Thanks in part to the ASOR Heritage Fellowship, I am completing my first field season in Israel collecting archaeomagnetic samples for my dissertation research. It has been a very hot four weeks in the Negev desert, where we are excavating at the Iron-Age site of Khirbet Summeily, a small tell near the Bronze and Iron Age fortress site of Tell el-Hesi. These sites were recently featured in the Near Eastern Archaeology Magazine (Vol 75, No 1) as locations along the transportation route between Gaza and Hebron. Summeily is significant because it sits on the very edge of the Philistine/Judahite border and contains elements from both cultures.
My previous excavation experiences were rather uneventful, so I was pleased to find an immediate abundance of pottery sherds and learn about the various local styles from our directors, Jeffrey Blakely and James Hardin. I was especially excited to find one of the first lithics, a beautiful chert sickle blade. The digging techniques are slightly different than what I am used to; for example, this is my first experience excavating mudbrick walls, which are often difficult to distinguish from the compacted loess sediments surrounding them.