Jezreel Expedition

14 March 2019

Archaeology student Francesca Ruzzetta joined an international team of archaeologists and Bible scholars in the Jezreel Valley, Israel. As well as providing excavation experience, the Jezreel Expedition also allowed Francesca to the fieldwork component of her degree.

Francesca Ruzzetta, Archaeology

With the help of the scholarship from UCL Study Abroad I was able to join the Jezreel Expedition, a team of archaeologists and Bible scholars from all over the world whose focus of research is the area around the Jezreel Tel in the Jezreel Valley, a large fertile plain and inland valley south of the Lower Galilee region in Israel. 

The name Jezreel encompasses two sites, an Upper and a Lower Tel. The Lower Tel was the focus of the 2017 season of excavations. The main research objective of the ongoing excavation at Jezreel is to understand the relationship between the Upper Tel and the area around the Spring of Jezreel. The area I worked on for the two weeks of my stay at Jezreel lies on the Lower Tel. This area is characterised by an intricate geometry of walls that seemed to abate one another. We are still in the process of dating these walls in order to understand the sequence of occupation, which is likely to date back to the Iron Age, although some walls might also be Bronze Age. However, the most plausible temporary interpretation of these structures is that we might be in the presence of a gateway that in ancient times regulated the access of people to a possible city in the Lower Tel, whose existence still needs to be proved; this will be the aim of the next seasons of excavation. 

During my time in the Jezreel Valley I had to face many challenges. The difficulties in interpreting the site came together with the sheer hardship of digging in the heat for several hours. However, teamwork and a friendly environment made both tasks feasible and even enjoyable. The directors of the expedition brought us on several day trips to sites of interest in Israel, such as Jerusalem, Caesarea, and the See of Galilee, therefore I was able to appreciate this beautiful land thorough. 

The Jezreel excavation will count towards the seventy days of fieldwork that the Archaeology department at UCL requires students to undertake in order to complete their degree. The Jezreel expedition struck me as being the most engrossing among the projects presented by UCL because this site is not only interesting from a historical and religious point of view, given its many Biblical associations, but it is also a place where to acquire first-hand archaeological experience of many periods of the human history.  Although my current career aim is to go on to further studies and research to become a professional archaeologist, I am aware that some archaeology graduates move into different areas, including museum curatorship, heritage management, and education. 

I am certain that my UCL degree will continue to provide the challenging environment in which to develop the skills that I will later need to successfully complete my further studies and any job application procedure. However, the fieldwork part of my degree is invaluable to help me understand where my interests lie and therefore direct my career plans. The abroad programs I have joined have so far proven the most challenging but interesting periods of my life, therefore I highly recommend considering short-term study abroad opportunities.