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Joan Nonell Ginabreda

Universitat de Barcelona

The Israel H. Steinberg Memorial Scholarship

Tel Moca 19.jpg

I am a History and Archaeology student in Barcelona, and last summer I applied the Israel H. Steinberg Memorial Scholarship to take part in Tel Moza ’23 excavation. Honestly, I thought my varied two years’ experience in the archaeological field was enough to have a representative and general idea about the discipline itself, and that nothing was going to surprise me at that point. Now I can see how mistaken I was.


Tel Moza was for me an amazing discovery. I feel like I was able to know for first time my pure passion by the archaeology and the ancient near east. Before departing, I had an idea about how could the site be, and I knew I would enjoy working on it; but it really exceeded my expectations. Technically speaking, the stratigraphy was a huge puzzle, made by hundreds of years of consecutive occupations. I was able to dig on different loci, and I realised the amount of temporal phases and different cultures laying one over the other. Besides that, the site is rich in archaeological register; we really found a lot of interesting material. Personally, I participated in many findings throughout the excavation, such as the great terrace system, the north wall of the temple’s courtyard, beautiful ritual pottery pieces in situ… but for me, the greatest gift was understanding the complex temporal sequence of the things that occurred in the site since the first occupation, which, in my opinion, is what makes the site that special.


On the other hand, the team was amazing. When it comes to the staff, I would describe it as a passionate group of professionals. The way they spoke, the happiness they showed with every finding, the attitude they had with every new question and challenge, and the deep expression of concentration and enjoyment they had while discussing and interpretating the stratigraphy… how beautiful it is when people really have a passion and they share it with you. Besides them, I shared the fieldwork with a lot of students, professors and volunteers from worldwide. Despite departing alone, I came back home with many new and special friends from all over the world. I shared room, work and life with completely unknown people for three weeks, and they ended up becoming my family during the excavation. No matter how breath-taking the site is; for me meeting such an interesting, varied and nice group of people was the most special and beautiful part of the experience.


It is hard for me to describe such a complete chapter of my life. But if I had to use a single word, that would be “enriching”: I enjoyed every activity, every trip, every workday, and every place I discovered, and I learned in every moment. I am thankful to be part of the great Tel Moza Family.

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