The Year of the Path

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By: Michael Koletsos, 2014 P.E. MacAllister Excavation Fellowship

The site of Jezreel maintained an important position along the Via Maris (the Way of the Sea) throughout antiquity. There is evidence of occupation at the site from the Neolithic period all the way up to modern times. It comes as no surprise that this level of activity was due to a nearby water source. Previous excavations uncovered a great deal about the settlement on Tel Jezreel itself. But less is known about the adjacent territory. The Jezreel Expedition, led by Dr. Norma Franklin and Dr. Jennie Ebeling, hopes to change that. The project has been quite successful in its goals of learning the site’s connection to the spring and its immediate areas.

Participation in the Jezreel Expedition has meant a great deal to me over the past three years. koletsos1The program’s intensive field work has increased my knowledge of archaeology while preparing me for advanced work in the discipline. The commitment to education at Jezreel is unparalleled. The program fosters a passion for archaeology in each of the students and volunteers. Every team member makes meaningful contributions each day. But that is not all. The most treasured aspect of the Jezreel Expedition involves the development of lifelong friendships. These friendships arise from the work in the squares and trenches throughout the season.

My first season with the Jezreel Expedition in 2012 involved an intensive survey of the land around Tel Jezreel. Our team recorded a large number of features, such as: walls, caves, tombs, cisterns, and a large wine production installation. It was a great experience to be a part of the first team. The survey paved the way for the future excavations and I learned just how much information can be acquired from a site without excavation. In the summer of 2013, the team began excavations in different areas of the site. We uncovered evidence of Early Bronze Age occupation with several foundation walls and artifacts dating to this period.

koletsos2The directors labeled the 2014 season, “The Year of the Path.” Our team investigated the connecting space between the site and the spring along the path. This name was appropriate as I learned just how important working at Jezreel has been on my path to becoming an archaeologist. The season was quite exciting for me as I served as both a square supervisor and teaching assistant to the field school program. It was my responsibility as square supervisor to record all information, register every find, and teach the team proper excavation methods. I also assisted the directors as a teaching assistant, acting as their liaison with the other team members. It was essential to train the undergraduate students how to maintain their notebooks while in the field. We made many exciting discoveries this season. These included a medieval period pit that cut down into an earlier wall and evidence for industry along the path to the spring. This highlights how land use can change over long periods of time.

Koletsos3Our team traveled throughout Israel and Jordan, which supplemented our evening lectures and discussions. We explored Megiddo, Caesarea, and Jerusalem. We also had a chance to visit Jerash, Amman, Petra, and Wadi Rum. Seeing such impressive places was a fulfilling experience and one that I will never forget. It was all due to ASOR and a P.E. MacAllister Excavation Fellowship that my participation in this summer’s program was possible. Some may use terrible puns such as “his life is in ruins” or “her life is the pits” to describe the life of an archaeologist. But that is not the case for me. To me, archaeology is something greater. There is no better feeling than making valuable connections between the past and present. My path as an archaeologist is set and I would not have it any other way.

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