All posts by Andrea Elyse Messer

Monumental Rain

Rain—sometimes it’s a good thing, sometimes, not so much.  Last winter the northern portion of Israel received a lot of rain.  For the people in the area, for the farmers, for anyone living here, that is probably a good thing.  For those of us trying to excavate an archaeological site on the top of a hill that is a municipal park, not so much.  Continue reading Monumental Rain

Shadows and Ghosts

View of Haifa harbor and Mediterranean from atop Tel Akko.
View of Haifa harbor and Mediterranean from atop Tel Akko.

Here we are in Akko, Israel, at the Marine Academy and up on Tel Akko excavating an archaeological site that has already uncovered parts of  Greek, Persian and Phoenician settlements.  We are in our sixth season of Total Archaeology at Tel Akko, a project of Penn State and Haifa University joined by other universities including University of Massachusetts Amherst, Trinity College and the Claremont Colleges.  Continue reading Shadows and Ghosts

Into the Wilds

A Bactrian camel, a rhinoceros and an onager walk into a bar… well, not really, but close.

bactrian camel
bactrian camel

Last week I attended the National Association of Science Writers meeting in Columbus, Ohio.  Ohio State hosted this meeting which is a mix of workshops on practice and sessions on cutting-edge science.  On the last day there was a field trip.  We drove 90 minutes east from Columbus and turned into a road that would have looked more comfortable in Colorado.  After a bit of meandering, we arrived at the entrance to The Wilds, a non-profit conservation park located on the site of a former coal strip mine.

First, we met Eastern Hellbenders and found out why they are called “snot otters.”  When they get scared, they excrete slime through their skin.  The Wilds has a program of raising and returning to the rivers and streams in the wild these reclusive amphibians.  Continue reading Into the Wilds

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

We had to leave the excavation early.  It wasn’t our choice and we were never in any danger.  The various universities and their insurance carrier decided we had to leave,only University of Massachusetts, Amherst didn’t go with us, but they left the next day.  We were told in the evening that we would leave the next morning, by bus, for Amman, Jordan.  No one wanted to leave, and in fact, much of the staff remained.  I was leaving over the weekend anyway, so I went with the evacuees.  We were told that we would need $30 for an entrance visa to Jordan, but that the company evacuating us was going to try to take care of that.

Reema Pangarkar and Alex Ference at the Israeli-Jordanian border. image by Alex Ference.

So, we all packed and scrounged around for money and contemplated leaving the next morning.  After breakfast, we boarded a bus that was waiting for us.  There was a driver and someone from the evacuation company.  There were also others in SUVs traveling in front of us and behind us, while we drove from Akko to Beit She’an about an hour away.  It was ridiculous, we were not in any danger in the Galilee.  Continue reading Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

Different, But the Same

No one could be oblivious to what is going on in Israel at the moment.  Hamas in Gaza shoots rockets at all the major cities it can reach in Israel – and now they are targeting the bedouin villages in the Negev.  Israel bombs Gaza and is now on the ground searching out tunnels dug under the border to invade Israel.  It isn’t a pretty state of affairs.

We sit here in Akko, a mixed city too far from the rockets to worry about them, but not immune from the situation.  The local Arab store owners participated in a strike objecting to Israel’s killing of civilians.  A strike means their stores are closed.

But otherwise, most things go on as usual in this city.  People go to work, shop and go about their lives.  Continue reading Different, But the Same