By: Jennie Ebeling, Associate Professor of Archaeology at the University of Evansville and Co-Director of the Jezreel Expedition
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.
I began giving papers at ASOR annual meetings as a graduate student. I remember very well ASOR’s first annual meeting independent of AAR/SBL in Napa, CA in 1997, for this was the year I presented a paper in a session that included Professor Avraham Biran! I was terrified, but the collegiality of that annual meeting (probably enhanced by the winery tours) and the volunteer hours I spent with ASOR staff members as a recipient of the Lindstrom Foundation Scholarship made it a terrific experience. I would not have been able to participate in the 1997 annual meeting without the Lindstrom Scholarship or in the 1999 meeting without support from the Dorot Foundation. The opportunity to learn the results of summer excavations, and schmooze in the halls between sessions and after hours, made these trips invaluable, and I appreciated ASOR’s efforts to support younger scholars while I was a student.
I was fortunate to be awarded fellowships from the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem and the American Center of Oriental Research in Amman while researching my doctoral dissertation. My experiences at these institutions, two of the three ASOR-Affiliated research centers in the region, brought me closer to senior scholars, graduate students, and other researchers working in the Middle East and to the archaeological sites and material I was studying.
I had the opportunity to become more involved in ASOR as a professional member ten years ago when I secured an academic position. During the past decade, I was a co-founder of the Junior Scholars Committee, co-chair of the Program Committee, a Trustee, an assistant editor of Near Eastern Archaeology, and ASOR’s Vice President for Membership. I also chaired academic sessions, helped organize special events, and gave academic papers. Although I don’t consider myself a senior scholar by any means, I know many of the senior people in the field and have had the opportunity to work with them through ASOR and various archaeological projects. In many cases, the contacts I initially made while a young graduate student developed into professional and personal relationships that I now value a great deal. And, although I’m not as star-struck as I once was, I’m still a bit startled when I get an email or a phone call from someone whose work I’ve admired for 20 years.
My advice to budding Near Eastern archaeologists: get involved in ASOR. We need your energy, knowledge, ideas, and enthusiasm! There is much to do as ASOR continues to expand and develop ways to support the next generation. Great strides have been made in recent years to meet the needs of younger scholars – including special programs at the annual meeting and a very successful dig fellowship program – but there’s much more we could do. Please contact the ASOR office (firstname.lastname@example.org) or me (email@example.com) to get involved.
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