Thanks to funding from an ASOR Heritage Fellowship, this past summer I was able to join the Karak Resources Project in an excavation at Khirbat al-Mudaybi, a primarily Iron Age fortress in the Karak Plateau region of Jordan. As my first field experience with excavation, this trip was especially valuable for enabling me to apply principles of archaeological method and theory in a field setting, greatly adding to the level of understanding I had previously gained through classroom and laboratory work.
The largest portion of my time at Mudaybi was spent working in a square on the northern half of the site’s multi-chambered Iron Age gate complex. This excavation, an expansion of an uncompleted probe begun in the previous season, uncovered the remaining stones of the wall line which ran at the back of the northern half of the gate complex. Interestingly, the results of this summer’s excavation suggest that this wall line may not have continued across both chambers, and thus that the gate complex was not symmetrical. I also spent time working on a probe inside the site’s inner compound, uncovering a wall face down to exposed bedrock and excavating a substantial collection of Byzantine pottery (from the later rebuilt phase of the site’s occupation). Near the end of the season, I helped finish work in another, primarily Iron Age area of the site, including the careful excavation of a large tannur (clay oven). Spending an entire day carefully scraping and brushing around the remaining walls of this delicate ancient structure was a highlight of the summer’s work and a great lesson in careful excavation technique.
Although a month of 3:30 AM wake-up times and countless hours spent digging under the hot sun in one of the dustiest places I have ever seen certainly had its challenges, the value of the knowledge and familiarity I gained with the Iron Age material culture and history of this region made it all well worth the effort. I am very grateful to ASOR and its funding donors for the assistance the Heritage Fellowship provided me this summer, without which I could not have participated in this productive and educational field season.