Every once in a while it is fun to just let yourself go ... in this case, I am jumping off a cliff (that's the Mediterranean Sea in the background). No, I was not jumping into the sea fully clothed, but I did walk into the sea fully clothed (boots and all) just for the fun of it ... but I need to get back to the story.
A lot of people are interested in archaeology, and in my case Biblical archaeology, but they don't have how to get started. For me, it started when I was still an undergraduate. I fell in love with the history of the Bible (the culture of that time was like a puzzle to me, and I wanted to solve it). Right before I graduated, I spent a tour of duty in Iraq in combat. While there, I fell in love with the Arab people, the land, and the general culture (it too was a puzzle).
After returning from the war, I finished college and started graduate school toward a Master's in Biblical Cultural Settings. For this degree, I spent six weeks in Jordan digging at Tall Jalul.
Now, I am a late bloomer in the field, having five kids, having gone to war, having to work for a living - all this made it somewhat difficult to become an archaeologist. I have studied archaeology for some time, but I really needed to be in the dirt to be labeled an "archaeologist." This past summer I took the leap and went on another excavation, this time in Cyprus. I met great friends, and I established great connections. What's next? Well, I have finally found a way to make the PhD feasible, and so next year I will (inshallah) be heading either to Jordan again or to Sicily to officially begin PhD work.
How about you? For those of you interested in becoming archaeologists, how can you get started? Is it too late to get started? Nah ... I dug this past season with a woman who was 82 years old, and she outworked anyone there. But what about the training? ... I've got you covered there. I am working on a plan to create an 18 credit cognate in Biblical Cultural and Archaeological Studies with the regionally accredited college where I teach. This means that either someone can add the 18 credit cognate to their BA in Biblical Studies degree program or someone can just take the courses to learn as much as possible about the cultural and archaeological background of the Bible. The best part is that 3 of those credits will be archaeological field work joining me or my partner in the field.
If you are interested in taking any of these courses, contact Mark Bird (513-721-7944) and ask him about any of these courses specifically: Archaeology and the Old Testament, Archaeology and the New Testament, Archaeological Field Work, Religions of the Ancient Near East, People and Literature of the Ancient Near East, and/or Biblical Cultural Settings. Dr. Bird is the director of the Aldersgate Distance Education Program (www.gbs.edu/adep) at the college. ... Now, he will only know about one of these courses, but if you ask him about the others then he will get the point that we need to hurry up and finish them.