Finally underway at Zincirli Höyük, Turkey!

J SkornikBy: 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

Archaeology Weekly Roundup! 12-21-12

Fragment of an Abbasid Quran, showing geometric ornamentation. Probably written in the ninth century. (Cambridge University Library)

The Cambridge Digital Library has just made available thousands of pages from fragile religious manuscripts for Internet users’ perusal, including a 2,000-year-old copy of the Ten Commandments, known as the “Nash Papyrus.”

New CT scans of Ramessess III show that his throat was slit, solving an ancient mystery. Additional test also indicate an unidentified mummy may be his disgraced son.

Thousands of fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls went online Tuesday with the launch of a new website by Google and the Israel Antiquities Authority, part of a move to make the famed manuscripts easily available to scholars and casual web surfers. 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

Archaeology Weekly Roundup! 12-14-12

(AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

(AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Johan Huibers has finished his 20-year quest to build a full-scale, functioning model of Noah’s Ark. Huibers, used books 6-9 of Genesis as his inspiration, following the instructions God gives Noah down to the last cubit.

British archaeologists Dr Nicholas Saunders of the University of Bristol and Prof Clive Ruggles of the University of Leicester combined the experience and knowledge gained by studying the Nasca lines into the most detailed study to date and uncovered a unique labyrinth in the Peruvian desert.

French archaeologists have some trouble reconstructing an ancient instrument, a carnyx to be exact-a long, trumpet-like instrument with an animal’s head at the top end, used by the Celts in the last three centuries BC. 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

Archaeology Weekly Roundup! 12-7-12

Croesus brooch

The original, left, and the fake golden brooch in the shape of a winged seahorse

Since being illegally excavated in the 1960s, King Croesus’s golden brooch has been stolen, replaced by a fake, sold to pay off gambling debts and has allegedly brought down a curse on its plunderers.

As part of a repair job 3,300 years in the making, Harvard’s Semitic Museum is seeking to undo some of the destruction wrought when Assyrians smashed the ancient city of Nuzi in modern-day Iraq, looting the temple and destroying artifacts. They’re using 3-D modeling to restore a smashed lion statue. 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

Summer discoveries at Khirbet Summeily

T RaymondBy: Tiffany Raymond, 2012 Heritage Fellow

This summer I was able to take part in the excavations at Khirbet Summeily due to the fact that ASOR awarded me a Heritage Fellowship, and I am very grateful to them for this. Khirbet Summeily is an Iron Age village site on the edge of the Negev Desert, and is believed to be a border site between ancient Philistia and Judah. The site is being excavated in association with the Tel-Hesi Joint Archaeological Project, and is directed by James. W. Hardin and Jeffery A. Blake. Typical artifacts at the site are loom weights, spindle whorls, mudbricks, beads, and pottery galore! Some of the rarer artifacts that we found were scarabs with Egyptian hieroglyphics, and figurines. Continue reading