Tag Archives: archaeology

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

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

Unusual Events of the Day

The bus was late yesterday.  When it did arrive, the driver was a bit upset.  A woman in a lefthand turning lane had suddenly gone straight rather than turn and he had had to slam on the brakes.  There was a little damage to the driver’s side of the bus, but nothing much.  They exchanged insurance info and he asked what happened. She said the GPS told her to go straight.  Israel or the U.S. some things are the same.

We started digging yesterday. IMG_0093 Pulling up lots of pottery. Not surprising as a second name of Tel Akko is Tel of Sherds. The place is just covered with them and they are mixed in with all the dirt. I’ve been hauling buckets and screening dirt.  A two-handled screen atop a wheelbarrow gets shaken to remove all the loose dirt. Then the diggers sort through what is left for pottery, animal bone, shells, iron slag and perhaps something cool. What could be cool? Loom weights – little ceramic globs with holes in them that are used in weaving, iron projectile points, highly polished and painted Greek pottery, a carved ivory figure would all be cool and all have been found on the Tel so far, but not in the screens.

What do I find?  Broken pieces of pottery ranging in size from less than half an inch to hand sized. Shells ranging from tiny snail shells to large, 2-inch, scallop shells to spiny dye murex shells. These are the ones that the “royal purple dye” comes from. And more sherds. Sometimes little pieces of Greek looking pottery, sometimes a handle, but so far, nothing of much note.  But I have faith.  Everything eventually ends up in the screens.  Something really cool will pop up, appear, emerge.

Yesterday was unusual in another way. After dinner, one of the staff, Nick Pumphrey, Claremont Graduate University, successfully defended his dissertation. His advisor is here and the defense took place via Skype. So a new Ph.D. takes his place in the Academy today. He doesn’t look any different than yesterday, but his wife looks much happier.

There and Back Again

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.

group of students standing and listening
Students in the Total Archaeology Project at Tel Akko listen while Nick Pumphrey of Trinity College explains basic tool use.
Nick Pumphrey of Trinity College explains basic tool use.
Nick Pumphrey of Trinity College explains basic tool use.

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.  Continue reading There and Back Again

Cowgirls, Bandits and Bows and Arrows

When I was a kid, my parents went on vacation and left us home.  They brought back two identical, but differently sized, turquoise blue with white fringe cowgirl skirts and vests, holsters and six shooters.  My sister was about three and my cousin and I were almost 6.  My cousin already had a similar red outfit.  We loved them and played cowgirls and bandits all the time.  If a friend came over, they would get to be the Indian and use the bow and arrows with rubber suction cup tips.  But the Indian wasn’t the enemy.  He or she simply joined us to fight the bandits who were robbing the bank.  Or ended up taking his or her turn being kidnapped by the bad guys and eventually rescued.  The bad guys were always virtual. That was our view of the world and weapons.  Looking back, we probably watched too much Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers.


Later on I actually practiced archery and by college was pretty good at using a short bow, but then the fancy, compound bows became popular and I lost interest.  Continue reading Cowgirls, Bandits and Bows and Arrows