University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
The Israel H. Steinberg Memorial Scholarship
I find it hard to accurately describe my experiences as part of the Tel Moza Expedition Project without it being bereft of what it all meant to me. Words like astonishing, incredible, fascinating, and metaphors like an experience of a lifetime, cannot do it justice. Nevertheless, I will try to put into words the senses of excitement, wonder, and intrigue I felt as a student of the ancient Levant throughout my time at the Temple Under the Bridge.
Although the season was kicked off with the promise that everyone would be assigned and kept within a specific section of the area, I do not begrudge my supervisor, Dr Dennis Mizzi, for breaking that promise. As I was moved around on almost a daily basis, I was able to witness the disentanglement (and in some place, the further entanglement) of the puzzle that is Area B East. During my travels across the area, I scraped away soil to reveal floors, excavated walls that, sometimes, turned out to be two walls, toiled with a pickaxe in the dreaded Punishment Square, and dug foundation trenches that, one day, led to the excavation of a black Iron Age juglet (a personal highlight of mine). I so enjoyed working in the field that I came to dread the call for breakfast (however, the delicious and freshly prepared meals were always a welcome relief) and absolutely despise the bucket chain (although, Dominic and Falk’s mountains of buckets may have had a in hand that as well). My experience in the field has taught me much, much more than any article or textbook could have done and much of that is owed to Dennis, Shua, as well as the other People of Moza.
Although I wanted to spend as much time in the field as possible, time spent without it was not time wasted. Trips to the Western Wall Plaza Excavations, Ramat Rachel, and the Dead Sea Scrolls Lab at the Israel Museum were interspersed between lectures and workshops about the archaeology of Israel. When not gawking at the wonderous sites of Israel or exploring the quaint town of Ein Kerem, our so-called home base, I spent my time in the office, learning even more about what Dennis calls “real” archaeology. The image of Area B East’s top land remains burnt into my brain after spending a fair few late nights calculating the day’s elevations. My shared experience with Dennis, Roni, and Emily in the office, which included our fair share of headaches, is one I will remember for quite some time.
I guess that would be the best way to describe my experience at Tel Moza: something I will remember for a very long time. I learned invaluable lessons, saw places that until then existed only in texts and images, and met some incredible people from all over the world. None of this would have been possible without the help of the Steinberg family. To Shua, Michal, and the rest of your family: It is such a cliché to say that you made one of my dreams a reality, but in this instance that is exactly what you did for me and for that I am incredibly grateful to all of you. I hope you feel you made the right choice. As for next year, I will do everything I can to go back to Tel Moza and when I do, it will feel somewhat like a homecoming.