The Philistine Remains at Tell es-Safi/Gath: Their Regional and Transcultural Connections with the Aegean and Cyprus

Hitchcock_LBy: Louise Hitchcock, University of Melbourne, National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow

My sabbatical semester at the Albright resulted in a preliminary analysis of the stratigraphy, finds, and architecture from Area A2, in the early Philistine sector of Tell es-Safi/Gath, in collaboration with Prof. Aren Maeir and specialist members of the excavation team. The Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project is a long-term collaborative project begun in 1996 under the direction of Prof. Maeir of Bar-Ilan University, Israel as a consortium involving foreign research partners.  It is aimed at studying the archaeology of one of the largest and most important multi-period sites in Israel, which was the location of Gath, one of the five capitals of the Philistine Pentapolis. For the last four years, I have been directing excavations in the early Philistine part of the site, Area A2, where I lead the largest Australian project in Israel with support from the Australian Research Council. This collaboration emerged as a direct result of time spent at the Albright as Annual Professor in 2007. Working at the Albright provided me with easy access to the library and my collaborators. Continue reading

Basalt Connections at Zincirli Hoyuk

Basalt lion from the castle gate at Zincirli Hoyuk, in the Pergamon Museum

By: Leann Pace and Eudora Struble

When Eudora and I began graduate school together at the University of Chicago, I don’t believe either of us was planning to work on a long-term archaeological project in Turkey. Eudora was very involved with archaeology in Jordan and my limited experience led me to believe that I wanted to work on excavations in Israel. However, we were given the opportunity to join what would become the Neubauer Expedition to Zincirli. This journey began in 2006 and we are eagerly anticipating another great season in the summer of 2013. Obviously we are hooked on working at the site and on being part of the larger research community working in Turkey. Continue reading

Ulucak: A Prehistoric Mound in Aegean Turkey

Özlem Çevik (Archaeology Dept., University of Thrace, Edirne, Turkey) and Çiler Çilingiroğlu (Dept of Protohistory and Near Eastern Archaeology, Izmir, Turkey)

Fig 1: General view of Ulucak mound.

Fig 1: General view of Ulucak mound.

Ulucak is a settlement mound located 25 km east of İzmir, in western Turkey (Fig. 1). The mound contains cultural accumulations spanning periods from the Early Neolithic to Late Roman-Early Byzantine periods. The lengthy sequence at Ulucak allows observations on long-term continuities and discontinuities in the settlement layout, architecture, material culture, and subsistence patterns in Aegean Turkey over many millennia.

The start of excavations at Ulucak encouraged an increasing focus on Neolithic culture in western Turkey as the earliest occupation at the site is significant for understanding the neolithization mechanisms in the region. The early farming communities of Ulucak occupied the site from around 6750 to 5700/5600 cal BCE, thus providing us with valuable information on multiple aspects of their daily lives and cultural changes through time. Continue reading

Finally underway at Zincirli Höyük, Turkey!

By: Jordan Skornik, University of Chicago Divinity School

After a later-than-usual start due to Ramadan, the 7th season of the Neubauer Expedition to Zincirli (ancient Sam’al), an archaeological project of the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, began in earnest. Digging officially commenced at dawn on Saturday, August 25, and with only one week under our belts, there was already much to be excited about. Thanks to the Heritage Fellowship, I was able to experience it firsthand. Continue reading

Tall al-`Umayri 2012: Summer of Surprises

By: Douglas R. Clark, Director, and Kent V. Bramlett, Chief Archaeologist, La Sierra University, Riverside, CA
[photographer: Jillian Logee, Calgary, AB]

Figure 1: Douglas Clark

Figure 2: Kent Bramlett

Figure 3:  Jillian  Logee

What began as a normal, and 15th, season of excavations at Tall al-`Umayri, Jordan—part of the Madaba Plains Project—turned out to be anything but normal. Land ownership issues forced the team at the last minute to change course drastically and plan as if this were the last summer excavation season ever at a site deserving another 15 or 50. While negotiations continued, the 2012 team braced for the worst and reconfigured their entire set of objectives for 2012, a move which pressed them to sharpen their focus, record everything digitally as if there were no tomorrow, and push themselves to the limit of what is possible in five weeks. In the end, the 2012 team accomplished every single newly minted objective, including especially the following:

1) Accomplish several things archaeologically (in chronological order):
a. Complete recording of Early Bronze Age dolmen
b. Clarify buildings of the Early Iron I settlement along the western perimeter wall by exposing the fourth contiguous structure (Building D) in a row
c. Sort out pre- and post-earthquake phases of the buildings in this Early Iron I settlement
d. Expose a slightly later “four-room” building plan plus surrounding attached rooms and connect this stratigraphically with the Early Iron I settlement
e. Further clarify Iron II and Iron II/Persian remains

2) Document absolutely everything possible with all the technology available should the team not be able to return Continue reading

Wrapping up at Tall al-Umayri

By: Amanda Hopkins, 2012 Heritage Fellow
Read Amanda’s earlier posts here (1), here (2), and here (3).

A Hopkins 6

Amanda and other excavators in the cave entrance

Week Four and the end of this year’s dig:

As we continue our digging something very exciting happens- a white, hollow and crumbly residue is found clinging to the chisel marks. This is definitely plaster! The chiseling and plaster can be found on the ceiling and sides of the cave. Further chiseling is also found when looking at the natural dissolution features that trail off from the SE and Southern quadrants of the cave. One can clearly see how the natural fissures in the rock have been humanly manipulated into channels that bend upward and toward the surface of the earth. All this plaster and chiseling suggest that the cave had been manipulated into a cistern. Continue reading

ASOR Campaign Announced

school fundraising ideas

The “Building a Foundation for ASOR Campaign” has been one of ASOR’s worst kept secrets over the past twelve months. This $1.3 million brief yet vital initiative need not be a “secret” any longer. We are pleased to report that ASOR has passed the halfway mark of our campaign goal, and this milestone was announced by ASOR President Tim Harrison at the Thursday night reception at the Oriental Institute during the 2012 ASOR Annual Meeting in Chicago.

The campaign was officially launched with a unanimous vote by the ASOR board at the 2011 Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The primary goals of the first phase of the campaign were to expand ASOR’s donor base, while concurrently seeking to reach the halfway mark of $650,000 in gifts and pledges by the 2012 Annual Meeting in Chicago. We are pleased therefore to be able to announce that the campaign has met and exceeded both of these goals! We set a new record last year with 282 different donor—equivalent to almost 1 in 5 ASOR members—who made a charitable contribution, and we have received $670,000 in gifts and pledges toward the campaign! Moreover, by the time the Annual Meeting had ended in Chicago, we were above $700,000. With the public announcement of the campaign, we have now set our sights on meeting the $1.3 million goal by June 30, 2014 (the end of Fiscal Year 2014). Any gifts made to ASOR for the annual fund, scholarships, or any other program or area, will count towards our campaign goal. The following is a summary of the case statement for the Foundational Campaign. Continue reading

Excavating Under the Egyptian Sun

A LoPintoBy: Andrew LoPinto, 2012 Platt Fellow

After a long and tiring journey, which consisted of a flight from Chicago to New York, a nine-hour layover in New York, a flight from New York to Frankfurt, Germany, a three hour layover in Frankfurt, a flight from Frankfurt to Cairo, an over-night stay in Cairo (the flight got in rather late), and a three hour drive…we finally arrived at Mendes!  Do not get me wrong, the flights were smooth and the company of the other expedition members made the trip much more tolerable than had I been alone, but in total, I was awake and on the move from 8:00am Monday morning until 8:00pm Tuesday night, and that does not include the over-night in Cairo nor the drive to Mendes. Continue reading

Protecting, Preserving, and Presenting Cultural Heritage in Petra: The Temple of the Winged Lions Cultural Resource Management Initiative

treasury, petra, tweissi

Figure 1: Petra’s most famous icon, the Al-Khazne (‘the Treasury’) tomb façade with tourist camel riders (Q. Tweissi).

By: Christopher A. Tuttle

Two hundred years ago, on 22 August 1812, the ancient city of Petra was re-identified by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, the first European on record to have visited the site since the 13thcentury. Word of his discovery quickly spread and other visitors soon followed in his footsteps—inaugurating a bicentennial of exploration and research at this amazing site located in what is today southern Jordan.

Petra served as the capitol city for the kingdom of Nabataea from at least the second century BCE until Trajan’s annexation of the region into the Roman Empire in 106 CE. Under Roman rule, the city retained its importance and became the administrative center for the new province of Arabia Petraea. Although heavily damaged by a major earthquake in May 363 CE, the city continued to play a significant role in the region during the Byzantine period when it served as an episcopal see of the Christian church. Continue reading

Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project receives 3-year NEH Funding

Aaron A. Burke and Martin Peilstöcker, the directors of The Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project, are pleased to announce the receipt of a 3-year National Endowment for the Humanities Collaborative Grant for excavations in Jaffa from 2013 to 2015.

Aerial photo showing the destruction of the Amarna period Egyptian gate complex in Jaffa. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Burke)

The project is titled “Insurgency, Resistance, and Interaction: Archaeological Inquiry into New Kingdom Egyptian Rule in Jaffa.”

Since 2007 the Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project has brought to light the results of earlier excavations from 1955 to 1974 in Jaffa (Tel Yafo) by Jacob Kaplan, the municipal archaeologist of Tel Aviv-Jaffa. One of the primary objectives of this project was to provide a baseline for renewed archaeological exploration of Jaffa in which modern data collection methods and analytical techniques are employed to improve our understanding of the site and its population.

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A Roman Fort Amidst the Dunes: The ‘Ayn Gharandal Archaeological Project

By: Erin Darby and Robert Darby

Figure 1: Map of southern Jordan with ‘Ayn Gharandal

Located in southern Jordan, the archaeological site of ‘Ayn Gharandal lies covered by the desolate sands of the Wadi Araba (Fig. 1). Even though the site is located near an ancient spring, Lawrence (of Arabia) described the Araba Valley as follows: “Every few hours’ journey a greener patch marks a stagnant hole of water, which is always nasty to drink, in part from its own sedgy taste, and in part from the mixed flavors added to it by… camels (Woolley and Lawrence 1915: 13).” Noting that the Wadi Araba contained minimal archaeological remains, Lawrence ended his survey of the valley at ‘Ayn Gharandal and headed toward Petra.

Figure 2: Picture of ‘Ayn Gharandal fort prior to excavation

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Fellowship Provides Archaeological Experience for Religious Studies Student

By: Shane Edwards, Claremont Graduate University, 2012 Heritage Fellow

I just returned home from a wonderful experience on an archaeological excavation thanks to an ASOR Fellowship. The monies helped fund the four weeks I spent at the Akko tel located near the old city of Akko, Israel. This is my first opportunity to participate on a dig and it has given me a perspective that will aid with my religious studies research.

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Despite Early Mornings Platt Fellow Happy to be Excavating

By: Ted Gold, University of Chicago, 2012 Platt Fellow

To begin with, a little background on what the Platt Fellowship meant to me: I’d been doing some work for Professor Yorke M. Rowan over the course of the winter and spring quarters of my third year at college, and he was kind enough to inform me that he was running a dig at the Continue reading

Heritage Fellow’s First Impressions Excavating at Tall al-Umayri

The cave with brush removed and the boulder showing

By: Amanda Hopkins, Wesley Theological Seminary, 2012 Heritage Fellow
You can read Amanda’s previous posts here and here.

Week 2

Digging is going slowly. Our first stumbling block, after cleanup is a large boulder (110 cm by 56 cm). The soft limestone boulder rests on loose soil (the accumulation debris) and it proved impossible to break into pieces. The sledge hammer blows were cushioned by the plug of soil upon which it rested. The most we could accomplish was the chipping of corners of the boulder. At some point it became small enough and round enough to lift up to the mouth of the cave and roll away. Continue reading

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

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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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

Platt Fellow Experiences New Cultural Worlds

By: Mariana Garcia de la Noceda, 2012 Platt Fellow

The Middle East is one of the few places in the world where you can be digging in your square, just minding your own business, while there are camels and donkeys walking around the site sniffing the picks and shovels. It’s also one of the few places in the world where people of all faiths, nations and languages can be found working together in the same field for the same reasons. This has been my experience in Tall Jalul, in central Jordan. In my square, which we nicknamed the United Nations, no two people are from the same country, or have the same native tongue. It’s a mix of color and accents that I have never experienced before. And it’s one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve ever had, even if we have to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning.

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Heritage Fellow Dips Into the Past

By: Stephane Beaulieu, Andrews University, 2012 Heritage Fellow

My desire to experience an archaeological excavation has been made a reality, thanks to the generous ASOR Heritage Fellowship that I received for 2012. This scholarship helped fund an opportunity to spend three weeks in Jordan at Tall Jalul, near Madaba, where teams from Andrews University have been excavating for the past 20 years. This is the first time that I am participating in an archaeological dig, and it has given me the opportunity to learn what archaeologists do in the field. Being a doctoral student in the area of Old Testament exegesis, participating in archaeology has broadened my understanding of the biblical text.

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ASOR Funding Helps Student Participate in Huqoq Excavation

By: Caroline Carter, 2012 Platt Fellow

I will never forget the moment I read the email from ASOR notifying me that I was a recipient of the 2012 Platt Scholarship. I was in class, and I immediately burst into tears of joy. I am a rising junior, double majoring in Classical Archaeology and Ancient Mediterranean Religions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and this is the first monetary reward I have received. Not only have the donors helped fund my second season at Huqoq, Israel, but they have given me so much happiness, encouragement, and self-confidence that I needed to keep up with all that is required in this field of study.

Last year I attended my first archaeological excavation during the opening season at Huqoq, Israel under direction of Dr. Jodi Magness of UNC-CH. Because of finances, I had not planned on returning, but I was encouraged so much to reapply that I finally did at the very last moment of the application deadline. However, I am so thankful that I came back, despite the hectic scrambling to turn everything in on time.

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