Home at Last

23 hours later most of the staff is back home.  It was a fun staff week, lots of projects keeping everyone busy as we shut down the compound, cleaned up the lab, prioritized off-season projects and generally unwound from a really great season.  And everyone I spoke with was in agreement, it was a great summer!  Thanks to all of you who made the season wonderful, productive and exciting!

One last treat left to share.  I have a guest post from Harvard Summer School student Emily.  Enjoy!  And don't forget to check the blog periodically.  I'll keep posting news and sundries though with less regularity.   


Hey, everyone! I’m Emily from the University of Oregon here in Ashkelon for my second season as a volunteer with the Leon Levy Expedition. Last season I came to the field to see if archaeology was a career that I wanted to pursue, and I immediately knew that I had to come back for more. It has been an interesting mix between new and familiar this season compared to last. I am involved in field archaeology with new people in a different grid, creating a whole new and unique experience.  This season I’ve been in Grid 51 with Dr. Birney excavating a mid-late Persian neighborhood which has yielded some impressive finds. There always seems to be some degree of grid competition when it comes to who has moved the most dirt by the end of the season, and this year I think Grid 51 has won by a long shot. 

I’ve had the privilege of staying for staff week after the season is over and the rest of the volunteers have left. It has been a dramatic shift from the digging side to the publishing side of field archaeology. Gone are the days of waking up at 4:30 in the morning and putting on partially clean clothes to go play in the dirt. No more wheelbarrow naps during fruit break and scrubbing pottery until your hands have turned into prunes. During staff week, everyone finishes up their bookwork from the season (things like logging artifacts into the computer program, drawing sections, entering data, taking inventory, etc.), sleeps in until 5:30, and eats breakfast at the hotel where we are served scrambled eggs and pastries every day. Loose ends have to be tied up before everyone can leave, and things have to be prepared for next season. 

This year has been yet another great experience that I’m sad to see end. I’ve made some great new friends, learned more about myself and what being an archaeologist is all about, all while helping write the history of Ashkelon and the Middle East.