Expanding our usability, Dig-iT! Games is thrilled to announce Excavate! Egypt is now available in Dutch! We’re beyond excited to be able to spread our love of archaeology and gaming with more players and students. As we launch our newest version of the game worldwide we want to introduce you to our brilliant translator, Tine Rassalle. As the recent pandemic changed education early this year, Dig-iT! Games asked for crowdsource volunteers to translate the game into other languages so students, teachers and parent would have another resource available. Thankfully. Tine responded and delivered a new Dutch translation so we asked her to answer a few questions about her background, gaming and how she got into the field of Archaeology.
Tell Us a Little About Yourself
I am a PhD candidate at the university of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the US. I grew up in a small village close to Ypres, in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. I have been in the US for six years now, and I am currently writing my dissertation on coin hoards that have been found in ancient synagogues in Israel. I also teach classes at UNC, mainly on the history and archaeology of ancient Judaism and early Christianity. I am also involved with ASOR (the international organization for archaeologists, historians, and linguists of the ancient Near East), and SASA (Save the Ancient Studies in America), a digital initiative that unites Ancient Studies graduate students and early career academics to help create interest in Ancient Studies, particularly for high school and college students.
Why did you choose to become an Archaeologist?
I think I was about six years old when I told my mother I wanted to be an archaeologist. I remember seeing a book with pictures of pyramids and Aztec temples and I asked my mom what they were and how you could get a job studying these mysterious buildings. I think I saw archaeology as solving a puzzle: you don’t know anything about a certain building you discover, but based on the artifacts that you find in it, maybe you can try to figure out its purpose.
When I went to college, I immediately enrolled in the department of Archaeology at Ghent University (we do not have majors and gen-eds in Belgium; you just choose a field and every class you take is within that field). At first, I thought I would specialize in Archaeology of South-America, but it turned out that this is not being taught at Flemish universities. So, I switched areas and specialized in Archaeology of the Ancient Near East instead. I have always been fascinated with cultures that we know very little about, so studying ancient Mesopotamia and Assyria was very exciting to me. I studied archaeology because I wanted to understand ancient cultures and people better: how did their lives look, what did they value in society, what religions did they have, how can we deduce information about their world from the objects that they left behind?
One day, a professor of mine lamented that our field has a severe lack of people knowing the ancient languages of Aramaic and Syriac. He told us that most people specializing in the ancient Near East end up studying cuneiform (like Akkadian or Sumerian) at some point, but almost nobody wanted to dive into the North-West Semitic languages. That is when I decided that I wanted to continue my education and learn these specific languages. So, after I graduated with my Masters in Ghent, I moved to the Netherlands and started a BA in Hebrew and Aramaic Languages and Cultures at Leiden University. There I met a professor, Jürgen Zangenberg, who was about to start a new excavation project in Israel, excavating a small, Roman-Byzantine village close to the Sea of Galilee. I told him I was interested in joining and that was the beginning of my journey into the history of ancient Judaism and early Christianity in the Syria-Palestine region.
To make a long story short, this interest led me to work at the national Museum of Antiquities in the Netherlands for while and eventually to UNC to start my PhD in ancient Mediterranean Religions and Archaeology.