By Tanya Nasife

The ‘Art’cheology of Care

It’s easy to get caught up in the dirt storm, both literally and figuratively, of an archaeological dig. You must take caution in not knocking rocks out of place or stepping on pottery. There seems to be a zone sometimes you get into during digging. Maybe it’s the repetition, or just the excitement of finding a cool looking pottery piece or a rock. In digs sometimes, there can be a lack of care for yourself, especially in extreme situations. In hot weather, there are dangers, like not drinking enough water. At this dig at Tel Akko, you can commonly hear people yelling to drink water, or have someone use that parent voice of disappointment when they hear you haven’t drunk any water in the last twenty minutes. You can stretch your legs, drink water and enjoy the wind that finally comes in.  That, however, is only one part of what makes a human body work, the physical part. There is also our mental health with goes hand in hand with physical health.  Each person on the dig adds their own spin on taking care of themselves before and after the dig. This is mine and a few others’ first dig, so I asked a few friends how they take care of themselves during the month.

  1. Naps- Upon first arrival in Israel, many got hit with jet lag. Later during the trip, we were all hit with the tiredness from digging early in the morning. Naps are one of the most common things done here and are commonly mentioned. It is the one thing that can halt a well-planned outing in its track. One person mentioned that they take a nap in the afternoon, after lunch as they wouldn’t be able to pay attention in lecture otherwise. Digging is demanding work and rest is always well appreciated, although naps may not be for everyone; for another friend, a nap leaves them feeling off.
  2. Change of scenery- Dig. Lunch. Pottery. Lesson. Dinner. Sleep and repeat. Day in and out, it can be the same. Same square, same food, same good old dirt in your mouth. Yummy. Just getting out of the building and into Old City or the beach, or one of the other options nearby, can keep you from pulling out your hair. Even if it’s just spending time with friends, which you will be able to make on this trip. Or adopted into a group of already made friends. There are also other options that relate to the dig you can try. You can try other courses other then what you wrote on the paper officially. Want to take photos? Study bones? Dig through small piles of pieces? You can! I recommend bones. You can learn so much from what remains, also they look cool.
  3. Be by yourself- You end up spending time with the same people day in and day out; rooming with others, digging with them, and eating with them. Sometimes it’s great to just sit by yourself and listen to music, play some video games, or just zone out. Your mental health is as important as physical health, even if it doesn’t seem mentioned enough.
  4. Take a break- It’s okay to want to do a half day or miss a day of digging and wash pottery. In fact, washing pottery is highly encouraged. Taking a step back from the toll of digging is fine and recommended. Don’t feel well the day before? Take a break. Wake up feeling awful? Take a half day, come back after second breakfast or even stay back, wash pottery, or help in the other labs. There are many options, and you never feel like you are just sitting around. Taking a break isn’t looked down upon here, and your mind and body will thank you even from a small break. Do what you can, not what you think you should be doing.
  5. Enjoy the small things- A simple shower and clean clothes after the dig can change your mood for the entire day. Or having a drink that you love, like chocolate milk. Maybe some music or video games with friends during break. Watching cats nap on the walls around the city or scurry around the streets. Love the small things in life that make you happy.

We’re human, and this dig really shows that. People here get excited talking about what they love, no matter if it’s mosaics or animals. You learn quickly who’s voice is whose; hearing them call out reminders for water, cheering at the find of the day, or just talking to them in general.  Everyone looks out for each other, making sure that they aren’t overdoing themselves or feeling alone. Little reminders to drink water or even a small “Hey, how are you doing?” at the sifters, are just small things that keep a welcoming feeling around the site. Always take care of yourself, as you are the greatest find anywhere.

 

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By Frank Orenstein

The Art of Smithing in Israel

About Blacksmithing

The art of blacksmithing is no longer as common as it used to be.  Just about everyone knows that the modernization of industry and production vastly undercut the need for a local blacksmith in a given community.  Despite this, however, it persists as a hobby, art form, and occasional career all over the world.  I am myself an apprentice blacksmith, though I usually focus on blade-smithing.  It is a small distinction, but an important one since it reflects on the materials, techniques, and other factors in a given smithy.  But I do have some experience as a blacksmith, and it is those experiences that I drew upon last week when the Archaeometallurgy students, alongside a few professors, visited a local forge here in Israel.

The Forge

The forge was almost a community unto itself.  One side of the courtyard held the forge, another held a leather-working shop.  Other buildings were scattered about, but the forge was close to the center.  We met the resident blacksmith and his son, and they taught us a bit about being craftsmen in Israel in the modern era.  Just like in the US, they said, it is far harder nowadays to live purely as an artisan.  Instead, most of their income comes from construction or the teaching of classes around the country.  After this, we were allowed to enter the forge.  As you can see by the picture, this was a pretty packed space.  Two separate forges, one coke burning and the other propane, were present beside a number of anvils, belt grinders, and drill presses.  As a group we learned how to make nails, saw how chains were produced, and even a small knife was made in front of us.

The Reality

As it turns out, forges in the US, at least the ones I have been to, are not so different than the one we visited.  They may be larger, or have different tools, but the underlying atmosphere is much the same.  In the end, it wasn’t all that different from the forge near my own home in Virginia.  Despite the language and cultural barriers that separated us, I felt like I already knew the man teaching us, at least partly.  Not to use a cliche, but experiencing something so familiar in a new environment reminded me how similar people are, no matter where you are.  Plus, hitting hot metal with a hammer is always satisfying.

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By Frank Orenstein

Akko and Tokyo:  Heritage and History

Travelling to Akko, sometimes called Akka or Acre, is not the first time I have traveled abroad.  Nor, I suspect, will it be the last.  However, in all of my travels Akko is distinctly unique.

When I was eleven my father, an officer in the US Army,took a duty station at a military base just outside of Tokyo, Japan.  Over the two years that I lived there, I traveled all over Asia and the Pacific. I like to think it taught me an appreciation for what this city truly offers.  Akko is old, very old.  And while this does not by definition make it necessarily interesting, Akko is a city steeped in its own age.  Tokyo, where I used to live, is not.  This is not to say that Tokyo isn’t a wonderful place, it is, but it is one where the city’s past has been limited.  It only persists in the various shrines, temples, and monuments hidden away in various corners and niches.  Otherwise modern construction, prompted by rebuilding after WWII or other variables, has swallowed everything else.

This is not the case in Akko.  Akko instead wears its age draped around it like a blanket, heavy and omnipresent. To put this in some perspective, Akko has seen almost continuous human habitation for at least four thousand years.  Akko was here when the State of Israel was founded in 1948.  It acted as a military stronghold to the crusaders mustered who fought in the Middle Ages.  For those of Abrahamic faith, the oldest settlements here likely predate Abraham himself.  In fact, the discerning observer will notice the heavy stone blocks used in much of the buildings in Akko’s “Old City”.  Those stone blocks, the same ones used in modern homes and businesses, began as walls or foundations in the crusader period nearly a thousand years ago.

It is true that Tokyo has its own history, stories, and old places, but they are hidden away or have long since been removed to museums. You won’t find many buildings with such old materials there, not like here in Akko.  I speak from personal experience when I say that it is hard to feel that city as an old one, unlike here.  Travelling to Akko has been a unique experience for me, and one that I sincerely appreciate.  The history of this city has a weight to it, one built over thousands of years, and it is one I think it important to learn from.

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By Brandon Yang

Reflecting on Akko and its People

by Brendon Yang.

مرحبا, שלום, приве́т, hello. Even if Hebrew is now Israel’s official language, it doesn’t change the fact that people from all over the world will still flock to this country, whether it’s to visit holy sites in Jerusalem, clubbing in Tel Aviv, or sifting through dirt on Tel Napoleon. Despite my habit of dozing off in afternoon lectures, I do recall a statement about Akko being a case study for the rest of Israel in terms of being a land of many peoples and religions. While I admittedly was not the most attentive student in the lecture hall, this lesson was definitely reinforced as I explored and learned more about Akko.

Some typical interactions would be trying to learn Arabic from one of the Bedouins on the Tel as I attempt to pronounce صباح الخير. After baking in the sun, I might explore the Turkish Bazaar in the Old city where I would hear two tourists chatting in German. I would see signs that were written in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, and English. I would respond with תודה or شكرا after buying something to drink. At the end of the day I’d say לילה טוב to my friends as I went to bed.

The variety of  languages I’d see and hear pairs well with the various buildings and monuments. Akko is home to one of the largest mosques in Israel. The Bahai gardens house the most sacred site in the Bahai religion. The Akko prison museum commemorates Jewish martyrs during the British Mandate. There is also the beach which all peoples can relate to.

Whatever legislation is passed, Akko and subsequently, Israel, will still be home to a variety of cultures and religions. Ancient Akko has seen Phoenicians, Persians, Romans, Crusaders, and Ottomans within its walls. Modern Akko sees Jews, Arabs, Americans, Europeans, and people from all around the globe. I suggest that if you ever go to Israel, you should spend some time in Akko. Here is a city that has such a varied and unique history and by being one of a few mixed cities in Israel, Akko retains its diverse traditions. I have no doubt that this place will continue to attract people from all over the world

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By Caitlin Donahue

I ❤️ Archaeology!!!

By Caitlin Donahue. When I was in the 3rd grade, I decided that I wanted to be an archaeologist when I grew up. My dad had continuously exposed me to the joys and wonders of the ancient world, and in the process, he created a monster. I realized my passion for history and archaeology and never looked back

Shortly after my 9-year-old self had determined my future career path, I began working on my “Archaeology Notebook,” as I called it. A very creative title, if I do say so myself.  I would spend my days after school researching my favorite topics or regions of the ancient world and write a summary, or at least attempt to, on that particular subject. I’d include poorly drawn illustrations of ancient monuments, fun facts that may not have been entirely accurate, and embarrassing side notes and doodles such as “I ❤️archaeology,” and so on.

My intention for this notebook was to cover a wide array of historical topics and groups, varying from ancient Egypt to Mesoamerica to the Vikings to ancient Greece, etc.

Although this notebook is somewhat embarrassing to look through now, it allowed me to express my passion and encouraged me to always try to learn about different places and parts of history.

Fast forward to the present, and it is clear to see that I took my 3rd grade decision to become an archaeologist very seriously. I am here in Akko and loving every second of my very first dig, and am unbelievably excited to see what else the future has in store for me. I never once had a back-up plan or another career path in mind if archaeology had turned out to be the wrong choice for me, so it is insanely relieving to finally know for sure that I ❤️ archaeology just as much as I always thought.

However, my college classes and work on Tel Akko have led me to the realization that 9-year-old me knew very little about what archaeology fully entails. Growing up, I was definitely biased towards large-scale and impressive ancient monuments and civilizations. Basically, I was interested in the type of archaeology that people generally associate with Indiana Jones and other stereotypical depictions of the ancient world. Excavating at Tel Akko has allowed me to gain a greater sense of appreciation for the seemingly mundane and often overlooked aspects of the ancient world. Now with every pottery sherd and bone fragment I uncover,I feel as if I am helping to gradually piece together the history of Tel Akko and the purpose it served in the ancient world.

Another important thing Tel Akko has helped me realize is my love for excavation. It was always a concern of mine that despite my love of history, excavation just may not be for me. I’m the type of person to scream whenever I see a spider, so the notion of encountering scorpions and other creepy crawlers was slightly unsettling. Luckily, these fears were quickly put to rest during the first day of field work at Tel Akko. I was covered in dirt and sweat and had blisters forming on my hands from never having done any manual labor before, and honestly, I’d never been happier.

I’m still not a huge fan of seeing giant spiders and other weird insects I’ve never seen before, but so far I have not caused a scene and freaked out so I’d say that’s pretty good. I now find myself daydreaming about dirt, sweeping off ashlars, trimming baulks, and removing fieldstones, but I’m not complaining.

While I can’t determine if my “Archaeology Notebook” was cute or incredibly cringe-worthy, I am thankful that I was able to find and stick with something that I am so passionate about. Working at Tel Akko and experiencing the archaeological process in a tangible manner has helped to validate my passion and strengthen my outlook on the future. To sum it all up: Tel Akko has confirmed the dream I’ve had since third grade, and it’s only the beginning.

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By Allison Schwartz

Ally’s Declassified Archaeology Survival Guide

The Tel Akko Total Archaeology Field School is the first experience I have ever had with archaeology. Besides ,of course, what we see from Hollywood. In the real world you may run into snakes but you won’t fall into a pit of them like good ole’ Indiana Jones. You also won’t use your handy dandy brush to uncover the skeleton of a Dinosaur, that is a completely different profession known as “Paleontology”. It is not the same thing.  You also learn really quickly just how precious an Archaeologist’s trowel is to them. By reading this manual you will learn some handy dandy tips to help you not only get through this month of dirt and grime, but will also teach you how to have fun in Israel.

Number 1, Good Morning Tel Akko!

Every day at the Tel Akko Total Archaeology Field School we wake before the rooster. I know that because his lazy self is crowing when we are all on the Tel, having already been awake for an hour.  I knew when I arrived in Israel this summer I’d be waking up earlier than the sun, but what I wasn’t ready for was being ok with that. I am in no way a morning person, so I was completely surprised when, during the first two weeks of the trip, I was up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Then it hit me, the third week. Bright eyes turned bleary and one scoop of instant coffee turned to three. The best part? I loved every minute of it. Sure a couple hours of more sleep would have been nice, but so is the chance of getting find of the day (which I still haven’t gotten close to).

 

Number 2,  Learn how to Spell Archoe… Arkeol… Archeology

I still have trouble with this and I suppose I always will. All you need to know is that Archaeologists are treasure hunters with more paperwork… and less profit, but all the excitement!

 

Number 3, Indie had a whip… you have a brush. And yes there are snakes

We all know the look. A young and dashing Harrison Ford, idol in one hand whip in the other. It’d be cool if adventures really were death defying… but this one isn’t. Unless, of course, you use a brush to take a picture of a Scorpion… *Cough* that would be stupid…

 

Number 4,  A drink could save a Life… beach

After a long day on the Tel, which ends about 12:00 pm, you’ll find a few students at Life Beach, about five minutes walk from home base, having a beer and swimming in the Mediterranean sea. It’s five o’Clock somewhere right?  The real fun is Friday nights, after the city has died down for the Sabbath you and a few friends sit on the beach with a drink and watch Haifa in the distance.

  

Number 5,  The difference between a pastiche and a pickaxe… size matters

It’s important to know what tools you are going to use throughout the dig. Namely, a Terea(a large hoe) a brush and dustpan, a pickaxe and a pastiche are your best friends. A pastiche and a pickaxe are not  the same thing. Though the former is a miniaturized version of the latter, their uses are not interchangeable, unless you have the skill to work with what you have.

 

Number 6, Hydrate don’t DIE-drate

This tip is exactly what you think it is. DRINK WATER OR YOU WILL DIE. It is very hot here in Israel and, while you may feel dead tired… that doesn’t mean you want to be dead.

Number 7,   Work Harder not Smarter.

As a beginner to the field of Archaeology you have to realize that your role in the scheme of things is that you are a worker bee. This isn’t a bad thing because you learn a lot by listening to your supervisors. This  doesn’t mean you should slack off. The more you work the more you learn.

 

Number 8, If you’re gonna use a Terea, use gloves.

We are busy about eleven hours out of the day with about five hours of free time throughout the day. As long as what we do is safe and legal (which is easy when the drinking age is 18) the staff and faculty don’t care what we do. That being said, safety is key. Hint, hint.

Number 9,  Is that dirt or a tan?

Speaking of being dirty – you will leave the Tel covered in dirt. It will be gross and it will be mud-like and showers will be the most amazing feeling ever. Then you will get dirty again at pottery washing. Dirt is a fact of life. Accept it.

Number 10, Run to 7 DAYS like your life depends on it!

Seven days is the nearby coffee shop/ beer place( that is  not a bar), that everyone will go to for the free internet and the Goldstar Slow-brew. If you don’t get there before seven thirty in the evening you won’t be able to get on the internet and will have to go another 24 hours w/o internet access.

Number 11, You will have nightmares about shards of Pottery

You will see pottery everywhere. On the Tel you will dig up broken pieces of pottery every day. You will wash buckets of pottery every day. When that is all done and you think you finally have a break from the endless shards you will go on a tour of the beautiful Ba’hai gardens and you will walk on a seemingly endless path of G-D forsaken pottery shards.

Number 12, SUNSCREEN, JUST SUNSCREEN

Next, I don’t care who you think you are, you are not  tougher than the sun. Always put sunscreen on or you might leave here looking like that guy in the White House.  

 

Number 13,We’ll always have Akko.

This will be the most exhausting month of your life. You will be grimy, tired, exhausted, and frustrated. But, this will also be one of the best, most memorable months of your life. You will not only be doing (imho) semi-rewarding work but also meet hilarious, fun people. I’ve celebrated my twentieth birthday here and  made a couple lifelong friends here and I know when we look back we will always have Akko.

 

 

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By Owen Jenney

4am Just Getting Started

by Owen Jenney.

 

Waking up the first day of going to the excavation site was easy enough, with the four am alarm going off, my roommates and I had already been awake for about thirty minutes. We were nervously awaiting what was to become of us when our group was transported to the Tel for the first time. Everyone seemed to be going through the same thing, all waiting in the coffee room. It was silent, no one knew anyone else and we were still jet lagged and tired. I know I wasn’t thinking of making friends. I was contemplating how I was going to be able to get through four weeks waking up around four every day of the week, with the extremely generous addition of sleeping in till seven on the weekends.

We waited for the bus which pulled up around five twenty, and arrived at the Tel with the sun just coming up. I was still frazzled from sleep deprivation and the early wake up call, and all I could think about was my bed and nothing else. Due to this the basic tour of where we would be working for four weeks flew over my head. The day of fieldwork also just flew by in a haze, it was not extremely laborious; just clean-up of sandbags and general sweeping of the sites. But I was still just thinking about how we would have to wake up at such a terrible hour every day, even not getting much of a break on the weekends. I love my sleep, I would rather nap then see and hang with friends. I would rather be in bed than anywhere else. It’s my comfort zone and getting out of bed makes leaves you at the mercy of the day with little to no control on the proceedings.

My mother and father were always worried about me, due to me having clinical depression. Sleeping the day away everyday was something that scared them, but I loved being alone and unconscious rather than going out and living. I knew it was a problem too, but I couldn’t help myself, I didn’t have to worry about anything while I was asleep. So, when I approached them with the idea of a trip to Israel for a study abroad over the summer, they were all for it. I guess in a way I did it for them. I didn’t want them to worry about me and my sleeping habits and anti-social behavior.

This strenuous sleep schedule was quite literally a wake-up call. I couldn’t just lay in bed and do nothing anymore. Structure, just like in my semesters at Binghamton, was put back into place. I have a role and I’m a cog in a machine in which everyone is needed for it to run smoothly. I had something to wake up for – a responsibility to these people I barely know and I still don’t know even a quarter of their names. Suddenly, I had a purpose. It’s the purpose I’ve been looking for: to wake up every morning, to sweat and to work among strangers that quickly became my close friends. The Tel does that to you, even though its dirty and straining, it’s a common struggle everyone can relate to.

This though doesn’t mean it was easy to break my habit of sleeping. With the added addition of jetlag, I did nap through the first couple of days during free hours in-between lunch and lecture. I really did try my best to be up and about, but the moment I lay down on my bed after the Tel, I just knocked out. Later on, maybe a week in, I was talking to my new friends.  They told me that they got the impression that during the first few days I was going to be the antisocial kid that talked to nobody, the person always in his room and keeping to himself. From my perspective, I believe I did pretty well compared to how I was at home. I stayed awake all through the Tel, went to lunch and dinner, as well as the lecture. But the first days it seems were the most important to socialize and find like-minded people, so me doing the bare minimum and not reaching out or giving the option for someone else to, probably wasn’t a good start.

My comfort zone of sleep and my bed were still too strong a pull on me from months of doing it at home, I would actually have to try to stay awake, even though it’s a day of hard labor from 5:30 to 12:30, followed by lunch, free time (the danger zone), pottery washing, lectures, and then finally dinner. What the hell did I get myself into? Was this a mistake? Did I bite off way more than I could chew? I haven’t felt this amount of fatigue in a long time, and even while writing this I’m having trouble with thoughts of just one quick nap. People who have already been through the program say it gets easier, yet I find myself waking up closer and closer to the deadline of when the bus shows up at five thirty.

The routine of the Tel has become second nature, with work usually going by quickly due to the rewarding tasks that lead to finds and huge sherds, but the fatigue is always there. I’m not the only one either, my roommates and I have had to set 4 alarms in order to properly wake up. The coffee room where everyone hangs out before the bus has lost foot traffic until the final minutes before we leave. Yet, even with my problems about sleep and my troubles with isolating myself in my daily life, I have yet to have a more gratifying experience then my current time in Tel Akko. Being in the field applying the skills you’ve learned while at the program, rather than just listening in a lecture room writing it down for a test and forgetting it first chance you get. The experts and professors you meet really kindle your interest in every subject they talk about, where you can see they are truly passionate about what they are teaching. Plus, working with them in the field means they can answer any questions you might have or show me a better technique on how to use the tools given to me. Overall, my current experience of Tel Akko has been a positive one. The friendships I have made here in such a short time were all possible because I decided to get out of bed, and get started.

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By Abigail Zahoroiko

Barren Beauty

by Abigail Zahoroiko.

 

The definition of insanity is doing the exact same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome. That. Is. Crazy.

One of my earliest memories in school is writing out a “Who I Am” worksheet at the beginning of third grade and putting “archaeologist” for my future career. This has been a dream of mine since early grade school and it all started with dinosaur oatmeal. As a kid, I would make my oatmeal but make a little “nest” for the dinosaur eggs by “excavating” them from the packet. Every packet had fun facts about dinosaurs and I thought I could be a paleontologist when I grew up, but I always called it archaeology as a little kid. Not until one of my morning packets of dinosaur oatmeal had the fun fact that a person who studies dinosaurs was called a “paleontologist”, not an “archaeologist”. So little me had to find out what in the world archaeology was if it wasn’t digging up dinosaurs.

 

Before I even knew what archaeology was, I loved history and I loved the dirt. Little me would go into my yard and collect fossils from around my house and in my woods and keep them in a box. I constantly saved toads and frogs and worms to get them to a safe place while doing my own busy work. Another early memory is sitting on my couch at home watching National Geographic episodes one after another after another. I clearly remember a documentary about King Tut and a separate episode about castles in Ireland. Everything interested me and I couldn’t get enough.

 

Archaeology had then been a passion of mine for years before I even discovered anthropology when I was in middle school. The study of humans and everything about them just broadened my horizon and strengthened my love of the subject. I was set on anthropology from then on, yet always had a soft spot for archaeology.

 

In college, studying abroad was a must in my academic career and I found the Akko program during my first semester. I went to meetings and actually had the strength to apply for the program during my second summer semester. I was afraid to spend so much money and I was uncertain about whether I was choosing the right thing for me. But I decided to go for it.  I never felt shocked that I was going on a place for the first time this summer, that I was leaving the country for the first time this summer, that I was going to be an archaeologist this summer. The plane ride came and went and I acclimatized to the new scenery without a problem. I didn’t experience jet lag as I just stayed up for the whole 10 and a half hour plane ride and went to bed at 11 pm, four hours after I arrived in Akko. And I didn’t experience this cultural shock. Nothing felt real. I was just in a different place and I got used to it rather quickly. There was no “this is so new”, “this isn’t right for me”, or even a “this is right for me”. I felt like I was just in a dream going with whatever flow was taking me.

 

So that’s how I ended up here in Akko and doing what I am passionate about for basically 24 hours a day. A perfect happy ending, right?

 

Yes, actually. I have become a part of Area Black, a newly opened area where I opened my very own square. Starting completely fresh and working to find something beneath the layers of dirt that have already been stripped away in other areas from seasons prior. Except, my square is nothing but dirt. NOTHING but dirt. Three separate squares surround mine, all riddled with amazing finds and even architecture but weeks into the dig and mine is over a meter deep into the ground with absolutely nothing to see. But every day I come back with positive energy and a simple love of what I am doing.

Beginning in week 3, I was moved to a different square in Area Black that has far more interesting material and every day I wish I was back in my home of NN-9. That’s how I know I’m on the right path. I have been doing the same thing over and over for weeks expecting something new, knowing my square is nothing but a disturbed pit of dirt, but that square is my home. My new placement is just an apartment I’m renting from a friend until I can get back on my feet again.

This profession is my home and Akko is now a part of it. Israel will forever be the place where I found exactly where I belong. I have since realized the realness of this experience and my heart breaks to return back home. I’m doing something that I never want to not be doing and soon my euphoria will shatter until I come back home again next year.

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By Trevor James Hale

Bon Akkoetit

By Trevor James Hale

To me, there is no greater way to experience a foreign culture and all its richness than through their food. The recipes, flavors, and various culinary traditions of a nation are a palatable history presented neatly on a plate. In my two and a half weeks living and working in Akko, I have had plenty of time to sample the local flavors of the Levant. While I do not claim to be some sort of  expert on  fine foods and delicacies, I know good food when I see it. And I can assure you, Akko has no shortage of appetizing oddities. So, let’s take a savory journey to my personal favorite eateries of Akko.

 

 

Soul Burger:

I’m a simple man of simple tastes, and few things taste better than a good burger. Soul Burger, a tiny burger bar just past the entrance to the Old City, is an Israeli take on the classic American sandwich. The word that resonates most with this place is: fresh. Ground beef made fresh every day before opening, onion rings and fries scratch made, a variety of spices and toppings bought daily from the Turkish Bazaar. Their signature dish, the Soul Burger, very well may be the single best burger I’ve had in my entire life.

 

 

Bilal Fish and Seafood Restaurant:

While I have always loved seafood, living in rural Pennsylvania means my access to it is rare and expensive, but for a seaside city like Akko, a fish dinner is as easy as walking to the docks and casting your rod in. Bilal Restaurant, resting quietly beside the Old City harbor, specializes in all things seafood. Masterful in their craft and easy on the wallet, Bilal is a must visit for seafood lovers.

 

 

El Marsa Restaurant and Bar:

Another Old City eatery, this bar overlooks the sea and the city of Haifa across from it. A more formal establishment in the restaurant part, El Marsa also has a more casual bar in the back. If you’re a fan of Arak, you can get a decent round of shots for a relatively cheap price.

 

 

Tenshek:

Are you a fan of shawarma? If so, “Tenshek” (or so I believe it to be) is the place to go. A short walk from the nautical college, this little eatery is perhaps my favorite place in the whole city. From freshly slicked chicken shawarma to grilled kebab, Tenshek provides a variety of delectable dishes. What’s more, most dishes are within the 20-30-shekel range, an absurd deal for such good food. Do yourself a favor and get the kebab pita, it’s well worth it.

 

 

Hummus Issa:

Lauded as perhaps the single best hummus restaurant in Israel, people from all over the nation travel for a meal. But with the long lines and odd hours (6 AM to 2:30 PM), does it really live up to its own hype? Yes, yes it does. Warm, fresh pita served with dishes of spectacular hummus, Hummus Issa just may be the pinnacle of hummus. You know the food is good when the locals love it just as much as the tourists.

 

 

Hummus Said:

The crown of “best hummus in Israel” is hotly contested. In defiance of Hummus Issa is Hummus Said. Within proximity to Issa, Said is similarly lauded as the peak of hummus and pita eatery. While I am no judge of hummus, I will admit that Said has better hours.

 

American Pizza:

Another Israeli twist on a favorite American dish, American Pizza dishes out pies like no other. Featuring both more traditional toppings, as well as some more interesting local flavors, American Pizza is as tasty as it is affordable. While it’s no New York bistro, American Pizza can serve a slice of home for anyone missing the simple delicacy of pizza.

 

 

Uri Buri:

Voted best restaurant in the Middle East in 2016, Uri Buri is a sort of site of pilgrimage for the students in this program. As close to heaven as one can get in a culinary sense, Uri Buri provides course after course of lavish foods prepared lovingly.

And of course, no review of the Tel Akko Total Archaeology program would be complete without a review of…

The Nautical College Dining Hall:
The site of most of my meals, the dining hall at the nautical college serves surprisingly good food. While dinner may seem meager to someone used to a more American diet, the wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and assorted foods makes up for it. Lunch is often the best meal of the day, as well as the special Shabbat dinner. If you want to save money and still have a good meal, don’t hesitate to chow down in the dining hall!

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By Anna Shamory

From Shards to Sherds: An Archaeologist’s First Dig

By Anna Shamory.


A ceramic bowl slips out of your hands and crashes to the ground. You pick up a piece of the broken pottery, but the real question is what you call this broken piece. Is it a shard or a sherd? Your answer to this question likely depends on your exposure to archaeology in literature or spoken word.

I study archaeological science at Penn State University, so before coming to Tel Akko I had some exposure to the term ‘sherd’. Yet, I have never personally used the alternative to shard until I came to dig at the tel. Whenever I saw the term sherd being used, I always questioned why archaeologists chose or came to prefer this more jargonized spelling.

So after days of uncovering countless sherds, placing them into buckets, carrying said sherds in buckets down to wash, and then hours of brushing them to varying degrees of cleanliness, I finally decided to investigate my question of:

Why sherds and not shards?

A definition of sherd, according to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary, is “a fragment of a pottery vessel found on sites and in refuse deposits where pottery-making peoples have lived.” However, shard is a more generic term for “a piece or fragment of a brittle substance.” In short, sherd (short for potsherd) goes specifically with historic/ancient pottery pieces, while shards can be anything literal or figurative that is broken into pieces.     

Even today, after weeks of saying sherd instead of shard, I sometimes do a double take when I see sherd written out somewhere, and I wonder how pottery ‘shreds’ something. My brain still thinks of a more typical word, shreds, over the archaeological variation that is sherds.

Since I’ve been converted to use the term sherd by the lingo here at the Tel Akko dig, I’ve learned so much more about pottery than I thought I ever would. Though I’m sure not all sites are chock full of sherds, the sheer amount of these broken pottery pieces uncovered and collected daily in the square in which I excavate is beyond any prior expectations I had about archaeology. My first day collecting pottery, I was extremely excited by every single piece I tossed into my pottery bucket. It was a thrilling experience to be touching literal pieces of history with my fingertips. Now, at the end of my third week here, I still very much enjoy finding pottery, but not every piece of pottery lends me that same excitement as before.

What do we do with the sherds?

In the late afternoons, we students and staff spend about two hours brushing clean all the pottery we collected the day(s) before. Us newbies quickly learned that washing a bucket full of the small pieces that lack any sort of identifiable ornamentation like a rim or design (and are around the size of  an American half-dollar) is time consuming and not as much fun to do.

Nonetheless, I very much enjoy digging up pottery sherds, and then spending a relaxing fun time with my friends talking, listening to music, and of course, scrubbing the dirt off numerous potsherds!

To end, no matter how many years I handle pottery in the field, I hope I can keep a little spark of that excitement I had those first few days. What looks like a typical sherd in the field can end up being a beautifully decorated piece when washed clean.

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From Shards to Sherds: An Archaeologist’s First Dig