Dhiban Excavation and Development Project


Life and work from a tell site in Jordan

From the Valley to Dhiban

From team member, Monica, reflecting on the first weeks of the project:

Coming from a predominately Mexican-American neighborhood, I never expected to find myself travelling across the world to Jordan. Having lost a member of my family to the current war, I never even really saw myself ever stepping foot on the Middle East. I had only been to Mexico and thought I could never afford to make a trip such as this one. I am so happy that all changed. I feel truly blessed to find myself in Jordan.

My family had mixed thoughts of me applying to Summer Abroad programs, especially when I mentioned the location. Recently, my father has been out of employment, so I knew that I had to figure out how to pay for everything. It is one of my dreams to become an archaeologist. Few archaeological field schools accept financial aid, and even fewer are directly for Berkeley credit. When I stumbled on a flyer to the Dhiban Archaeological Field School through Berkeley’s Summer Abroad Program, my heart almost stopped because I knew it was a field school that I could be eligible to attend. I was a little worried about whether I would be accepted or not, because of my rocky experiences at Cal and since my passport was due to expire. Luckily Dr. Porter and the Summer Abroad coordinator, Jessica, were very patient and kind in helping me in expediting paperwork to quickly obtain my passport. I can never thank you all enough for helping me part of this amazing program. Thank you.

No one in my family has ever studied abroad nor has ever attempted to receive a degree past the undergraduate level. Although I have much to catch up on, I will gain valuable experience from this project. I am truly blessed to have this opportunity. Even getting here was a learning experience…Now I know that I should never get the window seat on plane rides longer than an hour—that was interesting. Now I know I am capable of going off to far places by myself. Now I know that many opportunities await as long as I go out and look for them. No fear.

The first and second week have just come and gone. I have felt at home since the plane landed. Family values and the community are so similar to those found in Mexican tradition, so culture shock has yet to hit. I met one of my awesome roommates, Anna, at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany. On my way to Mariam Hotel in Madaba, the streets and buildings overwhelmed me with a warm feeling of welcome. Upon getting to my room, I was warmly greeted by Aislinn, my other roommate, who shares my newfound obsession of learning how to wrap a hijab.

On site at Dhiban, I was worried my background of Colonial and Classical Archaeology would make me unprepared for what was to come at the field. Dr. Porter’s lectures make sure we have a good grasp on what we are excavating and I was surprised to see my backgroud in classical archaeology was not too far off. Having read about the process of archaeological work, it is hard to put into words how amazing it is to actually do it. Digging on Dr. Porter’s site has had its challenges, but there is never a time I cannot find myself learning and growing in heart and experience.

My peers all come from different backgrounds and bring an awesome vibe to the program. I can’t wait to get to know everyone a bit better. At the moment, I know I have already made life-long friends. I welcome every other experience that the program shall bring.


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Photos from Dhiban

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