A pair of Troy University students found their place in history and proved to be subject-area experts for students from several Ivy League universities over the summer in Ashkelon, Israel.
Senior social sciences majors Daniel Lowery, of McCullough, AL, and Hilary Wikle, of Atlanta, GA, participated in the Leon Levy Expedition to the ancient seaport city that once served as the capital of Canaanite kings, the harbor of the Philistines and the area inhabited by Samson.
“Out of all of the students and volunteers from all of the other universities, including Harvard students, Berkeley, Princeton, Yale students,” Wikle said, “Daniel and I were the only two that specialized (in human and animal bones.). In all of the other grids and all the other grid supervisors, any time they found either what they thought were human remains or animal remains they would call my supervisor or Daniel’s supervisor and ask one of us to come over and do an identification.”
“Being recognized for the work that you’ve done and the skills and talents that you have makes it so much more of a rich experience,” she added. “It really speaks to the program that we have here at TROY.”
The two TROY students had received specialized training in animal-bone and human-bone archeology from Dr. Bill Grantham, chair of the Criminal Justice and Social Science Department. They were teamed with students from Harvard, Princeton, Yale and Berkeley.
For Wikle, this summer’s trip marked her second excursion to Israel.
“Last year I was filling a requirement,” Wikle said. “This year I went back just because I enjoyed it so much and this way I could bring another student with me and that’s how Daniel became involved.”
Because of her past experience there, Wikle said she had more responsibility on the dig, in addition to her and Lowery’s specialized training.
Along with participating in the excavation at Ashkelon, the students also visited archeological sites at Jerusalem, Qumran and the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, the Dead Sea, Masada and Tel Safi, referred to as Gath in the Bible.
For Lowery, the trip was all that it was billed as and more.
“Hilary heard of it from Dr. Grantham and then came back and told me that it was life changing and I absolutely had to go,” Lowrey said. “I’m really glad I went. She definitely did not talk it up too much. It was very awesome.”
Lowrey said his work in Ashkelon gave him a unique opportunity to see how archeology comes to life.
“It gave me practice excavating bones, which is not something you get to do very often in the southeastern United States because they decay very quickly,” he said. “It was a unique experience.”
Lowrey said that they also were able to find pottery.
“You don’t dig for more than two minutes without finding something,” he said.
Both Lowrey and Wikle said they plan to visit again next year and they have a goal to bring five more TROY students with them.