• Name: Paul McLerran
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Friday, November 28, 2008

Peter Sommer Travels: Exploring Ancient Turkey by Land and Sea


Turkey has long been known for its wealth of archaeological treasures. Ancient Greece, Rome, Byzantium, and others have all left some of the finest material examples of their culture and legacy within its present day borders. Here, the ancient remains of Homer's Troy were unearthed and explored, and ongoing excavations throughout the country continue to reveal more of what is left of the vast network of breathtakingly impressive, monumental settlements left behind after these great civilizations met their demise. No less fascinating is the mosaic of Turkey's own history and culture, making it a preferred travel destination for those with a more discriminating palate for escapes beyond the beaten tourist path.


Enter Peter Sommer Travels, an organization that specializes in unique, small-group educational itineraries that traverse both the land and coast of this anciently endowed country, taking participants on an historical and archaeological odyssey that in most cases crosses centuries of some of mankind's greatest architectural and artistic/cultural legacies. What makes many of these journeys particularly noteworthy, however, is the unusual mix of land and sea traveling, utilizing the traditional Turkish gulet, a two-masted wooden sailing vessel of a type that was originally indigenous to the south-west coast of Turkey. This blends a bit of adventure and romance with an intense educational experience -- a combination that is difficult to match by most other travel programs.


In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great

In 2009, Peter Sommer Travels will offer no less than 18 unique excursions, one of which could arguably be considered its flagship offering: Entitled "In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great", it is no doubt inspired by the agency founder's 2,000 mile personal trek across Turkey in 1994, retracing the steps of Alexander the Great. Perusing the itinerary of this trip alone draws one to conclude that it is no wonder that the National Geographic Society has tabbed it as one of the "100 best worldwide vacations to enrich your life". Go to the website and see for yourself.

For those of us who, for whatever reasons, prefer the specialized educational tour over the excavator's trowel and pick-ax, this alternative to the traditional tour vacation might be just the solution. For more information about these travel tours, go to www.petersommer.com. As the writer has often noted, reading history is interesting, but actually seeing it is an adventure that enriches your life.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Resurrecting Ancient Tamar


Archaeological excavation is by nature a process of planned, systematic destruction, and although it carefully records the material context of what it uncovers, the space it touches is never the same. But we can attempt to do the best we can to place some things back in order based on what we have learned about a site. That is where restoration and preservation come in, involving the actual reconstruction of what the ravages of time and human hand have put asunder. At a site known as Tamar in the southern desert of Israel, a team of professionals and volunteers are doing just that -- resurrecting what remains of an ancient city that, at one time, bore great commercial significance for the ancient kingdoms that successively or cooperatively controlled the critical trade routes of the southern Levant.

The Site

Throughout antiquity, the lucrative Arabian spice trade was carried on the backs of camels, traveling thousands of miles across trackless desert to reach the major ports and cities of the Mediterranean. All along this long road, local kings and faraway emperors eagerly set up stopping points for the caravans, making sure that they too got their share of the goods and profits.

The ancient city of Tamar in southern Israel was one of these sites. Already by the tenth century B.C., Solomon had established Tamar as a fortified town to control the trade routes coming from Arabia. Subsequent kings of both Judah and Edom, including Josiah, occupied the site in order to oversee the passing caravan trade. The Edomites even maintained a cultic shrine at Tamar, as evidenced by several distinctive Edomite incense altars found in a pit at the site. By the latter half of the first millennium B.C., the great Nabatean merchants of Petra had also established a commercial outpost here, an outpost that was then occupied by the Romans in the second century A.D.

The Project

In 1984, Blossoming Rose volunteers went to the desert to help make it blossom. Then, in 1986, Blossoming Rose volunteers and Israeli archaeologists initiated the excavation at Tel Tamar, exploring the ruins of the tel’s Second Century Roman fortress. After their shovels and brushes confirmed a Roman presence on the tel, they dug deeper, uncovering gates and walls of Jewish design, Jewish pottery, and the seal of the ancient Southern Kingdom of Judea. Along with excavation, however, came reconstruction. In 2009, under the sponsorship of the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Jewish National Fund, and Blossoming Rose, a team of experts and volunteers will continue the process of reconstructing Biblical Tamar, with the goal of not only restoring its ancient likeness, but to establish a center of learning and fellowship as well. They will welcome people of all ages and experience, not only to dig and restore but also to work in the kitchen, garden, do carpentry, plumbing, and electrical work. In addition to reconstruction and restoration, they want to plant trees and create a green belt around Tamar. Additionally, from February 23 to March 5, 2009, the Israel Antiquities Authority and Blossoming Rose will be sponsoring a seminar on archaeological reconstruction, conservation, and maintenance. Volunteer students who participate will receive 100 hours of classwork and fieldwork time which will be awarded by a certificate from the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Do you want to be a part of literally reconstructing the past? If so, go to www.blossomingrose.org to find out more. It might open a whole new chapter of learning and experience in your life.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Solving the Enigma of Kalavasos


Most of us tend to think of the Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Classical period when we think of Mediterranean region archaeology, but the civilizations of these periods were built on the foundations of settlements that came before them. Who were the people who came before? What did they build? What did they eat? How, who or what did they worship? These are the kinds of questions that a team of archaeologists are trying to answer through excavation of a Late Neolithic settlement site in Cyprus known as Kalavasos-Kokkinoyia in the summer of 2009. They will explore surface features of a possible structure, man-made pits and subterranean chambers and tunnels. How and why were they made? What was their significance?

The Site

The site of Kalavasos-Kokkinoyia is situated close to the south coast of Cyprus, a couple of kilometers inland from the Mediterranean Sea. Its name arises from its location in fields belonging to the modern village of Kalavasos, the toponym Kokkinoyia referring to the red soil of the locality (Greek kokkinos=red). Kokkinoyia is a settlement of the Late Neolithic period (4500-3800 cal. B.C.), a period otherwise known as the Ceramic or Pottery Neolithic because it follows (with an hiatus) the Aceramic, Pre-pottery or Early Neolithic period (ca. 8000-5500 cal. B.C.) in Cyprus. The Cypriot Late Neolithic is also sometimes referred to as the Sotira culture, named after the first site of this period to be extensively excavated. The period is succeeded by the Early Chalcolithic period (3800-3500 cal. B.C), and ceramics and other aspects of material culture indicate a large measure of continuity between the two periods.

The site of Kokkinoyia was first discovered in the 1940s by Porphyrios Dikaios of the Cypriot Department of Antiquities, and in 1947 he excavated both here and at the adjacent Late-Neolithic-Chalcolithic site of Kalavasos-Pamboules. Dikaios established that Kokkinoyia comprises a series of enigmatic pits, many of which he felt had been used as work areas or habitation units. More recent excavations elsewhere have shown that Cypriot Late Neolithic sites normally have upstanding buildings, so Kokkinoyia appeared an interesting anomaly as it lacked buildings.

Work has resumed at Kokkinoyia over the past four years, with several small seasons of excavation having been conducted by the University of East Anglia. So far, the 15 or so newly excavated pits do not give the impression of having served as habitations or workplaces, calling into question the interpretation of the previous excavator. Indeed, the discovery in the 2006 season of a possible structure (building?) of a type similar to that found at the Early Chalcolithic site of Kissonerga-Mylouthkia, may indicate that Kalavasos-Kokkinoyia is transitional between the end of the Late Neolithic period and the Early Chalcolithic period. Even so, as pottery and other items from the Kokkinoyia pits share similarities in form and decoration with those from Late Neolithic villages, it is, as yet unclear, what type of site Kokkinoyia actually is and this is one of the questions that the expedition would like to address in the 2009 season.

In addition to the more conventional pits and the possible structure, a complex of several subterranean chambers, connected by tunnels, has come to light at Kokkinoyia and is of unknown purpose. Because it is hard to imagine how the complex could be put to practical use, the reason for its creation may lie in the realm of the mystical. Inexplicable souterrains of similar type are known from other broadly contemporary sites on the island.


The Upcoming Season

In 2009, the expedition plans a four-week season in April, when they will extend excavations between two distinct zones (the possible building and individual chambers in one zone and the chamber and tunnel complex in another).

The project is conducted under the overall direction of Dr Joanne Clarke of the University of East Anglia, a lecturer in archaeology and a specialist in Cypriot prehistory, and the field director, Dr Paul Croft, a research fellow of Edinburgh University (Archaeology) They are calling on students and volunteers to join them in this cutting-edge research. Participants will be expected to undertake not only on-site excavation work, but also finds processing as required. It is envisaged that each week will consist of five and a half working days and one and a half non-work days, the latter involving some combination of travel to sites, museums and other places of interest, as well as free time.

Are you interested in doing some meaningful work in actually reconstructing a piece of human history? If so, you can join this project by going to www.uea.ac.uk/art/kalavasos for more information about the 2009 season and how to apply.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Revealing the Glories of Ancient Hippos


The relatively small area of this little city detracts nothing from the impressive architectural remains one beholds as the casual observer traverses its ancient streets. "Monumental" is the best word that comes to mind when describing this fortified Hellenistic-Roman style space and its commanding view of the surrounding countryside.

Known as the ancient city of
Hippos-Sussita, it is located on the east shore of the Sea of Galilee, on top of a flat, diamond shaped mountain, 350 m above the lake. Sussita, or as it was known by its Greek name, Antiochia-Hippos, was founded after 200 BC, when the Seleucids seized the Land of Israel from the Ptolemies. During the Roman Period Hippos belonged to the Decapolis, a group of ten cities which were regarded as centers of Greek culture in an area predominantly populated by Semitic peoples such as Jews, Aramaeans, Ituraeans, and Nabataeans.The cities of the Decapolis had much in common. Most were founded during the Hellenistic period and were given the encouragement and support of the Seleucid kings, who saw them as a counterweight to the kingdoms that lay to the west (the Hasmonaean Kingdom of Judaea) and to the east (the Nabataean kingdom). Most of the population in the cities was Hellenised and the citizens saw themselves as citizens of a polis in every respect.


The Project

The research of Hippos-Sussita is an international Israeli-Polish-American project collaboration co-directed by: Professor Arthur Segal from the Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa; Professor Jolanta Mlynarczyk from the Research Centre for Mediterranean Archaeology, Polish Academy of Sci­ences; Dr. Mariusz Burdajewicz of the National Museum, Warsaw; Profes­sor Mark Schuler from Concordia University, St Paul, USA; and Mr. Michael Eisenberg, a PhD candidate from the Zinman Institute of Archaeology who serves as Professor's Segal assistant.
The objective of the expedition is to uncover the entire ancient city, the street network, the main public secular and religious buildings, as well as the domestic quarters. The expedition also hopes to sur­vey and excavate the two necropoleis located to the south and south-east of the city. The relationship between the city and the surrounding country­side will also be examined in future sea­sons, especially the area stretching between the city and the lake. Further, they plan to conduct a detailed survey of the lake's shore to establish the exact location of Hippos' port.


The 2009 Goals

During the summer of 2009 (July 5 --July 30), the team plans to:

  1. Continue the excavation of the Roman Monumental Arch area, east of the Hellenistic Compound;
  2. Reveal more of the Roman Monumental Building west of the Forum;
  3. Complete the documentation and preservation of the North West Church;
  4. Complete the excavation and preservation of the North East Church;
  5. Complete the excavation of the insula located between the North East Church and the Decumanus Maximus;
  6. Continue the excavation of the Roman Byzantine Bath located between the Forum and the southern city wall; and
  7. Continue the preservation treatment in all the sites exposed so far


The project directors are inviting students and volunteers from all over the world to come join them in this exciting long-term expedition. If you are interested, go to http://hippos.haifa.ac.il for more detailed information and to find out how to apply.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Underwater Archaeology in the Mediterranean Sea

When most of us think about archaeology, we imagine digging on dry land through layers of soil and stone under a variety of weather conditions. But much of our history can be learned by exploring what humanity has left beneath the surface of oceans and lakes. A wealth of information still lies waiting to be recovered underwater.

In 2009, the Ecomuseum of the Cape Cavalleria will be exploring the Roman port of Sanitja and the coast of the Cape of Cavalleria, identifying structures of the Roman city of Sanisera (a part of present-day Spain) as well as shipwrecks. The port of Sanitja was not only occupied by the Romans. There are also ruins on land of a Muslim mosque and English defense tower which suggests that underwater evidence from these periods will be found, as well.

The course is designed to provide practical experience in underwater archaeological field work, from site discovery to lab analysis. Participants will gain experience in various activities such as surveying methods, site reconnaissance, recording, drawing, mapping, position fixing, photography, and laboratory processing. Students will also attend lectures on Roman archaeology. The course runs six hours a day, six days a week. The day will be divided between diving in the
port of Sanijta, lab work, exercises, lectures, videos and excursions. The course schedule is designed to be flexible because this program is dependent on weather and conditions at sea.


In addition to daily research activities, participants will learn about the history and culture of
Menorca through organized excursions. The course is taught in English and Spanish.

Participants will be able to choose between Group 1: No open water diving certificate, or Group 2: Possession of an open water diving certificate from an internationally recognized organization.

This is a perfect opportunity for those interested in developing a career in underwater archaeology, or for those simply interested in a unique educational adventure that can be found through relatively few other venues. Find out more about the project and how to join by going to www.ecomuseodecavalleria.com.

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Up Close and Personal: Uncovering the Necropolis of Ancient Sanisera


Are you interested in excavating ancient human remains? Understanding our past is not complete without a direct examination of the actual people who created it. Here is a chance to literally meet some romans up close and personal.

In 2009, a research team of scientists and student volunteers will be excavating a cluster of Roman tombs belonging to a cemetery located on the outskirts of the Roman city of Sanisera that was occupied from 123 B.C. to A.D. 550. The excavation is directed by Fernando Contreras, director of the Ecomuseum of the Cape of Cavalleria, and Thaïs Fadrique with the collaboration of specialists in physical anthropology and conservation.


The course runs seven hours a day which is divided between excavation of the tombs and laboratory work; studying and conservation of the human remains and other materials recovered during the excavation (The amount of time dedicated to lab work may vary each session depending on the state of the tombs excavated). Students will also participate in lectures, classes, exercises and excursion.

Participants will learn and apply excavation techniques used in physical anthropology when excavating tombs. In the laboratory, participants will follow guidelines set by an anthropologist and other specialists for the classification, study, and conservation of human remains and other related material found. Participants will also be given lectures on methodology, roman archaeology, physical anthropology, and conservation of archaeological materials. Participants will visit other archaeological sites on the island through organized excursions. Academic courses will be offered in both English and Spanish.

If you're interested in joining the team, go to www.ecomuseodecavalleria.com to find out more. You may be surprised about how much can be learned about ancient lives by just studying their bones and how they were buried!

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Investigating a Roman City in the Balearic Islands


As early as 123 B.C., the Roman army had reached and conquered Menorca of the Balearic Mediterranean islands. Now a part of Spain, Menorca became at that time a part of the vast Roman empire. It was ruled by Rome for at least 600 years. On one of those islands, they had established three cities, one of which is known today as Sanisera. Built around the port of Sanitja, it flourished as a commercial maritime center, receiving ships traveling from present-day Spain to Italy and from present-day France to Africa. The impressiveness of Sanisera can be appreciated in the present by the quantity and quality of the amphoras and other roman artifacts that have been found in recent excavations. Sanisera is situated in a spectacular natural reserve next to the Ecomuseum of the Cape of Cavalleria, which, along with the Sanitja Association, is sponsoring archaeological excavations at the ancient site.

Under the direction of Directors Fernando Contreras and Regine Muller, a team of archaeologists, students and volunteers with be conducting systematic excavation and research at the site from May 12 to Octobe 21, 2009 to uncover more of what made this city such an important Roman settlement and center of maritime activity. Students will learn and gain experience in excavation using the Harris Matrix. Various instruments and tools will be used to record stratigraphy and document the plans and photographs of the excavation. In the museum laboratory, students will study excavated material and learn basic techniques of artifact recording, focusing on Roman pottery. In addition to the daily excavation and laboratory work, students will also participate in conferences on methodology and Roman archaeology, and will visit other museums and archaeological sites on the island. Academic courses will be offered in both English and Spanish.


If you are interested in expanding your mind and learning some first-hand field archaeology in a Mediterranean setting in 2009, you are invited to join the team by going to the website at www.ecomuseodecavalleria.com to learn more about the project and the application procedures. Who knows? This could be a life-changing experience!

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Exploring the Ancient Roman City of Talabriga


Located on a mountain top on the northern coast of Portugal lies what remains of the ancient Roman city of Talabriga, surrounded by two rivers and shrouded by a forest of eucalyptus. It sits above the prehistoric remains of an indigenous village from the Iron Age, and was founded in 138 B.C. by Decimus Junius Brutus, consul of Hispania Ulterior, who led a great military campaign aimed to control the territories of current day Portugal. Talabriga became the capital city of its region.

In the Spring of 2009, Directors Tatiana Valente, Fernando Contreras Rodrigo and Regina Muller will be conducting a field school that will explore this fascinating settlement and offer an intensive hands-on learning experience in the principles and techniques of archaeological field research. It includes an introduction to basic aspects of field excavation techniques, which are applied during the excavation time. In the laboratory, students will classify and study excavated material. Participants will also attend lectures on Roman archaeology. In addition to the daily excavation and laboratory work, students will further learn about the history of indigenous settlements in Portugal during lectures and organized excursions. The course includes 7 hours of class per day, distributed in 4.5 hours of excavation and 2.5 hours of lab work, exercises, lectures and excursions. There will be one excursion day and one free day per session. Courses will be offered in English, Spanish and Portuguese.


Does this sound like something right down your archaeological alley? If so, go to the website at www.ecomuseodecavalleria.com and find out more about the project and how to apply. But be careful.......once you've been on the dig, you'll want to go back for more!

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tel Dor by the Sea

Tel Dor 1

About 30 kilometers directly south of Haifa, Israel, lies a very large tel (an earth mound containing ancient architectural and artifact remains) that tells a story crossing at least eight civilizations. The story is largely a commercial one, as the ancient seaport city of Dor on the Mediterranean coast of present day Israel was host to the trading activities of a number of civilizations or cultures that ringed the Mediterranean world in ancient times. Once a Canaanite city, its history spans settlement or rule by "Sea Peoples", Phoenicians, the Solomonic monarchy, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans. Finally, in the thirteenth century A.D., a Crusader castle was built on the site. Few sites of the ancient world can boast a settlement history more varied and complex than this.

The 2009 Excavation Season

From July 6 to August 12, the University of Washington (UW) Tel Dor Archaeological Program will resume its field school excavation at Dor under the direction of Professor Sarah Culpepper Stroup. The majority of the participants will be excavating the Hellenistic and late Persian strata under the leadership and instruction of Professor Stroup and associated staff. The area consists of a fascinating complex of industrial buildings. Discoveries from the 2007 season included four large Roman-period tabuns (round local ovens), each of differing construction, several drains and basins, hallways,thresholds, and massive amounts of Roman-period pottery. In the 2008 season, the team excavated through the Roman strata and uncovered the tops of beautifully constructed Hellenistic period walls. Also uncovered were large amounts of fine Hellenistic mold-made ("Megarian") pottery, a few fine pieces of Hellenistic glass, an assortment of bronze tools and weapons, and a somewhat puzzling ashlar installation that instantly gained the affectionate nickname "the crypt". The 2009 season promises to be an exciting one as the expedition returns to more fully explore the Hellenistic strata. Other participants will have the opportunity to excavate in an area with earlier strata -- under the leadership and instruction of Talia Goldman and Yftah Shalev, Israeli graduate students who are also experienced archaeologists and teachers with a long history at Dor. Due to its situation on the south slope of the Tel, this area is stratigraphically rich, with upper levels in the Persian Period and lower levels approaching the Bronze Age. Past discoveries have included -- in the Persian strata -- three dog burials, a street front, a puzzling triple-layer hemicircle of long bones and amphora handles and -- in the Iron Age strata -- a complex of mud-brick rooms and nearly complete vessels filled with lentils and grain. Always an interesting area, its location also boasts the best views of the bay!

The Field School

One of the hallmarks of the Tel Dor Archaeological Program is its rich and intensive course of study, consisting of three major components:

1. Field Work
Students will learn about the past as they unearth it. All students registered in the Field School receive daily instruction and participate each day in the archaeological excavations at Tel Dor. Field excavation is supervised by an experienced team of international archaeologists from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the
University of Haifa, the University of Washington in Seattle, and other institutions, and includes training in excavation techniques, stratigraphy, artifact analysis, and transit elevations.

2. Museum Work
Students will learn what happens to an artifact after it has been excavated. They will receive instruction in various aspects of museology, including cataloguing systems, pottery typology, dating methods, and conservation techniques.

3. Evening Lectures
Students will learn the concepts behind the archaeology. They will attend four evening lectures per week on such diverse topics as the history of Tel Dor, the histories of the civilizations who occupied it, past excavations, day-plans and day-book methods, the ‘digitization’ of modern archaeology, three-dimensional imaging of artifacts, architectural drafting, and a great deal more.

Those who successfully complete the course requirements of the Field School will receive 12 credits (either graded or C/NC) from the University of Washington in either Classics (CLAS) 399, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC) 399, or Archaeology (ARCH) 270. These credits can be counted toward a major in these programs.

Join Us

Don't just read about history. Help make a difference -- feel it, discover it, and make it a part of you. You can learn more about the project and the application procedure by going to the website at http://depts.washington.edu/teldor or, alternatively, at http://dor.huji.ac.il.

Contact Information:

Professor Sarah C. Stroup

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Excavating Tel Kabri: The Aegean Connection

Did the Minoans walk the ancient land of Canaan? No one can say with certainty, but new evidence is emerging that further supports the possibility. Directors Eric Cline of the George Washington University and Assaf Yasur-Landau of the University of California, Santa Cruz, will be leading an excavation this summer that will shed new light on this, and many other questions about the ancient inhabitants who once occupied the site of Tel Kabri.

Located in the western Galilee region of modern Israel, Tel Kabri was the center of a Canaanite polity during the Middle Bronze Age. Excavations conducted by Aharon Kempinski and Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier from 1986-1993 revealed the remains of a palace dating to the Middle Bronze period (ca. 2000-1550 BCE). Tel Kabri has now been revealed to be a large site (more than 200,000 sq. m.) with a continuum of strata from the Neolithic Period to the Iron Age. Most significant are the Middle Bronze Age remains, which include massive fortifications (Area C), residential architecture and tombs (Areas B and C), and a large palace (Area D), as well as an Iron Age fortress with imported Greek pottery and additional evidence for the presence of Greek mercenary soldiers which was partially excavated at the highest part of the Tel (Area E).

A rare discovery was made within the palace at Tel Kabri: a floor and walls decorated with paintings done in Aegean style. The painted floor was found within a ceremonial room and was decorated with floral and marbled motifs. The approximately 2,000 fragments from one or more wall frescoes included boats, griffin wings, and houses that bore much resemblance to the miniature frescoes found on the Greek island of Santorini. Kabri is one of only four sites in the Eastern Mediterranean to have such Bronze Age Aegean-style paintings and may well be the earliest. Such evidence for artistic connections between the Aegean culture of ancient Crete and the Cyclades with the Canaanites and other inhabitants of the ancient Near East is unique in Israel. It is also very rare elsewhere, existing outside the Aegean only in Egypt at Tel el-Dab’a, the capitol of the Hyksos, and at the sites of Alalakh and Qatna in Syria.

The 2009 Season

The 2009 season will focus on continued excavation of the palace, with the goal of investigating its life cycle, from its humble beginnings to its destruction three centuries later.

In Area D-West, the team plans to re-initiate the excavation of the core of the MB II palace primarily within Room 1433a. It was this room that, along with Room 740, Kempinski and Niemeier thought might have served as a throne room, but it was left unexcavated by them. In addition, since we now know that the Aegean-style miniature frescoes were found only in secondary contexts at Kabri, i.e. used as filling material for the thresholds of the Middle Bronze Age building in its final phase, the will attempt to excavate the threshold fillings at the entrances to certain rooms, all of which were renovated during the latest use of the building and are thus prime candidates for the presence of additional fragments of Aegean-style paintings.

In Area D-North, they will continue to excavate and expose the plaster floors of the Middle Bronze Age palace, seeking to determine whether any of them were painted in an Aegean style.

In Area D-South, excavation will continue down to the floors and then below the courtyard area of the palace, in order to determine whether it was preceded by an earlier court or by different structures. During 2005 excavations in this area, they also encountered the corner of an additional, and monumental, Middle Bronze construction which is very likely a Syrian-style entrance complex. They plan to further expose this complex.

Directors Cline and Yasur-Landau are now calling for students and volunteers to help continue the discovery process this summer. If you are interested in being a part of this cutting edge research, go to digkabri.wordpress.com for more information. It may well be an experience you will never forget.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Saving Rome: The Ville delle Vignacce Summer Archaeology Field School

Can You See Yourself Saving Rome?

By "saving" one means uncovering and preserving its ancient remains, of course. Project Director Dr. Darius A. Arya and Co-Director Dr. Dora Cirone of the American Institute for Roman Culture Summer Archaeology Field School will be conducting a seven week intensive learning opportunity in Roman archaeology. The program is held from June 15, 2009 through August 02, 2009 and offers students a unique combination of on-site field work and specialized academic instruction by expert archaeologists and institute professors. As the program centers in Rome, there will also be visits to major Roman museums and open-air sites to augment field studies and to provide participants with a broader context of what life was like in Ancient Rome.

Participants will be given the opportunity to develop their archaeological techniques at the ongoing excavation and preservation of an important Roman site, the Villa of the Vignacce. In its fourth season of exploration, students will work with professionally trained archaeologists to explore and preserve an important second century AD villa located within Rome’s famed Park of the Aqueducts.

This summer dig programming will continue to focus on the comprehensive analysis of Ville delle Vignacce’s imperial bath complex, while working to examine and preserve the caldarium, latrine and an apodyterium with marble veneer and glass paste mosaics in the vaulting previously discovered during the first three seasons. The Ville delle Vignacce is proving to be one of the city’s most exciting new excavations and has recently garnered international press attention as one of Ancient Rome’s “At Risk” archaeological sites, threatened as the result of previous neglect and vandalism.

Participants will also explore both the urban development and the material culture of Rome from the 1st- 6th century A.D., investigating in detail many diverse aspects of Ancient Roman civilization. Through the examination of material evidence, so abundant in Lazio, program participants will have ample opportunity to learn from archaeological evidence as well as the many historical monuments and world heritage sites located in the area.

This season’s summer program aims to supply participants with both a chronological and diachronic approach to the study of Roman civilization. Through this dual approach those involved in the program will gain a more comprehensive historical and cultural overview of Roman civilization from its rise to power in this rich Mediterranean area, understanding how this civilization set a standard of cultural values that have had long lasting influence over the entire Western world to this day.


Ville delle Vignacce3


All prospective student participants and volunteers are encouraged to go to the
website for additional information about the opportunity and how to apply. Saving Rome couldn't be more fun and exciting!

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Uncovering the Ancient Mystery of Khirbet Qeiyafa

Anyone following major archaeological discoveries in Israel will recall the pottery shard whereon was found five lines of what may be the oldest Hebrew script ever discovered. The find was uncovered at a hitherto unknown archaeological site known as Khirbet Qeiyafa. Despite its mystery, it is emerging as one of the most important archaeological excavations in Israel, revealing an ancient city that may tell a new story about life during the times of ancient Israel's best known kings. Add to this its massive fortifications and its strategic location between Jerusalem and ancient Israel's coastal plain on the main road from ancient Philistia, and we have a site that promises to add much to our understanding of Iron Age Judah. It is in this area that the famous battle between David and Goliath may have taken place.

During previous excavations, an early Iron Age II stratum was uncovered, including a massive casemate wall and two residential buildings. Radiometric dating places this stratum in the years 1,000 - 975 B.C., the time of King David. This makes it the only site in Judah that can be securely dated to the time of King David.

The 2009 Season will focus on the site's fortifications, exposing the full plan of the gate to determine how the entrance to the city was organized. In addition, a number of casemate wall sections are planned to be excavated to the north and south of the gate.

Students and volunteers will have the opportunity to participate and help make a difference in this effort to answer important questions about this significant location. If you are interested in joining the team this summer, go to qeiyafa.huji.ac.il to learn more about how to apply............At $300 a week, few can argue its affordability.

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Touring Virtually: The Virtual World Project

Do you wish to tour a fascinating archaeological site but you're short of time and cash? Here is a viable option developed by Nicolae Roddy and Ronald Simkins of Creighton University: the Virtual World Project. This is a web-based teaching and study tool that presents interactive virtual reality tours of the ancient world. Updated continuously, it is an ongoing project with a primary focus on the Levant. To date, many sites in Israel and Jordan have been extensively photographed and graphically represented to allow the visitor to "walk" through the sites, many of which offer an audio component, as well. Check it out, and happy touring!The Virtual World Project