By: David Ben-Shlomo
Opportunities arise in unusual ways. But the opportunity to help publish a major excavation is by definition unusual.
During the summer of 2008, while I was towards the end of a post doctorate term at the Weizmann Institute in Israel, working on computerized archaeology, I was approached by Prof. Amihai Mazar. He said that an opportunity had arisen for someone to complete the final publication of the Smithsonian Institution excavations at the site Tell Jemmeh, directed by Gus W. Van Beek. Ami had been approached by Prof. Donald Ortner from the Anthropology Department of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), and was asked whether he knew of anyone having the time and capability for completing this project.
Naturally, I was well acquainted with the site of Tell Jemmeh near Gaza. It had been excavated and published by the famedBritish archaeologist William Flinders Petrie in 1927-1928 as a follow up to his many years of work in Egypt. Petrie believed the enormous site was Biblical Gerar, but today the site should be identified with Yurza. Though Petrie had been a pioneer in Egypt, his methods were inadequate for the complexity of a tell site like Jemmeh, and removed an enormous amount of the site.
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