Where Can Tel Azekah Take You?
An Interview with Lyndelle Webster
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.
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.
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