June 16 was the final day of excavations at Tel Shiloh for the 2017 season. Previous to this year, I had three years of archaeological field experience, but this was my first leading my own square as a square supervisor. I am thankful to the MacMillan Center and the Ganzfried Family Travel Fellowship for the opportunity to excavate this year.
Tel Shiloh was the de facto first capital of Ancient Israel, and the semi-permanent location of the Ark of the Covenant in the time of Joshua and the Judges according to the Hebrew Bible. This year our excavations aimed at clarifying as much as possible the 5 meter wide Middle Bronze period city fortification wall and the storerooms directly abutting it.
We attempted to trace the wall through my square but found only Byzantine period remains built directly above. We dug our square all the way to bedrock, which was reached at a depth over 3 meters below the surface. In doing so we were able to observe channeling in the bedrock, a sign of ancient quarrying in the Bronze Age. In addition to this, were uncovered a trove of artifacts including sling stones, pottery, flint tools, and animal bones. All of these will be used to reconstruct a history of the city in antiquity.
My square mates came from around the United States, as well as from Israel. In undertaking the task of excavating our square we were all able to interact with people of different backgrounds in accomplishing a common goal. Our daily tasks included breaking earth with picks and axes, removing dirt and stones, sorting and cleaning pottery shards, taking various elevations around the square, and working together to remove large boulders. The best part of each day was the lunch hour where we could exchange ideas on how each person read the various biblical texts dealing with the city in which we were working.
Without the Ganzfried Fellowship I would not have been able to take advantage of this incredible opportunity and experience leading my own square. For this I would like to express my sincerest gratitude.
Matthew D. Glassman, a 2018 Yale graduate student in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.