Biblical Studies Student Experiences Archaeology at Khirbet Qeiyafa

By: Monica Rey, 2012 Heritage Fellow

This summer the ASOR 2012 Heritage Fellowship gave me the exciting opportunity of spending a few weeks entrenched in the work of my academic “neighbors” in the field of archaeology. As a biblical studies student, Carol Meyers, Ann E. Killebrew, and other scholars have impacted me in their ability to deliberately “bridge” the gap between Bible an archaeology in their work. Consequently, I am able to walk away from this archaeological excavation with a much richer and fuller perspective on the engagement of these disciplines (Bible and archaeology) now from an experiential perspective.

As my first archaeological dig, I spent my time at Khirbet Qeiyafa. The opportunity to dig here was particularly significant because the finds from previous seasons are already changing the way we understand the development of urban spaces during the time of the United Monarchy. While at KQ I took the opportunity of spending time at a few “areas.” One area, cultic in nature, produced various interesting finds including small pottery shards with proto-Hebrew letters, and a huge basin, which, as our dig director Yossi remarked, was fit for the likes of Bathsheba (a little Bible humor). It was in this area I was able to work on the “floor” and found a small jugglet. In the bigger picture of archaeological finds it was certainly a small, insignificant find. Nevertheless, for me, as someone who spends their days studying the lives of these individuals in the ANE, it was special to be touching something from the Iron Age period.

Monica by a collapased wall

There are a number of life long memories I take away from my experience at KQ, especially regarding the day to day routine. Being able to watch the sun rise over the Elah Valley every morning, as we were hard at work is truly priceless. At breakfast time I will never forget the taste of a classic Israeli breakfast complete with a tomato-cucumber salad, and a dollup of sour cream- or if you prefer, bowl after bowl of cottage cheese (mmm!). I will also always remember the joys of a good bucket chain (teamwork!), the interference of scorpions and poisonous worms in the midst of digging, and not to mention your classic maximalist/minimalist debate with those who have dedicated their lives to biblical archaeology (let’s just say Finkelstein was not too popular among our crowd). Or what about the disappointment felt at finding anything Byzantine (hey, what can you say? of course we had our ‘archaeological time period’ preferences!). Nevertheless, all of these memories are eclipsed by the opportunity the Heritage Fellowship gave me to be able to play a small part in illuminating what we all know about the lives of those who lived in the ancient Near East. This is why I will forever be grateful for the Heritage Fellowship and its impact upon students like me who would not have been able to participate without the generous contribution of ASOR’s donors.

Pottery reading with the dig director


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