When Walls Speak

Heather with the amphora she uncovered

By: Heather S. Pillette, 2012 Heritage Fellow

Thank you to the ASOR Heritage Scholarship for aiding me in my travels to dig at Tel Rehov, located in the Beth-Shean Valley of northern Israel. This was my very first dig, and I have decided it will not be my last. Rehov is a unique site as it was built almost entirely with mudbrick, which can make for tricky excavating. We used many small tools and carefully went down to reveal what secrets lay beneath us. It was a special privilege and joy to dig at Tel Rehov this season, as it was the final season of excavations at this incredible site.

The area I dug in had previously never been excavated, so it was quite exciting to be the first to dig in an area that has twelve earlier seasons of excavation! On our second day of excavating, I uncovered a beautiful, nearly whole, amphora jar. We also uncovered a hippo jar, which is common to the Beth-Shean Valley sites, in particular, to Tel Rehov.  Rehov is one of those beautiful places where you can really picture the life of the city as you dig through layers of its earth.  Rehov is rich in finds, many of them everyday items such as cooking pots and loom weights.  When speaking of archaeology, it is easy to get caught in an Indiana Jones episode in your mind, picturing raiders and prized possessions changing hands. In reality, it is hard work, early mornings, and dirty and hot days. In the end, it was the walls we found- or did not find- that yielded the most profit. Walls, floors, and burned wooden beams can really communicate what happened within their confines. What I came to realize this season is that it is not about what you find, but what you have learned. I learned a great deal through the experience of working with a phenomenal team, led by Amihai Mazar and Nava Panitz-Cohen, as well as a certainty that archaeology leads to more questions than answers. And it is those questions, and the possibilities they pose, that capture my heart and attention.

I enjoyed getting to know the people in my group, and the teammates in and around my square.  I am in my third year of graduate school, working toward a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation. This experience was definitely formative and unforgettable.  Rehov has become a landmark (so to speak) in my education; one that has driven me to pursue archaeology along with my dream of an Old Testament PhD.  This dig was rather sentimental, as we were a small group working together to close out the excavations. Amihai Mazar, who has led the excavations at Revoh since 1997, has retired from fieldwork in efforts to focus on publishing. It was an honor to be one of the last members of the Rehov Team.

Thank you most sincerely.

Heather excavating the hippo jar


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