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 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 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 Henry Chang

Life in RR4

By Henry Chang….

Digging in RR4 is hard but enjoyable. I personally have a lot of passion for archaeology in a hope to find something unique and interesting. Nevertheless, working in RR4 teaches me what are the realities and what are not. After three weeks of digging in RR4, I realize that archaeology is not about finding wonderful stuff but about how to face the reality. Every single day, I go on the Tel with a lot of hope and faith that this square has something special inside; however, as time goes by, I figure that this square is full of rubbish with a mixed context. Working in this square requires one to have a heart full of passion in completing the whole puzzle of the Tel. I believe my work in RR4 is not meaningless. Through the works my team and I have done in this square, we know how the military, Mr. Dothan, and modern construction put the area into a mess. Despite the fact that I am working in a square that requires much hard work with vicious environment such as the sun, I still enjoy (a lot) working in RR4 because of two people in my square.

J.T. is my supervisor in RR4. He is the first person I know from this group. We met in the airport just because we wore the hat of Penn State. Finding him is like discovering a lost brother whom I have not seen for a long time. Like me, he is a person full of passion in archaeology. Despite my poor digging skill, he always tolerates me no matter how rebellious I am. He not only tolerates me a lot but also constantly teaches and shares his archaeological experience with me. I feel really lucky and thankful for J.T. to be my supervisor.

Rachel is my teammate in RR4. She is well known for her drawing skills, and it can be said she is our square’s art master. She has a skill to illustrate the rocks in the square perfectly on a paper; however, according to Jane, the position of the rocks is out of scale and measurement. Nevertheless, one cannot and should not doubt her drawing skills. I especially love her expression of a unicorn in a hamburger. Rachel is also the Miss D.J. for RR4. Her music is full of encouragement, which makes our life in RR4 easier. Mr. Brett took her from RR4 to go on survey for the past few days. During those days, J.T. and I felt very depressed because without Rachel’s presence in RR4, RR4 is not complete.

After reading my short description about RR4, one might be thankful that he or she is not working in RR4 since this is a really hard square to work in; however, you are wrong. We actually have so many fun in RR4 each and every day. I do not regret at all to work in this square because I have two super awesome people working with me. They are my motivation and inspiration to work in RR4. Love you guys!

The ‘Art’cheology of Care
Ally’s Declassified Archaeology Survival Guide
The only find that matters
Life in RR4