Laurier Archaeology at the AIA

For four days in early January, archaeology took over downtown Toronto. The occasion was the 118th annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), which was held from January 5-8, 2017. Over 75 research panels and workshops were part of the conference and the amount of information presented was thrilling and overwhelming.

The Department of Archaeology & Classical Studies at Laurier was well-represented at the meeting with several current and former students and two faculty members presenting their research. On Friday, Dr. Debra Foran discussed the first two seasons of excavations at her on-going project at Khirbat al-Mukhayyat in a paper entitled “The Town of Nebo Archaeological Project: Results of the First Two Seasons of Excavation at Khirbat al-Mukhayyat, Jordan”. That same day, Dr. Foran along with four students from the department who been active participants in her project presented a poster that examined a large assemblage of cooking pots recovered from the site.

Laurier students and faculty present their research at the 118th Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America. From left to right: Ashley Paling, Dr. Debra Foran, Grant Ginson, Laila Hack, Lauren Mason.

On Sunday, in the final session of panels held during the conference, Dr. Scott Gallimore also discussed results of recent research in a paper entitled “On the Banks of the Ancient Streams of the Inachos: The Western Argolid Regional Project, 2014-2016”, which was co-authored with Drs. Dimitri Nakassis and Sarah James of the University of Colorado, Boulder and Dr. William Caraher of the University of North Dakota.

Laurier alumnae were also active at the conference, including Rachel Dewan (BA 2013) who helped to organize a workshop on data collection, management, and analysis. Rachel is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the History of Art department at the University of Toronto. Dr. Megan Daniels (BA 2005), a recent graduate of Stanford University and current Redford Postdoctoral Fellow in Archaeology at the University of Puget Sound, helped to organize a panel entitled “God the Anthropologist: Text, Material, and Theory n the Study of Ancient Religon” and also presented a paper on sculptural evidence from Sparta.

Overall, the conference was very successful and we are all thankful for such a well-organized and vibrant event. The AIA annual meeting moves to Boston next January and we look forward to more contributions from Laurier’s many active student and faculty researchers.

Town of Nebo Archaeological Project, 2016

Nebo_1The Town of Nebo Archaeological Project is concerned with investigating the sacred landscape around the site of Khirbat al-Mukhayyat in central Jordan. Mukhayyat is located about 2.5 km from the biblical site of Mount Nebo which today boasts the remains of a large Byzantine monastery and a basilica dedicated to the Prophet Moses. Mukhayyat has a long history of occupation that may date back to the Early Bronze Age (4th millennium BCE). For most (if not all) of its history, Mukhayyat has been associated with religious or cultic activity, indicating that this location and the landscape that surrounds it are imbued with a ritual importance that transcends time and cultural tradition.

Thirty-one WLU students participated in our first season of excavation in 2014. Everyone’s hard work produced some surprising finds, including a plastered ritual bath, bedrock-carved installations, and a collection of complete cooking pots all dating to the Late Hellenistic period (1st century BCE). Six students from this initial season returned in the summer of 2015 to participate in a study season that concentrated on documenting and analyzing the artefacts recovered in 2014.

Twenty-two WLU students will be participating in the second season of excavation at Mukhayyat in the summer of 2016. We will be focusing on excavating the area around the ritual bath and, time permitting, exposing more of the complete cooking pots found in 2014. You can keep up to date with our progress in the field by checking out the Town of Nebo Archaeological Project Facebook page or following us on Twitter (@neboarchaeology). We will also be posting weekly blog posts, written by students and staff, on our project website (