Hello friends! As some of you may know, I have decided to make a career shift. I have been longing to incorporate more biblical studies teaching into my life, as I feel it is my strongest calling and something that audiences have responded to very well in the past, indicating that there is a need for it. As such, I have decided to voluntarily leave my administrative position at Harvard and focus on becoming more adept in skills that will benefit me as an instructor.
Part of this new plan of attack is returning to school part time. I have recently begun work on a Graduate Certificate in World Religions at Harvard, filling a void in my knowledge of non-Abrahamic faith traditions, which will lend me to offering more diverse course subjects in the future.
Nate excavating in Israel in 2012:
Beyond this, and more pertinent to the immediate discussion, are my archaeological exploits, which are quintessential to my understanding and engagement of history. I'm excited to announce that I have been accepted to the Bolgar International Archaeological Field School in Russia (apparently colluding with the Russians is in vogue, and I want in!). In fact, I just arrived in Russia the other day, having secured my humanitarian visa, and am currently 500 miles east of Moscow in the small city of Bolgar, where the school is located. This is an amazing opportunity for me to expand my archaeological toolbox and begin incorporating lab work. Over the next few weeks, I'll be learning the skill set of Paleoanthropology while I'm here—which is the study of old bones using methods of craniological (skulls), osteological (bones), and odontological (dental) analysis. While in Bolgar, we will be working with human remains from medieval Sviyazhsk (a nearby island community on the Volga River). I just learned today that they might even let me help excavate one of their sites here, because of my previous fieldwork experience. To my knowledge, none of the other field school participants have been offered such an opportunity!
Bolgar International Field School, located in Tartarstan, Russia:
Following my three weeks in Russia, and also because of my previous fieldwork experience, I have been invited to participate in the excavations at Hippos-Sussita in northern Israel, near the shores of the Sea of Galilee, which I intend to accept. This is a site containing Greco-Roman architecture (a topic which I studied in Turkey in 2012), and I am excited to get my hands dirty in Israel again. This is a timely opportunity for me, as they want me there immediately after the field school in Russia to help them wrap up their season of excavation. I am also teaching a course on the New Testament at St. John's Episcopal Church in Beverly Farms this fall when I return to the States, so having just spent some time in the Galilean region (which I have never been before), will be insightful into the context of the early Jesus movement. I should be in Israel about a week and a half.
Hippos-Sussita near the Sea of Galilee:
ADDITIONALLY—as if that wasn’t enough—I received an email yesterday from a field school in southern Italy called Grumentum Santa Maria. They are working to unearth an ancient church, Santa Maria Assunta, which is about 100 miles SE of Naples. I had contacted them about two months ago when I was first exploring archaeology options, but hadn’t heard back. Well, they just invited me to join them for their final week, which would line up perfectly with the end of Hippos-Sussita in Israel, and just entail a flight to Italy, and then travel to the city of Grumentum. I would then plan to return to the U.S. at the very end of September.
Excavations at Grumentum:
I am looking to raise money immediately to help me take advantage of these amazing prospects; this is where you come in! In order to pay for items such as international flights, meals, lodging, ground transportation, archaeological equipment, program fees, and the visa to Russia (which alone cost almost $400!), I require your help. I am estimating in the five weeks I'll be traveling, it will cost about $4,000 total (I tend to travel on the cheap!). I had some money set aside to use for the first part of the trip to get me halfway there. Ideally, I'm now looking to raise $2,500. A few days before I left the country, my personal computer abruptly died, necessitating buying a new one. I no longer have the financial cushion I was anticipating. Even if you donate just $10, it would go a long way. Seriously—no donation is too small!
I would be eternally grateful to you if you were to help me take advantage of these wonderful opportunities that will help my career as a biblical scholar and archaeologist. I, of course, will be happy to share the information I learn, pictures I take, and regale you with tales of my exciting adventures at these sites!
Thank you all for supporting me in past endeavors, and for your continued aid and encouragement in my current exploits as I transition into this new phase of my life. It really does mean a great deal to me that I have such a wonderful support network! Again, this is a call for aid of an immediate nature, as it will determine in the next few weeks whether I'll be able to participate in the Italy campaign. I hope that you will answer this call with good and charitable nature. I very much appreciate your consideration!
- Paul Bell
- Janet Ragusa
- Gail Campbell
- Paul Engel
- Katharine Graham
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