U-M Conservators Join Archaeological Dig in Israel


By C. Chemello, S. Davis
May 28, 2008 Bookmark and Share

ANN ARBOR, Mich—It'll last longer than an Indiana Jones movie, and thanks to blogging, it's the closest many people will get to experience life on an archeological dig.

On Friday, May 30, conservators from the University of Michigan's Kelsey Museum of Archaeology will join archaeological team members in Israel for the 2008 season of the excavations at Tel Kedesh, Israel.

During the expedition, which runs through July 17, Kelsey Museum conservators Suzanne Davis and Claudia Chemello will maintain a website, including a blog with photos, detailing the day's events and the team’s ongoing task of excavating and conserving artifacts from the site.

Visitors to the site can email questions and comments to the conservators and learn about the "Find of the Week."

To visit the site, please go to http://sitemaker.umich.edu/kelseymuseum.digdiary/home.

"The website focuses on archaeological conservation in the field, which is the work that Suzanne and I do on archaeological sites," said Chemello, Senior Conservator for the U-M's Kelsey Museum of Archaeology.

But the website will also give students and the general public an up-close view of the preparation, process, and excitement of being on a dig.

"The website, and particularly the blog, will allow teachers to bring a current excavation into the classroom," explained Todd Gerring, Community Outreach Supervisor at the Kelsey Museum. "The ability to ask questions directly to the conservators gives a much needed interaction that will actively engage students as the work progresses."

Located on the Israeli-Lebanese border, Tel Kedesh is one of the largest tels (or mounds) in the Upper Galilee in Israel. Archaeological tels result from the accumulation and erosion of material deposited by human habitation over a long period of time. Since antiquity, this area has been home to a variety of different cultural and ethnic groups such as the Canaanites, the Israelite tribe of Naphtali, Persians, and Phoenicians from the nearby city of Tyre. Kedesh is also mentioned several times in the Bible.

The excavation, which began in 1997, is a joint project between U-M and the University of Minnesota; it is co-directed by U-M's Sharon Herbert, director of the Kelsey Museum and Professor of Classical Studies, and Andrea Berlin, Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Studies at the University of Minnesota.

One of the goals of the 2008 season is to continue the excavation of a large building on the site. This building dates to the Hellenistic period, roughly 3rd to 1st century BC, and was a large administrative complex about 148 by 164 feet in size. It was constructed on top of another building dating to the Persian period (6th to 3rd century BC). So far, about 40% of the structure has been excavated.