Today we have a guest post from Harvard Summer School student Christian. Enjoy!
My name is Christian and I am part of the Harvard Summer School program in Ashkelon. I am a rising junior studying business at Boston College in the Carroll School of Management with minors in French and International Studies. It might be a little confusing to you why a student of business would travel halfway around the world to be involved in an archeology dig but I assure you there is a reason. I am about to start a minor at Boston College in International Studies with a concentration in the Middle East and North Africa. This region entices me in way that I cannot yet fully explain. I always find myself reading, watching, or talking about this region via ancient texts, news, or just everyday conversation. In order to get a basis of this region I know that I must learn the history, and wow what an amazing history this region has.
I didn’t have any experience in archeology before this expedition and I thought I had an idea of what I was getting myself into. My presumptions were wrong, but in a good way. I thought archeology was a little more laid back, slower process using small tools to articulate ancient surfaces and treasure. This is of course true at times, but this careful process of articulating fragile items that are thousands of years old is supplemented with a fast paced analysis of architecture and excavation of countless potsherds mixed in floor material. If you are wondering what this means, lets just say if you went through a full session of excavation you would fall asleep on the one minute bus ride back to the hotel. It is my fifth week here digging in Grid 51 (square 75). For those of you not familiar with this, it is a street in the middle of the city used throughout multiple time periods. Currently, we are nearing the end of phase 7 dating back to the fifth century BCE during the early Persian period, or in other words we have moved a ton of dirt. Fortunately this year, we have come up with some extraordinary finds ranging from a lion head hilt carved in ivory, dog burials, a jasper scarab, endless amounts of pottery, sheep/goat bones, a rams’ horn, and plenty of architecture. It is hard to describe the relief and joy of these finds, but once you realize what archeologist go through to bring history’s mysteries to life, you will understand.
I have grown so much respect for the field of archaeology. Although I am not sure if archeology will be the field I study for the rest of my life (not counting it out, I will let my curiosity lead me), it will definitely be a part of it. Archaeology has opened my eyes to a diverse history that affects modern times. It is my view, probably many others’ as well, that in order to understand the present, the past can tell you a story. Waking up a 4:30 am might sound crazy, and it still does to me, but this has been an experience of a lifetime. The only way we will learn more about our past is through dedication and time. This dig has allowed me to see another side of history, history that many just read in textbooks, look at pictures, or just talk about. Ancient civilizations literally come before your eyes. Most people learn history through books, archeologists put themselves in history’s shoes and live it.