Thanks to the generous funding from an ASOR Platt Excavation Fellowship, I was able to join the The Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon for the 2011 excavation season under the direction of Dr. Daniel Master. There I served as an Assistant Square Supervisor in the excavations of the Severan-period odeion, led by Dr. Tracy Hoffman. This was my first experience in the large-scale excavations of a monumental Roman building and it provided me with invaluable training for my studies of Classical Archaeology.
We were working on a scale unlike anything I had excavated before. Our trench covered two thousand square meters and was around four meters at its deepest. I was assisting Dr. Ryan Boehm in the excavations of the stage building of the odeion. We were trying to discover more about the entrances into the building and to date the building with higher precision. As we excavated down we got a sense of the destruction and reuse of the odeion at various points in time as well as a sense of the buildings that came before it. Our work this summer contributes to our understanding of the center of Ashkelon during the Classical period.
Ashkelon was my first opportunity to work on a large, multi-period site. In addition to the odeion itself I was able to join in the excavations of a Bronze Age glacis, an Iron Age defensive tower, a monumental Hellenistic structure, an early Roman basilica, the Byzantine destruction and reuse of Roman-period occupation, Abbasid and Fatimid residential areas, and a Crusader gateway. Aside from field work, I was able to join in many other projects: I was trained in the reading of Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic ceramics; I worked with large collections of Persian and Greek pottery; and I assisted in the transcription of Greek inscriptions.
Most of all, I was fortunate to have the chance to work with a skilled and knowledgeable group of staff and enthusiastic volunteers from schools throughout the US and abroad. I am thankful to ASOR and to the donors of the Platt Fellowships for the opportunities they provided me.
-Simeon David Ehrlich, The University of Western Ontario