A Quadcopter over Tel Dan

Posted in: March Fellowship Madness, Scholarships
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By: Thomas Beyl, 2012 Heritage Fellow

This past summer I had the great honor of receiving an ASOR Heritage Fellowship, which allowed me to pursue my dream of using a remote controlled aircraft to do aerial photography on an excavation. In the fall of 2011 I was invited by Dr. David Ilan to return to Tel Dan as an area supervisor for the 2012 dig season. Unlike previous years, there were no funds available to cover housing or food expenses, which also meant I could not afford to do aerial photography. For the past six years I have flown and built several different RC aircraft but had yet to complete an aircraft that could be easily transported and used on excavations. So I applied for an ASOR Heritage Fellowship, and was initially informed that I was not chosen as an awardee. Four weeks later, after an ASOR fundraising campaign, I was awarded a fellowship. Scarcely able to contain my enthusiasm, I immediately contacted a couple of Israelis who do aerial photography as a hobby. I had a couple of questions about customs and some electronics I planned to purchase. A very generous man named Guy Garber recommended I travel light, and offered to let me use his equipment in the field. So, near the end of the season Guy and I spent a couple hours using a quadcopter to take aerial photos of all the excavation areas. In Area A, these photos were used to identify a possible six chamber gate which has been visible for fifteen years, but never recognized. It was thrilling to finally take some aerial photos in the field, and reap the benefits of this developing technology. I look forward to future opportunities to implement the use of aerial photography in excavations at Tel Dan and explore deeper the many tools that this technology has to offer to the field of archaeology.

I would like to thank all of the members who generously gave to the ASOR scholarship fund. Thanks to your generosity I was able to pursue the use of remote control aerial photography at Tel Dan, cover my housing and food expenses, and add another lifelong friend in Israel.

You can read Tommy’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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