By Nevan Carling

Throwing light on oil lamps

Here at Tel Akko, at the end of every day, there is a tradition we call Find of the Day. In this we showcase the most interesting and valuable objects uncovered during that day’s excavation. The position of the ‘victor’, and a free ice cream, is given to the person who’s find receives the largest amount of applause; of course, to avoid bias, each find is listed anonymously.


Today’s find of the day was an intact small oil lamp from the late Persian/early Hellenistic period (4th Century BCE – 1st Century BCE) that was uncovered in the Garea. This oil lamp is a very special find for us here at Tel Akko, because artifacts are rarely found complete. Interestingly, the lamp’s nozzle, from which the wick would stick out, still has the scorch marks from when it was lit in the home of a resident here in ancient Akko. The discovery of this amazing little artifact provides us great insight into the daily lives of the ancient Akko residents. This lamp proves to be a light into moments lost in the annals of history.


Oil lamps such as this were commonly used in antiquity to provide light. They were simply household appliances, much like today’s televisions, light bulbs, refrigerators, and even smartphones for us in the 21st Century. Being ceramic these lamps broke fairly easily, a reason why they are so rarely found fully intact. This specific type of oil lamp was typically produced approximately between 375 BCE and about 250 BCE. We are able to tell their dating “…on the basis of general parallels from Agora and Dor” (Martin, 758, 760). However, at the moment, it is unclear whether this specific style/design was Persian or Greek in origin. This particular lamp was locally produced in Phoenician ware, probably based on Attic styles of a similar nature. The differences between Attic potteries and their Phoenician counterparts are the clays and their appearances; the Phoenician recreations were, for the most part, unslipped on their exterior, while the Attic wares’ exteriors were almost always slipped (Martin, 760).


Attached below are some shots taken when the oil lamp was discovered in Area A (The Garea), and photos from after it had been thoroughly cleaned by the pottery experts.




  1. Rebecca Martin, “East Greek” and Greek Imported Pottery of the First Millenium BCE, chapter 14 in The Smithsonian Institution Excavation at Tell Jemmeh, Israel 1970-1990, edited by D. Ben-Schlomo and G. Van Beek. Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology 50. Washington DC: Smithsonian Instituion Scholarly Press, 749-75


  1. Discussions with Prof. Martha Risser of Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut.

By Thea Vaz

India Interacts With Israel

Throughout the four weeks of the Tel Akko archeological dig program I am constantly questioned on my race in Israel whenever I go out. Living in Hartford Connecticut, being Hispanic and Indian is never an issue in school because the high school is diverse with kids from all cultural backgrounds.

When entering Israel, I stereotyped Israel religious groups to be either Jewish or Arabic. I was wrong. The first day flying to Israel my Caucasian friend and I took an Israeli airline out of New York, the man in charge of checking and questioning us at the gate separated my friend and me. We were both informed that we would be the two passengers stopped before we boarded our flight for random checking. Twenty minutes before our flight is scheduled to departure a security guard stops us and directs us into a confined room, that on the outside looked like a commercial cubical sponsoring companies such as Coca-Cola and an expensive sunglasses brand too high end to pronounce. Once again, my friend and I were separated to be interrogated. There was a bag, metal detector, and passport check finally ending with the typical questions: “Why are you visiting Israel and how long will you be staying?”

Having ten minutes to spare before boarding the plane, I impatiently waited for my friend who claimed he had to get his finger print scanned and was held back, leaving us with less than ten minutes to board our flight. I didn’t think twice of the event until reevaluating all the cultural encounters I have experienced. What if, because of my race, I was held to a lower standard during interrogation and my friend being white could have been portrayed as more suspicious because of his light complexion?

The airplane incident was off in the distance after spending a day walking through the old city of Akko and being awed by the scenery. Stopped in the act of taking more pictures than the storage on my phone can handle by a runner who raises his voice through a wide smile: “Pakistani!” I look to my friends and slide them the – is he talking to me look? I can only answer in confusion ‘no’. The runner who has jogged his way toward the small group my friends have created around me, asks through the same wide smile “Indian?” Enthusiastically I reply, ‘yes ‘. I was excited that it only took the man two tries to guess my race and then determine that he had proved he was not going to give up guessing. I decided not to tell him I am half Hispanic, it would be like looking a younger kid in the face and telling him or her there is no Santa Claus.

The runner then introduces himself as Moses, as in the Moses of the bible. Moses was the first encounter I had involving someone asking about my race in Israel. The setup of the dining hall is buffet style, when reaching the meat in what is the only line during lunch that is protein, the lunch man serves an excessive amount of what I thought was chicken but is really schnitzel onto my plate and says through a wide smile, “India!” I was shocked by how he asked, because I am not used to the excitement of anyone asking my race. I say, ‘yes’ and once again ignore the comment, including the fact that I am half Indian and half Hispanic.

Four weeks later, and every meal served with some appearance of chicken, I am not only served a plate full of food larger than the person next to me, but I am served with the nickname ‘India’ by the lunch man. Coming from a cultural background of both Indian and Hispanic food I learned that either eating an Indian or Hispanic meal there is never too much on your plate, and to deny any food is an insult to the cook. To deny the mountain top plate size and nickname the lunch man gave me would be denying food: an insult.

The word around was that Seven Days is the spot to get Wi-Fi and snacks. After five days of lasting without Wi-Fi and no contact with any family, I decide it is time to inform my parents I am still alive. I join a group of friends to the store around the corner. Seven Days is right around the corner and filled with familiar faces and others drinking and smoking at two o’clock in the afternoon. The rule is: you purchase an item to sit down and connect with the Wi-Fi. I order the safest drink I know to purchase at two in the afternoon: iced coffee. The store owner introduces himself as Issa and asked where I was from? I answer: Hartford Connecticut, but I had a feeling that is not what he was expecting. Issa continued introducing himself, knowing I was with the archeological dig and I seemed to be a young unfamiliar face. Halfway through the unsweetened iced coffee Issa asked my race, and he was the first person I could tell Indian and Hispanic without feeling like disappointing him. He was interested in the Hispanic half, which is rare here in Israel.

Issa and I bonded over coffee and the Hispanic culture. Seven Days is where I Facetime family and friends, communicate with others who stop in and out, and a location I can always count on for my nightly Coca-Cola, berry blended iced tea, or ice cream sandwich.

Whenever leaving the campus you must exit through the gate. The guard was leaning against the main gate greeting me with a wide smile and the question I am starting to get familiar with “where are you from?” Hartford CT, I reply. No no where are you from, what race? I am Indian and Hispanic. The guard informs me that “my people are beautiful.” I do not know how to reply…thank you? I perceived this incident as a form of a stereotypical racist comment. The guard automatically assumed I was from India because of my physical features and I could not be from the States or Israel. He is always a friendly face to greet me at the gate. The guard is fluent in English, Hebrew, and Arabic. Perhaps the guard didn’t intend his approach to be a stereotypical racist comment. Maybe he was being friendly and trying to start a conversation. In America the comment would be perceived as rude.

After all these incidents I wonder if I was not Indian, if I would get stopped constantly as I do now? Race varies wherever you go and that is the beauty of different religions and cultures. I had the opportunity to experience how accepting and welcoming different countries and religions are in Israel. In Jerusalem, I received a discount on my drink because the owner was happy that I am Indian. At home I never over think where I am from and my ethnic origins, so why would I need to over think it when America is diverse with religions and cultures from all over?

Walking through the streets of Israel it is like I am praised for being Indian and you are greeted with a wide smile from friendly locals. In America, I have never had any such experience; an experience that is raw that you only get from communicating and connecting with people who don’t know you, but are interested in you and meeting new people.

The people in the Tel Akko archeological dig come from different backgrounds and bring different traits into the group. The group is a family of varying backgrounds, ages, and personalities, adding to the memorable and meaningful moments. The People made the program the experience it was – the new, old, and forever friends.

Being exposed to new cultures and new people can be an overwhelming experience, but I discovered that through traveling, your most memorable and meaningful moments occur with the people you least expect it from. These unexpectable moments of getting stopped at airports, walking the streets of Israel, eating food, and day to day activities are my most memorable and meaningful moments.



By Rachel Strohl

Dear Younger Me

Dear Rachel from Four Weeks Ago,

Rachel, you are about to have the craziest, most extravagant adventure you have ever embarked upon. You are traveling further than you have ever gone, staying in a foreign country longer than you ever have before, and you are going to be doing it on your own. In my wiser, four-week-older state, here are a few things I wish I had known when I left, and some of the amazing things we will do.

  1. It’s okay to eat when you fly; in fact it makes the entire situation way more pleasant.
  2. Take out all of the cash that you want to spend beforehand. Credit cards are a great back up, but cash is best.
  3. You are finally going to excavate! And trust me, you are going to find some really cool things.
  4. You should try all the foods. You’re going to eat whole sardines. Embrace the crazy girl.
  5. When your ankles swell up, just stick them straight up in the air for about 5 minutes. You didn’t twist your ankle, I promise you’re all good.
  6. Make new friends, but don’t forget about the old ones. They still miss you!
  7. You are going to feel overwhelmed in the square sometimes. Don’t shut down, but rise above. The adrenaline high from doing so is amazing!
  8. Patience is a virtue, and you are going to develop some.
  9. People may mess with you because of where you come from, but its okay. Again, rise above.
  10. Tel breakfast is the best breakfast. Pita and hummus with a view of the ocean, nothing is better than that.
  11. If you go swimming for more than 30 minutes, please reapply sunscreen. Burns and salt water don’t mix so well!
  12. Embrace travel within Israel! You are going to some really amazing places, so soak up the history and the amazement.
  13. Don’t forget to call your older sister! She misses you so much, and you never know when a simple phone call could brighten her whole day!
  14. Bring nail clippers. Please. Just do.
  15. Learn to embrace instant coffee. It will be your ally on the days that your 4:30am wake up call wants to kill you.
  16. Learn all that you can, from whoever you can. Maybe it’s what actually makes someone British, or the difference between a slag cake and a really cool rock. Learn it all.
  17. Make an appointment for a manicure/pedicure and a massage for when you get back. You are really going to need them.
  18. Last, but not least, ask questions. Ask lots and lots of questions about everything. Questions are the key to the doors of knowledge.


I know that your trip seems really daunting right now. But you are going to be just fine, I promise. You’re going to fall in love with this country, the people, and archaeology. So embrace the adventure!

All my love,


By Caroline Sausser

Memories to Savor

When you ride Soarin’ in Walt Disney World’s Epcot, puffs of scent come out during the different scenes: jasmine above the Taj Mahal, plumeria over Hawaii, or my favorite grass smell beneath Mount Kilimanjaro. Of course, if you look to your left or right, you remember you are, in fact, just on a ride. But one thing that Disney got right is that smells are a crucial part of experiencing locations. I won’t be able to take it with me, but the smells of the Old City of Akko will always be in the back of my mind when I remember these streets.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

By Jocelyn McLaughlin

Building Bridges

Throughout life we face many challenges that in the moment seem to be unmanageable, Tel Akko has not been an exception, but it is in these times of adversity that immense personal growth happens.

Going to another country and being emerged in their culture is the most rewarding experience to me. It has been three weeks of great experiences here at Tel Akko that overshadow what now seem like minuscule challenges that have actually added value to my experiences. Being part of the public archaeology component of Tel Akko Total Archaeology we students were tasked with working with the youth of Old Akko. On a normal basis working with youth and having them be active participants takes some encouragement, but in this case we also had a slight language barrier. Each of the kids seemed to understand some English but were on difference comprehension levels and us Tel Akko students has no knowledge of Hebrew, so even asking simple questions became complicated. Slowly we overcame this obstacle with a little friendly competition.

On the first day we all sat down for breakfast with the teens and we naturally self-segregated to different tables, one full of Tel Akko students and another full of Akko Youth. This integration process was going to be awkward and everyone was a little tense. Luckily, activities were planned that changed strangers into teammates.

Eventually we sectioned off into groups of three people and experimented with different lye-based mortars by building small stone structures. My group; Evan, Dan, and I had the ambitious plan to construct a mini arch bridge. Armed with instructions in Hebrew and English, a pile of rocks and full access to the Israel Antiquities Authority’s work room we set to task.

As each group built their structures we learned bits and pieces of information about one another. Dan was a returnee Akko participant; outgoing and always on the move. He spoke the most English of the kids so in the middle of our building process, he was often called to another group to act as an interpreter when simple questions like age, school year, and interests were answered with confused looks. It was through this slow process of building trust and understanding that we got to know each other despite having language as a barrier.

In the end, although neither group will be fluent in the other languages by the end of the dig there are so many other ways we have bonded. Selfies, music, social media, and swearing on the tel, have brought two groups, separated by language, together.


By Daundra Lewis

I’m Feeling 22

July 19th, 2017 I was feeling 22 and not just anywhere but in Israel. Last year during my 21st birthday I made a commitment to myself that I would be more positively selfish and focus more on my personal development and growth. This included living my dream of traveling to meet and connect with people of different cultural backgrounds around the world. Although I am not an archeologist major, I jumped on the opportunity to come to Israel to fulfill college credits and to join the community outreach program. Turning 22 in Israel was just a bonus and boy was it a big one.

My birthday celebration began at 12 am IST when I called my mother to let her know that it was officially my birthday in Israel. I then went to sleep to get a few hours of rest before having to get up to go to the archaeological site.

At 4:30am I woke up to get ready for the day. I got dressed, brushed my teeth, fixed my hair, and gave myself a pep talk to survive the day. I was so tired I almost forgot it was my birthday until I went outside to board the bus and Sarah, a peer from the Tel, began singing Happy Birthday. Everyone who was outside joined in and I was both surprised and joyful by the kindness so early in the morning. It was a really great start to the day. I worked on the Tel until breakfast and left to work my first day at the Conservation Center with my Community Outreach group. By this time it was officially 12 am in New Jersey. As I was preparing to leave for the conservation site I noticed I received a text message from my mother wishing me “Happy Birthday”. Reading her encouraging words was an energy booster for meeting the youth in the conservation project.


Being able to connect with the kids for the first time was one of the best birthday gifts. One of the reasons I feel passionate about community outreach is because of how community outreach has played a significant role in my life. Being involved in youth projects within my community in Newark, New Jersey gave me a different perspective of the streets I grew up on. I can relate to how it feels for people to automatically have a negative connotation to a location they lack concrete knowledge on. Being involved as a youth also encourage me to work towards creating more opportunities for people within my community in the future.

Gaining exposure from other programs and expanding my knowledge of other cultures can lead to the future development of a diverse programs. Initially I wondered if the language barrier would make my relationship awkward with the students and it did at

first. But then our personalities began to click. Within 5 minutes of self-introduction it was announced it was my birthday, and the kids were excited and wished me “Happy Birthday”. This was my first interaction with the kids and they were so welcoming! One of our projects consisted of us making mortar and making a figure using the mortar. Milanna and Priel (girls who were part of the youth program) made me a cake out of mortar. Then Daniel and Milanna made Jake, my partner whose birthday was a day later, and I a sandwich with lit birthday candles. To top it off I receive a crown or flower wreath. I wasn’t sure how I would feel turning 22. However, after all the love and birthday wishes, I had absolutely no reason to not enjoy becoming a year older.



To end the day, I made yet another memory in Akko when I spent my birthday dinner at Abu Cristo with my new friend Jill who is also apart of the Tel Akko Program.Great food is always the best way to end the day.

As a child I often dreamed about the opportunity to travel. I used to watch planes takeoff from Newark Airport near my home. No longer do I have to imagine, because I made the dream come true. I couldn’t be any more grateful and joyful to meet new people in Israel and expand my knowledge of the culture. This is a great opportunity to grow as an individual and leader. I have already been introduced to a taste of simple acts of kindness, and the youth from the conservancy taught me that. I can only look forward to making someone feel as special they made me, a stranger, feel on their special day away from home. Cheers to new adventures, friends, and growth!

By Megan Ashbrook

My Day at the Dig

4:45am: Wakeup and 1st breakfast

Well sometimes I get up later… it’s hard to get out of bed before sunrise. But I always have to get a little something to eat before working on the tel.

5:40am: Arrive at Tel Akko

The first thing we all do in the morning is grab our supplies and sweep the park path around the dig site. Our supplies include black buckets for dirt, colored buckets for pottery and small finds, a brush, a trowel, and a patiche. A patiche is almost like a smaller, thinner hammer.

5:40-8:30am: Excavation

In the morning, we give our square a general sweep to collect all the loose dirt that blew in overnight. Then we get our plan of the day’s dig from our square supervisor (Darcie is the best square supervisor). Then finally we can start digging!

8:30am: Tel Breakfast aka 2nd Breakfast

Tel breakfast is one of the best meals of the day! Every morning I have hummus, green olives, and tea. Depending on what else there is I also have fruit, vegetables, or a peanut butter and jelly pita sandwich. Breakfast is also nice because it is served family style with all of us siting at one long table. I really enjoy passing the food and talking to my friends and find out what is happening in their squares.

9:00-11:30am: Excavation

After breakfast we all reluctantly get up from the tables and get back to work. Sitting and relaxing for a while makes its hard to get back to work. I usually pick up where I left off before breakfast. For an example, if I was trimming a baulk before tel breakfast I would go back to doing that. A baulk is the half meter section of dirt left on each side of a square. Baulks are helpful to see the stratigraphy of the square. When trimming it the idea is to make the baulk straight and at a right angle with the floor of the square. Plus it makes the square look clean and nice.

The best part of my day is excavating. Excavation includes so many other parts I didn’t know before coming to Tel Akko, like trimming baulks. I also have learned how to use a dumpy level to take elevation points in our square. I find it easy to use and a nice change from digging all day. We take elevations when something significant or special is found like a unique artifact. Also elevations are taken at the end of each day not only in my square but every one being dug at the site. Taking end of the day elevations tells us exactly how far down we excavated that day. I have learned how to identify so many things from digging the past three weeks like bone, vitrified earth, and tabun pieces (aka pieces of an oven made out of thick clay). This really helps when sifting all the dirt that is pulled out of my square (another skill I have learned).

11:30am-12:00pm: Cleaning and Closing the Square for the Day

Just like at the beginning of the day we do a general clean sweep of the square to get all the dirt we kicked up throughout excavation. Then I usually help Darcie check all our finds for the proper tags and fill out end of the day paperwork.

12:00-12:30pm: Find of the Day

Now that all the squares are closed for the day we can see some cool things people found! Fun or different finds are put up to be voted on, by cheering, for the “find of the day.” Some items that have won are an Egyptian scarab, a ceramic figurine, and a modern bullet.

12:30pm: Walk to the Bus

My day on the tel concludes with carrying all the pottery found that day down the long steps to the bus. We need to soak and wash the pottery so it can be studied by the ceramic experts. I also like to see all the cool pottery found on Tel Akko!

Now there are only a few days left on the tel and I’m wishing for more.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

By Derek Flick

Academy Decor

One of the things that surprised me when I arrived for the dig at Akko was the accommodation and its decor.  We are housed at the Israel Nautical Academy, which prepares students to enter the Israeli Navy or Merchant Marine.  When I heard this during orientation, I envisioned an aesthetic of cold military orderliness and utilitarianism.[/vc_column][/vc_row]

By Derek Flick

What “Total Archaeology” looks like on the ground

The term “Total Archaeology” is embedded in the name of the current archaeological project at Tel Akko and sums up the vision of the dig’s directors to utilize a “holistic approach to the past… which integrates archaeological survey, systematic excavation, a robust conservation plan, a public outreach program, and the incorporation of the largely unpublished results from earlier expeditions to address a practical research agenda, all of which have necessitated the development of a cutting edge multi-dimensional recording system”.

The term “Total Archaeology” is embedded in the name of the current archaeological project at Tel Akko, and sums up the vision of the dig’s director’s aim to utilize a “holistic approach to the past… which integrates archaeological survey, systematic excavation, a robust conservation plan, a public outreach program, and the incorporation of the largely unpublished results from earlier expeditions to address a practical research agenda; all of which have necessitated the development of a cutting edge multi-dimensional recording system”.

Sounds great, but what exactly does this multi-dimensional recording system look like on the ground, and how does the student field school experience at Tel Akko differ from other digs? 

This is my second season on an archaeological dig.  I spent July of 2016 on an excavation of a Roman villa and surrounding structures in the Italian countryside.  It was a great experience and I learned a lot about archaeology (not to mention that you can’t beat four course Italian dinners every night).  However, instruction was mostly limited to what you might conventionally imagine an archaeological field school would include: techniques for excavating systematically; identifying artefacts, architectural features, and stratigraphy; drawing maps of the site with elevation readings; and learning the history of the site and the region.

So what more can there be to a field school than that?

For one, the Total Archaeology at Tel Akko project has an archaeological survey component.  The Tel is rather large, and the area selected for excavation is a tiny fraction of its total area.  The intensive process of excavation yields a wealth of information, but it is limited to a relatively small area.  Archaeological survey allows for a broader view around the area we are excavating, and each day a few students are able to volunteer to assist with the survey process.  Survey duty involves the grueling work of swinging pickaxes for hours in the sun, but it has become a bit of a cult favorite among some students at Akko, myself included.  The method employed at Akko is to dig 40 cm x 40 cm test pits laid out 5 meters from each other in a grid.  Keeping this process orderly on the sloping land of the Tel depends upon use of a device called a total station which emits infrared energy to be reflected back to the total station by a reflecting prism held at a desired point in the field.  The total station is able to measure the angle and distance to the prism reflecting its signal back to it, and then calculating the Northing (latitude), Easting (longitude), and elevation with its on board computer.  Learning how the total station works and operating it in the field gave me the satisfaction of working with a fascinating piece of archaeological equipment which I hadn’t encountered before.

But, that’s not all I love about survey.  The mix of personalities composed of the staff members, the field school students, and the teenage Bedouin workers invariably leads to a good time. Whether its “DJ Achmed” jamming out to his playlist while digging, the supervisor cracking a joke, or simply watching the sun rise as you dig in the early morning light, there’s always something to make a day spent on survey worthwhile.

By Sarah Kammer

Dreams Really Do Come True

When I was younger, I watched a documentary on a city called Caesarea. From then on out, I was fascinated by the place. Caesarea has an intriguing back story, and was a massive marvel of human engineering in its prime. Herod the Great built the site essentially as an apology present to the Roman emperor Augustus in the hope that Augustus would forgive him for fighting on the side of Mark Antony and Cleopatra when they lost.

Thus, Herod created Caesarea around 22-10 BCE in the spirit and image of a Roman city with the full intent of it becoming an important center for trade and commerce for the Roman Empire. Part of why Caesarea is such an amazing feat of human ingenuity, besides the sheer massive size of the city, is that it included a fully manmade harbor. The artificial harbor created another place where maritime trade could flourish than in the natural bays of Akko and Haifa. Many important historic things happened in the city, including, allegedly, St. Paul’s imprisonment.

Years after watching that fateful documentary, I loved, and still love, anything that even remotely has to do with Caesarea. It was a place of wonder that I enjoyed considerably more than your average person, and even more so now after our visit to the site.

One of the best parts of the day of our trip was getting to speak with a current excavator of Caesarea. She showed me that there is still a lot to be learned from a place I love. Every year new discoveries are being made that shape what we know about the city itself, as well as the entire coast of Israel.

Being able to come to Israel has been a wonderful experience and our adventure to one of my top desired cities to visit was one of the happiest moments I have had on this month-long trip. However, being led around by one of the original excavators of the site was icing on the cake for me. It gave me so much more insight into a place I already loved, that I will be forever grateful for Martha Risser, one of the ceramic specialists of the Tel Akko excavation, for showing us around a city she clearly still holds close to her heart.

I never expected I would be able to visit Caesarea in person because of where it was – Israel. Until last fall, the idea of going to Israel had never crossed my mind. Though I yearned to visit Caesarea and several other sites, I didn’t believe it was going to be a possible endeavor for me for several reasons, a major one being the current political climate in the country. Yet here I sit, on the outskirts of the Old City of Akko, Israel. Moral of the story? Dreams, no matter how impossible they seem at one point in life, really can come true.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

1 2 3 4 7
Throwing light on oil lamps
India Interacts With Israel
Dear Younger Me
Memories to Savor
Building Bridges
I’m Feeling 22
My Day at the Dig
Academy Decor
What “Total Archaeology” looks like on the ground
Dreams Really Do Come True