Sunday, August 22, 2010

Women in Archaeology: Jennie Eberling

From the Evansville Courier & Press (

UE professor digs into history of women in ancient times
By Sara Anne Corrigan
Evansville Courier & Press
Posted August 14, 2010 at midnight

Here is a thing that all women who have thought about it know: Those who recorded the earliest history of civilization - men - almost exclusively have, at the very least, marginalized women.

For the most part, women's history remains unrecorded.

Jennie Ebeling, assistant professor of archaeology at the University of Evansville, has responded to that omission by digging — literally — into the ancient history of Israel, Jordan and the Middle East at archaeological sites dating to the Iron Age.  "1120 to 1080 BCE — before Solomon and David, after the Exodus," she said.

She also has studied the research and conclusions of those who have preceded her in this field.

She assembled what she knows into a book — "Women's Lives in Biblical Times." It was published by T&T Clark International earlier this year.

It tells of "a time before the God/Yahweh of Israel, when Israel was just beginning to come together. Women were still very much into goddesses, so religion and spirituality run through (my book), but that is not its central focus," Ebeling said.

"Women's Lives ..." outlines the life story of a fictional Hebrew woman whom Ebeling calls Orah, with copious footnotes to support her story, drawn from numerous historical and archaeological sources.

The Hebrew Bible, she said, is one source for historical information to support or preclude archaeological findings but, she said, "the Bible does not do women justice ... none of the texts were written by women and not by men in little villages, cooking and raising families."

Although Orah is a fictional character, "I am not a fiction writer," Ebeling stressed. "I do a realistic story, in a documented academic textbook style.

"I show day-to-day activity, cover the seasons and what women were doing at those times ... to broaden the information (about women in ancient times).

"I pooled resources from all sources. This is a reference or research (book) but in a more palatable style."

In creating Orah's story, Ebeling's friend and colleague of more than 10 years, Elise Friedland, said, "Jennie has employed what some are calling 'fictional reconstruction,' in her creation of the character Orah, and her anchoring each chapter (of her book) on short vignettes related to the various stages of that fictional character's life."

Friedland, assistant professor of classics at George Washington University, added, "Though there are many academics who shy away from such fictionalization, believing it requires too much fabrication of detail for which we have precious little hard, archaeological, textual or other evidence, I agree wholeheartedly with Jennie that by transporting our readers back in time to a specific place, culture and series of personal interactions, we create much more immediate and fulsome access to the ancient world than through academic prose."

Ebeling, a Maryland native with a doctorate in archaeology from the University of Arizona, lived, studied and dug in Israel for several years, and the focus of her archaeological studies is centered there.

She said she is able to pursue these interests at UE, "one of few archaeology programs in the U.S. to focus on Greek, Roman and Near East (history) ... we do not teach New World archaeology here."

© 2010 Evansville Courier  & Press. All rights reserved.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...