Exactly one month shy of a full year since my last post… Somewhere in the craziness that was the end of last summer/start of the fall, I decided to take a hiatus from this blog as I invested my energy in what seemed to be a million things happening all at once. I always remained optimistic, imagining that perhaps I could write up some posts and publish them throughout the year, but my limited multitasking skills only go so far, and I was forced to admit defeat…
Now, however, I am determined to get back into the swing of things! Saving Antiquities for Everyone (SAFE), which I wrote about last year, played a major role in my life throughout that time, and I am honoured to have been a part of that amazing organization for the past year and a half. But now, as I focus my attention on doctoral studies and the ‘life archaeological,’ the time has come for me to pass the organization on to other, incredibly capable hands, which is why I am so excited to welcome a new leadership team to SAFE! You can read all about the new leaders here, and I encourage you to follow and support SAFE as it continues its mission to protect the past for the future.
Working within new roles and schedules, I am setting myself what seems (at this point) to be an attainable challenge: publishing at least one new blog post every month. For a myriad of reasons, both positive and regrettably negative, the past few years have seen a large shift in public attention to the world of archaeology and history, and the significant place of cultural heritage on the global stage. As the number of stories, articles, news pieces, and discussions involving heritage and archaeological issues continues to increase, from the mainstream media to scholarly discourses, I hope to use this blog as a platform to showcase important voices that need to be heard, now more than ever.
For my first post of this year, I want to revisit one of the first articles that really struck a chord and helped me to understand the relevance of archaeology to contemporary issues. Way back in the spring of 2010, when I was an impressionable first-year undergraduate student, I came across a short article in the popular publication, Archaeology Magazine, which featured an archaeological project taking place in the Old City of Lod, Israel. The archaeology of the area is fascinating, but the really special part of this project is its focus on community archaeology; the school program run at the site was the first of its kind in Israel, bringing together Arab and Israeli children to learn about archaeology, dig together, and uncover the shared heritage of their city. Other excavators include adult community members who volunteer their time to bring the history of the city to life. For me, this is what archaeology is all about: breaking down barriers, recognizing commonalities, and celebrating diversity within the human experience. It is why I am an archaeologist and why I so firmly believe that history matters.
It was just a short bit of text in Archaeology, but that piece and the story of the Lod project had a lasting effect on me. Six years later, I was thrilled to spot a familiar title in the program of the Archaeological Institute of America’s Annual Meeting this past January: “Ancient Lod: A Community Archaeology Project;” co-director Yuval Gadot was reporting on the success of the project in a conference panel themed, “Integrating Community and Education into Archaeological Research.” The project, it seems, is still going strong, introducing new generations of students and young people to the joys of archaeology and the valuable lessons it holds for us all.