By Bryn Hudson

A Whole Lot of Bull


During the last few weeks, I’ve been privileged enough to travel all over Israel. Accompanied by the Tel Akko field school professors and students, I’ve visited Akko, Sepphoris, Magdala, Capernum, Qastrin, the Sea of Galilee, Caesarea, and Jerusalem. Although I’d studied all of the sites at Trinity, no article could have prepared me for the wonder I experienced. However, Professor Risser’s classes did prepare me to teach at Caesarea.

In approximately 10 BCE, King Herod the Great of Judah finished constructing Caesarea Maritima. At the time, it was the largest artificial harbor every built. During Caesar’s Civil War, Herod had supported Marc Antony and Cleopatra. When Octavian (who later renamed himself Augustus), defeated Marc Antony and became the first Roman Emperor, Herod built the harbor to appease his anger and express his gratitude for his continued survival and rule.

During our visit to Caesarea, Professor Sugarman challenged me to lecture about Mithraism. Apparently, jumping up and down gave away my excitement to visit the cult’s site… So I did.  Initially I was terrified to speak in front of our group, but sharing my knowledge brought me incredible joy.


Professor Risser, I could not have done this without you. Thank you for originally lecturing about Mithraism and capturing my interest.

Professor Sugarman, thank you for trusting me to speak.

Iraise, thank you for videotaping me and allowing me to share your video.

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 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.

By Whitney Hall

Baha’i Gardens

While I found the program through my interest in archaeology I have been pleasantly surprised at the amount of religious connection to both the work that we are doing as well as the sites we are visiting. I was slightly intimidated for the program as I thought that I would be the only person whose main area of study was not archaeology. Within the first few days I met tons of other people who also studied religion just like me. This past weekend we visited the Baha’i Gardens that happen to be inside of Akko! As a religious studies major this was a really incredible experience for me. The Bahai Gardens are considered the holiest site for the Baha’i religion, as it is the resting place of Baha’u’llah, the founder of the religion. Not only did we get to visit the beautiful gardens but we were also able to visit the shrine in which Baha’u’llah is buried. This burial site was chosen because the founder lived in Akko before his death. While I, as well as many other members of the group, might not practice the Baha’i religion personally it was still really cool to be able to visit a site that for some is incredibly holy. The Gardens were a lot larger than I assumed they would be. It was mostly manicured hedges and red and white flowers. I assumed it would be more flowers of different varieties but for the amount of space they had there were not a lot of flowers. Once we walked past the entrance we arrived at a large gate. Beyond it a series of hedges leading up to the shrine which we were able to go inside. Inside were several small rooms where members of the faith come to individually pray inside. The site also includes dormitories that house members of the religion that stay there to volunteer and learn. Visiting Akko’s Baha’i Gardens was an incredible way to learn about one of the newest and fastest growing religions in the world accompanied by incredible plants and flowers.

A Whole Lot of Bull
Am I Actually in Israel?
The Art of Smithing in Israel
Baha’i Gardens