By Paul Wilson

The Single Thing


“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”
– John Muir

My life has been a journey in and of itself, traveling the world, learning, listening, and absorbing all I can with those who walk similar paths. This trip has multiple facets I have experienced before, yet not altogether like this. The early mornings, gear checks, manual labor, and even the Middle Eastern weather. Tel Akko has taught me more though, and left me with curious questions that I do not plan on leaving unanswered. I started this blog with a quote and believe it to be true with Akko. Everything we uncover in this ancient soil lets us put together a query, to which no one is quite surety have a perfect answer. But each artifact shows us that Akko is indeed attached to the rest of the world in so many ways. I remember the first few days. I was a little hesitant towards liking this area, exploring my new temporary home. When I arrived here, I knew no one except some staff from Penn State University and I knew even less about the country or detailed history. Now as I plan to depart, I leave with friends, acquaintances, and a new perspective on the people and region of Akko and Israel. I am glad I tugged on that single thing, and I am even more humbled to see it attached to not only the excavation but the people on this amazing journey. They have come from all over and are willing to share their knowledge with each other. As a non-archaeologist on this dig, I feel I have also found a greater love for archaeology being in the field; not only seeing the history of it, but feeling it physically and metaphorically. I hope to return one day to this country, it’s people, and get more questions and fewer answers (as life has), which would only drive me more and more to follow through again and again. I hope I will be able to tug again at that single thing and learn how it is attached to the rest of the world here at Tel Akko.


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 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.



By John Michael Gurklis

Open Your Mouth

by John Michael Gurklis.


After a long day of digging on the tel, the only thing that I can think of is food. Food is fuel and intrinsic to survival, and here at Akko I eat so that I can dig. The specified feeding times at Akko are integral to the day: you must eat food or you will not be able to swing that makosh. Life at Akko is regimented and starts when the sun is still asleep, so I decided to ditch the watch and instead use my stomach as a way to measure the time—it’s quite accurate. Pre-breakfast breakfast, tel breakfast, lunch, and sad dinner keep my inner clock in rhythm as, instead of the watch, raw cucumbers and peppers alert my body to morning, meat to midday, and a sad dinner to the evening. Yet, our relationship to food is much more than eating to survive, we eat to indulge, to taste, to communicate, to experience with one another, and a plethora of other reasonings. Together, these elements give much more context to the food I eat and to when I eat; making a simple mechanical process into a much more fulfilling and integral part of my life.

My tastebuds have aligned themselves to this Mediterranean diet that, for the most part, is lighter than a “typical” American diet. Fresh, raw vegetables and fruits line the table, and various dips and breads add texture and flavor. The flavors, textures, and colors of food here intrigue me and make me try new and exciting foods. Outside of the Nautical College walls exists a city that has a surplus of delectable food. I rely on my nose  to guide me. The new city has a plethora of restaurants that sell falafel, hummus, pizza, etc., but my nose often takes me to the old city when a dinner of cucumbers and peppers is all that is offered. The twisted streets hold an uncountable number of pita stands selling fresh made falafel and shawarma that warms one’s stomach up. Going to the old city is akin to a pilgrimage for me—just for my gastrointestinal system. And while there are many stops along the way, Uri Buri is my “Jerusalem”.

Tucked away towards the north of the Old City is a small, minimal restaurant called Uri Buri. The windows face out towards the Mediterranean, and the food follows the example as chef Uri focuses almost entirely on seafood. Here, for the rest of the blog, I have tried to summarize my experience of the tasting menu in ways other than “so good.”At Uri Buri you can order individual plates or you can get the tasting menu in which plates are chosen for you and you tell them when to stop. The tasting menu is what you should get, of course.

First round: Seared scallops on pureed Jerusalem artichoke. The scallop was meaty and the artichoke gave it a richness, but I don’t remember enough taste wise. Alongside was bruschetta with a burnt eggplant spread on top which gave it a beautiful charred taste. A top of that was cold fish of some sort. The contrasts in texture and flavor were wonderful, and the eggplant taste carried the dish.

Second round: More appetizers: octopus, ceviche, sashimi salmon. The octopus was my first attempt ever and was far too good. The meat had a charred smoky taste, yet it was not overbearing. It felt butter smooth and not rubbery. The best part however might be what they did with the zucchini, which was by far the best I have ever had, with its  strong flavor and undertones of butter and smokiness. The ceviche was wonderful. Lime and lemon/olive oil/capers came together to make an amazing taste, mixing together to be complex. Every bite was savored. The pickled red onion atop was essential, it gave it a different taste lens and also added some needed texture. Last was the sashimi salmon with a soy sauce/wasabi sauce of some sort. This was so interesting as the salmon packs its own unique flavor, while the soy and wasabi play a devilment balancing act. The wasabi is pungent, yet the soy sauce and salmon balance it out, you get the full taste and burn—but only very briefly. I enjoyed this.

Round three: The intermission coconut curry/basil/fish soup was served in what looked like a slightly larger espresso shot glass and it was just perfection. The curry was hot and came up in the upper portion of the taste buds while the basil/coconut were more mellow and filling. The fish added texture.

Round four: Entree number one was shrimp and artichokes served on black rice noodles with a lemon butter sauce. The sauce was rich, but not in an over indulgent way due to the lemons’ sharpness. The shrimp was the best shrimp I had ever had. It being chewy but not too much and had a hearty taste. Artichoke hearts were good.

Round six: entree number two. My personal favorite: tuna on yogurt with chili oil, olive oil, and peppers/onions. The best thing I have ever eaten was the seared tuna, good on its own, and best eaten with a bit of everything as each part plays an essential role. The tuna plays the main melody, but is not the first that hits you. Instead the chili oil/hot peppers hit first, but quickly the mouth soothing elements of tuna/olive oil/yogurt mellow it out to a tasteful level. Its hot but its not. Fantastic.

Round 7: Desert. We got ice cream, three flavors; mint, chocolate, salted caramel. It was ice cream, it was good. The mint ice cream especially, however, was fantastic as it tasted wholly of mint leaf and cream.

My pilgrimage to Uri Buri illustrates the complex relationship to food which we have: fuel, culture, taste, skill. As much as Uri Buri represents immense skill and craftsmanship in their ability to make high quality food, in the end I went there partially because I was hungry and because I wanted to stop that feeling. Yet in many ways my trip to Uri Buri was just as much about food as it was about me learning from other cultures and other people—a theme held throughout the Tel Akko experience.

By Mary Owen

Archaeology Vs. Paleontology or, Why We Don’t Find Dinosaur Bones on the Tel

by Mary Owen.


So, if you know anything about archaeologists you might know that they might have one of two favorite movie series, Indiana Jones or Jurassic Park (Akko is a Jurassic Park group), both of which aren’t really archaeology (sorry, but Indiana Jones is a REALLY bad archaeologist). Jurassic Park isn’t even close to archaeology and yet, if an archaeologist tells someone what they do for a living, if that person doesn’t ask about Indiana Jones, they’re going to ask that archaeologist if they’ve ever found any dinosaur bones like in Jurassic Park. What most people don’t understand is archaeology and paleontology are two ENTIRELY different fields of study!

So what’s the difference anyway? Well, paleontology studies a much much older time frame from archaeology. Humans and dinosaurs never lived together, much to the annoyance of Flintstones and Creationism fans alike, I’m sure. Paleontology focuses on life much much older than humans, dinosaurs being the most famous example, but they are not the only thing paleontologists study. They also study ancient plant and sea life as well as many animals that can’t be considered dinosaurs. Paleontologists tend to only be able to find fossilized remains of the things they are trying to study. This means they don’t tend to have biological remains and instead find either mineralized versions (like with bones or exoskeletons) or impressions (like plants or footprints) of the remains. But like I mentioned, archaeologists don’t study these sorts of things.

And what do archaeologists study then if it’s not dinosaurs? Well, as a branch of anthropology, they study humans! It isn’t even just their bones either. Some professors like to describe archaeology as the study of people’s stuff, whether that’s their buildings, their possessions ,or their trash, it’s all a part of archaeology. Here in the site at Tel Akko, we mostly find a lot of broken ceramics, usually in the form of so very much pottery, though other items such as figurines have been found here. We also find a lot of more modern animal remains in the form of shells and bones.


Of course this also leads to more questions. Why do we even study archaeology? Why would you want to study dead people and their trash? Well, it really depends on who you ask! People want to study it for all sorts of different reasons. To use myself as an example, I wanted to dig holes but couldn’t pass the math requirement for geology. Most other people have questions about the past they want answered. Some of the questions people are looking at here at Tel Akko include, what kind of plants were people eating or using, what sorts of domesticated animals were found here, or where was the harbor actually located before it receded to its current position?

Through our excavations we hope to find the answers to these questions, and similar ones so we can gain better insight on humans throughout history and prehistory and NOT dinosaur bones!

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.

By Ian Seasholtz

Akko Cures Sad Boy Hours

By Ian Seascholtz.

Let us first preface this post with a rough definition of the colloquial use of the term “Sad Boy Hours.”


Sad Boy Hours: The time between two and four a.m. during which people are permitted to express negative emotions through the acts of venting and/or crying. May also refer to general feelings of sadness, apprehension, and anxiety.


Prior to my departure, one could say that the Sad Boy Hours were in full effect. As the previous semester came to a close and general feelings of anxiety and insecurity set in, I was experiencing more than a fair share of apprehension and doubt about my upcoming adventure, which I now find was completely unwarranted. In the days leading up to the trip, I was almost to the point of dreading the thought of leaving the comfort of home for an entire month to travel to somewhere completely new with a group comprised mostly of strangers. Would I enjoy the city of Akko? Would I like working on the Tel so early in the morning in the blistering heat? What kinds of people would I meet and befriend? All these questions racked my brain and fueled my Sad Boy Hours.


The First Days:

Shy and reserved by nature, the first days of the trip were riddled with anxiety, which was only compounded with and augmented by the extreme jet lag I was experiencing while attempting to catch up on lost sleep from the long flights and layovers. This left me on the brink of delirium for the first several days, especially during the mindless tedium of sandbagging on the Tel. Rip, dump, rinse, and repeat, all while barely uttering a word.

The second day on the Tel is when everything began to change for the better. After completing the last rounds of sandbagging in my still zombie-esque state, I was inducted in to what would become endearingly referred to as The Southern Colony, The Prison Yard, and, “that place that won’t stop giving us so much pottery to wash”: Area Black. It was here that my feelings of doubt began to dissipate and my confidence in my personal, social, and academic life began to flourish. The labor was arduous and backbreaking. The bullets of sweat dropped from my furrowed brow nearly as fast as the literal bullets were unearthed by square NN9. I enjoyed every sweat-soaked moment of it. Every sherd we drew forth from the earth that acted as the bane of the other squares was, to me at least, an exciting new discovery. Even when the thrill of constantly pulling up pottery waned, my enthusiastic supervisors, area mates, non-stop special finds, and the daily “Breakfast with The Beatles” playlist kept the excitement alive. The only negative being the infamous and nearly indestructible “spicy onions” that plagued Area Black in the first layers of topsoil.

Shedding the Shell:

The Fourth of July was when I really started to conquer the social anxiety that constantly chewed at my psyche. The celebration at Life Beach was where fun was had, lasting friendships were forged, and free sodas were consumed. From that point onward it was as if a dark cloud was lifted from my being. I felt confident, noticeably more positive and outgoing, and excited to experience whatever that next day had to offer me. For me, the Sad Boy Hours had vanished and were replaced by hours of happiness and fulfilment. I had done what I had previously assumed was the impossible; but we all know what happens when one assumes.

While I once dreaded the thought of abandoning my little nook for the unknown, I now feel as though the unknown is now what draws me further onward. My stay in Akko has taught me so much in such a short time that the only sad boy thought that crosses my mind is the thought of leaving such a wonderful place.

If there is anything to take away from this experience, it would be find what is to be found, be who you want to be, and to not fear what is beyond the nook. So, for now and onward the Sad Boy Hours have been cancelled.

By Alexis Dailey

My Journey to Tel Akko

by Alexis Dailey.


If there is one saying I find always rings true, it would be “hindsight is 20/20.” As a third grader, I opened up a National Geographic magazine with an eager lust to learn about the world around me. The content inside overflowed with beautiful flowers, mysterious animals, and revolutionary photos of space. But the article I found most intriguing was explaining archaeology and the importance of studying the past in order to better understand humans in both the ancient and modern contexts. As I went home that afternoon, the first words out of my mouth were, “Mom! I think I want to be an archaeologist when I grow up!” As parents often do, she patted my head and told me I could grow up to be anything my heart desired.

A few years later, I began researching colleges and majors. After several potential majors and future job options, I finally settled on attending Penn State as a Biology major with the end goal focusing particularly on research. My family, friends, and teachers gladly supported this decision and told me I would excel in the science field. With all of the love and support, I headed off to college dead-set on graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology. However, my life quickly took a turn when I realized I hated every minute of this goal.

Whether or not you believe in fate, I ended up in a Special Living Option for my freshman year dorm assignment. This particular program was only open to students living on the floor and included presentations by professors, dinners with academic advisors, and connections to nearly every professional and student at Penn State. After a few weeks of college, and plenty of stressful nights, I attended a dinner with a few academic advisors from the Liberal Arts College. At the time, I had no real intention of finding a new major, I just figured some of the information they had prepared for us would help me plan my electives. Instead, the dinner ignited a spark I only recognized at the end of the semester. Finals were approaching and instead of enjoying my classes, I was only resenting attending college, especially for Biology. Eventually I hit my breaking point and ran to the Undergraduate Advisor in charge of our Special Living Option. Once she calmed me down, we discussed my interests in science and history. She recommended I attend a few introductory Anthropology classes to see if I fitted into this program better. Reluctantly, I agreed and by the end of the semester, I had fallen in love with the major.

Sophomore year began far better than freshman year, as I now had reliable friends at school and classes I was excited to take. Skipping ahead to the end of October, a representative of the Liberal Arts College gave a mini lecture about an opportunity to study abroad in Greece for the spring semester and have the opportunity to earn a minor in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies. Because the program had been low on student interest, the department had decided to open up the application process for an extra week in an attempt to gain a few more participants. With low expectations, I applied to the program. Almost immediately, I received my acceptance letter to the program. Up until that point, I had never even mentioned this adventure to my mother. With butterflies in my stomach, I called her and asked for her permission to study abroad. She was overjoyed to hear I had the chance to live out one of my life long dreams and visit Greece. After hanging up, I logged on to my account and signed all the required paperwork to head abroad.

By the end of January, I found myself in the middle of Athens, Greece under the supervision of Dr. Killebrew. Over the next three months, I had traveled all over mainland Greece and Crete to see the ancient archaeological sites that had peaked my fascination with ancient cultures. Although I did not work on any excavations, just being able to walk among the ruins left me overjoyed. I quickly added Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies as my second major. While on this trip though, Dr. Killebrew mentioned how she would be willing to accept any of us interested in working on her excavation site in Israel if we applied by the application deadline. Having struggled to fund my trip to Greece by myself, I knew I couldn’t possibly afford to travel to Israel as well. I toyed with the idea of working on an archaeological excavation continuously after that moment, but felt I would never have a real chance to actually do so.

However, this spring I applied to the Tel Akko program with high hopes for scholarships. Receiving my acceptance letter made me ecstatic and terrified at the same time. How was I possibly going to be able to afford to study abroad again if I don’t receive enough funding? Was I going to be able to live out a childhood dream for real, or would I find out I truly hated something I had longed for? I was drowning in negative thoughts until I called my mother. Once again, she was overjoyed to hear I had the chance to study abroad again. My hesitance was quickly resolved as she encouraged me to take this chance and let fate work itself out. Taking her advice, I accepted the position and began applying to as many scholarships as possible, while simultaneously picking up more hours at work. The next few months brought me the funding I needed, as well as enough pocket money to afford to pay for my trip by myself.

As a brief interjection, I grew up in a single parent household with two sisters. My mother took on as much work as she could possibly manage. Due to a lack of money, we grew up on very little and never took vacations or travelled anywhere. In both study abroad circumstances, I knew my mother would not be able to afford to pay for my trip, therefore the responsibility had been left on my shoulders. My mother has always been my biggest fan and only wanted the best for me. She reminded me how hard work always pays off, even if it takes time.

Now, I am currently sitting in Akko, Israel on my second study abroad experience working on the archaeological dig site of Tel Akko. Regardless of the endless scenarios I imagined archaeology would be, this trip has been better than anything I could have dreamed. I have met absolutely wonderful students and professors, gained valuable knowledge, and found ancient artifacts. Each day, I return home from the field tired, but find the exhaustion is worth every other aspect of the trip. Especially since I have found two special finds since the beginning of the trip. The first special find was pieces of a Phoenician mask and the second find was a painted piece of Greek pottery. Knowing how many interesting artefacts lie underneath my feet, motivates me to work hard to both excavate and study the history of Tel Akko. The most important part of working here in Akko has been realizing I have indeed chosen the correct career path, even if that means waking up at four-thirty in the morning to spend the next seven hours sweating under the hot Israeli sun.

For years, I had given up on my dream of becoming an archaeologist because I had been told, and eventually believed, I was meant to work as a researcher in Biology. Looking back now, I can see how important browsing the National Geographic magazine had truly been for me. As I stated in the beginning, “hindsight is 20/20” and you never know how influential even the smallest moments in life can be. Dreams may come and go, but finding your true calling may be simpler than you think.


By Abigail Zahoroiko

Barren Beauty

by Abigail Zahoroiko.


The definition of insanity is doing the exact same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome. That. Is. Crazy.

One of my earliest memories in school is writing out a “Who I Am” worksheet at the beginning of third grade and putting “archaeologist” for my future career. This has been a dream of mine since early grade school and it all started with dinosaur oatmeal. As a kid, I would make my oatmeal but make a little “nest” for the dinosaur eggs by “excavating” them from the packet. Every packet had fun facts about dinosaurs and I thought I could be a paleontologist when I grew up, but I always called it archaeology as a little kid. Not until one of my morning packets of dinosaur oatmeal had the fun fact that a person who studies dinosaurs was called a “paleontologist”, not an “archaeologist”. So little me had to find out what in the world archaeology was if it wasn’t digging up dinosaurs.


Before I even knew what archaeology was, I loved history and I loved the dirt. Little me would go into my yard and collect fossils from around my house and in my woods and keep them in a box. I constantly saved toads and frogs and worms to get them to a safe place while doing my own busy work. Another early memory is sitting on my couch at home watching National Geographic episodes one after another after another. I clearly remember a documentary about King Tut and a separate episode about castles in Ireland. Everything interested me and I couldn’t get enough.


Archaeology had then been a passion of mine for years before I even discovered anthropology when I was in middle school. The study of humans and everything about them just broadened my horizon and strengthened my love of the subject. I was set on anthropology from then on, yet always had a soft spot for archaeology.


In college, studying abroad was a must in my academic career and I found the Akko program during my first semester. I went to meetings and actually had the strength to apply for the program during my second summer semester. I was afraid to spend so much money and I was uncertain about whether I was choosing the right thing for me. But I decided to go for it.  I never felt shocked that I was going on a place for the first time this summer, that I was leaving the country for the first time this summer, that I was going to be an archaeologist this summer. The plane ride came and went and I acclimatized to the new scenery without a problem. I didn’t experience jet lag as I just stayed up for the whole 10 and a half hour plane ride and went to bed at 11 pm, four hours after I arrived in Akko. And I didn’t experience this cultural shock. Nothing felt real. I was just in a different place and I got used to it rather quickly. There was no “this is so new”, “this isn’t right for me”, or even a “this is right for me”. I felt like I was just in a dream going with whatever flow was taking me.


So that’s how I ended up here in Akko and doing what I am passionate about for basically 24 hours a day. A perfect happy ending, right?


Yes, actually. I have become a part of Area Black, a newly opened area where I opened my very own square. Starting completely fresh and working to find something beneath the layers of dirt that have already been stripped away in other areas from seasons prior. Except, my square is nothing but dirt. NOTHING but dirt. Three separate squares surround mine, all riddled with amazing finds and even architecture but weeks into the dig and mine is over a meter deep into the ground with absolutely nothing to see. But every day I come back with positive energy and a simple love of what I am doing.

Beginning in week 3, I was moved to a different square in Area Black that has far more interesting material and every day I wish I was back in my home of NN-9. That’s how I know I’m on the right path. I have been doing the same thing over and over for weeks expecting something new, knowing my square is nothing but a disturbed pit of dirt, but that square is my home. My new placement is just an apartment I’m renting from a friend until I can get back on my feet again.

This profession is my home and Akko is now a part of it. Israel will forever be the place where I found exactly where I belong. I have since realized the realness of this experience and my heart breaks to return back home. I’m doing something that I never want to not be doing and soon my euphoria will shatter until I come back home again next year.


By Jonathon Jack

Joining the Cult in Akko

By Jonathon Jack.

I joined the cult in the first week of the Tel Akko Project. For those who don’t know, the Cult is the Survey team.

Most people who join Survey never want to leave. When you first join Survey, you learn about the tools you use, from the pickaxes to the total station. There are a few jobs in survey that  remind you of a cult. First are the supervisors A, B and C who are the priests of the cult. When you arrive, they teach you how to fix your problems. Most cults have you meditate or pray to a god to solve your problems. But this cult worships the total station, where new members learn to give prayers of “30 cm west and 1 m north” etc. Then you have the audience of the prayers – one to two people who are listening to this prayer on the Tel and are in eyesight,  but listening to it over radio communications. One is holding a prism rode and starts to pray while his partner waits and supports him.

Be the Bubble!

These spots will rotate out through the day. The rest of the group work on solving their problems by digging holes with pickaxes and a Terea. As long has you have a 40 cm by 40 cm by 40 cm hole you can take out all your problems on the hole you are digging.  There are rules to digging your hole. They have to be a nice square, but when you start you make a large pit that goes over 40 cm deep. the only other rule is that you must split up the pottery that you find in the first 20 cm and the second 20 cm.

Also, our cult gets more breaks than any other group on the Tel. We have this privilege for we are standing in the Israeli sun all day. We find all kinds of awesome things in survey –  modern things like hookahs to empty vodka bottles, but depending on where the hole is, you can find yourself in a different time zone with different types of pottery and other cool things. Some time periods are the early, middle and late Persian times, roman times, crusader times, Byzantine times, Iron age, bronze age, and so on. You could get the right hole, with an awesome find from one of these time periods or you could get stuck digging in back fill from a 1976 excavation, and all you can think of is, ‘dammit Dothan’ . Overall, the cult is a cool place to spend your time digging holes and destroying and going through layers of dirt, rocks and pottery, with the occasional poisonous onion that grows on the tel. Then you have priest C who wanders around and does no work with the occasional lecture on a questionable find or a cool find. Overall Survey is a fun place to work where you can let loose with a pickaxe withoutt having to sweep all day and find nothing.

moving from hole to hole

one of many Survey areas

1 2
The Single Thing
I ❤️ Archaeology!!!
Ally’s Declassified Archaeology Survival Guide
Open Your Mouth
Archaeology Vs. Paleontology or, Why We Don’t Find Dinosaur Bones on the Tel
The only find that matters
Akko Cures Sad Boy Hours
My Journey to Tel Akko
Barren Beauty
Joining the Cult in Akko