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.

The experience that digging at this site gave me will help me in my future career as a Near Eastern archaeologist. The mudbricks at Khirbet Summeily were very difficult to differentiate from the surrounding dirt, especially at four in the morning when we headed to the site, as their color and texture tended to be very similar. At times, compaction of the soil with slight color changes could indicate a mudbrick. This made digging quite difficult at times, but it also taught me to look at the subtle differences in the soil, rather than looking solely for drastic changes. Another valuable learning experience I had came from being a supervisor-in-training. As I learned more about phasing, stone foundations to walls, mudbricks, and other artifacts, I was able to explain to the students what, and why, we were excavating and handling the artifacts in different ways. This reinforced all that I had learned, while simultaneously prepared me to supervise my own units and students in the future. I was fortunate to dig in areas that had many architectural features such as walls, several tabuns, and a pit or two. These features definitely complicated the phasing at the site because the walls weren’t always preserved completely or in a logical place, but it afforded me with a much desired learning experience.

In addition to the excavation experience I was also able to travel all over Israel. I went to many well known archaeological sites like Lachish, Masada, Ein Gedi, Maresha, and Dan. I was also able to travel to many modern cities including Jerusalem, Be’er Sheva, and Tiberias. I even had the opportunity to travel to Petra in Jordan on a free weekend. I really loved seeing the different sites because they put into perspective the rich history that the people of Israel have. The people in Israel were very welcoming, and at no point did I feel unsafe. The culture is enlivening, and Jerusalem is now my favorite city in the world! It was an experience of a lifetime and I am very thankful that ASOR and the Heritage donors helped me make this trip possible.


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