Jennie Ebeling, Associate Professor of Archaeology at the University of Evansville
Jennie Ebeling, Associate Professor of Archaeology at the University of Evansville, has a special place in her heart for The University of Arizona. “UA was a great place to be. In terms of the resources available in the areas I was interested in, I was in the perfect place,” Ebeling said.
In addition to her position at the University of Evansville, Ebeling is currently a co-director of the Jezreel Expedition. Ebeling’s interest in archaeology was sparked during her undergraduate career at Rutgers University, where she studied Anthropology and Religion. The religion part she stumbled upon. “My freshman year, I took a Gen Ed course on the Hebrew Bible, simply because it fit into my schedule and I needed the credit. I ended up loving the class and that led me to choose to study abroad in Israel my junior year,” Ebeling explained.
During her semester at University of Haifa, Ebeling had the opportunity to travel all over Israel, and to Greece and Egypt, which solidified her interest in working in that part of the world. She returned to Israel during her senior year to do research for her honors thesis, and the summer after graduation to work on an archaeological dig at Hazor.
When the time came to choose a school for her postgraduate work, Ebeling felt that Arizona was an obvious choice. Through her honors thesis and attendance at several conferences, she was well aware of the great reputation of the University and of its faculty, and she was eager to study with the famed Prof. William G. Dever. Ebeling was one of his last four graduate students.
Ebeling spent three years at The University of Arizona, and then travelled to Israel on a Fulbright scholarship. She said that one of the most valuable aspects of her education at Arizona was the “opportunity to work with local field archaeologists and learn some of their techniques, that I could then take to Israel with me.” Ebeling completed a year of post-doc work at Hebrew University before being offered a position at the University of Evansville. There, she teaches a wide range of classes, including Introduction to Archaeology, Near Eastern Archaeology, Women in Antiquity, and Daily Life in Biblical Times.
Ebeling and co-director Norma Franklin from University of Haifa initiated the Jezreel Expedition in 2012. The site of Jezreel had been excavated between 1990 and 1996 by a team from Tel Aviv University, which had focused on the Tel itself. The new Jezreel Expedition has broader goals, which include a ground survey. (Through the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies, The University of Arizona is now affiliated with this exciting project.) In the first year, Ebeling’s team, including students from University of Evansville, discovered over 350 previously unexamined installations such as tombs, water cisterns, and olive and wine presses. “It was a great opportunity for young archaeology students because we were literally discovering new things every minute. It was really fun,” Ebeling said.
The personal connections made while working on archaeological digs are very valuable to Ebeling. “The digging is digging, but actually being in close contact with people from all over the place and getting to know people in a really intense situation in a foreign country is a lot of fun. And now, being on the other end of it, being the co-director of an excavation, I get to help make that happen for young people, which is really great,” she said.
For undergraduate students considering careers in archaeology, Ebeling says to go for it! “The only way to find out what you’re really interested in is through trying it out. Don’t be afraid to try things you’re a little nervous about; it can be really transformative,” she said.