By Rebekah Call

The Call to Listen

The Call to Listen

I have heard the Call to Prayer (Adhan) many times in my life. While living in Jerusalem for two years, it was a normal part of my day. I rarely stopped to listen, perhaps because most of the mosques played a prerecorded version of the Adhan over cheap loudspeakers, making the Call a tinny, unintelligible whine. But Al-Jazzar mosque is the largest mosque in the Old City of Akko, and seems to not only use better speakers, but also to engage a real, living Muezzin. I immediately noticed the difference. The Muezzin’s voice is rich and full. I can identify individual words. All of the musical ornamentations are articulated clearly. He has turned the Adhan into a song of meditation. And now, instead of largely tuning it out, when the Adhan starts, I stop (whenever I can) and listen to this beautiful expression.

Since Akko is perhaps the best-preserved crusader city in the world, there has been an emphasis in my studies here on the crusades: what led to them, what happened during the crusades, and their aftermath. The crusades, in all their gory glory, are excellent examples of the danger of harboring fear and contempt toward different religions, races, or cultures. This is not a short-lived danger. True, the crusades ended over five centuries ago. But the effects of the crusades are still shaping our world today. The Crimean War was an ideological continuation of the fourth crusade (in which Western Christianity went to war against Eastern Christianity), and it in turn led to World Wars I and II (which significantly influenced the international scene today). I acknowledge that this is a gross oversimplification of hundreds of years of history. However, the point still stands that we continue to live with the repercussions of the crusades.

Would the tragedy of the crusades have happened if the Eastern and Western churches had really listened to each other? Or if Islam and Christianity had learned to not only notice, but to treasure the beauty of the other? Living in an ancient city and learning its history highlights similar challenges in our own time. But is much easier to identify the mistakes of the past than to create solutions for the future. As I think about the potential trajectories of society, it seems that an important step could be to listen and treasure the “others” among us, regardless of how different their backgrounds may be.


Al-Jazzar Mosque at sunset

The Old City at sunset

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 Jennifer Munro

Where do all the finds go?

Deep in the bowels of the University of Haifa, there is a large storeroom containing boxes and boxes of finds, going back to the seventies – pottery, iron and stone cannon balls and bones amongst other things. There are some restored pots too, which I find an amazing sight. How can those horrible, grubby bits of broken pottery that we all wash turn into something so beautiful? This is the hard work of Rachel Ben Dov and others who patiently piece it all together like a 3D jigsaw. These are the treasures that tel Akko has given up so far. I wonder how many more there are and where they will go! [/vc_column][/vc_row]

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

The Call to Listen
The Art of Smithing in Israel
Where do all the finds go?
The Phoenician Juglet Part II