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

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 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 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.


The ‘Art’cheology of Care
Akko and Tokyo:  Heritage and History
Ally’s Declassified Archaeology Survival Guide
My Journey to Tel Akko