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

Finally underway at Zincirli Höyük, Turkey!

J SkornikBy: 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

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

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

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

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

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

Heritage Fellow’s Array of Experiences at Tel Kedesh

By: Caitlin C. Clerkin, 2012 Heritage FellowC Clerkin

Thanks to ASOR’s generosity via the Heritage Fellowship, I was able to participate this summer in my second season of fieldwork at Tel Kedesh, in Israel’s beautiful Upper Galilee.  This final season of excavation at Kedesh’s Persian-Hellenistic Administrative Building saw my first season ever as a trench supervisor—an unexpected “battlefield promotion” and an amazing experience. Continue reading

Heritage Fellow experiences first dig in picturesque Cappadocia

I am helping clean what seemed a possible differentiation in the color of a plastered mud-brick wall.

By: Mehrnoush Soroush, 2012 Heritage Fellow

I received the Heritage Fellowship to participate in my first fieldwork at the site of Kınık Höyük, in Cappadocia. Kınık Höyük is close to the small city of Altunhisar, and Niğde is the closest real town where we spent several free Saturday afternoons. I cannot think of a better way to have spent this scholarship. To begin with, our höyük (mound) is located in such a picturesque landscape. My early morning trips to the site and my afternoon trips back to the dig house were like short dreams in a wonderland: endless combinations of horizontal lines of golden grain fields and orchards and vertical lines of poplars which constantly sway in the cool mountain breeze. All of these are embroidered on a blend of clear blue sky and pinkish gray mountains that infinitely reflect one another. Our höyük is the most prominent feature, at least in my eyes, in this landscape: a miraculously intact golden cup, set up-side down amidst orchards and fields and visible from almost everywhere, including our dig house in the village of Yeşil Yurt. Continue reading

Heritage Fellow on Excavating Ramses II Gateway

By: Amy Karoll, 2012 Heritage Fellow

This is the second year that I have excavated with the Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project in Tel Aviv-Yafo.  With the help of the Heritage scholarship, I was able to help fund this second year here.  I am a staff member, and oversaw excavations in the LBA Egyptian gateways in Area A. Continue reading

Heritage Fellow Reports Discoveries at Marj Rabba

By: Brittany Jackson, 2012 Heritage Fellow

Season Four at Marj Rabba, Israel, has been one of our most successful, thanks to funding from ASOR. The Marj Rabba excavations, led by Dr. Yorke Rowan (University of Chicago) and Dr. Morag Kersel (DePaul University), are very important for exploring the virtually unexplored lifeways and material culture of the Galilee during the Chalcolithic (c. 4500-3500 BC). As a recipient of the Heritage Fellowship, my participation has been vital to training new excavators (of whom we had almost 20 this year!). As part of my work, I have led excavations in one of our areas, where we have had many very exciting and promising finds this season.

During the 2011 season at Marj Rabba, the area I supervise was started by opening two five meter by five meter excavation units. We were hoping to better understand and explain the relationship between two previously excavated areas of the site, which appeared to have at least two different building phases. The season proved very rewarding, as excavators uncovered at least five stone wall remnants, three of which were seemingly large, well preserved, and apparently contemporaneous, and appeared to form the majority of a possible storage room.

This season, we decided to expand excavations by adding an additional five meter by five meter excavation square to the area, and, lo, we found the final, closing wall to the well preserved room, as well as a series of other very exciting finds. Excavators and students have uncovered multiple beads of various materials, as well as bone tools and jewelry, and obsidian, which was imported from Turkey.

We still have about two weeks until the end of our 2012 excavation season, and staff, interns, and students are all working hard to make sure this is the best season yet! The storage room in my area is still being excavated, and it appears that our stone-built walls are better preserved and larger than any of us could have hoped. Thanks again to ASOR, for supporting my participation in Marj Rabba’s search for the prehistory of the Galilee!



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Fellowship Provides Archaeological Experience for Religious Studies Student

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

Heritage Fellow Mapping Moabite Site

Tristan updating the top plans

By: Tristan Matheson, 2012 Heritage Fellow

Thanks to the ASOR Heritage fellowship in 2012, I received the opportunity to be involved in a dig at Khirbat al-Mudayna, which is an Iron Age Moabite site half an hour South West of Madaba, Jordan. The dig lasted an intense six weeks and was nothing short of amazing. Not only did our team find many high end artefacts Continue reading

ASOR Heritage Fellow Digs at Tel Akko

By: Kristen Johnson, 2012 Heritage Fellow

My name is Kristen Johnson and I spent the summer digging at Tel Akko in northern Israel under the direction of Ann Killebrew. This trip to Israel was vastly different than my last. It involved very early mornings that started at 5 am, included first and second breakfast, and ended with everyone looking like they had gotten into several fights with a sandbag. We all looked forward to showers afterwards!

The first few days of the dig our group of 50 students and faculty from Penn State, Claremont, UMass Amherst, and Trinity College spent time weeding, sweeping and removing sandbags (and scorpions). Continue reading

Heritage Fellow’s First Impressions Excavating at Tall al-Umayri

The cave with brush removed and the boulder showing

By: Amanda Hopkins, Wesley Theological Seminary, 2012 Heritage Fellow
You can read Amanda’s previous posts here and here.

Week 2

Digging is going slowly. Our first stumbling block, after cleanup is a large boulder (110 cm by 56 cm). The soft limestone boulder rests on loose soil (the accumulation debris) and it proved impossible to break into pieces. The sledge hammer blows were cushioned by the plug of soil upon which it rested. The most we could accomplish was the chipping of corners of the boulder. At some point it became small enough and round enough to lift up to the mouth of the cave and roll away. Continue reading

Putting Umaryi Survey Site 84 into Context

The cave before cleanup

By: Amanda Hopkins, 2012 Heritage Fellow
You can read Amanda’s previous post here.

We were given permission to dig a cave that we are hoping could be a wine cellar found at Tall al- Umayri Survey Site 84. The landowners of this site agreed. News of the ability to dig is very exciting since the opening that we are attempting to excavate may have been used in the storage of wine for this large wine production facility. Site 84 dates from the late Iron II/ early Persian period.  The farmstead itself was excavated during the 1994 dig season after an initial survey of site 84 produced such installations as wine presses, reservoirs and cisterns. Continue reading

Going Vertical to Dig a Little Deeper at Tel Dan

Thomas and the quadcopter

By: Thomas Beyl, 2012 Heritage Fellow

2012 marks my second season of digging at Tel Dan. Thanks to the ASOR Heritage Fellowship, I had the great opportunity of opening a door to a whole new horizon of future field research. I returned to Tel Dan to continue supervising excavation activities begun in 2008 in Area A. The goal of this season was to complete excavation of Roman material overlying Iron II remains, and to hopefully find architectural elements related to an undated gate structure previously excavated in 1993. Thanks to the ASOR Heritage Fellowship I was also able to explore the use of an RC quadcopter for aerial photography on site. I have flown RC helicopters for over six years, and have built several custom aircraft with the hope of using it in the field. Continue reading