Weekly Reports from Jordan

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Commencement of the 2010 Season

Douglas R. Clark, La Sierra University, Director


Doug ClarkThis past week marked the beginning of the 2010 season of archaeological excavations at Tall al-`Umayri, Jordan (mppumayri.org), part of the Madaba Plains Project. By Wednesday 23 June most of our team was on hand for orientation, so we are underway, this for the 13th time since the dig began in 1984.

We are filing the first of several weekly reports, normally posted on the weekend following each week we are in the field. Illustrated reports describing the human-interest side of the project, along with creative pieces, will be written by John McDowell of Pacific Union College and those announcing new finds will come from Kent Bramlett, new Chief Archaeologist from La Sierra University and me. John will also try to keep a Facebook account updated, although we are running into difficulty with the internet filter at the Amman Training College where we stay for this. John has also set up a Twitter account. Look for updates provided that we can resolve the filter issues.

La Sierra UniversityTo begin, I want to thank the entire team for committing their summer to our research, and those who are paying for team members to come to Jordan, often parents. We also appreciate the scores of donations without which we could not have mounted this season. Consortium institutions are especially important to the project in their support, as well – La Sierra University, the primary sponsor, the School of Architecture at Andrews University, Canadian University College, Mount Royal University, Pacific Union College and Walla Walla University.


After twelve fields seasons (1984-2008) as Chief Archaeologist and Co-director of excavations at Tall al-`Umayri, Larry Herr of Canadian University College has retired from the field in order to dedicate his time to publishing the results of our research. We will miss his skills in analyzing pottery, sorting out layers of occupation and reading ancient inscriptions. In his place, Kent Bramlett with a recent Ph.D. in Near Eastern Archaeology from the University of Toronto and eight seasons at `Umayri, has been named Chief Archaeologist. I will now direct the project, having served since 1987 in a Co-director role.

We are also experiencing a dramatic change as we move toward what we are calling a second phase of research at `Umayri in the age and makeup of our core staff. While some veterans keep returning year after year, bringing with them accumulated experience, the joy of travel and adventure, and positive attitudes not unlike our Jordanian hosts, we are experiencing numerous changes. The average age of Field supervisors in 2008 was 39; this year it’s 27, mostly Ph.D. students from places like the universities of Chicago, Berkeley, North Carolina. Last season nearly 80% of Field supervisors were male; this year 100% are female – Lizzy Brown, Stephanie Brown, Carrie Duncan, Monique Vincent. In fact, the majority of our 40 participants this summer are female, including those among the university students from La Sierra University, Canadian University College, and Mount Royal University.

Leadership of the larger Madaba Plains Project has been intentional about fostering and facilitating the next generation of recently educated and well prepared students of archaeology to carry on the project’s internationally recognized traditions of excellent field work, a prompt publication schedule, open-source accessibility to research data, use of the latest technology and a strong field school training program. This is extremely exciting to watch, as the next generation not only becomes more engaged in our collective research, but begins to buy into it as their own.

We are looking forward to a visit from the President of La Sierra University, Dr. Randal Wisbey, his wife Deanna, and son Alexander. We will also be hosting touring groups from various places around the United States and northern Europe, as well as local.

Hopefully, the following list of participants and short photo gallery will give readers an idea of who is here and what we are doing to advance an understanding of the considerable cultural heritage of one of the most hospitable countries in the world, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Thank you for thinking of us and, perhaps some day, joining us for the adventure of a lifetime!


Clouds over `UmayriIn response to the last several days of cool temperatures we say, Kulu min Allah, al-humdulilah! Everything comes from God, thanks be to God! While Jordan experienced several chamsin winds in June, bringing hot desert winds and lots of blowing dust, we have enjoyed unseasonably cool temperatures, cloudy days, and even a few drops of precipitation – 12 drops counted on the tell Friday and a smattering on Saturday. It never rains in Jordan during the summertime, ever! But this year is different and we are OK with it.


Mary Boyd, Seattle, WA, USA
Kent Bramlett, La Sierra University, Riverside, CA, USA
Stephanie Brown, Berkeley University, Berkeley, CA, USA
Elizabeth Brown, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI, USA
Anita Burns, Canadian University College, Lacombe, AB, Canada
Nicole Castanon, La Sierra University, Riverside, CA, USA
Douglas Clark, La Sierra University, Riverside, CA, USA
Kenneth Crane, La Sierra University, Riverside, CA, USA
Carrie Duncan, University of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC, USA
Kambiz Fathi, Stockholm, Sweden
Rainbow Ford, Canadian University College, Lacombe, AB, Canada
Stefanie Griffin, Stockton, CA, USA
Evanthia Hatziminaoglou, Munich, Germany
Michaela Herbert, La Sierra University, Riverside, CA, USA
David Hopkins, Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C., USA
Amanda Hopkins, Washington, D.C., USA
Gary Huffaker, Riverside, CA, USA
Suha Huffaker, Riverside, CA, USA
Olivia Jenson, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA
Ruth Kent, Washington, D.C., USA
Vera Kopecky, Torrance, CA, USA
Jillian Logee, Mount Royal University, Calgary, AB, Canada
Aran McDowell, Pacific Union College, Angwin, CA, USA
John McDowell, Angwin, CA, USA
Stephanie McIntosh, Mount Royal University, Calgary, AB, Canada
Matthew Murdoch, La Sierra University, Riverside, CA, USA
Lawrence Murrin, Canadian University College, Lacombe, AB, Canada
Nicole Oakden, Mount Royal University, Calgary, AB, Canada
Ferdinand Regalado, Montemorelos University, Montemorelos, Mexico
Audrey Shaffer, Corona, CA, USA
Sashiere Stewart, Mount Royal University, Calgary, AB, Canada
Anna Teper, Chorzów, Poland
Matthew Vincent, Chicago, IL, USA
Monique Vincent, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA
Carolyn Waldron, Ridgefield, WA, USA
Canty Wang, La Sierra University, Riverside, CA, USA
Rebecca Waring-Crane, La Sierra University, Riverside, CA, USA
Graeme Waring-Crane, Riverside, CA, USA
Justin Waring-Crane, La Sierra University, Riverside, CA, USA


Stephanie Brown, Doug Clark, Romel Gharib, Kent Bramlett Carolyn Waldron, Canty Wang, Monique Vincent Assembling pottery tags Pick and trowel practice line Gary Huffaker at the stadia rod Local workers setting up the Bet Shar, our goat-hair tent Paying the workers Second breakfast at the tell Aran McDowell happy face Watermelon chorus line

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