posts for home page 2018

By Tasheana Bythewood

On Tel Akko Fear is Definitely not a Factor.

By Tasheana Bythewood.


Finding out I was going to be able to go to Israel and practice my passion for history and material culture up close and personal was a dream come true! Actually, going to Israel and living among the beauty of the old and new city for a month was life changing for me. I was able to explore my passions within archaeology and see what worked well for me and what didn’t. My biggest fear in coming to Akko was the bugs. I spent countless hours in the US googling “What kind of bugs can you find in Israel?”, this led to me falling down countless YouTube blackholes from videos of scorpions to tarantula hawk stings. While I did encounter scorpions on the Tel they were small and actually really underwhelming. I figured the best way to get over my fear of bugs in Israel was exposure therapy. I went to the Tel and oftentimes tried to find the oddest, grossest, and/or scariest bug that I could find and get a really close picture with my crappy iPhone 6 Plus camera (I refuse to give up the headphone jack).

Overtime the bugs became less frightening and more interesting. On the Tel I often told myself ‘just imagine you’re on fear factor and the million-dollar prize is getting to do archaeology’, It worked. Every time I got a picture of a bug I’d pretend I won and tell myself that “On the Tel Fear is not a Factor”. I had the absolute best time of my life on the Tel, I’ve met great people, and have a new love for pottery and archaeology thanks to my time in Israel, it was everything I could have asked for and more.

Facing my entomophobia was another plus side that I never considered could be a possibility on this trip. I don’t know if I’ll ever be 100% cured but I went in terrified and came out well… less terrified so I’m going to take that as a win! Thank you, Akko, for being the best time of my life and thank you Total Archaeology for broadening my horizons!

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

By Emily Ratvaskay

Closing Thoughts

By Emily Ratvaskay

Closing Thoughts


My time at the Tel Akko field school was filled with a wide variety of experiences. Now, looking back I realize just how many fond memories of this trip I have.

On the Tel

The first day, I resolved to do all I could to help, although it was more of an automatic mindset than a conscious decision. Even with busywork, I tried to do my best. It may have been a waste of energy, but I suppose it paid off, as I became known as “the girl who is good at everything.” (Disclaimer: That certainly is not the case, I have many shortcomings and I have my limits.)

There were only two students in our square, Salem and myself. This was probably the best possible placement, as Salem and I have been friends since the beginning of freshman year. We made so many jokes, so many Vine references, so many puns, so much cringe – it was beautiful. We got on each other’s nerves a couple of times, but that is to be expected in such close quarters while being surrounded by a sea of burrowing bees.

Some of the most memorable moments and sayings from RR4, sifting, and making sandbags:

  • *something falls*
    • Person A: “There ‘e goes.”
    • Person B: “Where ‘e goes, nobody knows.”
  • Singing “Deliver Us” from the movie “Prince of Egypt”
  • Daydreaming about food and sleep
  • Listening to Steven Universe songs, and singing along
  • Theorizing about the most recent Steven Universe episodes
  • Person A: (monotone) “Screaming while screening.”
    • Person B: (monotone) “Screening while screaming.”
  • The bucket designated for bones we called the “Bone Boi Bucket”
  • Larger chunks of bone we called “Big Bone Boi’s” a.k.a. “B.B.B.’s”
  • Person A: (singing) “Mr. Sand-bag, bring me a bag”
    • Person B: (singing) “bung, bung, bung, bung”
  • Person A: (purposefully horrible singing) “Ocean man…”
    • Person B: (also horrible singing) “…take me by the hand”
  • Laughing at all of the cringe-worthy stuff we do and say

Our Square Supervisor, June, was awesome. She put up with all of our cringe, and, despite being a bit put-upon by all of the pottery buckets we would quickly fill, kept a good attitude. Our area supervisor, Nick, and his assistant, Mary, were really cool people as well. I had a great time working with them, and I wouldn’t hesitate to work with them again.

Despite, or maybe because of, our shenanigans, we made a lot of progress this season. Our square (RR4), was an utter mess when we got there, but by the end we had it completely level. We took out two partial walls, a surface, and a decent chunk of a pit filled with pottery sherds that looked restorable. There seemed to be some confusion over what was happening in our square.

  • Is the surface associated with this wall or the other or neither?
  • Is this a floor below the surface?
    • If it is a floor, is it associated with this wall?
  •  What is up with all of this pottery?
    • Is it pit or a layer that could indicate we are coming down on a floor?
    • Is it associated with the pottery layer/pit found in RR3?
    • Is this older pottery cutting into the newer pottery?

Not to mention all of the … interesting finds: The partial vessel I wrote about in my first post, a strange spout-like thing, an ear from a mask, a bronze earring or fish-hook, a small mug-like vessel, a lot of bone from a variety of animals, and a whole lot more. There would be days that we had to call Nick over several times because of all the weird stuff.

“Niiiick, there’s another thing…”

Off the Tel

Although it felt like the majority of the time we were on the Tel, looking back a lot more stuff happened off the Tel.

Food Struggles

At first, it was difficult to get used to the food routine at the Nautical College. Lunch was the big meal of the day, and usually the only one with meat, but no dairy. Breakfast and dinner were light and consisted of eggs, bread, chunks of assorted vegetables, and various dairy products. (Tel breakfast was awesome, though).

Some days Salem and I would go to the McDonald’s in the mall for dinner. Other days we would walk to My Market for a pint of ice cream and other snacks.

Food with Dr. R

Every Thursday, Dr. Rosenzweig (aka Dr. R) took the Miami group out for dinner (except the last week we did Wednesday since Uri Buri’s got moved up to Thursday). The first week we went to Café Neto, it is right on the beach and had some pretty good food. I loved the assortment of coffee and tea they had more than the food, though.

The second week we went to Kukushka, which is in the Turkish Bazaar. I had the cutest cat choose my lap as his seat. Literally, the best experience, even though I know the cat was just there to mooch off of my food.

We went to Abu Christo the third week. We sat outside, right next to the water. We saw the fast-boats zipping by, people jumping off a wall into the water, and the fish going after any little bit of food that was thrown over the railing. It was a really nice experience overall.

Our final Miami meal was at the Pisani Port Restaurant. Here we celebrated our last dinner, as well as Sam’s birthday. The food was good, the dessert was good, we were right on the water, and I think it was a good ending group dinner.

Akko Adventures

We wandered around the Old City a bit.

Salem and I got skirts from Wafa. Because of this, Salem soon came to realize just how indecisive a shopper I am.

Quinten, Salem, Tashe, and I went to Soul Burger and had one heck of a time attempting to figure out who ordered what, as it was all on one check, and the check was in Hebrew. The food was good though, and we saw three of the cutest kittens ever.


We went to Life Beach a few times, along with some others from our group to eat and be merry. I made sand castles and an impressive sand-sea turtle, whose shell was made of shells.

Salem, Sam, Tashe, myself, and some others from our group went on the fast boat one night. It isn’t the safest of boat-rides, but it makes for one epic roller coaster.

After the entire group finial dinner at Uri Buri’s, Quinten and I almost got lost on the way back to the Nautical College, because I insisted on cutting through the Turkish Bazaar, thinking it would be a more direct route than the one we took to get to Uri Buri’s.

Weekend Trips

Every Saturday we went on a field trip, occasionally Sundays too.

We wandered around the Galilee and the Golan the first Saturday. Visiting sites like Zippori, Magdala, “St. Peter’s house,” Capernaum, the Sea of Galilee, and Ancient Katzrin. Interesting sites all around, and interesting discussions of the pros and cons of reconstruction, who owns the past, and other ethical questions.

That first Sunday we went on a tour of crusader Akko.

The second Saturday we went to the Baha’i gardens in Akko, the Museum at Haifa, the Tanur and Gamel caves, and Caesarea. The Baha’i gardens were immaculate. The Tanur and Gamel caves gave us a bit of insight into paleoarchaeology and the history of it as a discipline. In Caesarea, we met with Beverly Goodman, a geoarchaeologist, an experience you can read more about in my second blog. We then saw the constructions that Herod made for Caesar, and the literal cover-up of “Area I”– a portion of Caesarea that was built during the Ottoman period and based on the Ottoman city layout.

The final trip was to Jerusalem. We visited the City of David, the Western Wall, all four quarters, the Jaffa gate, and the Israel Museum. There were interesting discussions of the current political/religious power of certain Jewish sects. The labyrinth-like streets, lined with vendors, and packed with passersby were lively but confusing.

Then the Sunday after, instead of going to the prison, as was planned, we went to the Al-Jazzar Mosque.

Pottery Washing, Sorting, & Writing

In between free time and lecture, there is a designated amount of time for washing the pottery that was unearthed. You could also opt for sorting pottery with Martha, writing on pottery with Rachel, doing floatation or heavy fraction with Dr. R, or washing bones with Justin.
I personally preferred the pottery-related options, as the most help was required there. Due to the incredible amounts of pottery that were taken out of the ground this season, there was an incredible backlog, on all levels.

I found the pottery washing to be sort of meditative, but it was easy for me to get lost in thought and end up scrubbing the same piece for much longer than needed. Sometimes it would get to be a bit mind-numbing.

Pottery sorting with Martha was probably my favorite thing to do. Sorting the body sherds from the diagnostic sherd and finding pieces that fit together I find to be quite an enjoyable task. Another perk is that I got to be inside with the AC blasting, drinking tea and listening to music or podcasts.

Pottery writing was fun as well, getting to be in the AC and drinking tea. However, I found that it took more concentration for me to write on the pottery than it took for me to sort out the pieces. Because of this, I limited myself to listening only to instrumental music, as I was afraid that I would accidentally write down what I was listening to.

Independent Study

During free time, I would work on my independent study. It was a comparison of archaeological illustration and photogrammetry as methods of recording artifacts. I just wish I had realized how much time I was wasting early on because I was in a rush to finish everything the last two or three days.

I got to learn real archaeological illustration techniques, which I am deeply thankful to Ragna for all of her guidance and patience with me. I am also thankful towards Rachel and Martha for their help in the archaeological illustration portion of my project.

For the photogrammetry portion, I am thankful to AJ for teaching me the basics and helping as much as she could. Despite the lack of good results from the Agisoft program in creating a 3D model of the figurine foot, I think I have enough information to build a good comparison.

Overall, I found it to be an enjoyable, if mildly stressful, experience.


I had an absolutely amazing time that the Tel Akko field school. Sure there were days where I would have much rather been at home, asleep, but I will probably never get another experience quite like this. I am glad I came on this trip, and, if it were possible, I wouldn’t mind returning someday.

By Paige Ekert

A Picky Eater’s Guide to Tel Akko

By Paige Ekert.

Being a picky eater is occasionally problematic. I have learned to survive on a handful of food staples and have developed a fairly good idea of tastes and textures that I will or won’t like. I have places that I frequent at home and at school, and when in doubt, there are always chicken fingers from the children’s menu.

Being a picky eater while abroad is a daily struggle. Most foods are, or at least appear, unfamiliar to me. As a self-proclaimed “reverse pescetarian” in a coastal area, I avoided many of the restaurants in the Old City. I don’t speak the language well enough to convey my multiple needs (“I want this but without X, Y, and Z”), and even with English menus, a full description of each food item was not guaranteed.

But fear not! By adhering to the following tips, even the pickiest of eaters are sure to survive, and even enjoy, their culinary experiences in Akko.

Never Skip Lunch                                                             

Lunch is, without a doubt, the best meal of the day. As the daily “meat meal”, lunch often consists of some type of chicken and multiple types of carbs. Though you may be tired after being at the tel all morning, this is not a meal to miss! Lunch always consisted of rice, chicken schnitzel, and potatoes, and the occasional pasta or other meat dish made special guest appearances throughout the week. This is the meal most likely to fill you up for the day, and besides, why would anyone ever miss a meal where chicken fingers are being served?

Ice Cream Is Always A Good Idea

It isn’t hard to find ice cream in Akko as it is literally being sold on every street corner. It would be practically impossible for anyone to walk away from one of these ice cream carts without a frozen treat. Nestle and Magnum both sell products in the ice cream cases on the streets and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream pints are sold in grocery stores throughout the city. Additionally, the same ice cream carts exist all throughout Israel, so the same ice cream you would get at 7 Days can be found in Caesarea and Jerusalem as well. Trust me, if you are in Israel during the summer, don’t pass on the ice cream.

My Market Is Truly Your Market

Even when food is being provided for you, it is generally a good idea to explore the local grocery store and pick up some quick snacks. My Market is a large, nearby food store that is home to all sorts of food items and other necessities, should you need them. In my trips to this store, I brought a box of cereal, ice cream, cookies, crackers, and other small snacks that can easily be packed for either our Saturday excursions or for the bus ride to the tel in the mornings. Whether you’re looking for sunscreen, orange juice, a pack of gum, or dried apricots, My Market has it!

Bread Will Always Be There To Welcome You Home

If you’re like me, you have learned to ignore your grandmother’s advice about ‘not filling up on bread before meals’, because for me, and many other picky eaters, the bread is our meal. The good news is that bread, in some form or another, is present at every single meal. Whether it is pita bread, a dinner roll, or a slice of sandwich bread, bread is guaranteed to have a place at the table and butter, jam, or chocolate spread is never far behind. Seriously, there will always be bread. It’s truly wonderful.

Brand Names Are Your New Best Friend

It doesn’t matter what you eat at home, when you’re abroad, you will cherish any familiar logos you can find. If you are a picky eater who can’t read Hebrew, you are going to fall in love with Pringles and Oreos and any other brands that are recognizable and give clues as to what you are actually eating. While American name brands aren’t available for every food item, you will be grateful for the ease of shopping for brand names and the familiarity of eating a snack that was probably a staple from your childhood.

You Won’t Die If You Try Something New

While it is easy to write off many different and new types of food, the truth is, trying new foods is actually a really great experience that will only enhance your adventures while abroad. Against my initial wishes, I tried several types of food while in Akko, and even found some that I liked! Even though halvah “tastes like nature and has the texture of sandstone” (verbatim Paige Ekert, circa 2018), I am glad that I was encouraged to try it. Besides, if it wasn’t for trying new things, I never would have discovered shawarma, which is more or less an Israeli taco, and is quite delicious. The moral of the story is, you never know what you like until you try it, even if you’re 19 years old and pretty set in your ways. There is a great big world out there full of different types of food, so get out there and try something!



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.

By Salem Arvin

Farewell to the Tel!

by Salem Arvin. As I pack my bags and get ready for the flight from Tel-Aviv, I’m reflecting on some of the amazing adventures we’ve had. This was my first ever dig and to be honest it was hard. Waking up at 4:30 every morning to get on the bus so that we avoid working in the midday Israeli sun, eating smaller meals, having to keep our meat and dairy separate, not to mention the manual labor that my body just wasn’t used to. The first few days of excavation the backs of my thighs were numb from crouching, my arms were tired from sandbagging, and I had blisters from tying said sandbags. By the time dinner rolled around at 7pm I was ready to pass out. But between our weekly dinners with Dr. R, our weekend excursions all around Israel, eating at Uri Buri and getting to travel with some of my favorite fellow Miami students (as well as my new Penn State friends) I’ve had an amazing time. I can’t believe it’s over.

I’ve learned so much about Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and archaeology overall throughout the past four weeks (shoutout to Emily for helping answer my questions revolving around religion). I’ve especially learned more than I thought possible about biblical archaeology and the Levant. I’m especially excited to have learned about and led flotation and to have furthered my experience in the field of archaeobotany. Although I’m looking to be a mesoamericanist with my dual LAS degree, I’ve had an amazing time learning to excavate with the Tel Akko team. Was it worth it? Yes. Am I ready to go home? Yes. Am I too tired to even think about climbing the stairs to the Tel again? Yes. Am I still weighing the decision between being an archaeologist and a museum professional? Yes. Would I trade this experience for any other? …Tel no.

By Evan Taylor

Community Archaeology, Outreach, and the Old City

Community Archaeology, Outreach, and the Old City

By Elena Sesma (Anthropology, UMass Amherst) and Evan Taylor (Anthropology, UMass Amherst)

Community archaeology is a spectrum of engagement and collaboration with local people who live at, in, and around a research site. Here at the Tel Akko project, the community archaeology and outreach program brings together local teens and field school students to work towards understanding contemporary life, heritage, and material culture in this unique place. Over two weeks, we learned the importance of conservation in a coastal city built in vulnerable sandstone through workshops with local conservator and stone mason Saleem Amer; we talked about the cultural and heritage values placed in this uniquely diverse and beautiful city through tours led by local residents, professional archaeologists, and conservationists; and we studied the ancient and recent past of Akko/’Akka through archaeology and conversations with people who study and live in this place. These varied activities exemplify what it means to do community archaeology today: learning with and from local or descendant communities, and contributing to a common goal, in this case sharing the stories of life in Akko/’Akka in the past and present.

Over the past few years, the community outreach program has integrated Photovoice into its basic structure. Photovoice is a method used by many anthropologists to highlight local understandings of place through photography and storytelling. Some use it as a research method, but in our case Photovoice is a tool for cultivating relationships between local communities and the archaeological project. The basic idea is to enable participants to share their own perspective on a place or on a special topic by giving them cameras to document how they see the world around them, sometimes with prompts and sometimes with little instruction. In this case, participants in our Photovoice tour had the following prompts: “This place is important to me”; “I want to know more about this place”; “I would take a visitor to this place”; “I would change something about this place”. Many of the photos from this tour correspond with these prompts, while others were produced for different reasons. Ultimately all photos were taken because the participant wanted to share their experience, knowledge, or curiosity about something.


This year, we expanded the Photovoice exercise into a digital map that can be saved and shared more widely than within our group alone. Using Google Tour Builder, we have compiled the photos and stories from our tour and placed them on a map of Akko/’Akka. Anyone with the link can take a tour of the city through the eyes of those who live here (our teen participants) and those who have come to know it in recent weeks (our American field school students). These photos, stories, and occasional audio recordings help to populate the city’s map for people who might not be familiar with the landscape. The tour is also valuable for residents and frequent visitors to the city who want to see their local values and histories represented through familiar eyes and with familiar narratives. Tour Builder is a flexible platform that will allow us to add more content to the map as the program develops in future seasons.


An especially neat feature of this exercise was the overlapping stories that began to emerge as we toured the Old City. Often a participant would lead us to one site for a particular reason, and when we arrived we found out that this same location represented another unique story or memory to another person. The digital tour does its best to represent the many layers of memory and value that our participants attached to each site. The sites included in this tour range from family homes, to favorite bakeries, to religious sites, to the excavation site on the Tel. We invite you to take a tour of Akko/’Akka and see what makes this city so meaningful to those who call it home for a lifetime or for the summer.

Explore these sights and sounds at the Google Tour Builder site here.

Note: All photos are shared with permission from their creators.


By Quentin Stickley

The Living City: Old Akko, Conservation, and Gentrification

The old city of Akko is unlike any other historical site I’ve visited in that it is a place where people are still living and making history much like they did in the past. It has not been roped off and sterilized for easy digestion. When you walk into the old city, you will encounter people selling fruit on the street, feeding stray cats or shooing them from their doorsteps, and going to and from their places of worship. Colorful street art decorates walls and doors. There are shops and attractions catering to tourists, certainly, but the old city is also a place where people make their homes, raise their children, and practice their religions. It is a delight to visit, but I am always concerned with the fuzzy line between visiting the city and encroaching upon the lives of Akko’s residents. Gentrification as a result of tourism is a grave threat to historic neighborhoods, especially those like Old Akko which are populated mostly by minority Arabs who are also relatively less wealthy. Since UNESCO designated the old city as a World Heritage Site. Building codes meant to preserve the historic structures have made it more expensive for residents to improve their homes, making life in the old city less feasible for many people who live there.

The nearby site of the ancient harbor, Caesarea provides a good example of a gentrified historical site. In addition to its ancient Roman and Byzantine remains, Caesarea was a Crusader site, and later historic buildings still stand, such as the “Bosnian Mosque” built by immigrants from Bosnia who founded a fishing village there in the 19th century. Today, however, the Crusader city at Caesarea feels empty. The buildings have been turned into restaurants and souvenir shops; the people there are all either tourists or people whose job it is to cater to them. Caesarea is a wonderful site with a lot of historical value, but seeing the old city there after coming from Akko made me feel sad. How many people did gentrification displace there? I say all of this aware that I am myself a tourist, and as a student of archaeology who is passionate about preserving historical and archaeological sites. If there is a healthy middle ground between preserving ancient structures and preserving the lives built by the people who now occupy them, I certainly couldn’t tell you where it might lie. But visiting Akko has impressed upon me the importance of seeking such a middle ground, and the fact that historical sites are not frozen in the past. As long as people continue to occupy them, those people will continue to add to the rich legacy of the place.

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.


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.



1 2 3 5
On Tel Akko Fear is Definitely not a Factor.
Reflecting on Akko and its People
Closing Thoughts
A Picky Eater’s Guide to Tel Akko
Last Hoorah Of Undergrad
I ❤️ Archaeology!!!
Farewell to the Tel!
Community Archaeology, Outreach, and the Old City
The Living City: Old Akko, Conservation, and Gentrification
Ally’s Declassified Archaeology Survival Guide