A Groundbreaking Call for Excavators
The dirt on the Dig Issue
After a first, modest appearance under the title “Opportunities for Volunteers” in the 1976 issue, a second call for participants was issued in an equally unassuming piece titled “Able-Bodied Diggers Sought” in the spring of 1977. By 1979, BAR had grown into the bi-monthly publication schedule familiar to our readers today, and the annual Dig Issue was born that year in the March/April issue. The following year, the Dig Issue was published as the January/February issue, and it has been an integral part of our New Year’s ritual ever since.
Today, our Dig Issue has grown from a few paragraphs on a handful of sites to a comprehensive listing of exciting excavations throughout the eastern Mediterranean, led by the top scholars in the field. Articles on new techniques and developments in field work are often a feature in our Dig Issue, as well as compelling and entertaining stories brought to us by our volunteers.
The Internet—a technology that would have been the stuff of science fiction 30 years ago—has allowed us to reach an even broader volunteer base. As the number of participating sites continued to grow, the information became more than the print version of BAR could handle. Today, an entire section of our Web site is dedicated to featured excavation opportunities, including site histories, Biblical references and volunteer information.
BAR increasingly has become a basic resource not only for volunteers but also for dig directors looking for enthusiastic people to 070staff their projects. Our Web site helps connect volunteers with the dig directors who have come to rely on us for a vital part of their team.
A Helping Hand
With an eye toward helping BAR readers participate in the experience of a lifetime, BAS began a scholarship program for those wishing to volunteer on an archaeological excavation who needed financial help. Many of our scholarship winners have shared their adventures in the form of essays and blogs, and the experiences have been as varied and diverse as the participants themselves. The common theme, however, is how enriching and exciting their exploration of the past was, and everyone who took part in an excavation came away with a deeper appreciation and understanding of archaeology and the history that it reveals.
Almost 20 years after the launch of our scholarship program, more than 100 volunteers have received funding from BAS that has enabled them to take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity. Thanks to the continuing support of our patrons and donors, BAS is delighted to have been able to grant 26 scholarships in 2009.
“Dig Girls”—the Fans and the Foes
Over the years, some of our readers have taken us to task for what they perceive as indecent images in our Dig Issue, a phenomenon that we in the office have come to refer to as “The Dig Girl Controversy.”
Because it is, after all, the Dig Issue, we often like to use an image of one or several of our volunteers in the process of excavating, especially for the cover photo. Participants of both sexes have been featured on the cover of the Dig Issue over the years, but it is the ones that portray female excavators that have drawn the most robust commentary from our readers. Some readers have objected to what they perceive as the “skimpy” or “revealing” clothing worn by some of our female volunteers. Others, rather than being offended, appreciate the charming photos of young volunteers, while still others have come to the defense of our “Dig Girls,” noting that tank tops and shorts are reasonable 072attire in the desert in the middle of summer, and that no one seems to object to images of men in similar clothing (see “Letters We Loved”).
This past year, wondering if perhaps we weren’t fairly considering the views and sensitivities of our readers when choosing cover images for our Dig Issue, we let BAR’s readership decide which image they would prefer to have on the cover. On our Web site, we offered three different possibilities for our 2009 Dig Issue—only one featured a female volunteer. Readers were invited to join us online and vote for the cover they liked best. The winner, of course, was the female volunteer from the dig at Ashkelon. She was featured on the January/February cover. The readers spoke, we listened, but “The Dig Girl Controversy” continues.
As the first decade of the 21st century comes to a close, we are even more aware of how fragile and precious the material record of our past truly is. Environmental conditions as well as human activities and conflict threaten our knowledge of the past; the proper excavation and documentation of archaeological sites is more important than ever. Without the interest, support and participation of the public, these delicate archaeological sites could well disappear, and with them the keys to the past that they contain. Here at BAR, we are proud of the way we have been able to support the efforts of archaeologists to conduct their work, and our readers have played a crucial role in this endeavor—both those who have participated in excavations and those who support the community by following along in our magazine. We look forward to the future adventures that we will have together.
After a first, modest appearance under the title “Opportunities for Volunteers” in the 1976 issue, a second call for participants was issued in an equally unassuming piece titled “Able-Bodied Diggers Sought” in the spring of 1977. By 1979, BAR had grown into the bi-monthly publication schedule familiar to our readers today, and the annual Dig Issue was born that year in the March/April issue. The following year, the Dig Issue was published as the January/February issue, and it has been an integral part of our New Year’s ritual ever since. Today, our Dig Issue has grown from a few […]