Post ASOR and SBL

23 11 2010

I was planning on posting more regularly over the course of the meetings, but I was too busy/without internet most of the time.  I presented on Thursday and was then able to enjoy the rest of the sessions sans stress.  The meetings are always a great opportunity to see old friends and network.  I saw friends from all over the world, people from: Wheaton, Jerusalem University College, Tell es-Safi, the Madaba Plains Project, and others random folk I’ve come to know over the years.  Since I am ABD networking is always an important part of the meetings and partially thanks to the 3D scanning I was able to make some new acquaintances.  I also attended a young scholars luncheon on post-doc fellowships, which was particularly helpful.

I attended many sessions and heard papers both good, bad, and ugly.  My paper in the Archaeology of Jordan Bronze and Iron Age session went fairly well.  There were technical difficulties at the beginning of the session, but all the papers were interesting, covering the Early Bronze Age through the Iron Age.  I saw many familiar faces in the audience and also the new director general of the department of antiquities (who Barbara Porter has introduced me to the night before).

A particularly interesting/telling series of lectures took place on Saturday afternoon and evening.  I went over to SBL to hear the Ussishkin Festschrift Session and then came back to ASOR to hear the session on the Archaeology of the City of David.  Both sessions were star-studded events with Israel Finkelstein, Naadav Naaman, David Schloen, and Baruch Halpern presenting in the first session and Amihai Mazar, Avraham Faust, and Andy Vaughn in the second (to name a few).  The SBL session was packed with people standing in the back and sitting on the floor, the ASOR session was also quite full but in a much larger room.  The SBL session had been moved from an even smaller room, making one wonder how seriously they take their archaeology.  In any case there was a real dichotomy between the two sessions one where the Low Chronology/Tel Aviv School was in full effect, and the other where the High Chronology was being favored.  It was quite a transition, going from Finkelstein tearing down the standard interpretation of Kh. Qeiyafa (while Garfinkel squirmed in the audience), to Vaughn pointing out all the flaws in Finkelstein’s interpretation of Jerusalem.

Despite the tension in the room (especially at SBL) there were many light moments as well. Finkelstein showed pictures of his great grandparents alongside Ussishkin’s grandparents back in Europe and told a story of Ussishkin’s parents staying at his grandparents hotel in Jerusalem and still owing them for a coffee.  At Faust’s lecture, he focused on redating Eilat Mazar’s monumental stone structure (called by her David’s Palace) to the Iron Age I, prompting Ayelet Gilboa (director of excavations at Tell Dor) to suggest he except the Low Chronology and then once again we could have David’s Palace (instead of a Jebusite stronghold).  I’ve written plenty here, maybe as there is time over Thanksgiving weekend I will write about a few of the more interesting lectures, and write a thorough critique of Finkelstein’s interpretation of Qeiyafa.

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2 responses

24 11 2010
Brion Daugherty

Wow. I wish I could have been there. Sounds seriously amazing. I bet that kind of experience helps one cross that ontological barrier, moving from feeling like an outsider, to feeling like an insider. Jealous.

25 11 2010
ochesnut

Thanks for commenting Bri. Yeah it really was a great experience. Getting a chance to see these scholars interact is unique and reminds you that despite some of the vitriol you see in an occassional article, they are all (for the most part) friends. It also might have been the last time to hear some scholars (rainey, na’aman, and ussishkin come to mind).

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