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Katelin McCullough (far left) with her "Wallmart" team: (l-r)
Katelin McCullough (far left) with her “Wallmart” team at the Omrit Settlement Excavation Project: (l-r) Claire King, Sam O’Donnell, and Timi Anderson. Prof. Jennifer Gates-Foster is co-director of the project, which runs through the summer. | Photo courtesy of Katelin McCullough

Katelin McCullough spent last summer digging with Jennifer Gates-Foster at the Omrit Settlement Excavation Project. During this time she built upon her academic interest in material culture from the Roman provinces and developed a profound appreciation for walls. Read more about her desire to return to the site below. 

Katelin McCullough
Graduate Classical Archaeology student

This past summer I was a square supervisor at the Omrit Settlement Excavation Project in northern Israel. This ASOR affiliated project included students and faculty from UNC, Carthage College, Queens College, and St. John’s University. Since 2013, OSEP has focused on the excavation and analysis of a Roman period settlement surrounding a Greco-Roman temple complex at the site of Omrit.

The square I was working in was north of the large temple which dominates the site. Our goal in excavating near that section was to get a better understanding of the community that formed around the immense temple structure. This square fulfilled just about everything that one could hope for when excavating with field school students, but perhaps the most immediately challenging part was trying to understand the many architectural features that were in this small space.

“Welcome to Wallmart,” was how my team and I started to greet people visiting our square towards the end of the first week. We joked about the plethora of walls – of different sizes and construction methods – that started appearing as soon as the top soil was removed. Multiple fill layers, plastered vats, and basalt pavers were slowly revealed over the course of the season. This space seemed to have been continually modified over its use. As our stratigraphy became more and more complicated, we worked to understand how the space looked and functioned.

Working at Omrit was beneficial to me because I am interested in examining how material culture from the Roman provinces reflects the diverse identities and experiences of individuals living in different communities throughout the ancient Mediterranean. Through my continuing work at Omrit, I am gaining experience working directly with the materials associated with the Roman settlement at the site, especially the architectural and ceramic evidence, which will, I hope, form the basis for further work in the region.

I am looking forward to returning to Israel this upcoming summer and spending more time understanding Omrit!