Lab staff of the Temple Mount Sifting Project

Girl Power at the Sifting Project!

Today is International Women’s Day and I want to gloat about the amazing women working for the Temple Mount Sifting Project. We really have a special workplace because we have such a high percentage of women working here. With a lot of talk recently about women in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), archaeology can sometimes be overlooked because many people associate it with the humanities. However, as someone who was required to take statistics for my archaeology major at Boston University, I can tell you that archaeologists regularly use the left side of the brain. What makes archaeologists so special is their ability to integrate the hard science and logic aspect of the field with the understanding of people, social structures, and the humanity side of the field.

Women working as archaeologists are power houses and I am honored to call some of them my colleagues. Though many doubt us, we women can handle the rough days of field work getting dirty and processing finds, and the long days of research and analysis, the complex statistics and categorization of finds. My coworkers are creative and precise and manage to be some of the most genuine and kind people I’ve met.

Frankie Snyder with an example of a floor pattern from the Second Temple

People who know our project know that our researcher Frankie Snyder is amazing. She is a mathematician and actually taught math in America. When she moved to Israel, she started volunteering at our project. Almost 10 years later, and she has come out with some groundbreaking research on our opus sectile tiles. Using geometry, material analysis, and comparisons with other Herodian sites, she was able to recreate the possible patterns of the floors of the Second Temple complex. She discovered what we call “Herod’s triangle” whose base is equal to its height, like a triangle constructed inside a square. This triangle with the unusual corner angles of 52°-64°-64° was very common in Herodian patterns but was rarely seen in floors elsewhere in the Roman world. When used in a pattern, the “Herod’s triangles” cause adjacent tiles to also have unusual, but mathematically recognizable corner angles. With math, ingenuity, and creativity, Frankie made one of the most amazing discoveries in Jerusalem archaeology in a decade.

Razia Richman making a scale drawing of an artifact

Dorit Gutreich sorting pottery

Frankie is just one of our many amazing women at the Temple Mount Sifting Project. We have had many female managers at the sifting site and we have a lot of female researchers and staff as well. Razia Richman does all of our detailed to-scale drawings of special finds. Nili Ahipaz is researching all of our coins dating from the Persian period (4th century BCE) to the time of the Arab Conquest in the 7th century CE. She is interested in how the symbols and inscriptions on coins can teach us about the beliefs and aspirations of the people who minted and used them. She is an inspiration to us, reminding us why we are studying these things, and not just identifying what they are.

Dorit Gutreich took over the study of Crusader and Medieval period pottery from another fantastic female: Giulia Roccabella. Dorit is also researching all of our ancient glass. I was talking to her about International Women’s Day, and she said that the best advice she could ever give is to, “believe in yourself and your abilities. Always follow your heart. I studied archaeology just because it interests me. I never thought I would be able to find work in it afterward, but you know what? I have been practicing archaeology for more than 12 years now.”

Me, Jenn Greene showing off some mosaic tesserae at the sifting site.

Working with all of these amazing people, I feel like you can’t ever let anyone ever tell you that you can’t do something just because you are a woman. There are so many opportunities now for further education and experience and the biggest, hardest step is always the first step. I moved to London for my MA program at University College London and then moved to Israel and got my citizenship.  Even though it has been difficult and completely foreign to everything I’ve done before, I have not regretted that first step for an instant.

So women: Be brave. Be strong. Be yourself.

*Note: We are currently looking for researchers in a number of different categories. Both women and men are welcome to apply and join our amazing team. Contact me at development@tmsifting.org.

 

6 replies
  1. Rosemarie Cardona
    Rosemarie Cardona says:

    Tentatively 5 of us will be visiting Jerusalem from Oct 31, 2018 – Nov 11, 2018 we would like to volunteer for 3 days
    We will be coming from Colorado & California
    We sifted in the project in November 2016
    My email is thereverend1@comcast.net
    My name is Rosemarie Cardona
    My phone number is 17203288071
    Thank you for your response

    Reply
    • jenn
      jenn says:

      Hi Rosemarie, unfortunately we were forced to stop the sifting of new Temple Mount material last April. While we had hopes that we would be able to resume the sifting this year, I don’t think that we will be sifting material in the fall. We are still hoping for government support for our project in order to resume the sifting, but the funding still has not been approved and we are relying solely on private donors and our crowdfunding campaign to continue with the research part of our project (www.half-shekel.org). If things change, I promise we will be posting it everywhere on our blog (tmsifting.org/en), our website (half-shekel.org) and our facebook page.

      Reply
  2. John Pakan
    John Pakan says:

    I have a little time left. Interested in sifting project when heat isn’t in the picture.
    Early April. Two weeks. Will give resume when necessary. Most expenses covered by myself. Fourth time in Israel. Worked Hippos project.

    John age 78

    Reply
    • jenn
      jenn says:

      Hi John, unfortunately the sifting part of our project has still not resumed. We are still hoping for government support for our project in order to resume the sifting, but the funding still has not been approved and we are relying solely on private donors and our crowdfunding campaign to continue with the research part of our project (www.half-shekel.org).

      Reply
  3. Marja Partanen
    Marja Partanen says:

    i am visiting Israel for 3 months with 10days left and was hoping the shifting would have started again. I tried it 2 1/2 years ago on tourist trip because I had hear of it and found it very interested. I was hoping to have a chance to do some more shifting before I go home, but found out earlier that there is no shifting. If you have started please let me know.
    Ps the article on women was interesting as well.

    Reply
    • jenn
      jenn says:

      Thanks for reading our blog! Unfortunately, we have not resumed sifting the material from the Temple Mount. We are still hoping for government support for our project in order to resume the sifting, but the funding still has not been approved and we are relying solely on private donors and our crowdfunding campaign to continue with the research part of our project (www.half-shekel.org). The City of David runs a different sifting activity if you are interested.

      Reply

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