ASOR Fellowship: The Beginning of a Grand Adventure

By: Nate Ramsayer, M.A. student in Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near East at Brandeis University, 2012 Heritage Fellow

Nate at the Giza Pyramids before the dig in Israel, living the dream.

My participation in fieldwork was entirely predicated upon receiving a Heritage Fellowship; it allowed me to buy a plane ticket to the Middle East. Had I not been granted an award, you’d find a much grumpier, much more naïve Hebrew Bible student still sitting at Logan Airport in Boston, probably with a cup asking for change, trying to figure how in the heck he’s gonna make it overseas in time for next summer’s season!

The financial help ASOR provides students is incalculable in its impact. Continue reading

Changing perceptions through fieldwork

Excavating a Middle Islamic barrel-vaulted room

By: Nicholas Ames, 2012 Platt Fellow

The first thing that struck me once the post-excavation haze wore off a few weeks after my return to the United States, was the sudden realization of the vast difference between “education” and “edification.” The classroom’s education provides the theoretical framework with which to situate my perception of the world, but through the context of labor, the act of archaeology provides an ephemeral emic understanding of the past, becoming a contextualized reification of the course-based educational experience. And with memories of the field still fresh in my mind, I found I was no longer content to confine my learning to a lecture hall listening to someone pontificate about the past. What I wanted was to go out and uncover it. Continue reading

The Tel Burna Archaeological Project

By: Joe Uziel, Israel Antiquities Authority, Ernest S. Frerichs Fellow

 In 2009, Dr. Itzhaq Shai and I initiated a long-term archaeological project at Tel Burna.  The site is located in the Judean Shephelah on the northern banks of Wadi Guvrin.  While described by a number of scholars over the years as a prominent ancient site, it is one of the last tells in the Shephelah to be excavated.  Since 2009, an ongoing survey, including several different methods has been conducted alongside excavations.  Thus far, 21 squares have been excavated in three different areas, uncovering a sequence of five strata spanning the Late Bronze Age IIB through to the Persian period. Continue reading

The transformation of the Metropolis of Myra into an Ottoman village

By: Ebru Fatma Fındık
Research Assistant Hacettepe University, Faculty of Letters, Department of Art History, Beytepe, Ankara / TURKEY

Fig. 1: The house of a Turkish villager

The ancient city of Myra (mod. Demre) is situated in a plain of Lycia, surrounded by the Taurus Mountains to the north and by the Myros River (mod. Demra Çayı) to the east. Located to the south-west, on the banks of the Andrakos River, is its ancient harbour Andriake (mod. Çayağzı). The city has a large rural territory and during the Byzantine period the city had close religious, social, and economic ties with its territory (Foss 1996: 315).

Since 1989, the excavation and restoration work of the most important ecclesiastical building of the ancient city, the Church of St. Nicholas, has been carried out by the Art History Department of Hacettepe University. On the other hand, the excavations in the ancient city have been carried out by the Archaeology Department of Akdeniz University since 2009. Continue reading

Basalt Connections at Zincirli Hoyuk

Basalt lion from the castle gate at Zincirli Hoyuk, in the Pergamon Museum

By: Leann Pace and Eudora Struble

When Eudora and I began graduate school together at the University of Chicago, I don’t believe either of us was planning to work on a long-term archaeological project in Turkey. Eudora was very involved with archaeology in Jordan and my limited experience led me to believe that I wanted to work on excavations in Israel. However, we were given the opportunity to join what would become the Neubauer Expedition to Zincirli. This journey began in 2006 and we are eagerly anticipating another great season in the summer of 2013. Obviously we are hooked on working at the site and on being part of the larger research community working in Turkey. Continue reading

Ulucak: A Prehistoric Mound in Aegean Turkey

Özlem Çevik (Archaeology Dept., University of Thrace, Edirne, Turkey) and Çiler Çilingiroğlu (Dept of Protohistory and Near Eastern Archaeology, Izmir, Turkey)

Fig 1: General view of Ulucak mound.

Fig 1: General view of Ulucak mound.

Ulucak is a settlement mound located 25 km east of İzmir, in western Turkey (Fig. 1). The mound contains cultural accumulations spanning periods from the Early Neolithic to Late Roman-Early Byzantine periods. The lengthy sequence at Ulucak allows observations on long-term continuities and discontinuities in the settlement layout, architecture, material culture, and subsistence patterns in Aegean Turkey over many millennia.

The start of excavations at Ulucak encouraged an increasing focus on Neolithic culture in western Turkey as the earliest occupation at the site is significant for understanding the neolithization mechanisms in the region. The early farming communities of Ulucak occupied the site from around 6750 to 5700/5600 cal BCE, thus providing us with valuable information on multiple aspects of their daily lives and cultural changes through time. Continue reading

Finally underway at Zincirli Höyük, Turkey!

By: Jordan Skornik, University of Chicago Divinity School

After a later-than-usual start due to Ramadan, the 7th season of the Neubauer Expedition to Zincirli (ancient Sam’al), an archaeological project of the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute, began in earnest. Digging officially commenced at dawn on Saturday, August 25, and with only one week under our belts, there was already much to be excited about. Thanks to the Heritage Fellowship, I was able to experience it firsthand. Continue reading

Tall al-`Umayri 2012: Summer of Surprises

By: Douglas R. Clark, Director, and Kent V. Bramlett, Chief Archaeologist, La Sierra University, Riverside, CA
[photographer: Jillian Logee, Calgary, AB]

Figure 1: Douglas Clark

Figure 2: Kent Bramlett

Figure 3:  Jillian  Logee

What began as a normal, and 15th, season of excavations at Tall al-`Umayri, Jordan—part of the Madaba Plains Project—turned out to be anything but normal. Land ownership issues forced the team at the last minute to change course drastically and plan as if this were the last summer excavation season ever at a site deserving another 15 or 50. While negotiations continued, the 2012 team braced for the worst and reconfigured their entire set of objectives for 2012, a move which pressed them to sharpen their focus, record everything digitally as if there were no tomorrow, and push themselves to the limit of what is possible in five weeks. In the end, the 2012 team accomplished every single newly minted objective, including especially the following:

1) Accomplish several things archaeologically (in chronological order):
a. Complete recording of Early Bronze Age dolmen
b. Clarify buildings of the Early Iron I settlement along the western perimeter wall by exposing the fourth contiguous structure (Building D) in a row
c. Sort out pre- and post-earthquake phases of the buildings in this Early Iron I settlement
d. Expose a slightly later “four-room” building plan plus surrounding attached rooms and connect this stratigraphically with the Early Iron I settlement
e. Further clarify Iron II and Iron II/Persian remains

2) Document absolutely everything possible with all the technology available should the team not be able to return Continue reading

Wrapping up at Tall al-Umayri

By: Amanda Hopkins, 2012 Heritage Fellow
Read Amanda’s earlier posts here (1), here (2), and here (3).

A Hopkins 6

Amanda and other excavators in the cave entrance

Week Four and the end of this year’s dig:

As we continue our digging something very exciting happens- a white, hollow and crumbly residue is found clinging to the chisel marks. This is definitely plaster! The chiseling and plaster can be found on the ceiling and sides of the cave. Further chiseling is also found when looking at the natural dissolution features that trail off from the SE and Southern quadrants of the cave. One can clearly see how the natural fissures in the rock have been humanly manipulated into channels that bend upward and toward the surface of the earth. All this plaster and chiseling suggest that the cave had been manipulated into a cistern. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Heritage Fellow’s Experience at Tel Akko

S Edwards By: Shane Edwards, Claremont Graduate University, 2012 Heritage Fellow

I just returned home from a wonderful experience on an archaeological excavation thanks to an ASOR Fellowship. The monies helped fund the four weeks I spent at the Akko tel located near the old city of Akko, Israel. This is my first opportunity to participate on a dig and it has given me a perspective that will aid with my religious studies research. Continue reading

Scooping Frogs and Excavating Statues in Turkey

By: Emily Coate, 2012 Heritage Fellow

The generosity of those behind the ASOR Heritage Fellowship afforded me my first opportunity to dig at a Near Eastern site. I participated in the excavations at Tell Tayinat, a settlement occupied during the Early Bronze and Iron Ages located in southern Turkey near the Syrian border. You may have heard the name in the news recently, owing to the discovery of a couple impressive statues this season. Particularly noteworthy is the head and torso of King Suppiluliuma, with a Hieroglyphic Luwian inscription across his back. Continue reading

Excavating Under the Egyptian Sun

A LoPintoBy: Andrew LoPinto, 2012 Platt Fellow

After a long and tiring journey, which consisted of a flight from Chicago to New York, a nine-hour layover in New York, a flight from New York to Frankfurt, Germany, a three hour layover in Frankfurt, a flight from Frankfurt to Cairo, an over-night stay in Cairo (the flight got in rather late), and a three hour drive…we finally arrived at Mendes!  Do not get me wrong, the flights were smooth and the company of the other expedition members made the trip much more tolerable than had I been alone, but in total, I was awake and on the move from 8:00am Monday morning until 8:00pm Tuesday night, and that does not include the over-night in Cairo nor the drive to Mendes. Continue reading

Heritage Fellow Ground Truthing on Cyprus

By: Micaela Carignano, 2012 Heritage Fellow

This summer, thanks to an ASOR Heritage Fellowship, I traveled to Cyprus to participate in the Kalavasos and Maroni Built Environments Project (KAMBE).  The project, led by Sturt Manning of Cornell University and Kevin Fisher from the University of Arkansas, focuses on several Late Bronze Age sites in southern Cyprus.  Most of the research has involved the use of geophysical techniques to survey the landscapes surrounding previously excavated LBA sites. Continue reading

From Destruction to Archaeology: the significance of “Operation Anchor” for the Cultural Heritage of Jaffa.

By: Martin Peilstöcker 

During spring 1936 the nationalistic uprising of the Palestinian Arab population against Mandatory British rule and Jewish mass immigration became more and more violent. A strike was declared on Jaffa port, in those days still one of most important harbors of Palestine. Groups of Palestinians left the narrow alleys of the Old City, the “Kasbah,” carried out attacks on the representatives of the Mandatory government or on Jews and found shelter afterwards in the labyrinth of the long-grown city on the mound of biblical Yafo. The reaction of the British was both, violent and effective. Under the cover of announced measures to improve the infrastructure, three broad paths, each between 10 and 30 meters wide were opened in the Old City creating what looked like anchor-shaped trenches from above, giving the name to this operation. The trenches were created using large amounts of explosives to detonate and demolish more than 200 buildings (Gavish 1983).

Old City of Jaffa before and after Operation Anchor 1936

Continue reading

History (and Microdebris) Uncovered at Dhiban

Excavating a Middle Islamic barrel-vaulted room

By: Nicholas Ames, 2012 Platt Fellow

Waking up at 4:00am is difficult no matter where you are in the world. But somehow, waking up in Jordan for the first time made it just a little bit easier.

Breakfast at 4:30am and troweling by 6:00am, it is a schedule regimented by environmental and social concerns of labouring outdoors in a culturally foreign country – which is exactly what field archaeology is. Despite this early schedule, my overall experience excavating with the Dhiban Excavation and Development Project (DEDP) left me craving for much more – more time spent in the field as well as need for a much greater understanding of the regional and methodological history of archaeology and excavation in the Near East. Continue reading

Archaeology and Community: Experiences in the Azraq Oasis

Figure 1

By: Alison Damick, Columbia University, and Ahmad Lash, The Department of Antiquities of Jordan

Azraq, an oasis village in the northeastern Jordanian steppe, sits on the crossroads of the highways connecting Jordan to Saudi Arabia and Iraq [Fig 1]. Its remarkable archaeological record reflects millennia of human activity; the first recorded human occupation in the Azraq Basin dates to more than 300,000 years ago. Including prehistoric, Roman, Byzantine, and early and middle Islamic sites, the 13,000 km² basin area currently hosts a total of 157 documented archaeological sites. A great concern of recent years has been how to effectively protect those sites from the various threats they face, including environmental degradation and erosion, increased vehicle traffic, construction projects and looting. Co-emergent with this concern is the increasing interest among archaeologists in the close relationship between the contemporary world of which archaeological practice is a part and the narrative of the past that is produced from its activities. In 2008, the Azraq Community Archaeology Program (ACAP) was initiated to address these issues. We’d like to use this brief presentation of our experiences with the project to raise some of the issues we’ve encountered in practice and in theory, as launching pads for further discussion. Continue reading

Looking for Size 20 Sandals at Gath

By: Nate Ramsayer, 2012 Heritage Fellow

As a graduate student of Hebrew Bible, my focus has been steeped in literary studies and ancient languages; it is only this past year that I had the opportunity to formally study archaeology. I’ve found myself enchanted by various aspects of material culture study, yet simultaneously frustrated with so many questions of the ins and outs of the excavation process. Finally I said “NO MORE!” and took up the spade in an attempt to supplement my studies with firsthand knowledge of archaeology and its domain. I chose to dig this summer at Tell es-Safi, and thanks in part to ASOR’s Heritage Fellowship, my dream turned into a reality! Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Protecting, Preserving, and Presenting Cultural Heritage in Petra: The Temple of the Winged Lions Cultural Resource Management Initiative

treasury, petra, tweissi

Figure 1: Petra’s most famous icon, the Al-Khazne (‘the Treasury’) tomb façade with tourist camel riders (Q. Tweissi).

By: Christopher A. Tuttle

Two hundred years ago, on 22 August 1812, the ancient city of Petra was re-identified by the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, the first European on record to have visited the site since the 13thcentury. Word of his discovery quickly spread and other visitors soon followed in his footsteps—inaugurating a bicentennial of exploration and research at this amazing site located in what is today southern Jordan.

Petra served as the capitol city for the kingdom of Nabataea from at least the second century BCE until Trajan’s annexation of the region into the Roman Empire in 106 CE. Under Roman rule, the city retained its importance and became the administrative center for the new province of Arabia Petraea. Although heavily damaged by a major earthquake in May 363 CE, the city continued to play a significant role in the region during the Byzantine period when it served as an episcopal see of the Christian church. Continue reading