The Platt Fellowship’s Impact

By: Andrew LoPinto, 2012 Platt Fellow

Being selected to receive the ASOR Platt Excavation Fellowship has profoundly impacted me and my career in numerous ways.  On a practical level, the support of the Platt Excavation Fellowship made it possible for me to join the staff of the Pennsylvania State University expedition to Mendes for the 2012 season by covering the cost of my airfare to Egypt.  For many students who have chosen to work in Egypt, the cost of airfare can limit or entirely exclude individuals from participation in field work.  When combined, airfare, room and board, ground transit, baggage fees, and other miscellaneous expenses to undertake field work in Egypt can cost thousands of dollars.  Mitigating even one of those factors can take a potential field season from being cost-prohibitive, to being possible.  Continue reading

Metal Implements and Tool Marks from the Levantine Second Millennium BC

Blackwell-NicholasBy: Nicholas Blackwell, Bryn Mawr College, American School of Classical Studies at Athens, AIAR Educational and Cultural Affairs Fellow

The primary purpose of my Spring 2012 fellowship at the Albright Institute was to compile an extensive dataset of metal tools from the Levantine second millennium BC. This research began to round out the previously-incomplete Levantine category of a tool database assembled for my dissertation on Middle and Late Bronze Age metal tools from the Aegean, Eastern Mediterranean, and Anatolia (Bryn Mawr College, 2011). Furthering this study through reading excavation reports from Syro-Palestinian sites and visiting museums in Israel, I was able to add a considerable number of tools to my database. The updated data has proven useful by 1) revealing patterns of tool distributions and regional preferences within the Levant, and 2) providing some context and comparison for implement types and trends in the broader Mediterranean and Anatolian worlds. The result is a more informed investigation of cross-regional interaction as indicated by tool choices and depositional practices. Continue reading

The Chalcolithic to Early Bronze Age (EB) Transition – Investigation of a Weak Link

By: Eliot Braun, National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow

 My tenure as an NEH Fellow at the Albright was exceptionally productive as it freed me to direct virtually all my energies into research and writing related to the above project.

I was able to complete an article in which I challenge some scholars’ interpretations suggesting there was no Late Chalcolithic occupation at Ashqelon. In it, I demonstrate that Chalcolithic and EB I settlements occupied hilly ridges and troughs between them. Since the area was bulldozed flat prior to excavation, only low-lying occupation debris was left to be excavated.  Thus, remains of both the Chalcolithic and EB I periods were often encountered at virtually the same absolute elevations, leading to published accounts suggesting all sequential deposits were actually contemporary, when in fact Stratum 1 at one location might be Chalcolithic, while nearby Stratum 1 might be dated to the Early Bronze Age.  Continue reading

Ethics, Archaeology, and Open Access

By: Eric Kansa

The issue of open access to scholarly works recently gained renewed attention following the tragic suicide of Aaron Swartz, an Internet activist charged with felony computer and intellectual property crimes involving the mass download of articles from JSTOR. ASOR uses JSTOR as a repository for the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (BASOR) and Near Eastern Archaeology (NEA)*.

Eric Kansa, a member of ASOR and the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) wrote the following opinion piece regarding the implications of Swartz’s death for scholarly communications in archaeology. The following reposts Eric’s discussion and a response from Fred Limp, President of the SAA. Both were originally posted here:
http://www.alexandriaarchive.org/blog/?p=891 and here: http://www.alexandriaarchive.org/blog/?p=899

Eric directs Open Context, an open data publication service for archaeology. He originally discussed open access issues in NEA (2007) with his colleagues Sarah Whitcher Kansa and Jason Schultz. He also co-edited (with Sarah Whitcher Kansa and Ethan Watrall) Archaeology 2.0, an open access book about new modes of scholarly communication published with the Cotsen Institute Press (UCLA). His most recent contributions exploring open access in archaeology are published in a special of World Archaeology (2012) edited by Mark Lake, and in the inaugural issue of the Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies (in press). Continue reading

ASOR Campaign Announced

school fundraising ideas

The “Building a Foundation for ASOR Campaign” has been one of ASOR’s worst kept secrets over the past twelve months. This $1.3 million brief yet vital initiative need not be a “secret” any longer. We are pleased to report that ASOR has passed the halfway mark of our campaign goal, and this milestone was announced by ASOR President Tim Harrison at the Thursday night reception at the Oriental Institute during the 2012 ASOR Annual Meeting in Chicago.

The campaign was officially launched with a unanimous vote by the ASOR board at the 2011 Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The primary goals of the first phase of the campaign were to expand ASOR’s donor base, while concurrently seeking to reach the halfway mark of $650,000 in gifts and pledges by the 2012 Annual Meeting in Chicago. We are pleased therefore to be able to announce that the campaign has met and exceeded both of these goals! We set a new record last year with 282 different donor—equivalent to almost 1 in 5 ASOR members—who made a charitable contribution, and we have received $670,000 in gifts and pledges toward the campaign! Moreover, by the time the Annual Meeting had ended in Chicago, we were above $700,000. With the public announcement of the campaign, we have now set our sights on meeting the $1.3 million goal by June 30, 2014 (the end of Fiscal Year 2014). Any gifts made to ASOR for the annual fund, scholarships, or any other program or area, will count towards our campaign goal. The following is a summary of the case statement for the Foundational Campaign. Continue reading

2012 ASOR Annual Meeting Is a Tremendous Success

The 2012 ASOR Annual Meeting in Chicago
breaks records and is a tremendous success!

A record 925 ASOR members gathered in Chicago from November 14–17 for the 2012 ASOR Annual Meeting. The annual conference is the premier gathering for scholars, students, and lay enthusiasts who conduct research or are interested in the history and archaeology of the eastern Mediterranean region. This year there were more than 450 paper presentations on topics ranging from prehistoric to Islamic periods and the present. Topics covered everything from conservation strategies and the archaeology of Anatolia to current issues in biblical archaeology. While all of the papers were presented in English, many languages could be heard in the hallways with scholars in attendance from Iran, Turkey, Cyprus, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Australia, Asia, Europe, North American, South America, and Central America. The event truly has become the premier international conference of the year for the history and archaeology of the eastern Mediterranean. Continue reading

Frank Moore Cross: An Appreciation

By: Jonathan Rosenbaum

Frank Moore Cross, a giant in the field of biblical studies and the ancient Near East, passed away at the age of 91 on October 17,2012. In a field rich with polymaths, Professor Cross stood at the pinnacle for his seminal scholarship, pedagogic devotion, professional leadership, personal warmth and humor, and intellectual accessibility. His ongoing influence on the scholarship of Israelite history, the Dead Sea Scrolls, literary forms, text criticism, Northwest Semitic paleography, orthography, and epigraphy, and typographical methodology attest to the brilliance of his analyses. Continue reading

Qumran Month Comes to a Close

It has been a successful month here on the ASOR blog, with posts by many leading scholars on all aspects of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls! We have had seven posts covering everything from the archaeological evidence for a sect inhabiting the site of Qumran, to translations and interpretations of portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls, to evidence for changes in scripture over time. In case you missed any of them, the posts in order are: Continue reading

Report on Mosaics Discovered at Huqoq in Israel

Female face in Huqoq mosaic. Photo by Jim Haberman

By: Jodi Magness

In June 2011, a multi-year excavation project began in the ancient village of Huqoq in Israel’s Lower Eastern Galilee, directed by Professor Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and co-directed by Dr. David Amit and Ms. Shua Kisilevitz of the Israel Antiquities Authority, and sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Brigham Young University, Trinity University (TX), the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Toronto. Continue reading

My Life in ASOR

By:  Jennie Ebeling, Associate Professor of Archaeology at the University of Evansville and Co-Director of the Jezreel Expedition

Jennie Ebeling at Jezreel, June 2012

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.

Continue reading

THE STATUS OF WOMEN IN ASOR

By: Beth Alpert Nakhai,  University of Arizona

In a recent article in The Atlantic, Anne-Marie Slaughter reflected on the question, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” (July/August 2012; vol. 310/1: 84-102).  For women working in Near Eastern archaeology, this question is likely one they have asked themselves (and their colleagues, partners, spouses, and friends) many times!  For several years, I have been engaged in a research project designed to describe and assess the status of women in ASOR.  Last fall, ASOR president Tim Harrison appointed me to spearhead an Initiative on the Status of Women in ASOR.  I sent out an email inquiry to our membership, asking people to share their thoughts on the status of women in ASOR and in Near Eastern archaeology.  Slightly more than 2000 people received the email.  The fact that almost half those people opened it indicates a high degree of interest in the topic; more commonly, only a third of ASOR emails are opened.  Some 160 people, divided fairly evenly between men and women, sent me responses.  These responses were mixed: brief, long, bullet-pointed, stream-of-conscious, positive, negative, enthusiastic, battle-weary.  A number of people, junior and senior alike, requested anonymity – but others were willing to be named.  I have opted to keep all responses anonymous, since attribution is not a valuable condition for this project.

Continue reading

The Secondary Context Workshop: A Report

Site ravaged by looting, SE corner of the enclosing walls of the inner city, Al Resafa, Syria. Image, courtesy of the photographer, Thomas Schutyser

Site ravaged by looting, SE corner of the enclosing walls of the inner city, Al Resafa, Syria. Image, courtesy of the photographer, Thomas Schutyser

A Report

In the waning days of November, 2011, colleagues in archaeology and related sciences with special interest in research issues centering on the Ancient Near East gathered in San Francisco for their annual meeting. Over 800 of some 1300 members were in attendance; and of these, fully ten percent attended our workshop! Continue reading

ASOR Funding for Regional Lectures

Exciting New Funding Opportunity from ASOR

The American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) has recently decided to allocate funds in support of members who are organizing lectures and events throughout the year. The decision is prompted by an interest in increasing ASOR presence in events throughout the year and in promoting ASOR’s mission of public outreach.

Preference will be given to proposals for special programming at the regional meetings (including co-sponsoring a regional lecture event) that enhance ASOR membership and visibility, as well as to proposals for lectures/events beyond the regional meetings that promise to attract an audience of potential new ASOR members. Continue reading

The Talpiyot Unguentarium

Dr. Joan E. Taylor, Dept. of Theology and Religious Studies, King’s College London

It is easy to feel in this quest to identify the picture of a ‘whale’ a sense that we are all staring at the same ink-blot and seeing different things. The architectural edifice/tower/tomb monument theory does not quite work, because there are little ‘flaps’ on each side, the sides are concave and the circular blob is not explained well. In addition, as James Tabor has said, no one would draw a tomb monument upside down on the side of an ossuary. However, no one would draw a fish in this position on an ossuary either. Instead, viewed the right way up, there is a simpler solution: the picture depicts a small receptacle often used in tombs, called an unguentarium. Continue reading

On ‘Absalom’s Tomb’ in Jerusalem and Nephesh Monument Iconography: A Response to Jacobovici and Tabor by Robert Cargill

By:
Robert R. Cargill (robert-cargill@uiowa.edu)
Assistant Professor of Classics and Religious Studies, The University of Iowa

Images of the 'Tomb of Absalom' (1 C. CE Jerusalem) flank an image carved into a burial ossuary.

Images of the 'Tomb of Absalom' (1 C. CE Jerusalem) flank an image carved into an ossuary. Photo credits: Left: Brian796 (http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-photo/brian796/2/1264692913/the-tomb-of-absalom.jpg/tpod.html). Center: MSNBC Cosmic Log (http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/02/27/10521007-new-find-revives-jesus-tomb-flap) Right: Ariel Horowitz on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Avtomb.JPG).

Continue reading

NSF Points to Open Context for Publishing Project Data

The National Science Foundation’s Archaeology Program links to Open Context (http://opencontext.org) as an option for grant seekers to archive and disseminate archaeological research data. See here for an example. The NSF also links to Digital Antiquity’s tDAR (http://tdar.org) project, a related effort with greater emphasis on North American archaeology.

Earlier this year, the NSF announced new data sharing requirements for grantees. Grant-seekers now need to supply a plan for providing wide access and long-term preservation of data and documents created as part of NSF-funded research.

This new requirement has the potential for improving transparency in research and also opens the door to new research directions that integrate results from multiple projects. It also demonstrates how data sharing is becoming an expected outcome of the research process. This is something that many other fields have been practicing for a few years now, but archaeology and other “small-team sciences” are a few steps behind (largely because the small-scale, localized nature of archaeological data production makes it hard to come up with common solutions for sharing and archiving these data).

The downside of this development is that grant seekers have additional work in creating a data access and management plan. Many grant seekers will probably lack expertise and technical support in making data accessible.

At the upcoming ASOR meeting in Atlanta, the creators of Open Context are offering a workshop called “Publishing Archaeological Data from the Field to the Web.” This workshop will address the new NSF requirements and discuss how to prepare datasets for dissemination and archiving. It will also discuss related data sharing initiatives relevant to Near Eastern archaeology.

All ASOR meeting attendees are welcome to attend this workshop, which will take place on Thursday November 18 at 2pm.

For more information, contact Sarah Witcher Kansa.

ASOR Opens its Boston Archives

ASOR Archive

Cynthia Rufo is archiving more than a century of archaeological records and photos. Photo by Vernon Doucette.

BU Today (Boston University) is announcing that ASOR (The American Schools of Oriental Research) is opening its archaeological archive in Boston to the public.

Included in its collections are diaries of archaeologists; rare photos of various excavations, including Qumran in the West Bank, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered; and miscellanea, like a reproduction of an 1873 sultan’s permit for a dig in Palestine.

Be sure to make use of the archive when you are in the Boston area.

The American Schools of Oriental Research archive is open to the public, by appointment, at its headquarters, 656 Beacon St., Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Access is free. Those interested should contact archivist Cynthia Rufo at 617-358-4428 or at asorarch@bu.edu. A description of the collections can be found here.

BASOR 358 (May 2010) available online for subscribers

ASOR is pleased to announce that BASOR 358 (May 2010) has now been posted online at Atypon Link. This issue (and 3+ years of back issues) is available to BASOR online subscribers and members who have chosen an online subscription as part of their membership.

You may access the table of contents for free here (members and subscribers will have complete access):

http://www.atypon-link.com/ASOR/toc/basor/358/may+2010

The issue contains articles by Bradley J. Parker and Jason R. Kennedy, Jonathan S. Greer, Marcus Rautman, and Jodi Magness.

As a reminder, the last 3+ years of ASOR journals are available to ASOR members who have chosen an online subscription on Atypon Link. For details on ASOR membership and how to get access to BASOR, JCS, and NEA, please see the following URL:

http://www.asor.org/updates/atypon-online.html