All posts by Andrea Elyse Messer

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.  Continue reading Gifts From the Tel

Oft Interred With Their Bones

Ever wonder what happens to all those chicken bones after you eat your chicken, or the ribs from barbecued ribs or rib eye steak?  Sure, they end up in the trash, but one man’s trash is another’s treasure.  Eventually, your garbage ends up in a landfill and is buried.

Archaeologists make it a habit of digging up ancient trash, and one of the things we dig up are animal bones. How did they get there? That’s usually easy.  If they are a small rodent, we usually know that it just died in its burrow and we found it.  But bones from sheep, goats and cattle, or deer are generally considered to have been supper.  Continue reading Oft Interred With Their Bones

A Horse, A Horse, My Kingdom for a Horse?

So, I was sitting in my horseroom in front of the computer editing blogposts when I heard a strange sound.  I swore I heard a horse.  But I’d never heard one before, so I must have imagined it.  A short while later, I thought I heard a horse neighing again.

I got up and went into the pottery laboratory, which is just across from my room. I asked if anyone had heard a horse.  They all said no.  But then Martha Risser said, well, you know all the horse carts go by on that side street.  So I assumed a few horses had gone by.  Continue reading A Horse, A Horse, My Kingdom for a Horse?

Total Archaeology @ Tel Akko

So, what are we doing here?  Seventy students from all over the U.S. and other places in the world and more faculty, staff and others are digging.  Here we sit in the city of Akko, north of Haifa.  Well, actually we are across the harbor from Haifa.  We are excavating a Tel, an accretion of levels of civilization that goes back to the early Bronze Age that was once the original city of Akko and now sits in the city’s midst.

We aren’t even the first ones to excavate here.  Moshe Dothan excavated this tel on and off from 1973 into the 1980s.  In some places we are re-excavating what he already dug.  Why? Because he didn’t publish his findings and all we have are his notes and maps and drawings, which we are trying to decipher.

In other places, we are excavating where no one has gone before.  Well, the original inhabitants went there, but no one has excavated there yet.

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 1.03.45 PM
Total Archaeology

The site contains Greek, Persian, Iron Age and Bronze Age remains.  During the Iron Age, this city was not part of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judea, but was Phoenician, part of the complex of cities to the north which include Tyre and others.  The approach to this excavation is called Total Archaeology because it includes more than just digging.

Not Going to Caesarea

We didn’t go to Caesarea yesterday.  We didn’t really go anywhere.  Some of the students had a tour of the Akko Baha’i Temple and Gardens, but mostly we were just here.  They didn’t want us to leave the city.  So we didn’t. Some caught up on homework, some slept, some read, some strolled around the old city.

What is it like in Israel right now?  I can’t speak for anywhere but here, I only know first hand about Akko.  Yesterday I walked to a falafel stand owned by Arabs who were probably fasting for Ramadan.  I ordered a falafel and had my Hebrew corrected by a young man with a smile.  We ate on the patio, outside.  Arab citizens of Akko are observing Ramadan and breaking their fasts at sundown at Iftar.  Yesterday was Shabbat, the sabbath and families were strolling around town.  Their biggest concern was finding water because it was very warm.

Akkoans go to the market, they go to the beach, they go to work.  Not much is different here, but of course it is.  Continue reading Not Going to Caesarea