By Trevor James Hale

Bon Akkoetit

By Trevor James Hale

To me, there is no greater way to experience a foreign culture and all its richness than through their food. The recipes, flavors, and various culinary traditions of a nation are a palatable history presented neatly on a plate. In my two and a half weeks living and working in Akko, I have had plenty of time to sample the local flavors of the Levant. While I do not claim to be some sort of  expert on  fine foods and delicacies, I know good food when I see it. And I can assure you, Akko has no shortage of appetizing oddities. So, let’s take a savory journey to my personal favorite eateries of Akko.



Soul Burger:

I’m a simple man of simple tastes, and few things taste better than a good burger. Soul Burger, a tiny burger bar just past the entrance to the Old City, is an Israeli take on the classic American sandwich. The word that resonates most with this place is: fresh. Ground beef made fresh every day before opening, onion rings and fries scratch made, a variety of spices and toppings bought daily from the Turkish Bazaar. Their signature dish, the Soul Burger, very well may be the single best burger I’ve had in my entire life.



Bilal Fish and Seafood Restaurant:

While I have always loved seafood, living in rural Pennsylvania means my access to it is rare and expensive, but for a seaside city like Akko, a fish dinner is as easy as walking to the docks and casting your rod in. Bilal Restaurant, resting quietly beside the Old City harbor, specializes in all things seafood. Masterful in their craft and easy on the wallet, Bilal is a must visit for seafood lovers.



El Marsa Restaurant and Bar:

Another Old City eatery, this bar overlooks the sea and the city of Haifa across from it. A more formal establishment in the restaurant part, El Marsa also has a more casual bar in the back. If you’re a fan of Arak, you can get a decent round of shots for a relatively cheap price.




Are you a fan of shawarma? If so, “Tenshek” (or so I believe it to be) is the place to go. A short walk from the nautical college, this little eatery is perhaps my favorite place in the whole city. From freshly slicked chicken shawarma to grilled kebab, Tenshek provides a variety of delectable dishes. What’s more, most dishes are within the 20-30-shekel range, an absurd deal for such good food. Do yourself a favor and get the kebab pita, it’s well worth it.



Hummus Issa:

Lauded as perhaps the single best hummus restaurant in Israel, people from all over the nation travel for a meal. But with the long lines and odd hours (6 AM to 2:30 PM), does it really live up to its own hype? Yes, yes it does. Warm, fresh pita served with dishes of spectacular hummus, Hummus Issa just may be the pinnacle of hummus. You know the food is good when the locals love it just as much as the tourists.



Hummus Said:

The crown of “best hummus in Israel” is hotly contested. In defiance of Hummus Issa is Hummus Said. Within proximity to Issa, Said is similarly lauded as the peak of hummus and pita eatery. While I am no judge of hummus, I will admit that Said has better hours.


American Pizza:

Another Israeli twist on a favorite American dish, American Pizza dishes out pies like no other. Featuring both more traditional toppings, as well as some more interesting local flavors, American Pizza is as tasty as it is affordable. While it’s no New York bistro, American Pizza can serve a slice of home for anyone missing the simple delicacy of pizza.



Uri Buri:

Voted best restaurant in the Middle East in 2016, Uri Buri is a sort of site of pilgrimage for the students in this program. As close to heaven as one can get in a culinary sense, Uri Buri provides course after course of lavish foods prepared lovingly.

And of course, no review of the Tel Akko Total Archaeology program would be complete without a review of…

The Nautical College Dining Hall:
The site of most of my meals, the dining hall at the nautical college serves surprisingly good food. While dinner may seem meager to someone used to a more American diet, the wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and assorted foods makes up for it. Lunch is often the best meal of the day, as well as the special Shabbat dinner. If you want to save money and still have a good meal, don’t hesitate to chow down in the dining hall!

By Christopher Stasiak

Pennsylvania State University Student “Dies” in Israel


By Chuck Stasiak.


Christopher Michael Stasiak was born on September 12, 1997, to parents Carrie and Joseph Stasiak. In Brooklyn, New York. Chris was a student studying at Pennsylvania State University about to enter his senior year. He was part of an archaeological science ‘study abroad’ program in Tel Akko, Israel. It was on July 1st, 2018 when the fatal accident occurred. While at the Israeli Naval College Chris suffered a fatal case of ego-death when a staff member, who will remain unnamed, started referring to Chris as Chuck. Chris had lived a semi-sheltered life in the United States. Before going to Israel, he had never left his home country let alone travelled much inside of it. He played sports, loved swimming, and hanging out with friends and he had a passion for music. Chris was not a morning person; he loved staying up all hours of the night, loving the peacefulness of the darkness and how quiet it could be. He was also not a huge fan of the beach, the sea or the ocean because of the sand and

On July 1st 2018 Chris was reborn as Chuck; the author of this eulogy. I, Chuck am a completely new person, quite the opposite of Chris. Chris was not a morning person; he could not wake up in the morning even if his life, or his grades, depended on it. Chuck, on the other hand, was able to wake up at four in the morning every day in order to go to work digging holes, sweeping the dirt and performing other archaeological practices. You would be lucky to get Chris out of bed before noon, but Chuck would have already have done seven hours of work before noon rolled around. I, Chuck thoroughly enjoy going to the beach and hanging out with friends in my free time in-between and during the hours of two pm and four pm. The ocean and the sand does not bother me one bit like it did Chris. I have learned to like hummus, falafel and other types of food that Chris would never have enjoyed or even thought about trying. Every meal is a new experience for me and I am more open to trying all types of food and sauces along the likes of tahini, and yogurt-based sauces.

In the nighttime, I explore the old city and the modern one looking for new places to eat and cool places to hang out and converse with new friends I have made. I have made friends with all sorts of people from all over the world while here in Israel. Some people that I would consider friends even go to the same school, as Chris but he would never have talked to them let alone run into them at all. I have met and befriended locals such as Wesam and Issa, which are two people that work at the Café down the road from the Israeli Naval College. Chris would have never conversed with any of the locals or even tried to learn Hebrew or Arabic, he would have been more interested in the fact that the Café is the only place with wifi. I, Chuck spend all of my time conversing with friends and the locals often forgetting that they even have wifi at the Café. No Pennsylvania State University student truly died in Israel, but the person who flew out of Newark airport to Tel Aviv is not the same person that will be returning to the US.

While in Israel I have experienced things that I would never have experienced and my time here has truly shaped me into a new person. Israel opened my eyes to how different other cultures and people may be from each other but that we should learn to love each culture for their aspects of life. I really enjoy how environmental and friendly the people are here in Akko. I would never have expected it. Coming from America, New York especially, I expected people to be just as rude (well maybe a little less I hoped). I was nervous to come but now, as the summer is winding down, I really don’t want to leave, I love the food, the people and Israeli culture as a whole. I truly do not know how my summer would have panned out if I hadn’t come. I have made such great friends in and out of the program. I have grown close with some locals, Wesam, Issa, Ibraham and some man whose name I actually don’t know. He just refers to himself as the Captain. Overall, Israel has killed something inside me – my ignorance when it comes to other cultures and people, while my love for the world as a whole has continued to grow beyond belief. I hope whoever is reading this plans a trip to Akko or somewhere they have always wanted to go in the near future. Thank you for reading.




By Lindsay Simmins

To Be or Not To Be: Is Archaeology Really For Me?

By Lindsay Simmins.


For the last three years or so of my life, I have studied archaeology intently; specifically classical archaeology. While I was completely in love with my topic of study, my studies did not extend outside of the classroom. What I mean to say is this: I had never ever worked as part of a team on an excavation before! I know what you’re thinking. You are probably thinking that I can’t possibly pursue a career as an archaeologist without working out in the field first. Well, I totally agree with you. The fact is that I had never been presented with the opportunity, but this summer, I was! While I was beyond excited to get to work here in Akko, I was also equally as terrified. Why? Because I was afraid that I would hate the field that I had studied for so long. I was afraid that I would climb my way to the top of the Tel, start to excavate, and hate every second of it. I was afraid of having to rewrite the only life that I had ever prepared for: life as an archaeologist. Thankfully, the crisis was quickly averted, as my fear soon left me… I discovered that I truly do LOVE archaeology, and that I LOVE Tel Akko! Here’s why.

The People: First and foremost, no excavation can ever function properly or be successful without its staff members. Staff members direct the dig, keep track of the students, such as myself, and provide constant support and encouragement. They’re also ridiculously funny, so if you’re not digging in the dirt, you will be rolling in the dirt in no time. Tel Akko in particular has some of the best staff members of all time! Thus, while you’re dripping with sweat and covered in a nice coating of dirt just before 6:15 am, and when you are questioning why you ever did this to yourself, the staff remind you of why you came to Akko in the first place: to get down and dirty, and to make memories that will last a life time.

While the staff members are incredible, the students here in Akko are also equally as great. Whether they fall under the undergraduate or graduate category, everyone is lively and excited to work, each and every day. Who knew how giddy people could get about sweeping? The energy is addictive, and there is something about being surrounded by people your own age or close to it, who love your field of study (archaeology) just as much as you do.

The Earth/Exfoliation: If you have ever participated in an excavation, then you know the feeling of being covered in dirt/sweat from head to toe, as I mentioned previously. Well, when you are covered in dirt and sweating all day long, it is only a matter of time before the two mingle and marry, creating a wonderful, full-body mud mask. Most people would think the opposite, but when you are an archaeologist or an archaeologist in training such as myself, you learn to appreciate the mud mask. You don’t really mind it. Why? Because what no archaeologist will tell you is this: we have the softest skin around!!! As if soft skin isn’t always a plus, chopping into the earth a few centimeters (or many) at a time is super, super satisfying. Whether you want to let out your aggression or just want to fulfill your childhood dream of digging pits in your backyard in search of “artifacts,” excavating is and can be for everyone. It’s always exciting.

The Education: The education that I’ve earned these last three weeks here in Akko, and will continue to earn for another week and a half, has been unparalleled. Before I ever got to Akko, I heard great things about it and its excavation, and all of it was completely, one hundred percent true. The staff members here really care about their students’ education. They’re sure to not only educate you, but to guide you, so that you can be the best future archaeologist possible. When they are not directing you in the field, staff members are both working one-on-one with their students in various laboratories and are giving lectures every single night. Education is woven into every aspect of our day, and I love every second of it. I love to learn, especially about archaeology, and I am convinced that there is no better place to prepare for a career in the field of archaeology than here at Tel Akko.

The Purpose: Archaeology gives me purpose. Excavation gives me purpose. Why? Because I am contributing to the archaeological record, to the field as a whole. We all are! Although I am just learning how to properly excavate, and how to properly be an archaeologist, I am looking forward to a prosperous career in the field of archaeology!

By Anna Shamory

From Shards to Sherds: An Archaeologist’s First Dig

By Anna Shamory.

A ceramic bowl slips out of your hands and crashes to the ground. You pick up a piece of the broken pottery, but the real question is what you call this broken piece. Is it a shard or a sherd? Your answer to this question likely depends on your exposure to archaeology in literature or spoken word.

I study archaeological science at Penn State University, so before coming to Tel Akko I had some exposure to the term ‘sherd’. Yet, I have never personally used the alternative to shard until I came to dig at the tel. Whenever I saw the term sherd being used, I always questioned why archaeologists chose or came to prefer this more jargonized spelling.

So after days of uncovering countless sherds, placing them into buckets, carrying said sherds in buckets down to wash, and then hours of brushing them to varying degrees of cleanliness, I finally decided to investigate my question of:

Why sherds and not shards?

A definition of sherd, according to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary, is “a fragment of a pottery vessel found on sites and in refuse deposits where pottery-making peoples have lived.” However, shard is a more generic term for “a piece or fragment of a brittle substance.” In short, sherd (short for potsherd) goes specifically with historic/ancient pottery pieces, while shards can be anything literal or figurative that is broken into pieces.     

Even today, after weeks of saying sherd instead of shard, I sometimes do a double take when I see sherd written out somewhere, and I wonder how pottery ‘shreds’ something. My brain still thinks of a more typical word, shreds, over the archaeological variation that is sherds.

Since I’ve been converted to use the term sherd by the lingo here at the Tel Akko dig, I’ve learned so much more about pottery than I thought I ever would. Though I’m sure not all sites are chock full of sherds, the sheer amount of these broken pottery pieces uncovered and collected daily in the square in which I excavate is beyond any prior expectations I had about archaeology. My first day collecting pottery, I was extremely excited by every single piece I tossed into my pottery bucket. It was a thrilling experience to be touching literal pieces of history with my fingertips. Now, at the end of my third week here, I still very much enjoy finding pottery, but not every piece of pottery lends me that same excitement as before.

What do we do with the sherds?

In the late afternoons, we students and staff spend about two hours brushing clean all the pottery we collected the day(s) before. Us newbies quickly learned that washing a bucket full of the small pieces that lack any sort of identifiable ornamentation like a rim or design (and are around the size of  an American half-dollar) is time consuming and not as much fun to do.

Nonetheless, I very much enjoy digging up pottery sherds, and then spending a relaxing fun time with my friends talking, listening to music, and of course, scrubbing the dirt off numerous potsherds!

To end, no matter how many years I handle pottery in the field, I hope I can keep a little spark of that excitement I had those first few days. What looks like a typical sherd in the field can end up being a beautifully decorated piece when washed clean.

By Michael Flaig

A Day in the Cult


By Michael Flaig.


Arising before dawn from our humble rooms we eat a small breakfast consisting of bread, fruit, and some sort of spread as well as coffee or tea. The small bit of television we watch is Israeli music videos from eras we can only guess, but we watch, captivated, anyway. With this small meal we drag our tired bodies outside and onto a waiting bus which will take us to meet the rising sun at our working place. Most of us will work in squares under shade protected from the suns rays but not all of us. Some of us, chosen for this task by our lord and surveyor, will get to work in the greatest job on Earth… survey.

What makes a man choose survey over squares? After all survey is in the sun and is back breaking work, which will be backfilled that very day. It is hot, sweaty, dirty work that could be compared to prison work by an unenlightened person, yet it draws people towards it. Long has this been debated and long will it be debated, but I, aa a  survey man and reluctant occasional square man, can say that it is a feeling you have, a dedication to the lord and surveyor, and his mentor the all father of Tel Akko survey, who is here, yet not here at all times.

The sun rises over the distant mountains to the East and we pray that we make it through another day of heat and work. The tools are gathered – the implements of faith: the pickaxe and the terea, we are guided to our holes and begin to dig our 40 by 40 by 40 cm pits that are the calling card of our faith. We dig and dig looking for pottery and other important remains that give us our purpose. Guided by our holiest of objects, the total station, that is so holy no one but the lord and surveyor and those he hand picks can touch it. They, however, still do not know all of its secrets. We find the places where the next hole will be dug. The holes we dig carve up the tel like swiss cheese as the ritual of digging continues.

We dig. We dig to music which can vary to be different genres but the music must have a digging rhythm to help us dig. While we dig, we find all manner of things from ancient trash to modern trash and onions. Survey onions are special onions, these onions are poisonous and can irate skin by just touching the skin. Despite this, the onions hold a special place in the heart of survey. One of our favorite past times is throwing things over the sides of the hill. The hill is a special hill, as it is the tel, and had a rampart at one time in its history. By throwing onions over the side of the hill, we are experimenting with how effective the defenses could have been.  We also have a javelin throwing team in survey headed by our lord and surveyor.

One of the rights of passage in survey is to hold the prism rod. The prism rod is a sacred object as it has the holy prism on top that allows us to plot new holes and already dug holes. All survey members must have experience in holding this sacred device. The call goes out over the walkie talkies to move a certain distance that the holy of holies informs us of.

As we toil away at the ground we hear the magic words of “breakfast time”. When we hear these words, we know it means that just for a bit we are out of the sun and get food. Tel breakfast is the best breakfast as everything tastes better after hard work. During this communal meal we talk about all the hardships we have had so far and about what we are digging. When the orders to get back to work are given, we return to digging holes or plotting in new holes. At high noon, as the sun reaches its zenith, we start to pack up to head back to our living space for lunch, lecture, and other things. We go to sleep early so we can wake up and do it all over again.

By Abigail Micheel

Two Sides to Every Story

By Abigail Michael.

In coming to Tel Akko, there wasn’t much I expected to take me by surprise. Despite it being my first archaeological dig, I’ve done preliminary excavations back home in the States and I have been out of the country a few times before. If you had asked me about it beforehand, I could have replied with the old, “it’s not my first rodeo” line. And really, it isn’t. It’s a lot of work to be sure (if anything, perhaps I am more tired that I had expected, often going to bed around 8:30 to  be sure I get eight hours of sleep, which is a shame when I might want to explore Akko), but not harder than I expected. It’s hot, but bearable with water and the shade provided by our lovely tarps: I haven’t even been sunburnt. I was blown away by the ancient sites we’ve visited so far, but, then, I expected to be. So, what is it that took me by surprise?


Yes. That Napoleon. Perhaps you know about him and his “connection” to Tel Akko from reading other posts on this website or from following the dig’s Facebook page. I myself heard a bit about him before I arrived, but I did not quite realize the extent of his influence. If this is your first time hearing about him in connection with the excavations (or even if it’s your first time hearing about the excavations), then allow me to explain. Napoleon did indeed come to our fair Akko in 1799 to lay siege to the city. He lasted two months before he was defeated by al-Jazzar with help from the British. Taking into account the amount of times Napoleon was defeated on his campaigns, this is something that one would not be surprised to learn the citizens of Akko are proud of. And they are. But, the issue, in my opinion, is Tel Akko.

Only a few short years ago, as I am told by returning excavation members, a statue of our friend Napoleon was put up at Tel Akko. Why, you ask? It seems one day someone working for the city decided to put it up. Why? That one’s hard to answer. While Napoleon did come to Akko itself, that was long after the days of occupation on our tel. And though he besieged the city from a hill, that hill was not Tel Akko. Yet, despite these very logical facts, that’s where he sits. Or, rather, rides – the emperor is gallantly positioned astride his horse, proudly waving an Israeli flag. Yes. Even though he attacked the city (there is a reason for the flag, but it just amuses me to think of without going any further). In sum, the site has absolutely nothing to do with Napoleon. It’d be somewhat akin to placing a statue of George III waving an American flag in Roanoke.

When a resident of Akko asks us what we are doing while visiting their home, if we tell them about Tel Akko, they don’t always know where we mean. Then, if we say Tel Napoleon¸ they know what we’re talking about. Again, per seasoned expedition members, this statue was put up only a few years ago. Yet, he is now what the people of Akko think of when they think of that hill, and signs giving credence to Tel Napoleon or Napoleon Hill are all over the place.

Though it might be a shame that the people don’t know the true history of the site, there’s nothing to be done besides either being annoyed or amused by the whole situation of Napoleon being foisted on the tel. I choose amused. Still, it is an interesting case study. A narrative, albeit an untrue one, was widely and effectively spread throughout a city – and this with only one thin metal statue! It gives one studying archaeology, conservation, and public archaeology during their time in Akko something to think about. Museum staff, history teachers, and even municipal workers have the power to shape the public’s perspective on given events – for better or worse. Based on this example, it seems that it is not even difficult when one chooses the right method of getting their chosen narrative across. So, it is important for all of us students here at Tel Akko – as future conservators, archaeologists, curators, or whatever we chose to pursue within this field – to think carefully about this fact and choose the narratives we may present and how we present them carefully. Even something as simple as a statue without informative plaques of any sort around it can dictate the impression of a place on an entire city. If we take creative steps to present accurate narratives about history – perhaps something more interesting than the blue markers my hometown is so fond of (though those are great and I will not discount them) – we can have similar effects on those we tell our side of the story to.

By Marissa Scott

The Man in Akko

By Marissa Scott:  With lines of wisdom and experience breaking up his dark complection, a man approached my dinner table

with words as smooth as butter cascading through his thick Israeli accent, he inquires about where we are from

he inquires about our age

he wants to know for how long we are going to be visiting

he thinks about where we are staying and what we are thinking about his home

he asks about why we are in his country


With a deep breath leading to the appearance of a big grin, he speaks

For archaeology is the gift of the future

for it is only through the knowledge of our past that we have a future

without us, as archaeologists, we would not be gifted with the future.

As tears welled in my eyes, I knew that he was magic

he was the magic air of Akko

he was the magic gift that Israel always delivers me

He has changed me.

Tuesday July 17 Caitlin, Abbey and I headed to CafeNeto for a much needed ravioli dinner. During our delicious dinner, a man approached our table. He asked us where we were from and what we were doing in Akko. We told him that we were archaeologists digging at Napoleon Hill. His face lit up. Mani, a doctor from outside the Old City of Akko, loves history and the practice of archaeology. He began to discuss with us the importance of using the knowledge of the past to learn about the future and to continue the future. He thanked us for being the gifters of that future as archaeologists.

He inquired more about our backgrounds and we got talking about religion. Although we did not all see eye to eye on whether there is a God or not, Mani left us with this final thought; if we can agree that a carpenter has built this table, think about the more complex sky and clouds and star, who made that? Without God how do we have the sky and the stars surrounding us? He promptly removed himself from the table without waiting for any responses. The three of us looked at each other in awe and confusion as to if that had really just happened. It had.

This is not my first encounter with the magic that resides in Israel. My first time in Israel, I was coming around a corner near a shuk in Jerusalem and there was a woman singing and dancing in the street. However, this was not just any woman but a replica of a younger version of my grandmother who had recently passed away. She was also singing the one song that immediately makes my whole family think of her, “Stand By Me”. My sister and I locked eyes and began to cry. It was like dancing with my grandma as a child all over again.

I think it is these magical experiences that keep bringing me back to this wonderful country. As the visits increase, I can only hope that the magic continues to surprise me.

1 2
Bon Akkoetit
Pennsylvania State University Student “Dies” in Israel
To Be or Not To Be: Is Archaeology Really For Me?
From Shards to Sherds: An Archaeologist’s First Dig
A Day in the Cult
Two Sides to Every Story
The Man in Akko