By Liam Corr

Am I Actually in Israel?

Where am I?


Three weeks into the dig and the digging, sweeping, and pottery washing continues. Every weekday feels as though I am in America, while every weekend feels as though I am in a foreign country. I am caught between feeling like an American student in America and an American tourist. 


What is American about Tel Akko?


Most of the local people I interact with speak some level of english, and I spend most of my time with other Americans. I live on Long Island, and I can go to different areas with multilingual people and people I do not understand, so to hear different languages is not a new feeling for me . At the same time, in these areas most people also speak English, which is why my interactions at the gas station, the mall, and 7 Days feels as though I am in America. It is as though I am simply in a town with many immigrants or the descendants of recent immigrants. The lectures and pottery washing make me feel as though I am just doing regular classwork at school, though in more of a hands on way than in my other classes at SUNY Binghamton. I do a lot of yard work at home, so digging and sweeping is not too foreign a concept for me, though I do it much more intensely here. Going to the beach here reminds me of going to Jones Beach as a kid, even though the Mediteranean is very different from the Atlantic. Going out with students or staff reminds me of going to restaurants in my hometown with my friends there. Aside from the calls to prayer and the Hebrew receipts, not much gives away that I am not in America during the week. The Old City hints at the fact that I am abroad through the architecture and the locals, though seeing American products in the bazaar brings me back to the idea that I am still in America. 


The Weekly Realization that I am Abroad


The things that jolt me back to reality and make me realize that I am abroad are the excursions on weekends. Long Island obviously does not have Crusader or Roman ruins. The kind of devotion at the Wailing Wall or the Church of the Holy Sepulchre cannot be equaled on Long Island. Even though I am only an hour away from museums in New York City, the museums are refreshing and they make me feel as though all of the sweeping may actually matter someday. Visiting Galilee, Caesarea, and Jerusalem reminds me of where I am, and this contextualizes everything I have learned and taken part in here. 


Why it Matters to me


The weekdays make me feel very sheltered here, as though I am in any other program in America, but with a very diverse population surrounding us. Simultaneously, the trips on Saturdays always make me feel as though I am landing in Tel Aviv again. The Americanized setting keeps me on track of my work, learning, and writing. The tours engage me with multiple cultures and sites and make me feel like a tourist and a foreigner. I do not feel as though the Nautical Academy and the tel have become a home for me in Israel. Rather, I feel as though I am entering a different country again when I go to the Old City or anywhere else in the country, and coming back to America to go to class and sleep.  

By Liam Corr

Moles: The Smallest Archaeologist?

The Moles-

There are plenty of issues that one must be prepared to encounter during an archaeological dig, though one I was not prepared for was the Palestinian Mole. At the Tel Akko dig, I encountered multiple mole tunnels during the excavation. The moles live underground and tunnel all throughout the various sections of the site, including the areas where I was assigned to work. These moles can cause multiple problems for archaeologists, due to the effects of their tunneling through the area.


The tunnels go in multiple directions and loosen up soil, with the result that our tools can fall through them easily and cause an area that is being excavated to become less level. Leveling as neatly as possible is necessary for determining the origins of artifacts that can be discovered, so this can mix up our results. Tunneling also causes different artifacts to potentially fall to a lower level and get mixed up with other pieces that are unrelated. Sometimes, a stool that one of us may sit on while working in an area may fall into one of these holes. My supervisors described these effects as bioturbation: how living things move around and live in the soil and may impact a site’s integrity. Many insects and other rodents partake in this process at Tel Akko, though moles are some of the larger and most evident residents of the dig site.


Tunnels can be seen across different areas, and there is evidence of mole tunneling in areas P 19, Q 19, and area Z, which are the places that I have been working. Moles have also been caught by staff members, as in the image of a mole included in this post. Moles are not seen often, but their trails are all over the place, whether intact and inside the artificial walls, the ground of different sections, or collapsed under our tools and stools.

Sometimes moles kick up dirt when these tunnels are damaged by our tools, in order to clean up their living space. This can explain why, when some of us turn around, there is a fresh pile of dirt that randomly appears when we aren’t looking. The moles are cute to look at and it is interesting how they impact the area, though the manner in which they kick up dirt and get artifacts mixed up can be problematic for people working in the field. That being said, whenever a fresh pile of dirt is kicked up or a mole comes out, everybody wants to see it and look at our fellow diggers.

Am I Actually in Israel?
Moles: The Smallest Archaeologist?