Sitting in the lobby of the Renaissance Hotel in Tel Aviv (on points) and watching all the American tourists, it strikes me that they are probably looking at me as well, because I’ve been here for more than two hours already and will probably sit here for another three before I head to the airport. Flights to the U.S. typically leave at 11:00 p.m. or midnight and I had to check out at noon. But the reality is, I’m not wearing plaid or Bermuda shorts or a fanny pack logoed Hard Rock Café. I look like a local in a skirt and blouse and so I look out of place. Continue reading Season’s End
Today, students and staff placed 2,500 sandbags around the excavations at Tel Akko to protect them over the winter. All the pottery is washed, although not all is catalogued and recorded. The field season for Total Archaeology @ Tel Akko is over. Well, at least in the field. Some staff will remain next week to finish up paperwork and a few more the following week in Haifa to tie up loose ends and complete some of the computer work.
I did not have to place sandbags today, which is a good thing as it is hot and very dirty work. Instead, I was editing some student blog posts and creating a video of some of the students. While all admit that sometimes this is really hard work, most of them loved it, even if they wouldn’t do it again.
Pottery, metal working, glass making and building all leave fairly large, tangible remains at an archaeological site. Sherds of ceramics, pieces of glass and slag, large stones, walls and floors all stand out when excavating. However, the remains of crop cultivation and the gathering of plants are not so easily seen, as only charred seeds and plant material remain and they are small and dispersed in the soil.
Archaeobotanists search through soil samples to find seeds and other vegetal remains. They use water to float the lighter material, including most seeds, to the top while the heavier portion sinks and is caught in a net. The lighter portion gets searched for seeds and charcoal and the heavy portion contains pottery, slag, iron hammer scales and the occasional bead or tiny sample of red ochre or ancient glass.
This has been a year of critters on the tel. Students and staff have reported seeing green parrots, small raptors, black snakes and even a Palestinian Pit Viper, which was quickly dispatched. The usual annoyances of ants, flies and mysterious biting insects are of course present. As is the perpetual mole. This year he, or she, has moved to another area of the dig, out of MM20, I think, but maybe he is just not showing himself. Continue reading Mongoose on the Loose
Trips to museums, shrines and Neandertal caves notwithstanding, what we are doing as part of Total Archaeology at Tel Akko, a joint project of Penn State and the University of Haifa, is archaeology plain and not so simple. We dig, screen dirt, record locations, analyze whatever we find and try to piece together what the site looked like during the Persian, Hellenistic, Phonecian or Canaanite times. We find artifacts that might tell us what people then were doing, where they did it and how. And perhaps someday we will be able to understand it all. For now, a simple glimpse of life at Tel Akko.