever (University of Arizona, Emeritus), “The Judean Pillar-base Figurines: Mothers or
    Mother-Goddesses?” (20 min.)
  • Shawna Dolansky (Northeastern University), “Re-Figuring ‘Fertility’ Figurines: Fetishistic Functions of
    the Feminine Form” (20 min.)
  • For more information, please email Michael Homan.

    Help ASOR Survey Holt Cemetery in New Orleans

    Posted by Michael Homan
    On Wednesday, November 18th, from 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM, members of the American Schools of Oriental Research will be volunteering at Holt Cemetery in Mid-City New Orleans.

    Graves at Holt Cemetery on a rainy day in Mid-City New Orleans.

    We will be working with Save Our Cemeteries to record the current condition of Holt Cemetery. This includes surveying individual graves and their markers, along with taking photos in order to establish a record of the current state of the cemetery. The data we collect will then be compared to photos taken prior to the 2005 levee failures and can serve for future restoration work.

    R.I.P. A.B. Hyman

    Unlike other cemeteries in New Orleans where the dead are housed in above ground vaults, the remains of the deceased at Holt Cemetery are buried below ground. The graves are often marked with simple markers, such as writing on bricks or pieces of wood.

    This “potter’s field” cemetery was established in 1879 as a place of interment for the city’s impoverished, and it is named after Dr. Joseph Holt, who was a member of the New Orleans board of health.

    Buddy Bolden Grave Marker

    Perhaps the biggest mystery surrounding Holt Cemetery involves the location of it’s most famous burial: jazz pioneer Buddy Bolden, credited by many as the individual most responsible for this great American invention. Bolden was buried in plot C-623, though records of the location of C-623 have long been lost.

    Thus far 14 members of ASOR have signed up, and if you are interested in joining us please email Kelley Bazydlo. (Note: you do not need to be a member of ASOR to volunteer).

    You can see more photographs of Holt Cemetery taken today in this Flickr set. Also, if your hotel is already booked for check in on November 18th, ASOR members who are interested in volunteering are more than welcome to stay at my house the night of November 17th. I’m located within walking distance from Holt Cemetery and the street car line which will take you to the Astor Crowne hotel in plenty of time for the opening session. Write to me here.

    Secrets of The Bible’s Buried Secrets

    Contributed by Tristan Barako, Ph.D., Senior Researcher, Providence Pictures

    When The Bible’s Buried Secrets premiered on PBS this past November, it was NOVA’s most watched show in the past five years, attesting to the enduring interest that biblical archaeology holds for the general public. The two-hour special was produced by Providence Pictures, where I now work as senior researcher and writer. The president/producer/director of Providence Pictures, Gary Glassman, took the unusual step of hiring me—someone with absolutely no prior experience in film production—on the strength of my background in archaeology and biblical studies. He and NOVA wanted to make sure that the film was as accurate as possible. To that end we enlisted the support of more than 30 ASOR members, who generously gave of their knowledge and granted us complete film access to their excavations and artifacts. Through their participation and the collective effort of all our staff and crew, we’ve shown that a documentary about biblical archaeology can be both a popular and scholarly success.

    To give the readers of this blog some sense of the filmmaking process, here are a few behind-the-scenes peeks of the challenges we faced while making The Bible’s Buried Secrets. Most of what follows relates to my uncredited cameo appearances. In the interest of full disclosure, it must be said that Michael Homan, the moderator of the ASOR blog, also appears in the film. It was originally a more substantial role—his big line went something like “Ron, you better come down here; we just found something that’s going to make your day!” —but that part of the scene, unfortunately, ended up on the cutting room floor.

    A reenactment of the discovery of the Tel Zayit abecedary.

    Idol smasher: The climax of the destruction of Hazor was a close-up, slow motion shot of a statue of a seated male being decapitated. We had originally planned to shoot this scene in Israel, so we had our Art Director there, Gal Oren, make three replicas of the statue, but we ran out of time so we had to do it in the U.S. instead. The location we ended up using was Gary’s garage in Providence, where we clamped the statue (made of plaster, not the original basalt) to a low table and positioned a Duraflame stick in front of the camera. Then we smoked up the garage and I put on a robe, dirtied up my arm and hand, and grabbed the mallet. I was a bit nervous because I wanted to make sure that the head came off cleanly, similar to how the original was found at Hazor. To stay in the frame I had to approach the statue at an odd angle, but this did not get in the way of a near perfect strike: the head flew off and crashed against the back wall. Good thing, because I shattered the next two replicas.

    Smashing idols in Gary’s garage.

    German scholar: This was my most challenging role given the amount of time on camera and the task at hand—channeling Julius Wellhausen. To prepare for it we bought a nineteenth-century German Bible and rented a three-piece suit from a costume company in California (surprisingly we couldn’t find anything on the east coast). I also let my beard grow out a little. Finally, I found a section in my Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia that contained clear J and E passages. Despite all these preparations we overlooked something, as pointed out to me by a friend who is a German historian: the wedding band was on my left hand, whereas Germans typically wear it on the right. There goes the Emmy for best research.

    Playing Julius Wellhausen

    Gila’s assistant: In this scene, a recreation of the discovery of the Tel Dan Stela, I played only a supporting role: the guy holding the stadia rod for Gila Cook who found this famous inscription in 1993. We followed her recollection of events throughout, which included loading her up like a pack mule, while I ambled off the tell empty-handed. I felt especially insensitive because she was battling laryngitis that day and we made her go up and down the hill with all that equipment a few times on multiple takes, but she was a real trooper and the scene turned out beautifully.

    Loading up Gila

    Dead Israelite: We used Nazareth Village for many recreations including the scene where one of the Jerusalem priests rescues scrolls from a building set aflame by the Babylonians. Again I donned a robe and got smudged up, but this time all I had to do was lay sprawled out in the background. I’m really not visible because of all the smoke. Our Director of Photography, Nick Gardner, inhaled so much of it that he woke up that night with a splitting headache.

    Tristan as a dead Israelite

    YHWH: In one of the many scribal scenes, we wanted an extreme close-up of someone writing the personal name of the Israelite god, YHWH. Most of our recreation actors were modern-day sopherim, whom we casted for their ability to write Torah scrolls. The problem was, though, they refused to write the divine name. I volunteered to do it, but I write left-handed and all our scribes were righties. So we pressed into service our thoroughly secular, dread-locked soundman, Amir Liani, who did a great job considering that it was his first time writing in paleo-Hebrew.

    YWHW in Paleo-Hebrew

    For more information about Providence Pictures and The Bible’s Buried Secrets, including additional behind-the-scenes features, visit:

    www.providencepictures.com and www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bible.

    Call for Papers and Sessions 2009 Annual Meeting

    Contributed by Kelley Bazydlo

    We are happy to announce that the Call for Papers and Sessions for ASOR’s 2009 Annual Meeting is now on ASOR’s web site (link). This year’s meeting will be held at the Astor Crowne Plaza in New Orleans from November 18-21, and you can find full information about registration, travel, and accommodations on ASOR’s web site (link). We encourage you all to pre-register and book your rooms today.

    The Annual Program Committee has worked hard to develop a diverse offering of sessions. We are still able and eager to accommodate some new sessions, so if you have a new session that you would like to propose, please do so. The deadline for new session proposals is Friday, February 6, 2009. For those who would like to present papers, make sure to review the “List of Sessions for 2009” (check again after February 15 for newly approved sessions that will be posted then) and begin submitting your abstracts for review and inclusion in the 2009 annual meeting. The deadline for submission of abstracts is Sunday, March 1, 2009.

    On behalf of Elise A. Friedland and Andrew M. Smith II, this year’s Program Committee Co-Chairs, I thank you for considering becoming a part of the academic program. Please do not hesitate to contact me (asormtgs@bu.edu) should you have any questions or comments. I look forward to seeing you this November in New Orleans.