Sampling the Remains of the Past

Where Can Tel Azekah Take You?

An Interview with Lyndelle Webster

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Lyndelle in Area S2 during the 2016 season

One of the greatest strengths of the Lautenschläger Azekah Expedition are the people who come from all over the world, and from all walks of life, to join us on the excavation. This week, we’d like to share with you our recent conversation with Lyndelle Webster, one of our Specialist Researchers, who – after catching the archaeology bug – dramatically changed her life’s course to follow her newfound passion.

 

Lyndelle, it seems, always had a focus on the outside world. Hailing from Australia, she completed her undergraduate studies in science and engineering (BSc and BEng) at the Australian National University and Melbourne University, later working as a civil engineer for four years. Lyndelle’s time in the corporate world took her abroad to China, where she lived and worked for some time. As Lyndelle puts it, she wanted to do more than just work for ‘big business’, and was looking for more meaningful experiences. Her engineering work inspired a fascination in ancient water systems, which piqued her interest and led her deeper into a pursuit for more history, entering archaeology, where she found a natural combination of her interests. Lyndelle’s past exposure to archaeology was more anthropology focused, and she wanted to contribute to integrating modern science and engineering into archaeological research. Looking for the next adventure, she moved with her husband to Israel and enrolled in the Tel Aviv University International M.A. Program, where she stayed for one year before returning to Australia to complete her M.A. thesis at Macquarie University.

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Lyndelle and her famous sifts, working in Area T2 during the 2015 season

While she started her fieldwork experience at Tel Megiddo in 2014, Lyndelle found her home at Tel Azekah. Lyndelle’s M.A. thesis focused on radiocarbon dating at Tel Azekah, and in 2015 she joined the Expedition as an Assistant Area Supervisor in Area S2, continuing in the role in the 2016 season. Lyndelle’s radiocarbon dating research afforded her the opportunity to take on the role of ‘Research Specialist’. The position offered her the ability to work within other areas, and a chance to experience the diverse archaeology present at a single site. Working with a more holistic picture of the Tel, Lyndelle was better able to understand the chronological research that she was conducting. Lyndelle’s M.A. thesis focused on dating seeds from a number of different contexts and periods at the site, mainly those of the Late Bronze Age in Areas S2 and T2. Her work at Azekah also led to the dating of the Monumental Building in Area S2, and the Late Bronze Age destruction in Area T2.

Lyndelle’s work at Azekah has led to a publication in the journal Radiocarbon, and she currently looks forward to publishing her current research, from Azekah as well as other Late Bronze sites. She is also having a crack at other techniques in the archaeological sciences, such as OSL (Optically-Stimulated Luminescence) dating. As she says, “Azekah is a great place for young scholars to learn and try out new techniques”. Lyndelle also credits Azekah with giving her the opportunity to learn the practical side of archaeological research, i.e. finding funding for academic research (radiocarbon dating is not cheap!), and preparing grant applications. Furthermore, Lyndelle successfully presented her findings at the American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR) conference in Boston, in November of 2017.

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Lyndelle with the S2 Team in 2016, final buckets! 

Today, as a PhD. researcher at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Lyndelle relies on the field skills and techniques for taking radiocarbon samples, that she developed at Azekah. She credits her research at Azekah for teaching her the art of working independently while collaborating with a team, to accomplish a research project and contribute to the wider research of the site as a whole.

When asked about her future, Lyndelle replies, “only time will tell”, but from our vantage point, the future is bright. Her experience at Azekah opened the door to a range of other opportunities, as she now also works at Gezer and Lachish. Lyndelle has been expanding her work on the radiocarbon chronology of the Late Bronze Age in the Southern Levant and specifically the Shephelah. Lyndelle’s research will contribute to her PhD in Vienna at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, in which she focuses on Late Bronze Age Chronology from the ‘Radiocarbon Perspective’ in the Southern Levant.

As a parting note, we asked Lyndelle what she was most excited about for the upcoming 2018 season, she cheerfully responded, “getting back in the dirt, and discovering more great contexts and material, which will add data towards the radiocarbon chronology!”

Authored by: Brett Cohen

Edited by: Alexandra Wrathall

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Area S2 at the Sum of the 2016 Season

From Studying Text to Uncovering the Bible: An Interview with Sabine Kleiman

How working in archaeology can change your life

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Sabine Kleiman, photographed here during the 2014 Season, holding a Late Bronze Age flask.

We recently sat down with Sabine Kleiman, a PhD researcher at Tel Aviv University’s Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology, and Area Supervisor of Area T2 at Tel Azekah, to learn what inspired her get out from behind the books of biblical scholarship that she once studied in Germany, and uncover the archaeology of the Bible with her own hands as an archaeologist at Tel Azekah, Israel.

Sabine was originally a student of Theology at The University of Heidelberg, with a focus on Old Testament Studies. When her university offered a seminar with a field trip to Ramat Rahel (an archaeological site outside of Jerusalem), she jumped at the chance to try something new. With her focus on the Old Testament, Sabine decided that she wanted to go to the source of text, and realised that it was far more rewarding to uncover the source archaeologically, with her bare hands. In 2007 Sabine volunteered to excavate at Ramat Rahel for the first time, and was thrilled by the experience. As she explains, many Germans, such as herself, don’t travel outside of Europe very often. As such, the dig was an amazing opportunity to experience of how to live in a different culture and meet people from all over the world. Working with a diverse group of Jews, Muslims, and Christians, Sabine was exposed to different religious views; even those from among her fellow Christians, which exposed her to world views that she did not often encounter back in Germany.

Sabine found that her experience living and working in Israel had a huge impact on her because the country has so much to offer in such a small space. As she put it, in one day you can be in the desert in the south, and then later travel to the waterfalls of the north. She was also impacted by the openness of the Israeli people, which was quite different from Germany. After 2007, Sabine was hooked, and came once a year to excavate. By 2012, when the Tel Azekah excavation began, Sabine was invited to become part of the staff as an Assistant Area Supervisor from the outset. This motivated her to live in Israel full time, where she conducted her MA and PhD on pottery and ceramic production in the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age. Sabine’s work with Tel Aviv University has led to the completion of her MA at the Tel Aviv University International Program, and several publications.

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Sabine working in Area T2, handling the intact finds of the Late Bronze Age destruction.
Azekah provided Sabine with an in-depth look at the history of the Bible through the unique strata present at the site. Sabine explained that Tel Azekah holds much more value than simply the location of the biblical story of David and Goliath. Sabine believes that her area, T2, is one of the most exciting areas at the site, and for good reason: the excavation of T2 has uncovered a Late Bronze Age destruction layer with multiple items found in situ. There are occupational phases that encompass the Early Bronze Age all the way to the Byzantine Period, a span of almost 2000 years of ancient settlement history. As Sabine explains,

“To be the first ones to touch such antique items, which are over 3000 years old, for the first time, was an awe-inspiring experience! When you excavate something like a destruction layer, you have this moment where you realise that what you are excavating there is real, and it happened. The remains of the destruction tell a vivid story that is very humbling. The destroyed pottery and other artefacts convey an emotional connection that doesn’t come when you are excavating something more abstract like a garbage pit or a floor layer. It brings you into greater contact with the subject and helps you to better understand how people lived and acted, and what decisions they made. You start to think on a different level, not thinking about the people, but with the people who lived there.”

Sabine is excited to continue to participate in the coming season as the expedition continues to explore the history of the Late Bronze Age, and uncover the mystery of what happened before Azekah’s Late Bronze Age destruction.

Sabine’s experience in the field at Azekah connected and grounded her in the archaeological work, and helped her to overcome the theoretical abstraction that she described of experience outside of the field. As she related, “when you realise that you’re standing on the same hill that someone stood on 3000 or 4000 years ago, where they too shared the same majestic view, you have a realisation that you don’t get when you’re sitting in your office in Germany working on biblical text.”

If you would like to get outside of your normal life and uncover the history of the Bible with your own hands, join Sabine by registering for the July 21 – August 16, 2018 Season here: https://azekah.org/register/, @LautenschlagerAzekahExpedition,    

To discover more about Sabine’s research, or research she has been a part of, check out:

Kleiman, S., Koch, I., Webster, L. Berendt, K., Linares, V., Sergi, O., Oeming, M., Gadot, Y. and Lipschits, O. Late Bronze Age Azekah – An Almost Forgotten Story. In: Maeir, A. (ed.) Proceedings of the First Annual Ackerman Family Workshop in Biblical Archaeology Bar‐Ilan University. April 15th‐16th 2015. Tel Aviv (forthcoming: 2018)

Koch, I., Kleiman, S., Oeming, M., Gadot, Y., and Lipschits, O., 2017. Amulets in Context: A View from the Late Bronze Age Tel Azekah. JAEI, Vol. 16, 9-24.

Kleiman, S., Gadot, Y., and Lipschits, O., 2016. A Snapshot of the Destruction Layer of Tell Zakarīye /Azekah. Seen against the Backdrop of the Final Days of the Late Bronze Age. ZDPV. 132/2: 105-133

Webster, L. C., Sergi, O., Kleiman, S., Lipschits, O., Hua, Q., Jacobsen, G. E., Tristant, Y. and Gadot, Y., 2017. Preliminary Radiocarbon Results for Late Bronze Age Strata at Tel Azekah and their Implications. Radiocarbon, 2017: 1-23

Article Authored By: Brett Cohen

Edited By: Alexandra Wrathall

 

Final Day at Tel Azekah 2013
Final Day at Tel Azekah 2013

 

Join a Dig This Summer: Registration will Open soon for 2016 Tel Azekah Archaeological Season

Student discovers ancient vessel at Tel Azekah.
Student discovers ancient vessel at Tel Azekah.

Looking for something fun to do this summer?

Ever wanted to be an archaeologist?

Want to get a great tan, get fit, lose some weight and spend a summer touring the Holy Land?

Want to get college credits for learning about real archaeology?

Then come join the international coalition of universities and colleges excavating this summer at Tel Azekah!

Registration is now open for the 2014 Season at Tel Azekah. (See tab at top of page for details.)

As recently featured on the History channel, Tel Azekah is the newest, biggest, and most centrally located excavation in Israel.

And this year, we have a new base camp at Kibutz Gal On, only minutes away from the tel.

So register today for the 2014 Season at Tel Azekah.

Registration for the 2014 Azekah Season Coming Soon…

Final Day at Tel Azekah 2013
Final Day at Tel Azekah 2013

The 2014 Tel Azekah archaeological excavation season is just around the corner, and registration will open soon.

Please watch this space for information about the 2014 dig season, registration, costs, exciting weekend travel, course credit, midweek lectures by some of the world’s leading scholars, and much more.

Images of Effort and Discovery

Some images have been cleared by the staff from independent pictures and those posted on Facebook. Enjoy!

Matt focuses and finds

How does it feel to find an ancient pot?

pot in a destruction layer- snapshot of life the moment before

Sanna Miller in her element

 

Nearing the End

Dear Readers,

The amount of finds has made the excavators concerned about publishing pictures before items go through scientific analysis and review. If they have not, anyone can publish a scientific paper about it before the editio princeps is prepared. And mistakes are often made in early assumption. Therefore this blog went through an edit before posting – and the delay was necessary.

Since writing this I have completed my month on site and brought the Mermelstein family of Los Angeles to dig with us. I hope some of the many who promised to write to the blog will, but the intensity of the effort in the closing weeks means single minded focus – and exhaustion! Reports will continue to filter in…

——–

A month in, it seems we have always been here. Discoveries every day, working down to floor levels, discoveries of material items and structures that it is to early to tell of, and an absolutely wonderful esprit de corps between people from many walks of life and many countries. Who can think of it ending?

Photos are coming to give you a taste of the discovery, intensity of focus, and smiles in the working environment.
As there is one real week of digging left, the general approach will be to expand existing layers, finish up promising areas, and only in certain points make a surgical incision to go deeper.
I spent an hour this morning cleaning animal bones with Curator Leora, which will go to the lab for identification, and yesterday observed pottery reading from the top of the hill, Ido’s layer, where there is enough material found in “good context” that many pots will go to be reconstructed. Leora came over this morning out of the office to show a beautiful clay jar stopper, somewhere between 3000-4000 years old. It was placed over a material and laid on the storage jar as wet clay, thus making a very tight fit.
The weekly roundup tour took place this morning and you can see the pictures on facebook, together with contributions from various volunteers, including my son Nachliel who came for two days. Look them up!
.
Dr. Dudu Cohen, a master guide in Israel and an historical geographer, has not worked in a dig for 30 years, but moved several tons of earth personally from the dig site to the dump site. Everyone enjoyed his humour, erudition, and may have accepted his suggestion that a certain wall is an agricultural terrace. It was great having him.
I have completed my study month at the dig, I hope to visit in the coming two weeks and keep reports and interviews coming to you.
Yours,
Barnea

Meet Our Volunteers: Graham Walker, England

Graham Walker

Age 64

Aldershot, Hampshire, England

Profession: Builder, Food Distributor

AZK: What have you been doing in the excavation and how did you get here?

GW: Digging holes in the ground,  moving buckets of earth! This is my first dig. Two years ago I was talking to Ronnie McCracken about his Ramat Rachel excavation experience. He said he was going again now, wanna come? I said I’d love to, and here I am.

AZK: How would you define your experience?

GW: Exhilarating. Hard work, well worth it. It supports Israel, Jews, and involves the bible and history. I looked up all the scriptures before I came.

AZK: What do feel when you are attaching the earth and moving out the layers you do so well?

GW: I feel association with Israel. Digging for history. That is the key. Exciting.  If my wife lets me out, I’ll be here again. I was lucky to be in on the very start of this. It will progress and everyone will see it; I want to see the progress too. It’s a shame I am only here for 2 weeks.

AZK: What have you found?

GW: Well, we’re seeing a wall appear, it seems the first stones on the top. It is built with the slope, a support wall (currently, week 4, we associate it with  the fortress excavated on the top of the hill by Bliss and Macalister). Tomorrow I will move to the next square over to see if I can find the continuation of that wall. There’s a mud brick wall on one side, and a stone wall. Now, today’s pottery came up totally different than before; a thinner finer pottery. I dug only 10 cm. down today and it is a complete change of pottery.

AZK: As a builder do you have a different view in any way?

GW: When I approach how to dig my experience stands me in good stead. Keep it level, that’s the easiest route to dig. Fill in the buckets. pull ’em and stand ’em up, expend the least energy. Tracking the difference in soil levels- I’m used to doing that – filling in land before foundations; making marker posts.

AZK: Have you been here before?

GW: This is my third time to Israel. It is well worth coming. The first time I came, I had a fantastic feeling when being in the land,  in the bible. You can begin walking in areas where Jesus walked.- albeit a lot higher than that historical level….

AZK: What are your thoughts about the experience of excavating at Tel Azekah with this group?

I am sorry to leave and go home. It would be nice to stay longer but I miss the family. I belong to Tongham Christian Fellowship, .a non denominational church started 15 years ago; now with 80 people. I plan to encourage the teenagers of our church to come out – it will do them a lot of good.

I enjoy hearing the bible from Jewish perspective. We have a debt to Jews for keeping the bible intact for us. Those who bless the Jews get blessed, those who curse get cursed. Rome lost its empire, for example.

It is a very precious time to be here.

Week 4 new pics

Sunday starts off with a group tour. Oded is constantly visiting the five areas with Manfred Oeming and Yuval Gadot, CoDirectors, and snapping away at us. He posts them to facebook-

It is going to be a great week !!

Posted by The Lautenschläger Azekah Expedition on Sunday, August 5, 2012