Excavating the Albright Institute’s Attic

Posted in: Ancient Near East Today, ASOR
00000 By: Rachel Hallote Many ASOR members who excavate in Israel use the Albright Institute’s attic for storage—it’s a convenient place to keep ceramics and other excavation materials, as well as summer dig clothes. It’s just like any other attic. But it is also a kind of archaeological site in itself. 1. W.F. Albright Institute logo 2. W.F. Albright Institute When materials are put in the Albright attic the intentions are almost certainly to retrieve the boxes the very next season (well, soon, anyway), and that’s what usually happens. But sometimes plans change, and items are abandoned for years, or even decades. Plans change, projects run out of money, new staff members don’t know what their predecessors did, or where they left stuff. It turns out that this has been going on since the Albright building opened in the 1920s. Some boxes of personal possessions and excavation materials are well-identified (grad students and faculty members have been stashing stuff in the attic for generations). But there are also many, many unmarked boxes of moth-eaten clothes that go back thirty or forty years. More significantly, there are ceramics (possibly several tons’ worth) that have been sitting in the attic for eighty years or more—baskets and boxes of sherds and restorable pots, which, along with excavation equipment, date from the 1920s through

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