• Name: Paul McLerran
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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Dig Spotlight: The Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance Project

If you are searching for a high quality learning adventure in Mesoamerican archaeology, the Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaissance Project will likely match your expectations. Located near the picturesque little town of San Ignacio (where you will be lodging), excavations will be conducted at a site known as "Baking Pot", where much of the monumental architecture and other ancient features of a major Mayan center remain to be excavated and investigated.

Work will involve intensive stratigraphic excavations, testing of the architectural remains through trenching, and mapping the features and remains. As a participant, you will be involved in all elements of the investigations, from establishing excavation units to creation of new site maps. You will also process and document artifacts and attend lectures on the Maya civilization. Other lecture topics will include ceramic analysis, archaeological survey methods, human osteology, ancient Maya ritual, ideology, and hieroglyphic writing.

Excavations will resume in 2008, and you have the option of participating in either two- or four-week sessions, with college credit earned from the University of Mississippi.

Based on my review of the website, this project offers a big "bang for the buck" in terms of the overall experience in Mesoamerican archaeology. Go to the website and see for yourself!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Dig Spotlight: Uncovering Hazor

And Joshua at that time turned back, and took Hazor, and
smote the king thereof with the sword: for Hazor beforetime
was the head of all those kingdoms.

-- Joshua 11:10

Among all the ancient biblical excavation sites in Israel, Hazor is hands down the largest. Spanning 200 acres, the population of this city in the second millennium B.C. was approximately 20,000, which, for its time, made it the largest and most significant city in what was then known as ancient Canaan. Strategically located along the route connecting Babylon and Egypt, it figured prominently in ancient texts of both Mesopotamia and Egypt. Joshua's conquest of Hazor led the way for settlement of the Israelites in Canaan, and the city was rebuilt and fortified by King Solomon and prospered until its destruction by the Assyrians in 732 BCE. Evidence of the violent destruction was discovered in various excavation areas of the site.

If you are after sheer magnitude, few sites can match the experience. Under the direction of Professor Amnon Ben-Tor of the Hebrew University, an international team of scholars, students and volunteers will be investigating a monumental Bronze Age Canaanite palace, among other structures, at this location this summer. Scholars suggest the likelihood of a cuneiform archive that is yet to be located and uncovered at the site. This find could yield exciting new information about the ancient world in this area during the Bronze Age. Dig participants will be staying in air conditioned accommodations, and opportunities to visit other significant archaeological sites in Israel will be available. If you are interested in additional information, go to the
Hazor excavations website, where you will also find application instructions.

Books to read on the subject:

Books about Hazor

The Archaeology of Ancient Israel , by Amnon Ben-Tor.