By Casey Sennett

Finding My Home at Akko

I have always struggled with homesickness. Whether I am away from my parents for a night or a month, I typically suffer from separation anxiety. I thought, however, that I had outgrown that anxiety when I spent spring break this year studying abroad in Paris. Since I suffered no separation anxiety in Paris, I thought I could manage a longer study abroad experience this summer.

I managed to fly to Israel with no problems and spent hours in the Ben Gurion airport with no signs of anxiety; however, when I arrived at the Nautical Academy, I began to feel the separation and struggled to suppress my anxiety. I spent the first couple days at Akko missing my parents and American food dearly. I was not optimistic about my stay at Akko, I wanted nothing more than to go home to my parents and my cats. I knew, however, that I could not leave. I had committed to the program and I knew that I would never be able to travel the world and pursue my career aspirations if I could not spend time away from my parents.

I began to cope with the distance with long phone calls home and promises of taking me to Chili’s and to see Spiderman: Far From Home when I got home.  As the days went on, I began to feel more comfortable with the other students, participants, and faculty at Akko. I had been worried about coming to Akko and not knowing anyone, but most of the students and participants were in Israel for the first time and did not know anyone else in the group prior to coming to Israel.  I met a majority of the group at the airport, but I slowly began to meet and interact more with others at meals, on the Tel, during pottery washing, and on excursions in Akko and Israel. When you spend six hours a day in a square with someone or at least two hours a day washing pottery with someone you tend to learn a lot about them.

I was worried about not finding my place at Akko, but it found me. After the first couple of days I had not anticipated to be comfortable at Akko. I thought I had resigned myself to counting down the days until I could go home. I, however, reached outside of my comfort zone and began to meet and learn more about the other people in the program. Those interactions slowly began to make me feel less lonely and foreign. Although I do still miss home on occasion, I have become comfortable with everyone in the program and feel good about being away from home.

By Tanya Nasife

The ‘Art’cheology of Care

It’s easy to get caught up in the dirt storm, both literally and figuratively, of an archaeological dig. You must take caution in not knocking rocks out of place or stepping on pottery. There seems to be a zone sometimes you get into during digging. Maybe it’s the repetition, or just the excitement of finding a cool looking pottery piece or a rock. In digs sometimes, there can be a lack of care for yourself, especially in extreme situations. In hot weather, there are dangers, like not drinking enough water. At this dig at Tel Akko, you can commonly hear people yelling to drink water, or have someone use that parent voice of disappointment when they hear you haven’t drunk any water in the last twenty minutes. You can stretch your legs, drink water and enjoy the wind that finally comes in.  That, however, is only one part of what makes a human body work, the physical part. There is also our mental health with goes hand in hand with physical health.  Each person on the dig adds their own spin on taking care of themselves before and after the dig. This is mine and a few others’ first dig, so I asked a few friends how they take care of themselves during the month.

  1. Naps- Upon first arrival in Israel, many got hit with jet lag. Later during the trip, we were all hit with the tiredness from digging early in the morning. Naps are one of the most common things done here and are commonly mentioned. It is the one thing that can halt a well-planned outing in its track. One person mentioned that they take a nap in the afternoon, after lunch as they wouldn’t be able to pay attention in lecture otherwise. Digging is demanding work and rest is always well appreciated, although naps may not be for everyone; for another friend, a nap leaves them feeling off.
  2. Change of scenery- Dig. Lunch. Pottery. Lesson. Dinner. Sleep and repeat. Day in and out, it can be the same. Same square, same food, same good old dirt in your mouth. Yummy. Just getting out of the building and into Old City or the beach, or one of the other options nearby, can keep you from pulling out your hair. Even if it’s just spending time with friends, which you will be able to make on this trip. Or adopted into a group of already made friends. There are also other options that relate to the dig you can try. You can try other courses other then what you wrote on the paper officially. Want to take photos? Study bones? Dig through small piles of pieces? You can! I recommend bones. You can learn so much from what remains, also they look cool.
  3. Be by yourself- You end up spending time with the same people day in and day out; rooming with others, digging with them, and eating with them. Sometimes it’s great to just sit by yourself and listen to music, play some video games, or just zone out. Your mental health is as important as physical health, even if it doesn’t seem mentioned enough.
  4. Take a break- It’s okay to want to do a half day or miss a day of digging and wash pottery. In fact, washing pottery is highly encouraged. Taking a step back from the toll of digging is fine and recommended. Don’t feel well the day before? Take a break. Wake up feeling awful? Take a half day, come back after second breakfast or even stay back, wash pottery, or help in the other labs. There are many options, and you never feel like you are just sitting around. Taking a break isn’t looked down upon here, and your mind and body will thank you even from a small break. Do what you can, not what you think you should be doing.
  5. Enjoy the small things- A simple shower and clean clothes after the dig can change your mood for the entire day. Or having a drink that you love, like chocolate milk. Maybe some music or video games with friends during break. Watching cats nap on the walls around the city or scurry around the streets. Love the small things in life that make you happy.

We’re human, and this dig really shows that. People here get excited talking about what they love, no matter if it’s mosaics or animals. You learn quickly who’s voice is whose; hearing them call out reminders for water, cheering at the find of the day, or just talking to them in general.  Everyone looks out for each other, making sure that they aren’t overdoing themselves or feeling alone. Little reminders to drink water or even a small “Hey, how are you doing?” at the sifters, are just small things that keep a welcoming feeling around the site. Always take care of yourself, as you are the greatest find anywhere.


By Frank Orenstein

The Art of Smithing in Israel

About Blacksmithing

The art of blacksmithing is no longer as common as it used to be.  Just about everyone knows that the modernization of industry and production vastly undercut the need for a local blacksmith in a given community.  Despite this, however, it persists as a hobby, art form, and occasional career all over the world.  I am myself an apprentice blacksmith, though I usually focus on blade-smithing.  It is a small distinction, but an important one since it reflects on the materials, techniques, and other factors in a given smithy.  But I do have some experience as a blacksmith, and it is those experiences that I drew upon last week when the Archaeometallurgy students, alongside a few professors, visited a local forge here in Israel.

The Forge

The forge was almost a community unto itself.  One side of the courtyard held the forge, another held a leather-working shop.  Other buildings were scattered about, but the forge was close to the center.  We met the resident blacksmith and his son, and they taught us a bit about being craftsmen in Israel in the modern era.  Just like in the US, they said, it is far harder nowadays to live purely as an artisan.  Instead, most of their income comes from construction or the teaching of classes around the country.  After this, we were allowed to enter the forge.  As you can see by the picture, this was a pretty packed space.  Two separate forges, one coke burning and the other propane, were present beside a number of anvils, belt grinders, and drill presses.  As a group we learned how to make nails, saw how chains were produced, and even a small knife was made in front of us.

The Reality

As it turns out, forges in the US, at least the ones I have been to, are not so different than the one we visited.  They may be larger, or have different tools, but the underlying atmosphere is much the same.  In the end, it wasn’t all that different from the forge near my own home in Virginia.  Despite the language and cultural barriers that separated us, I felt like I already knew the man teaching us, at least partly.  Not to use a cliche, but experiencing something so familiar in a new environment reminded me how similar people are, no matter where you are.  Plus, hitting hot metal with a hammer is always satisfying.

By Frank Orenstein

Akko and Tokyo:  Heritage and History

Travelling to Akko, sometimes called Akka or Acre, is not the first time I have traveled abroad.  Nor, I suspect, will it be the last.  However, in all of my travels Akko is distinctly unique.

When I was eleven my father, an officer in the US Army,took a duty station at a military base just outside of Tokyo, Japan.  Over the two years that I lived there, I traveled all over Asia and the Pacific. I like to think it taught me an appreciation for what this city truly offers.  Akko is old, very old.  And while this does not by definition make it necessarily interesting, Akko is a city steeped in its own age.  Tokyo, where I used to live, is not.  This is not to say that Tokyo isn’t a wonderful place, it is, but it is one where the city’s past has been limited.  It only persists in the various shrines, temples, and monuments hidden away in various corners and niches.  Otherwise modern construction, prompted by rebuilding after WWII or other variables, has swallowed everything else.

This is not the case in Akko.  Akko instead wears its age draped around it like a blanket, heavy and omnipresent. To put this in some perspective, Akko has seen almost continuous human habitation for at least four thousand years.  Akko was here when the State of Israel was founded in 1948.  It acted as a military stronghold to the crusaders mustered who fought in the Middle Ages.  For those of Abrahamic faith, the oldest settlements here likely predate Abraham himself.  In fact, the discerning observer will notice the heavy stone blocks used in much of the buildings in Akko’s “Old City”.  Those stone blocks, the same ones used in modern homes and businesses, began as walls or foundations in the crusader period nearly a thousand years ago.

It is true that Tokyo has its own history, stories, and old places, but they are hidden away or have long since been removed to museums. You won’t find many buildings with such old materials there, not like here in Akko.  I speak from personal experience when I say that it is hard to feel that city as an old one, unlike here.  Travelling to Akko has been a unique experience for me, and one that I sincerely appreciate.  The history of this city has a weight to it, one built over thousands of years, and it is one I think it important to learn from.

By Joanne Guarnieri Hagemeyer

The Crash of the Heavens

…O, Lord, my God,
I pray that these things never end:
The sand and the sea,
The rush of the waters,
The crash of the heavens,
The prayer of man. *

As I listened to Rebekah’s hauntingly beautiful voice, sitting in Zippori’s open-air amphitheater, I closed my eyes, felt the heat of Israel’s sun, and the soft current of Israel’s breeze on my skin. So astonishing are the acoustics of this ancient architecture, I could hear, and even feel, every nuance of the poetry being sung, moving me to tears. I thought about the loveliness of Israel, and the depth of love those who live here feel for their land, hard-fought for, and hard-won.

To volunteer for a dig, one naturally expects the itinerary of digging at a tel, sifting through pails of earth for tiny fragments of antiquity, cleaning the buckets and buckets of pottery, bone, metals, and “special finds,” sorting, registering, and tabulating all the artifacts. Yet, as my hands gently whisk pebbles and earth from something last touched two and a half millennia ago, I begin to experience the arc of time, my fingertips brushing against another’s from long past. I may not speak the language of ancient Assyrians, nor worship Phoenician gods; but, I understand beauty and yearning, I understand power and grace. We people have always been who we are.

Touring Zippori, “the ornament of Galilee,” brought in this swirling context of history, military drama, diverse gods yet kinship with Akko’s community of spirit. It was here Rebekah gave us the gift of her music, the gift of Hannah Szenes’ poetry, and the gift of suspended time, experiencing for a few moments the longing, anguish, and ardor of an ancient people, loved of God.

* Hannah Szenes (Senesh) was born in Hungary in 1921. She emigrated to Palestine in 1939, but returned as a resistance worker in 1944 to aid in the effort to smuggle Jews out of Hungary. She was caught, tortured, and killed that same year. Hannah wrote prolifically, and many of her poems are deeply meaningful to Israelis, Jews, and others.

[Hannah Szenes, Budapest, July 17, 1939 | Photographer Unknown – This image is available from National Library of Israel under the digital ID002782783 | Public Domain]

Rebekah Call is a PhD student in Religious Studies—Hebrew Bible at Claremont Graduate University. She came to Akko to increase her knowledge of the archaeological process and to build good relationships with the faculty and with the other students.

[Cover photo: The Zippori amphitheater before restoration | Tiberius Zwi Keller Pikiwiki Israel [CC BY 2.5 (]

By M. Christine Walters

The Little Phoenician Juglet

What could be more wonderful than finding an almost perfect little juglet that has been buried for thousands of years, the very first week of my dig in Akko! Yes, I carefully dug out of the side of the wall within my square this beautiful little jug with only a small chip along the lip opening. Otherwise it was so perfect, filled with dirt and debris. It was like a little animal caught, but looking up at me with longing eyes saying, “free me, free me!” It was such a thrill to find it all intact, since so much of the pottery was broken and smashed around me in the square.

This experience is a once-in-a-lifetime drama that everyone should try. The reality of how hard it is to dig: the heat, the dirt, the bending over and heavy lifting, over and over and over just to find that one special find, fills you with refreshed enthusiasm. It is truly indescribable. A person has to feel it, do it, experience it, overcome it in order to understand the thrill of the hunt.

I am grateful for my early years of farm girl lifestyle which included chores of all kinds like gardening, plowing, and digging. So, I feel right at home with the tools. Years of shoveling out animal stalls and barnyard areas come back to me as we work around the dig. It is comfortable, but the passing of many years presents new obstacles to overcome. My knees don’t bend. My hips hurt. My stamina is just not there, and that frustrates me. I watch the young people around me jump into their work with such passion and focus. I miss those days of feeling like I can handle this job and get the site cleared TODAY!

Yes, the little juglet will always be MY little juglet because I was the first one to release it, to have it see the sun again after being in the dark dirt so very long. I have made a contribution I will always remember.


By Tasheana Bythewood

On Tel Akko Fear is Definitely not a Factor.

By Tasheana Bythewood.


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

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

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

By Quentin Stickley

I’m not going to lie, the last week at Akko was difficult. I was physically and mentally exhausted, almost every joint in my body was sore, swollen, and/or blistered, and I wanted nothing more than to sleep for at least a week straight. Going up to the tel each day was increasingly difficult, especially when we reached the midpoint of the week and prepared to stop excavating and start cleaning the site and putting protections in place for the next season. I like digging – sweeping up dirt, clipping weeds, and tossing heavy sandbags aren’t nearly as enjoyable.

Wednesday was the last day of excavation proper, and I hadn’t really found anything special, other than a tiny red bead and several cakes of iron slag. I was okay with that. Getting a special find is a huge morale boost, but I think if you go into the dig expecting one and you don’t find anything for a long period of time, it can actually slowly drain your mood. So I had gotten myself into a headspace where I was content with looking at the neat things the other diggers found – Egyptian scarabs, a nearly intact crucible, and even Tel Akko’s first in-context cylinder seal were all found in or adjacent to my square – and not expecting to uncover anything more remarkable than an ancient stone block. Imagine my surprise when a light sweep uncovered what looked like a twisting white fragment of something, possibly a piece of a seashell, with a strange, rounded blue protrusion. A few brisker sweeps, and the object came loose: a sitting figurine with large blue eyes, round ears, and yellow painted markings.

I jumped up and brought the object to my square supervisor, who seemed surprised. Both she and my area supervisor first guessed that the object was modern and had been planted by someone working on the site, because in addition to its very shallow location, none of the staff had ever seen anything like it and it was in very good condition, with only one ear and fragments of the hands broken off. The staff eventually decided that it was probably ancient. After we returned to our base camp and showed the object to the staff members who had remained there for the day, we learned that a very similar object had been found at the tel in 1977 during the excavations supervised by Moshe Dothan, although Dothan’s example had been in rougher shape.

Reactions to what quickly earned the nickname “the demon monkey” were mixed. People either found it adorable, or declared that I would now be cursed or haunted. Speculation intensified the next day when I was sweeping the square about a meter away from where I had found the “demon monkey,” and my brush turned up yet another figurine, which on close examination appeared to be an anthropoid baboon, possibly from Egypt. Although the two figurines were very different in style, the fact that they both seemed to depict non-human primates only fueled the rumor mill, and by the end of the day there were several running theories as to my true nature:

  • Cursed by “the monkey god.”
  • Blessed by “the monkey god.”
  • Chosen as prophet or servant of “the monkey god.”
  • “The monkey whisperer.”
  • Actually the god Thoth in disguise, capable of spontaneously generating ancient monkey figurines (from my ears, for some reason).

While it remains to be seen whether I am cursed or blessed, finding those monkeys was an experience I will never forget. I’m holding out to see if next year someone finds the barrel they came from.

By Emily Ratvaskay

Closing Thoughts

By Emily Ratvaskay

Closing Thoughts


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

On the Tel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Niiiick, there’s another thing…”

Off the Tel

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

Food Struggles

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

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

Food with Dr. R

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

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

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

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

Akko Adventures

We wandered around the Old City a bit.

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

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


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

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

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

Weekend Trips

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pottery Washing, Sorting, & Writing

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

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

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

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

Independent Study

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

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

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

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


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

By 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.

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Finding My Home at Akko
The ‘Art’cheology of Care
The Art of Smithing in Israel
Akko and Tokyo:  Heritage and History
The Crash of the Heavens
The Little Phoenician Juglet
On Tel Akko Fear is Definitely not a Factor.
Closing Thoughts
I ❤️ Archaeology!!!