By Helena Flusfeder
Albright Associate Fellow and a young archaeologist from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Shlomit Bechar has been awarded a Reuben and Edith Hecht Fellowship at the Albright Institute. Bechar is in the second year of her Ph.D. at the Hebrew University and is working on the transition from the Middle Bronze Age to the Late Bronze Age in northern Israel, a period of great importance when the Egyptians’ rising power loomed large, resulting in the establishment of their empire in the area.
Bechar has been excavating at Tel Hazor in the Upper Galilee for the last eight years with Professors Amnon Ben-Tor and the late Sharon Zuckerman who recently passed away. In an interview at the Albright Institute, Bechar said: “Hazor changed my life. It’s a home for me. Being an area supervisor, I’m in charge of recording the artifacts, the architecture, and all of the scientific stuff. Since Hazor is home to me, I try to convey the same idea to the volunteers. Actually, most of our volunteers are `returning volunteers’ so we were able to create a home and family with them.”
Regarding her PhD research, she explains, “I’m looking at the relationship between historical and archaeological periods. My test case is the transition between the Middle Bronze Age and the Late Bronze Age in northern Israel. I’m looking at what’s going on at Hazor with pottery and architecture — Hazor is my `jumping-off point’ to other sites in northern Israel, Lebanon and southern Syria. All of these sites have the same material culture.”
Bechar originally signed up for a degree in Law and Archaeology at the Hebrew University, thinking that “archaeology was just for fun. Law was to make a living.” However, in her first year of archaeology, “we had a tour of Hazor with Doron Ben-Ami. We were standing next to Area M (the area I am in charge of now). Doron pointed to a field and said this was the lower city of Hazor where the simple people lived. I don’t know what happened. That’s when I fell in love with archaeology.”
Bechar was recently awarded the International Graduate Research Students Fellowship at the University of Maryland and participated in a course called “Theories of the Past” where the subject of discussion was the implementation of critical theory in archaeology and anthropology. She has also begun to have her material published and her article, “A Re-analysis of the Black Wheel-Made Ware of the Intermediate Bronze Age” recently appeared in Tel Aviv 42 (2015):27–58.
Bechar is the third Albright Associate Fellow to receive a Hecht Trust Fellowship, preceded by Alexandra Sumner and Shulamit Miller of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.