Catherine Pasqualoni, 2012 Fellow Dig Blog at Jezreel Valley Regional Project, Israel
Catherine Pasqualoni received her BA in Ancient Studies from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 2012. Her thesis was titled “Peoples, Pots, and Politics: Continuity and Change in the Early Iron Age Northern Levant” and investigated the material culture, habitation patterns, and other aspects of the Late Bronze to Early Iron Age transition in the northern Syria and southeastern Turkey. She spent seven weeks excavating at Tel Megiddo in 2010, and in the spring of 2011 she spent the semester studying art and archaeological conservation at Studio Art Centers International in Florence, Italy. Later this summer she will be participating in the excavations at Tel Akko. Catherine is very interested in ceramic petrography and ethnoarchaeology of the Bronze Age northern Levant.
Excavation: Jezreel Valley Regional Project, Israel
Director, Matthew J. Adams (University of Hawai'i)
Co-directors, Jonathan David (Gettysburg College) and Margaret E. Cohen (Penn State University)
The Jezreel Valley Regional Project (JVRP) is a long-term, multi-disciplinary survey and excavation project investigating the history of human activity in the Jezreel Valley from the Paleolithic through the Ottoman period. This project strives for a total history of the region using the tools and theoretical approaches of such disciplines as archaeology, anthropology, geography, history, ethnography, and the natural sciences, within an organizational framework provided by landscape archaeology.
May 29, 2012
This past week has been hectic, but also wonderful. One day, I was walking across the stage at my college graduation ceremony and the very next I was on a plane, traveling back to Israel. Once there I had a few hours to catch up with old friends before hitting the sack - the bus was leaving at 4:45 the next morning for the field. There’s no time for jet-lag on an archaeological dig.
In the field we were able to get straight to digging pretty quickly; a backhoe had come the day before to clear the first layer of topsoil and watermelons (the site of Tel Megiddo East is located in an agricultural field run by a nearby kibbutz). Since we only have three weeks to dig, having the “dirty work” tedium of weeding and cleaning done for us was quite nice.
I was assigned to dig in Area C, one of two (C and D) that are being excavated this season, in the western portion. There are three other squares in C West besides mine. To begin, we had clay. Lots and lots of clay. In all four squares, nothing but clay. My square, EN88, went down about 30 cm. before being closed in order to focus in just one square of the four. The square was divided in half and we began to dig a probe in order to clarify some theories about the environmental timeline of the area. The probe soon became too deep and tight to allow more than two people to work comfortably, so I was shifted to C South. Here, instead of clay, we have an inordinate amount of bedrock.
While the clay was a biiiig pain in my caboose to dig through, a couple cool things came out of it. The directors are able to use the information gathered from the sections to further reconstruct the ancient environments and landscapes during different periods.
Even cooler, to me, at least, is the opportunity to conduct a bit of experimental archaeology. I will be working with a couple other friends to dry, sift, and rehydrate the clay to prepare it for actual use in actual production of pots. More on that next week.
We work six days a week, so on our one day off, relaxing is the best plan of action. Pool time and paperwork are the only things on my schedule.
June 6, 2012
While articulating bedrock and digging through meters of clay could never be called boring, per se, sometimes we need a little extra mental stimulation. Thus, haikus:
Bedrock in my square,
It is such a pain to clean.
Must use the soft brush.
Before the Bronze Age,
Ugly pottery is found;
I’ve worked in a few different squares this past week. One is full of bedrock that resembles the surface of the moon. Another has a real wall (!). The third has a quarry. We could clearly see cuts in the limestone bedrock made by a pounder (a large flint nodule), and at first it appeared that the EB I residents of Tel Megiddo East (or maybe the Romans, much later) were quarrying limestone. However, as we dug deeper, we came upon a huge mass of large flint chunks. There were also clear patches of flint still embedded within the bedrock. The disaggregated chunks seem to be mostly of poor quality; perhaps they were quarried and discarded by the ancients.
Another way we amuse ourselves in the field is with competitions. Specifically, bucket challenges, as in “let’s see who can carry the most dirt-filled buckets at once.” Nick was the first to carry six, but he tripped over a balk-string (and did a forward roll) before he made it to the dump pile. After that, a couple people succeeded in carrying six all the way, at JVRP, we can always do better. Enter Dr. Matthew Adams, He-Who-Will-Not-Be-Bested-By-Lowly-Volunteers-And-Square-Supervisors. With eight buckets, four on each arm, he made it to the very top of the massive dump pile (I won’t mention how he nearly collapsed before actually emptying them).
I said I would elaborate on my little experimental archaeology project this week. Testing firing processes would be much to complicated, and our resources are somewhat limited. Instead, I will be investigating the advantages/disadvantages of using different sizes of chaff in the construction of hand-built ceramic vessels, large and small. The whole process will take more time than I have left here at JVRP, but that just means I’ll have to come visit headquarters while during my time at Akko!