By Whitney Hall

Perfectly Imperfect Pottery


When I first began excavating I was told that one good way to tell pottery from rock was from the ridges on the inside. These ridges come from the artists fingertips as they shape the inside of the clay. I remembered the ceramics class I took in highschool and the way that our fingers would make impressions in the clay as we molded it on the wheel, making it pretty recognizable. Today most things, like glass bottles, and plates, are not handmade. This means that a lot of what we make today bears no personal touch. Because the pottery we found was made with hands, even if it was on a wheel, the artist leaves his or her own signature. A lot of this personalization can be seen in the pottery handles (photos attached). A technique for making the curved handles on pots was to pull and stretch the clay into a curved shape. These handles differ from a lot of handles that we find that have perfectly smoothed handles. While these smoothed handles are more aesthetically pleasing, the more imperfect ones have more character. The artifacts that we find are from a time that was very different from the one we live in now. This can make it hard to connect with, as it is not from a way of living that we necessarily understand. A lot of the pottery we find is broken as has been discarded, similar to the way that plastic is thrown away today. As we excavate for scientific purpose, we also take a more removed viewpoint. While we find lots of different artifacts on the tel that can be hard to connect with, I think that the more imperfect pottery is the artifact that I can connect with most. The imprints of the artist hands allow me to imagine just who made the artifacts that we excavate and wash.

By M. Christine Walters

The Phoenician Juglet Part II

Christine Walters

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

By Alex Rose Anderson-Fosco

The only find that matters

by Alex Fosco. Find of the day is a tradition at Akko, it keeps everyone motivated and invested in the work no matter how tedious or exhausting. The finds are cool but the support from your friends is really the deciding factor. This is sometimes frustrating but in essence, beautiful. When you put it on perspective, not three weeks into the dig we have found deep connections with people we may have otherwise never known. My day would not be complete without my square husbands, the sometimes clever (emphasis on sometimes) banter makes the day go by a lot faster.

Finds at the Tel

Coco is a  beast with a pickaxe, sometimes to my dismay as he is rather averse to the idea of cleaning up after himself,

(typical man as my square supervisor likes to say). With that in mind, he is always reminding me to drink water and take breaks.  Wei likes to abandon us for the cult that is Survey but his can-do positive attitude makes up for any lost time helping me sweep. In the rest of my area, we have a special bondl, forged by the collective fear of pottery which has in earnest turned into a borderline phobia. Much to the chagrin of our peers, we have pulled up nearly a 100 buckets of pottery sherds in just a short time. At first, we were ecstatic, but we were so young and innocent then. On a typical Tel day,
you will find many of us recovering at the local cafe or beach commiserating or being berated by those less keen on pottery washing. Lois from the square next door is the subtle wild child. She is found at the beach after lunch, where you can have pre-pottery washing pick-me-up and a deep meaningful conversation.

Finds in the “leisure” hours

When I’m not in the tel mindset I have what is (by me and only me) dubbed “The Squad”. We shift daily, welcoming

anyone who will show up. We explore the old city, the pizza places and in the evenings frequent the beach for long walks and talks followed by spontaneous splash-fights. We have celebrated everything from small successes to birthdays, and to say I love these people would be an understatement. In three years at Penn State and twenty-one and a half years of life, I have never met so many people that spoke my language. Trevor and I bond over missing our animals, he has an adorable cat who he makes a point of showing us once an hour, and while I would never admit it to him, it’s really comforting. Jack makes sure that when I go off on late night adventures (before 10:30 curfew of course) that I make it back safely and never have to go alone unless I want to. There is Chuckles, formerly Chris who, true to his given name, is always someone who can make me smile. Call it nerdy but listening to Mike talk about the life of William Marshal or he and Allison discussing the true reasoning behind the crusades makes me feel a sense of home that is so rare and especially strange in such a faraway place.  No Phonecian inscription, Egyptian scarabs, or even gold could outweigh the true find of the day. All 24 precious hours we spend together at Akko; Squaremates, Friends and staff alike we have the common denominator that brings us all together, finding Tel Akko.

Perfectly Imperfect Pottery
The Phoenician Juglet Part II
The only find that matters