Well, here I am in Israel again, at Tel Akko. I wasn’t able to join the Total Archaeology at Tel Akko Project last year, so I was very interested in seeing what changed and what didn’t. We are once again staying at the Israel Nautical Academy, a boarding school for students wishing to either enter the navy or join the merchant marine. The school is mostly empty in the summer, so we fill most of two dorms. There are more of us this year than ever before — lots of students, returning students, staff and faculty. Total Archaeology at Tel Akko is a joint project of Penn State and Haifa University with Anne Killebrew, associate professor of classics and ancient Mediterranean studies, Jewish studies and anthropology, Penn State, and Michal Artzey, professor emeritus, coastal and underwater archaeology, Haifa University.
Students come from all over, but groups come from Penn State, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Trinity College and the Claremont Colleges Consortium. Right now we are just beginning to get over jet lag.
Jet lag is worse for us because we don’t really have a recovery period. We all travel from far away. For most of us there is a seven to nine hour time difference. From the East Coast of the U.S. we leave in the evening on one day and arrive the afternoon of the next. This is followed by waiting for everyone to appear from their various flights and then a two-hour bus ride from outside of Tel Aviv to Akko. We eat dinner, unpack and sleep and are up for 7:30 breakfast, a full day of lectures and a little free time. This would be fine if it continued, but the following day we are up at 4:30 a.m. to leave on the bus at 5:25 to dig until 12:30 ish. We do get breakfast on the tel, second breakfast that is.
So, now on the fourth day, we are all starting to feel a bit normal, but now that we’ve been digging, all the muscle aches kick in. Sometimes it is very, very hard to stay awake during evening lecture.
We’ve spent the last two days cleaning up the site, so I really haven’t been able to see what has been going on. Weeds have grown all over and we need to pull, clip or otherwise remove them. And then there are the sandbags. To protect the site during the winter, sandbags prop up all the real and artificial walls – sides of pits, balks between units – and they need to be removed. Hundreds of plastic sandbags, most of which have weeds growing through them and scorpions living under them need to be moved in the most efficient way. In a chain gang type set up, bags are passed out of the site to the wheelbarrows where someone slices what’s left of them with a knife and the dirt is dumped. Full barrows go to the dirt dump. While the weather has not been that warm here, this work is hot, dirty and exhausting.
Which doesn’t help with the jet lag either.