The Platt Fellowship Changed My Life

By: Caroline Carter, 2012 Platt Fellow

In the summer of 2011, I attended my first archaeological excavation during the opening season of the Huqoq Excavation Project in Huqoq, Israel under the direction of Professor Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Israel Antiquities Authority. I had not planned on returning in 2012, due to finances, nevertheless I reapplied for the project as well as a few fellowships just to see what would happen.

A month later, I received the email from ASOR notifying me that I was a recipient of the 2012 Platt Fellowship to attend my second season at Huqoq. It is a moment that I will never forget- Continue reading

The Tel Burna Archaeological Project

Uziel_JoeBy: 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 Philistine Remains at Tell es-Safi/Gath: Their Regional and Transcultural Connections with the Aegean and Cyprus

Hitchcock_LBy: Louise Hitchcock, University of Melbourne, National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow

My sabbatical semester at the Albright resulted in a preliminary analysis of the stratigraphy, finds, and architecture from Area A2, in the early Philistine sector of Tell es-Safi/Gath, in collaboration with Prof. Aren Maeir and specialist members of the excavation team. The Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project is a long-term collaborative project begun in 1996 under the direction of Prof. Maeir of Bar-Ilan University, Israel as a consortium involving foreign research partners.  It is aimed at studying the archaeology of one of the largest and most important multi-period sites in Israel, which was the location of Gath, one of the five capitals of the Philistine Pentapolis. For the last four years, I have been directing excavations in the early Philistine part of the site, Area A2, where I lead the largest Australian project in Israel with support from the Australian Research Council. This collaboration emerged as a direct result of time spent at the Albright as Annual Professor in 2007. Working at the Albright provided me with easy access to the library and my collaborators. 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

Texts without Qumran and Qumran without Texts: Searching for the Latrines

By: James D. Tabor, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

 On the other days they dig a small pit, a foot deep, with a paddle of the sort given them when they are first admitted among them; and covering themselves round with their garment, that they may not affront the rays of God, they ease themselves into that pit.                                                                                  Josephus War 2.148

  This paper explores the complex and shifting dynamics of comparing texts with texts, texts with “sites,” and sites with themselves, but without texts. I use the term “sites” loosely to refer to the material or archaeological evidence that may or may not be related to a given text from antiquity. I see this as an extension of Jonathan Z. Smith’s interest and fascination with  “comparisons” so evident in much of his work over the past three decades.  But more particularly I have in mind the Louis H. Jordan Lectures in Comparative Religion, delivered at the University of London in 1988, subsequently published as Divine Drudgery[1]. Fascinated by the “thick dossier of the history of the enterprise,” i.e., the comparison of “Christianities” and the religions of Late Antiquity, Smith undertakes what he calls “archaeological work in the learned literature” in order to highlight both theoretical and methodological issues. His operative question is what is “at stake” in the various comparative proposals? I am convinced that some of the same dynamics Smith finds operating in the development of the study of “Christian Origins,” namely Roman Catholic and Protestant apologetics and presuppositions, have been present from the beginning in considering the textual corpus known as the “Dead Sea Scrolls,” and in interpreting the physical site of the adjacent ruins of Qumran, as well as in the combining of the two—that is, texts and site. I want to expand a bit the comparisons of “words,” “stories,” and “settings” beyond their purely “textual” levels, and explore the methods of bringing in non-textual evidence, that is, evidence of “place.” In that sense I find Smith’s metaphor of the “archaeological” more than intriguing, and in this paper, with spade in hand (or perhaps I might say with “paddle” in hand!), I want to explore how the proverbial “mute stones” speak, or remain silent, in the presence of texts, and the ways in which the texts inform “place,” and “place” might enlighten the texts. 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

Archaeological Conservation Strategies in the Near East, Fri. Nov. 16

conservation session flyer

Click to Enlarge

By: Suzanne Davis and LeeAnn Barnes Gordon

This year we are pleased to announce a new workshop session for the ASOR Annual Meeting, Archaeological Conservation Strategies in the Near East. Both conservators and archaeologists tend to present research within their own fields, effectively segregating the disciplines. But this year, thanks to ASOR, we have an opportunity to foster collaboration and promote information sharing among conservators and archaeologists working in the Near East. As conservators who work on excavations in the Near East, this topic is important to us and we hope you’ll find it interesting and important, too.

The workshop contributors will present multi-disciplinary projects and research on archaeological heritage from Egypt, Israel, Turkey, and Iraq. Topics examined will include regional trends in conservation, balancing preservation and access, site management, treatments of challenging materials, and collaborations with local conservation and archaeological communities. Moderated discussions between the presentations will engage the contributors as well as the audience, creating an ongoing dialogue that we hope will ultimately improve preservation for archaeological materials and sites in the Near East. If you have questions, insights, or just an interest in these topics, please join us. 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

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 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

Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project receives 3-year NEH Funding

Aaron A. Burke and Martin Peilstöcker, the directors of The Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project, are pleased to announce the receipt of a 3-year National Endowment for the Humanities Collaborative Grant for excavations in Jaffa from 2013 to 2015.

Aerial photo showing the destruction of the Amarna period Egyptian gate complex in Jaffa

Aerial photo showing the destruction of the Amarna period Egyptian gate complex in Jaffa. (Photo courtesy of Aaron Burke)

The project is titled “Insurgency, Resistance, and Interaction: Archaeological Inquiry into New Kingdom Egyptian Rule in Jaffa.”

Since 2007 the Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project has brought to light the results of earlier excavations from 1955 to 1974 in Jaffa (Tel Yafo) by Jacob Kaplan, the municipal archaeologist of Tel Aviv-Jaffa. One of the primary objectives of this project was to provide a baseline for renewed archaeological exploration of Jaffa in which modern data collection methods and analytical techniques are employed to improve our understanding of the site and its population.

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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Sectarianism and the Archaeology of Qumran

Regev at the entrance to Cave 11 with his students from the Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology department, Bar-Ilan University

By: Eyal Regev

In a couple of articles published in BASOR and Revue de Qumran[1], I have analyzed the social aspects of the inhabitants of kh. Qumran using social-scientific theories, without direct consideration of the scrolls.

I have examined the spatial organization and architecture of kh. Qumran using Hillier and Hanson’s Space Syntax Theory, commonly called Access Analysis. The results show strong social boundaries and the division of the site into distinct clusters, in a specific hierarchal structure which entails ritualization. kh. Qumran is divided into different segments in a hierarchal distribution of spaces which marks separation between different spheres. I have compared the Access Analysis map of kh. Qumran to those of seven other contemporaneous manor houses or villas, in which all the spatial boundaries are substantially weaker. Continue reading

The Eternal Planting, the Eden of Glory

1QHa 16.5-17.37

By: James H. Charlesworth

Introduction

Charlesworth lecturing in Qumran within the ruins, pointing to how the Qumranites built without skill and with plaster pushed in with a stick (Photo by GAM)

 The Thanksgiving Hymns are the creation of poets who became the Community of priests who left the Temple (or were cast out, as indicated by this collection); they eventually settled at Qumran. The poetry rivals, sometimes, the heights obtained by the stellar poets who bequeathed us the Psalter (the Davidic Psalms). In my judgment, the Thanksgiving Hymns are the mystical ruby in the breastplate of the Qumranic priests. Continue reading

Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls

 By: Jodi Magness

Qumran - the site associated with the Dead Sea Scrolls - is located eight and a half miles south of Jericho, by the northwest shore of the Dead Sea.  The site was excavated from 1951-1956 by Roland de Vaux of the École Biblique et Archéologique Française de Jerusalem.  More recently, other expeditions have explored different parts of the site, including the settlement and cemetery (Yitzhak Magen and Yuval Peleg), residential caves to the north (Magen Broshi and Hanan Eshel), and the cemetery (Broshi, Eshel, and Richard Freund).  From ca. 100 B.C.E. to 68 C.E. Qumran was occupied by members of a Jewish sect.  There are also remains of a late Iron Age (pre-586 B.C.E.) settlement and evidence of a brief phase of Roman occupation after 68 C.E. Continue reading

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

Despite Early Mornings Platt Fellow Happy to be Excavating

By: Ted Gold, University of Chicago, 2012 Platt Fellow

To begin with, a little background on what the Platt Fellowship meant to me: I’d been doing some work for Professor Yorke M. Rowan over the course of the winter and spring quarters of my third year at college, and he was kind enough to inform me that he was running a dig at the 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