ASOR Heritage Fellowship: The Beginning of a Grand Adventure

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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.

Its legacy is ever proliferating, stretching beyond the boundaries of what one might consider when ticking off the checklist of amazing experiences—beyond the opportunity to uncover the past, beyond irreplaceable research for dissertation work, beyond being able to encounter new locales and customs. Here are a few examples of how my 2012 Heritage Fellowship continues to affect my life and the lives of others:


Had I not earned a fellowship and been able to participate in excavating, it is quite unlikely I would have attended the ASOR Annual Meeting in Chicago this year. While there, I was able to network with scholars of the field and was turned on to new PhD programs that I was not aware existed. Thus, hopefully (fingers crossed!) I will find my life going in a new geographical and scholastic direction than it would have had I not been given the award.


At Tell es-Safi/Gath in southern Israel, I was introduced to and became fast friends with soooo many people from all around the world, that come to think of it, the socializing was perhaps more exhausting than the actual back-breaking work. I take that back—nothing was more exhausting than the digging, but you get my point. To this day (eight months later), I regularly Skype with several people, have met up with others, and planned future events and reunions with still more. An international cohort of archaeology friends from Safi will be crashing at my place in Boston for St. Patrick’s Day weekend this month! Had I not been there, this entire part of my life would not exist.

Archaeologists of the world unite to play none other than Pottery Poker! (Where you substitute various indicative sherds for poker chips—before we throw them back, that is)


One of my life’s goals is to bring the excitement of the academic world to those who dwell outside of it (so, essentially 90% of the population). By allowing me to take part in an excavation, I am now more keenly aware of what archaeology is and how it’s done, and I’ve had several opportunities to give lectures in both Minnesota and Massachusetts on the archaeology process. Hundreds of people who would otherwise have only the Indiana Jones movies to rely on have now been given a first-hand account of what archaeology involves and its impact on our modern understanding of the Bible.

To sum up, in my experience, I have found that:

Receiving fellowship = making connections = aware of new ideas = altering the course of my life

Receiving fellowship = taking part in events with other citizens of the world who share common interests = life-long friendships

Receiving fellowship = engaging in the actual process of archaeology = a chance to be an ambassador for the field = better informed American public

These are but a few of the ever-evolving ways ASOR’s legacy is still penetrating my life and the lives of others. And not even a year later! I am eager to find how the opportunity to be a Heritage Fellow will continue to catapult me in new directions. Again, I tip my fedora to you, ASOR!

Read Nate’s previous post here.


As you know, ASOR’s mission is to support archaeology in the Near East, and now we have an exciting opportunity for you to support students of archaeology directly! Every year ASOR gives out around 30 Platt and Heritage Fellowships to deserving students to defray the costs of excavating in the Near East. Thanks to last year’s March Fellowship Madness drive we gave out a total of 42 scholarships and we are trying to beat that number this year.

Our goal is to raise $10,000, and if we succeed, two generous donors will give funding for four additional fellowships, meaning a total of 14 additional students will get funding this year!  Help us seize this opportunity to send more students into the field! Donate now!



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