Dhiban Excavation and Development Project

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Life and work from a tell site in Jordan

Thoughts after the Excavation

From Abby:

As I am sitting back at home in Topeka, KS, I realize what an impact Jordan had on my life. I miss the constant conversation that is always taking place between people on the streets and their usually welcoming personalities.  There is such a great community environment in Dhiban that you can’t get in many American towns.  The way men greeted and interacted with each other was something I will never forget.  They were not uncomfortable showing affection to their friends and while they could not show the same affection to female friends, it was still very refreshing.  They have a great respect for their elders, family members, and friends.  Relationships are extremely valuable to people in this part of the world.  While outsiders may be considered less valuable and sometimes treated with less respect, as an outsider, I was still able to see the compassion that went into their interactions.  But even to foreigners (or ajinab), most people are overwhelmingly friendly.  They invite strangers to tea freqeuntly, and one of my most fond memories is sitting with a Bedouin woman at Petra, drinking tea and talking about her children.

I am also deeply grateful for the skills I acquired this summer.  The field school provided me with hands-on experience as an archaeologist, which is not possible in a classroom setting.  I was given the opportunity to be a trench supervisor for a week of the season and I learned the process that each supervisor goes through, including the measuring and drawing of the trench, finding elevations, and completing paperwork for each stratum.  With the knowledge I gained, I have no doubt in my mind that if I chose to be an archaeologist, I would be well prepared.

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Thanks, Dhiban!

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As the sun sets on Tell Dhiban, the colors become deeper, pink-tinged, and the limestone blocks look stunning against the blue sky. The wadi turns golden and a small wind picks up, cooling off the air. It’s really the best time to work up on the tell, and I saw several sunsets from the edge of my trench in the last week of the excavation. Everyone was working furiously on their trench reports and Harris Matrices. I was staying a couple of days later than most people, so I was up on the tell, drawing and photographing mostly alone.  It was nice, a break from the busy work days with so many people in the trench all the time.

In the last few days, I had tea with Zaid and Abu Jamal up on the tell. The teapot is a symbol of hospitality in Jordan, and the sugary sage tea they served was lovely.  I sat with them, chatted a bit in our patois of English and Arabic and realized that I would miss Jordan in the year to come.

Thanks to Dhiban for the hospitality and we will see you next year!

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Jordan & America

Courtney, on differences between Jordan and America:

America > Jordan

1.    Water.
2.    Toilet seats you can sit upon.
3.    Something more akin to gender equality.
4.    Going out without the nigh necessity of male accompaniment.
5.    Water.
6.    Drinking water from the tap.
7.    Screens on windows.
8.    No dust to make my camera/other electronics/contacts cranky.
9.    No concrete homes with random rebar haphazardly sticking about.
10.    Water.
11.    Being able to let the shower water run on your skin.
12.    Condiments. Ketchup. Mustard. Miracle whip.
13.    More trees/plant life. I miss shady maples.
14.    Ice cubes that are completely safe.
15.    Water.

Jordan > America

1. Manners in the area of overwhelming hospitality. Often if you walk into a shop and make conversation with the owner, in about 20 minutes you’ll be sitting down, having tea and biscuits with him/her. Jordanians hardly ever get to their intended destinations in a timely manner as they are constantly being invited to tea while walking down the street.
2. The wonderful fact that you can spill water here and not concern yourself with wasting paper towels or just time/effort to clean it up. When you return in 20-30 minutes, the water will have evaporated completely.
3. Mold literally cannot live here. Not in Sarah’s soap container, and not in my dirty/wet clothes that I sometimes leave in piles.
4. Sunsets/Sunrises. Jordanian sunsets over are just beyond beautiful. Sorry Midwest, Jordan has trumped you in this department.
5. The bee/wasp population in Jordan is significantly less than that in America. This pleases Alan and myself.
6. Non-existent humidity.
7. Jordanian desserts (delicious!) and the strange, flat, sort of pita-like bread we purchase fresh and eat daily.
8. Beautiful archaeology. Beautiful mosaics, beautiful art. A rich history that spans centuries and resides alongside the modern. Refreshingly different from home.

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Ready to Fly!

I’m coming to the Dhiban project out of a desire to excavate and document a comparative site for my dissertation. When the site that I usually work at, Çatalhöyük, decided to have a study season this year instead of excavation (of course they’re still excavating!), I looked around for other projects that would fit well into my dissertation work.  I contacted Benjamin Porter in UC Berkeley’s Near Eastern Studies department, and have worked with him on projects since that time.

My primary role at Dhiban will be photography and video documentation of excavation and finds, but I hope to have some time to excavate as well. I feel well prepared for work in the Middle East, and though I will miss Turkey tremendously, it will be great to explore the history of a new part of the world, as well as take in a few of the regional attractions.  I’ve wanted to go to the Dead Sea since I was a small child, and now I finally get a chance!

So my bags are packed and the last minute preparations are finished–I’ll be flying out tomorrow, SFO -> JFK -> CDG -> IST -> AMM! Wish me luck!

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Welcome to the Dhiban Excavation and Development Project Blog!

This blog is a collaboration between students at the University of California, Berkeley, Knox College, and the University of Liverpool. We hope to keep it updated with our impressions and findings from Tall Dhiban, an archaeological site in Jordan with evidence of 5,000 years of occupation, spanning the Bronze, Iron, Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic Ages.  We will also be working and living in the neighboring town, which is also called Dhiban.

We hope that you’ll check back to see our progress over the summer!

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Photos from Dhiban