And today, a bonus post from Harvard Summer School student Shlomit.
Hi! I’m digging here in Ashkelon with the Harvard Summer School. I’m excavating in Grid 51. I’ve actually been digging in an ancient street that was also used as a sewer, as evidenced by the greenish soil we found in several layers. It seems that people were throwing interesting things into the street during the Persian period (roughly 6th – 4th century BCE), based on some of our finds so far. Some of the most exciting of these are at least five puppies and an adult dog buried in pits along the exterior walls of buildings facing the street, as well as a dagger handle of metal and bone carved into the shape of a lioness head. There has also been an abundance of pottery, but some truly exceptional sherds have turned up, including some beautiful pottery from Greece (Attic red-figure), one piece showing a Maenad and others showing a wreathed man playing a harp with a nude cherub hovering overhead.
I am currently studying ancient history, and possibly will add anthropology with a concentration in archeology. Although I’m more interested in history than the actual act of excavation, I think it’s fascinating to see the process that uncovers the physical evidence that modern scholars use to construct as detailed and accurate a picture as possible about what ancient cultures were like and how their people lived.
Excavating is hard work, but it is necessary to see what lies underneath the dirt. It’s hard to realize how much we dig when I see it happen in gradual steps, inch by inch, over many days, but when I notice that the level we began at is now somewhere above my head, it’s incredible. Within all those varied stratigraphic layers of dirt were buried pottery, bones, metal, and architecture that, when taken together help us literally construct an image of the road that the ancient inhabitants of Ashkelon walked along on a daily basis.