*This scholarship was made possible by donations made to the 2014 scholarship drive. Donate today.
This summer, I had the opportunity to work with the Karak Resources Project, which excavates an Iron Age site of Khirbat Mudaybi, located about a 45-minute drive southeast of Karak. This was made possible with an excavation scholarship from ASOR. I express thanks for the donors who have provided the funding for these scholarships.
As publication of findings gets closer on the horizon, the questions to be answered become more focused. This is true at Mudaybi. As with other sites in the Near East, illicit digging has become problematic as our site has become better-known locally and access has improved with an asphalt road. The looting, which took place in the main gate area, has played a role in our need to answer questions in the ultimate quest for publication. Our season has provided a silver lining of a more complete excavation of Field B, the main gate area, proving that we can add to our body of knowledge by conducting a salvage excavation. Before hitting bedrock, we found a plaster surface, which largely covers the area of the two squares in the gate area. Additionally, we investigated two probes in Field D; the first sought to learn more about the casemate room in the northwest corner of the fortress, and the second endeavored to discover what was beneath the cobblestone flooring.
Serving as the excavation photographer, I play a key role in recording excavation progress in concert with record-keeping done by excavators and other specialists in the field to provide a complete picture of the site. When I am not called upon to document the excavation proper, I photograph other aspects of the site’s character and history, such as the present condition of the site which is compared with the condition of the site in past years to show any damage or disturbance. For instance, I have documented all the graffiti on site, ranging from ancient to modern. I have also hiked the environs in search for a water supply to the site and quarries, which gives us clues where the ancient citizens of Mudaybi obtained their building materials.
Besides my photographic duties, I particularly enjoy viewing the progress of excavation as a whole. It is not uncommon for diggers in a given field to ask what is happening in other fields, since I have taken progress photos in other areas previously. So, I also play an informal role of keeping everyone informed.
One of the perks of digging in Jordan is engaging the local culture. Jordanian hospitality manifested itself on several occasions from being offered coffee and tea while visiting the Ottoman ruins of Sul, to enjoying tea with our workers on site. It is not uncommon to be invited for a meal. Besides the social aspect of the local culture, I appreciate what I have learned about how they live. For instance, I talked with one of our local workers from Umm Hamat, a wheat farmer, about agricultural practices in connection with my doctoral dissertation, “Agricultural Dimensions of the Book of Ruth,” which I am currently writing at The Catholic University of America. Particularly helpful was our Department of Antiquities representative, Khaled Tawarneh, who has also grown wheat, who provided me some insights on wheat farming in modern-day Jordan. Additionally, visiting and photographing wheat fields in Sul, near Mudaybi, and near Dhiban, north of the Wadi Mujib, have given me insight on farming practices in modern-day Jordan.
In all, the excavation experience, visiting area sites, and interacting with the local culture have made for a well-rounded experience. This has been true from the first time I excavated in Jordan until the present.
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