Biblical Archaeology Review 36:1, January/February 2010

Archaeological Views: An Archaeologist’s Journey from Volunteer to Field Director

By Daniel M. Master

The BAR Dig Issue started it all. I had visited Israel before, but I had little idea how archaeological excavations worked. So I picked up a Dig Issue and looked at the options. Several excavations appealed to me; I applied to three. I later learned that dig applications were not particularly competitive, but what did I know? I set off for the first dig that accepted me: the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon.

Ashkelon had a field school run by Harvard University, but aside from an excellent academic program, the volunteers were housed in a lovely hotel near one of the nicest beaches in Israel. Who could ask for more?

When I got there, I found that things were even better than I had anticipated. My first morning in Ashkelon, the professor I had read about in BAR, Lawrence E. Stager of Harvard University, introduced himself: “Hi, I’m Larry. Welcome to Ashkelon.” In BAR, I saw the archaeologists as titans, but in Ashkelon the “luminaries” of the field simply treated us as part of the team.

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