I’m going on an Adventure!

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University of Evansville staff, students, and alum. (Photo Credit: Norma Franklin).

University of Evansville staff, students, and alum. (Photo Credit: Norma Franklin).

By: Elizabeth Kunz, 2016 Member-Supported Fellowship Recipient

Ever since I first studied abroad in Sweden, Bilbo Baggin’s quote, “I’m going on an adventure!” has been my theme when traveling. I am so grateful that ASOR and the ASOR donors made it possible for me to go on another adventure to Israel this summer! Without their generous support, participating in the Jezreel Expedition this summer would not have been possible. Thank you.

This summer was truly an adventure. Since it was my second time traveling to Israel with the Jezreel Expedition, I thought I had an idea of what the summer would hold. To an extent, that was true. Israel did not change much; it was still hot and dry, many rocks, good company, and an addiction to playing in the dirt. This summer was markedly different, however: as a returning student to the Jezreel Valley, there were higher expectations and more responsibility, along with an assignment that gave me a much different experience than most of my peers. During my final semester at the University of Evansville, which co-sponsors the Jezreel Expedition, I conducted an honors project that looked at the relationship of the Roman cyst tombs on the upper Tel and the ancient path using comparative studies, archaeological evidence, and a Geographic Information System (GIS) to explore the spatial relationship between the two and attempt to tighten the date.   The plan for this season was to look into the available evidence on site to add to that study. I got to look around the tombs a bit, but day-to-day I experienced a different reality.

Working in Area S (Photo Credit: Norma Franklin)

Working in Area S (Photo Credit: Norma Franklin)

Most of the focus at Jezreel has been focused on the “lower tel” and its relationship to the spring blow this area. This is called area S and is where I worked last season. Most of the Expedition returned to this area in 2016 to try and locate the main settlement area. To begin, though, I was up in area L, on the Upper Tel, with two other members of the dig, digging a test trench to try and find the remains of a road passing through the area. After a week we were unsuccessful, and moved down to area S with the majority of the Expedition.

In area S and we returned to investigate around the agricultural building and large wall found last year. Our team rotated between three squares to try and determine just what was happening in this section. First we attempted to trace a wall from the agricultural building uncovered last season. This revealed that the agricultural building wall abutted a larger, earlier wall. Moving further south, slightly uphill, we found this large wall had two courses and a foundation trench.

To describe all the intricacies of this square would require much more time and careful explanation, but I’ll try to give an overview. Below the foundation trench of this wall, two surfaces were discovered. One consisted of fist-sized rocks that formed a pavement of sorts, while the surface beneath it was made of pot sherds and gravel, tightly packed. All these elements, with some mudbrick material mixed in, began to form distinctive stratigraphy, producing the kind of detail that has not been found elsewhere during the Jezreel Expedition. These sealed layers will allow firmer dates to be determined next season as the area is investigated further.

A close up of some of the stratigraphy, where the pavement can be seen above the gravel.

A close up of some of the stratigraphy, where the pavement can be seen above the gravel.

A miscut Roman cyst tomb.

A miscut Roman cyst tomb.

This may sound a bit dull, but as an archaeologist, it is extremely exciting! The 2015 season of Jezreel was my first dig and exposed me to what field life was like. I was lucky to have a square that contained architecture, as well as some intriguing artifacts. This year allowed me to return to the same area and see its development, and what an experience that was! Tracing the walls and finding these surfaces reveals very intriguing activity in the area and can lead to future knowledge about the site. Next year, with a larger group working around this section, the path of the walls can be determined and hopefully tighter dates can be attained for the stratigraphy.

It’s going to be one heck of an adventure.

On the very last day of the dig, I went to the upper tel with Ian Cipin, one of the area supervisors, to take measurements of the Roman cyst tombs. As always happens during an archaeological dig, we didn’t get to dedicate the time to this project we had hoped, but Dr. Jennie Ebeling wanted to ensure I could gather data to further my research on these tombs. Ian gave me a tour of the tombs and helped me measure them and take some notes. We partook in speculation of where the ancient path would be and why the tombs would be built beside it, the orientation of the tombs, and how best to investigate next year. It was my favorite part of the season in field and I cannot wait to explore this topic further! Next year, if I am able to return to the Jezreel Expedition, I hope to have data and a plan ready to set in motion to answer questions about the path.

Goofing off in the field. (Photo Credit: Michael Sullivan)

Goofing off in the field. (Photo Credit: Michael Sullivan)

I want to thank all the amazing staff and dig members on the Jezreel Expedition: they make the experience worth having. Jennie Ebeling, Norma Franklin, Ian Cipin, Noga Blockman, and Philippe Guillaume, to name a few of the staff, provided amazing support, both professionally and personally, helping to mentor students in the field and in their careers. This is an amazing team I am so grateful to have been a part of. Thank you Jezreel staff, thank you to my dig mates for helping to create unforgettable memories, and thank you to the ASOR member donors for making this latest adventure possible.

Elizabeth Kunz is GIS Technician. She graduated from the University of Evansville with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with a double major in Archaeology. At the Jezreel Expedition, Kunz has been looking into the relationship of the Roman cyst tombs on the Upper Tel to the ancient path using comparison studies and archaeological evidence. She has been to digs in the Jezreel Valley of Israel and Georgia, USA.

Check out the Jezreel Expedition Facebook Page.

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