Today's guest post comes to us from Sami, another Harvard summer school student.
Hi, I’m Sami. I wish I could introduce myself as a bona fide archaeologist, but I have only just finished my first undergraduate year at Johns Hopkins, so I have a long way to go. I joined the Harvard Summer School program in Ashkelon to fulfill my fieldwork requirement for an archaeology major. This is my second year to work at Ashkelon, I just had to come back for more.
I have been fascinated with ancient history since I was a kid. I have always loved, and continue to love, to hear stories about ancient peoples and their lives. Now, I get the stories first hand, straight from the ground that ancient people walked on, ground that has not been seen by humans in centuries. This realization gives me chills.
Besides the work I get to do, Ashkelon has already yielded a wealth of artifacts and architecture, which have given new insights into Israel’s history, that are strewn through out the site. Around the park there are remnants of churches, theaters, walls and gates ranging from the Caananite Period to the Crusaders.
Despite early mornings and hard work, fieldwork has been very rewarding. I have found many pottery sherds and had the opportunity to tear down two walls (with the intention of seeing what is below them) and trace a floor. I am very excited to dig further and further down as I hope we will stumble upon Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of 604 BCE, which remains in the layers below, soon.
I have also gotten the chance to meet people who are enthusiastic about discovery and are willing to suffer the physical weariness with me. As this is my second year at Ashkelon, I have noticed that I feel more experienced and knowledgeable about what I am doing and what I am good at. For example, I find that I am pretty good at articulating small spaces and tracing surfaces, although I may do so slowly sometimes. Although I mostly use smaller tools like a patiche, trowel and brush for these jobs, I occasionally like to use the bigger tools like a pickax to tear down walls and the like. Before I ever did fieldwork, I never knew archaeology could be so destructive. Because of my past experience, this year I have been given opportunities to work with the computer system OCHRE and work more directly with my supervisors, who are helping me develop better skills of observation and interpretation of what is found. I have learned a lot so far and hope to build on that learning the rest of my time here.