Jocelyn Burney: Digging into the lives of ancient Jewish communities

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Jocelyn Burney: Digging into the lives of ancient Jewish communities

Religious studies Ph.D. student Jocelyn Burney relishes the public humanities aspect of her graduate work — from contextualizing a pottery exhibit in Carolina Hall to teaching the Hebrew Bible at a Raleigh women’s prison to supervising the work of undergraduate students at an archaeological dig in Israel.

Jocelyn Burney is used to getting up early. Really early. For the last 10 years, her summer mornings have begun promptly at 4 a.m. as an area supervisor for an archaeological dig at Huqoq in Israel’s Lower Galilee.

Burney is a Ph.D. student in religious studies who got hooked on archaeology as a 19-year-old undergraduate at Carolina when Kenan Distinguished Professor Jodi Magness first took students to Huqoq. (Magness is now her dissertation adviser.)

After traveling to the site and setting up shade tents, work begins around 5 a.m. to avoid the blistering heat. There’s a morning respite for breakfast at 8 a.m., then another fruit/hydration break affectionally called “elevensies” at 11 a.m. Burney supervises a group of students — teaching them, taking photographs, helping to document the excavation — as the team continues to unearth nearly 1,600-year-old mosaics in an ancient Jewish synagogue. It’s intense, physical work that wraps up around noon each day. Afternoons for students involve lectures and lab work — washing and cleaning pottery — while Burney spends the time writing up reports of the day…

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Posted in News & Events on April 12, 2023. Bookmark the permalink.