Project #1: Archaeological Dig at Ashkelon, Israel

Rebekah posted a few days ago about an upcoming adventure.  I look at this more as a project, actually.  We have three projects coming soon, of which this is the first.  We thought these projects might interest you, so here we are.

First off, our apologies for the misleading last post.  We truly intended to continue posting continuing content concerning history, culture, art, nature, and such.  We’ve been busy since the last trip and we just could not make the time for it (as we were busy with these projects, among other things of life).

So, what’s the project?  Let’s say you are greatly interested in ancient history and archaeology, particularly in the timeframe of Biblical settings. What is one of the best ways to learn about this history and archaeology?  Rebekah and I asked this question many months ago and the answer landed us (figuratively and literally) on the coast of modern day Israel, just a few days ago. 

This summer we are participating in an archaeological dig, the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon.  Ashkelon is an ancient city mentioned many times in the scriptures.  One of these first mentions is Judges 14:19, when Samson slew 30 men of Ashkelon for their garments.  Ashkelon is an ancient site that was inhabited from the Middle Bronze Age (~2000 B.C.) to the time of the Crusaders.  It has a history from many peoples and cultures who have touched and inhabited this city for many years.  The core inhabitants and conquering nations of Ashkelon include the Canaanites,  Philistines, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Muslims, and finally, the Crusaders.  This spans a time from the early 12th century B.C. to the 12th century A.D.

While most of the Biblical activity and mentions of Ashkelon are associated with the Canaanites and Philistines, the city is also a wealth of information for the other nations, as these well known nations had major influences on Ashkelon, just as they played a major role in Bible history.  Information gleaned from this site can help us understand the governments, people, and cultural context of these nations.  This helps us understand how and why they appear in the scriptures and the historical backdrop they help provide.

On archaeological digs, the areas you are excavating are divided into “grids.” Ashkelon is a large site, consisting of about 150 acres, divided into 100 grids.  Being so large, active excavation squares may be quite a distance apart.  Yesterday, Rebekah was working in grid 38, which has had some famous finds over the past few years.  She has spent the past few days excavating a Late Bronze Age courtyard, an Iron Age destruction layer, and a Middle Bronze age Philistine room.  So far, she has uncovered mono- and bichrome Philistine pottery (monochrome is the just-off-the-ship, Grandma’s best pottery; and bichrome is  a later painted form).  She and her digging partner have also found weights, beads, and various stone tools.

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I am working in Grid 51 (which some like to refer to as Area 51).  Yesterday, I was working on removing an “occupational layer floor.”  Some layers are that of destruction or abandonment, but an occupational floor is a room where people have once lived and worked.  A destruction or abandonment layer may exist on top of this, but during the occupied time, you can see what the inhabitants left behind on the floor, such as our Persian era floor (538-330 B.C.) that contained pottery and bone fragments.  Pottery is heavily used in dating layers, but it also can tell us how homes are furnished, how they cooked and stored food, and more.   Bone can also tell us many things, such as the peoples diet and sacrificial practices. 

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3 Responses to “Project #1: Archaeological Dig at Ashkelon, Israel”

  1. Mike Coward Says:

    Awesome. Thanks so much. Love you both. Mike and Peggy

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Lori @ In My Kitchen, In My Life Says:

    It is TERRIFIC to be able to follow your adventures! I hope you tell some backstory — how you got hooked up with a dig, etc.

  3. stevewolfgang Says:

    Reblogged this on ἐκλεκτικός and commented:
    Trent and Rebekah reporting on the archaeological excavations at Ashkelon in Israel

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