By Casey Sennett

Finding My Home at Akko

I have always struggled with homesickness. Whether I am away from my parents for a night or a month, I typically suffer from separation anxiety. I thought, however, that I had outgrown that anxiety when I spent spring break this year studying abroad in Paris. Since I suffered no separation anxiety in Paris, I thought I could manage a longer study abroad experience this summer.

I managed to fly to Israel with no problems and spent hours in the Ben Gurion airport with no signs of anxiety; however, when I arrived at the Nautical Academy, I began to feel the separation and struggled to suppress my anxiety. I spent the first couple days at Akko missing my parents and American food dearly. I was not optimistic about my stay at Akko, I wanted nothing more than to go home to my parents and my cats. I knew, however, that I could not leave. I had committed to the program and I knew that I would never be able to travel the world and pursue my career aspirations if I could not spend time away from my parents.

I began to cope with the distance with long phone calls home and promises of taking me to Chili’s and to see Spiderman: Far From Home when I got home.  As the days went on, I began to feel more comfortable with the other students, participants, and faculty at Akko. I had been worried about coming to Akko and not knowing anyone, but most of the students and participants were in Israel for the first time and did not know anyone else in the group prior to coming to Israel.  I met a majority of the group at the airport, but I slowly began to meet and interact more with others at meals, on the Tel, during pottery washing, and on excursions in Akko and Israel. When you spend six hours a day in a square with someone or at least two hours a day washing pottery with someone you tend to learn a lot about them.

I was worried about not finding my place at Akko, but it found me. After the first couple of days I had not anticipated to be comfortable at Akko. I thought I had resigned myself to counting down the days until I could go home. I, however, reached outside of my comfort zone and began to meet and learn more about the other people in the program. Those interactions slowly began to make me feel less lonely and foreign. Although I do still miss home on occasion, I have become comfortable with everyone in the program and feel good about being away from home.

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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 M. Christine Walters

The Phoenician Juglet Part II

I’m back for the second installment in the story of the little juglet I unearthed in the Tel-Akko Dig last week. This little find has become dear to me because I have never found a whole piece of pottery before, at least not one so close to being in excellent condition.

So, I have written a poem about my feelings in finding it. A poet I am not, but I find it an easy way to put many emotions together in a condensed way.

Akko Tel so vast, so large,
Little Juglet waiting to be found.
Out of all the acreage on the dig,
Her little handle and rim peaks through the rubble and dirt
after thousands of years in buried silence.

She calls to me as I examine her situation amongst the other profusion of pottery sherds.
Free me, free me! Like a poor tiny kitten stuck in a hole.
She becomes alive to me and I am driven to liberate her from this organic prison.

So great care must be taken, with pick in hand.
Round and round, brush and remove—is she whole?
Will the dark earth of the ancient past let go of such a treasure completely?

Suddenly, she drops out into my palm as if to breath a gasp of relief! I am found, I have great worth, I will tell this modern world my story! She is beautiful, filled with dirt, her handle ring caked with clay, only a tiny chip of a wound around her lip as she looks up at me to thank me for releasing her.

I hold her in my cupped hands and I feel beyond just the satisfaction of having got the job done.
I have made a contribution, for she will be cleaned, documented, examined and displayed. All the world will know she is from Tel-Akko.

Hope all of you digging can have the same wonderful experience as I did while you are here this summer.

Shalom Christine Walters

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By M. Christine Walters

The Little Phoenician Juglet

What could be more wonderful than finding an almost perfect little juglet that has been buried for thousands of years, the very first week of my dig in Akko! Yes, I carefully dug out of the side of the wall within my square this beautiful little jug with only a small chip along the lip opening. Otherwise it was so perfect, filled with dirt and debris. It was like a little animal caught, but looking up at me with longing eyes saying, “free me, free me!” It was such a thrill to find it all intact, since so much of the pottery was broken and smashed around me in the square.

This experience is a once-in-a-lifetime drama that everyone should try. The reality of how hard it is to dig: the heat, the dirt, the bending over and heavy lifting, over and over and over just to find that one special find, fills you with refreshed enthusiasm. It is truly indescribable. A person has to feel it, do it, experience it, overcome it in order to understand the thrill of the hunt.

I am grateful for my early years of farm girl lifestyle which included chores of all kinds like gardening, plowing, and digging. So, I feel right at home with the tools. Years of shoveling out animal stalls and barnyard areas come back to me as we work around the dig. It is comfortable, but the passing of many years presents new obstacles to overcome. My knees don’t bend. My hips hurt. My stamina is just not there, and that frustrates me. I watch the young people around me jump into their work with such passion and focus. I miss those days of feeling like I can handle this job and get the site cleared TODAY!

Yes, the little juglet will always be MY little juglet because I was the first one to release it, to have it see the sun again after being in the dark dirt so very long. I have made a contribution I will always remember.

 

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Finding My Home at Akko
The ‘Art’cheology of Care
The Phoenician Juglet Part II
The Little Phoenician Juglet