Gifts From the Tel

Anthropological archaeology isn’t about art, architecture and artifacts. It’s about people, their culture and how they lived.  Ok, fine. But sometimes, even this anthropological archaeologist gets excited about things that get found on the tel.  Sometimes they are just so neat one can’t help it.

In the past two days we have uncovered some really cool things.  This after nearly three weeks of dirt, rocks, walls and iron slag.  Not that we aren’t completely happy about iron slag, we are.  It is really important in our attempts to understand the metalworking and metal manufacturing that occurred on Tel Akko.  And the walls, well they tell us where they lived and give us a glimpse into other technologies, like stone cutting and brick making. 

But except for a possible Persian coin and literally tons of pottery, there haven’t been a lot of special finds.  Until the end of last week.

First, perhaps the most amazing find of all was a small female statue, intact.  She is beautiful.  Full breasts and curves.  One of the pottery specialists said she showed Egyptian and Persian influence.  She is really cool.  At the museum yesterday we saw some similar, but in my opinion not as beautiful, figurines and they were labeled as house goddesses.

Then, someone found the cup and saucer.  cupandsaucerWell, it isn’t really a cup and saucer because it is all one piece, but archaeologically, cup and saucer is what it is called. To me, it looks more like a chip and dip piece.  Put the dip in the center cup and the chips around on the plate.  Not sure what this was used for.  Another form of plate and container was apparently used as a fish plate with the fish around the sides and some kind of sauce in the center.  So who knows.

Then someone found a rather rough little animal carving.  Maybe it’s a cow, maybe a calf.  It was small and somewhat damaged. And then there was the head of a statuette.  No body found but it appears female.  Maybe next week we’ll find the body.

My favorite, although not for most people, is theboat simple ceramic boat piece that was found on Friday.  Not sure why it is my favorite.  Something about the straight lines and clean profile, or the fact that it looks just like the Phoenician ones from one of the tombs at Achziv.  It is terra cotta in color and unfinished in any way, but I can see in my head the complete boat and it is gorgeous. Simple, plain, but just beautiful.

While artifacts are not why we dig, sometimes they can bring us closer to the actual people who lived at a site than the tons of data on households, trade and ritual that we compile.  A simple statuette or a ceramic boat was made by someone and that person’s vision has traveled from the past to be seen, by me.

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