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.
I’ve been thinking about the dig season and what we accomplished. Hard to see from an area loaded with sandbags, fenced and mothballed for the winter, but we did quite a lot.
One of the objectives is to try to understand the previous excavations that have taken place at Tel Akko, especially those carried out by Moshe Dothan. I know that this season we managed to sort through boxes of bones collected during his excavations, although they are not analyzed yet. Some of the soil samples he took have been floated and at least the heavy fraction sorted.
But there are other aspects of the project as well. We have excavated to at least late Iron Age in most places now and are putting together a stratigraphy of the site to organize the old data and new. We have found metalworking areas in a number of places. I ran a magnet through a heavy fraction from flotation and came away with tens of grams of iron hammer scales and prills — flat scales of iron and tiny spherical pellets. Once again there are piles of diagnostic pottery both local and imported. The imported ceramics give us an idea of where the trade routes were and with whom trade went on.
Perhaps more importantly, a group of students who were complete strangers left yesterday as friends — good friends. Hugs all around, a few kisses and a few tears. Students who would otherwise never have met, now will correspond on Facebook and Instagram. Even some students from the same campuses met for the first time. Who were they? Men and women; gay, straight and transgendered; Americans, Canadians, Turkish, Chinese; Jewish, Christian, Muslim and other. While there may have been the normal simple misunderstandings and disagreements, no fights broke out, no names were called and everyone left friends. Everyone was accepted for who they were, where they came from and where, hopefully, they were going, and that is the final result of a wonderful field season.