Today's guest post comes from Matt. Enjoy.
Hey there, Matt here! If you've been following the blog so far, I'm sure you have learned a lot about the different tools and archaeological methods used at Tel Ashkelon, and even about the lives of the archaeologists and volunteers themselves, some of whom are my own peers in the Harvard Summer School Program. I'm a rising junior at Boston College studying Linguistics and Economics. I became involved in this program because my Biblical Hebrew professor suggested I try out archaeology. Although I do not plan to work in the field of archaeology, this trip has been extremely informative. I have been able to situate my modest knowledge of the Ancient Near East in a historical and geographic context. For example, yesterday many of the volunteers here left on a field trip to two other archaeological sites in the Biblical Shephelah, otherwise known as the low lands. One of these sites was Azekah. This tell borders the Valley of Elah, which is mentioned in 1 Samuel 17 as the place where the Israelites met the Philistines in battle and presumably where David fought Goliath. This process has been extremely intriguing to me.
Archaeological finds are especially interesting to me because I mainly focus in texts in my linguistic studies. Therefore, since I have mainly learned about the Ancient Near East through texts, I had not previously had the experience of digging through ancient people's garbage to discover how they REALLY lived, not just how they said they lived. This has given me a different perspective on ancient life and on the nuances between idealized and realized life in both ancient and modern contexts.
I hope to continue finding out more about digging and Ashkelon as I work on the so-called “Snake Tower” in Grid 20. It has been an absolute privilege to work there, and I know that it will be an experience that will change my work ethic moving forwards. I can guarantee that I have never moved this many buckets (well, guffas) before in my life! As we discover more about the free-standing walls, the towers, and the newly uncovered walls, I hope to understand the relationship between people and architecture, and how those relationships span through different periods of occupation. This has been a more than thrilling experience so far and I can't wait for what comes next. I'll leave off with a quote that has reassured and motivated me throughout the dig: “The answers lie beneath.”