BAR offers travel scholarships of $1,000 every year to a few people who would otherwise not be able to volunteer. In 2001 three individuals whose reports appear below benefitted from the scholarships. To apply, simply send a letter to BAR Dig Scholarships, 4710 41st St. NW, Washington, DC 20016, stating who you are, where you want to dig and why, as well as why you need finacial aid. We require your address, phone number and the names, addresses and phone numbers of two references. The deadline is March 4, 2002.

Denise Manning

Denise Manning was a church youth director in 1999 when a rare disease robbed her of her hearing, forcing her to change her life and career. In 2000, six months after she had become totally deaf, Denise joined the Bethsaida excavation in Israel, under the direction of Rami Arav and Richard Freund. There she found her calling: archaeology. Back in California she took language classes to determine if her deafness would hamper her. But she did well enough that she decided to return to Israel last summer, this time to participate in two digs.

What makes us go back? Why do we labor and sweat for hours in the heat? Our families and friends think we are crazy. Yet year after year we return. Is it fame and fortune that tempt us? Is it the tomatoes and cucumbers we get for breakfast? I asked several people I met. The response was, “I love archaeology and I love to dig.” I guess we go the first time for our own reasons, but we return because it is the experience of a lifetime.

I certainly had an unusual reason the first time I went: Almost two years ago I lost my hearing. I had been happy working in the church—it was all I had ever wanted to do. But suddenly that seemed impossible. I had to learn a new language, find a new job and give up many goals I had cherished for my future. I felt lost.

Not wanting my new “disability” to limit me, I joined a dig in 2000, spending three weeks at the Bethsaida excavations on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. I discovered how much I enjoy learning how people lived, worked and worshiped—and how it all affects our world today.

It was also amazing for personal reasons. Unlike most people I encountered after I became deaf, the Bethsaida staff and Dr. Rami Arav, the dig director, never showed me pity. To them I was simply a person with many abilities. It changed my life. I saw that becoming an archaeologist was what I wanted to do.

Upon returning home I began taking classes. I thought my deafness might keep me from learning languages—but I studied New Testament Greek and Latin and did fine!

I found a part-time job in deaf ministry in Northern California that gave me the month of July off, and so, with the help of the BAR dig scholarship, I went back to Israel in 2001. This time I participated in two digs, at Tel Rehov and Bethsaida.

At Tel Rehov, a Canaanite city about two miles south of Beth Shean in northern Israel, I learned to dig around mudbrick walls and the ovens we kept finding. We also traveled to other sites on weekends. Despite the tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, I felt very safe and had no problems with the “war.” My only danger came when my pickax decided to introduce itself to my foot. Ouch!

After completing my work there, I returned to Bethsaida. Dr. Arav put me back where I had worked before: digging down to a tenth-century B.C. road and cleaning it up. What a day it was when we finally finished our section and photographed it!

Archaeology gave me a new direction when I had surrendered all my other dreams. With Dr. Arav’s encouragement I have applied to a Ph.D. program at the University of California and have new dreams to reach for. I now know I can do whatever I set out to do; the rest will fall into place.

Mark Green

Years after beginning a career in accounting, Mark Green enrolled in a Masters of Divinity program at Lincoln Christian Seminary in Illinois. There he developed what he calls “a passion for the science, the debates and the methods of Biblical geography and archaeology.” Years after graduating (in 1987) he continued to read the research in the field, hoping someday to pursue further study. That opportunity came in 1999, when he began a Ph.D. program in Geoarchaeology at Indiana State University, focusing on Biblical archaeology and geography. When he applied for the BAR scholarship last year he had already been accepted as a volunteer in the 2001 season of the Karak Resources Project, under the direction of Dr. Gerald Mattingly, at the Iron Age site of al-Mudaybi‘ in north-central Jordan, the heart of the Old Testament land of Moab.

Although I had “visited” (through photographs, maps and satellite images) the plains of Moab in what today is Jordan, I soon found that there is nothing quite like being there! The Karak Resources Project, in which I participated with the support of a BAR Scholarship, is a multidisciplinary archaeological study of the use of natural resources by the ancient inhabitants of the plateau. It includes regional surveys, scientific studies and an excavation at Mudaybi‘, an Iron Age II Moabite fortress located at the edge of the Syrian/Arabian desert. As a volunteer, I got an incredible introduction both to the culture and the archaeology of the Middle East.

What immediately impressed me was the strategic location afforded to the Moabites. That ancient people lived on a plateau, separated from their neighbors by the enormous canyons of the Wadi Mujib (“Arnon” in the Old Testament) to the north and Wadi Hasa (“Zered”) to the south, the Dead Sea to the west and the desert to the east. The eastern edge of the plateau became an important route for trade and transportation. The fortress at Mudaybi‘ was apparently built to protect this vital desert corridor in the mid- to late eighth century B.C.

My work there was designed to support my research as a doctoral candidate at Indiana State University. My goals were: to identify the geophysical resources, such as basalt, limestone, soil and water, which were available to inhabitants at archaeological sites across the plateau; and to determine where and how abundant these resources were in the area. I took samples and collected data from hundreds of locations across the entire plateau.

My research uses satellite imagery to identify and map geophysical resources. I plan to integrate the archaeological site data with satellite-generated resource data and statistically analyze the influence of geophysical resources on the location of ancient sites. I could not have done it without this crucial field experience.

I am married with three kids and maintain a full-time job while being a full-time doctoral student. Though some might question the wisdom of taking this trip at this point in my life, I believe that there was no better time; opportunities to work on an ongoing study like the Karak Resources Project, which is so perfectly aligned with my own archaeological interests, do not come along often. I will always be grateful for the support and encouragement of my family and friends, as well as that of BAR, which enabled me to have this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Michelle Lee Miller

Michelle Lee Miller knows bones. Not only has she worked as an autopsy technician at the Regional Forensic Center in Knoxville, Tennessee, but she catalogued bones as a student volunteer at the University of Tennessee. Now a graduate student majoring in biological anthropology, Miller wanted to put her knowledge of skeletal analysis to use in a research setting. At Ya’amun in Jordan, she got her chance.

I have always believed that nothing can substitute for hands-on experience. As a biology undergraduate I had enjoyed volunteering on several American archaeological projects. When I entered a graduate program in forensic anthropology I mentioned this to my advisor. He suggested that I attend a field school at Ya’amun, an archaeological excavation in northern Jordan, where I would help excavate and analyze ancient human remains. The dig, headed by Dr. Jerome Rose and Dr. Mahmoud El-Najjar, was the chance of a lifetime. How could I say no?

My studies have mostly focused on the human skeleton. But this project offered exciting new challenges. Unlike what I usually see in the forensic sciences, the skeletal remains in this excavation, which date back thousands of years, are fragmented and slight. What would they tell us about the people of that time and place?

Once at the site, I was a little unnerved to be asked to teach archaeological methods to other students and to Jordanian laborers. But working with Jordanian students taught me much about the culture, language and history of the country that had welcomed our team.

It is hard to estimate the importance of the treasures that have been unearthed at Ya’amun. The site has remains dating from the Bronze, Iron, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic periods. Our group had planned to excavate Roman-Byzantine tombs but most of the tombs that we found were from the much earlier Bronze Age.

I oversaw the excavation and analysis of remains found in Tomb 158. This one tomb, which consumed the efforts of most of the team, yielded abundant rewards: a huge array of bronze toggle pins, Egyptian scarabs, glass beads, gold jewelry, pottery and thousands of bones and bone fragments, all dated to the Early to Middle Bronze Age. It turned out to be one of the richest tombs ever discovered in northern Jordan.

To me, the bones were the most exciting part of Tomb 158. Every day I marveled at how those human remains had endured over such long periods of time. Best of all, though, was the surprise that came during the last week of the operation of the field school: An entire skeleton was found in situ at the base of the tomb!

I was one of the lucky few who brought the skeleton back to the osteology lab, where I was asked to analyze and categorize the bones. I had dealt with prehistoric Indian remains in the past, but had never done anything like this.

You might be surprised what you can deduce about how people lived by examining their teeth and bones long after they have passed away. For example, the condition of their teeth can indicate how well they ate (or didn’t eat) and robust muscle attachments and bone structure might point to strenuous occupations and hardship endured over a lifetime.

Not only did we discover new things almost every day, but in my seven weeks there I was able to visit many other archaeological sites throughout the country. The BAR scholarship enabled me to receive the most rewarding educational experience of my life.