Tag Archives: archaeology

Parallel Universes

Last weekend we had a trip to a series of varied, but interesting, locations. I found myself unable to walk the distances necessary at some of the sites, but that did not mean my trip was any less enjoyable.

bahay2 First stop was right here in Akko, at the Bahá’í Shrine. If anyone is at all familiar with  Bahá’í locations, it is probably with the shrine in Haifa dedicated to the Báb, founder of the Bábí faith and forerunner of the Bahá’í faith. The Bahá’í faith, begun by the Bahá’u’lláh, a follower of the Báb, in Persia during the 1800s, is a world religion based on universal acceptance of all religions as valid and a belief that all religions believe in the same divinity.   Bahá’u’lláh, unlike the Báb who was executed in Persia, was simply exiled to the Ottoman Empire.  He settled in Akko, which was part of the Ottoman Empire at the time.  He was also arrested and imprisoned for more than 15 years in the Akko prison and spent the rest of his life under house arrest here, all because he proposed a new religion.  So Akko is the holiest place in the world for a member of the Bahá’í faith and there are many Bahá’í followers in Akko.  Continue reading Parallel Universes

Origin (and Demise) of an Idea

For a few days now I’ve been helping with some archaeobotany.  Anyone who knows me knows I don’t really like biology, being more of a physical sciences kind of gal, but, this is interesting.  We take soil samples that are “floated” to find any seeds, and other organic remains.  In the process, there is a portion of the sample that falls to the bottom of the tank of water, the heavy fraction.  I’ve been sorting through the heavy fractions.  We find shells, pieces of pottery, bronze, lead and bones.  On some of the samples, when we run a magnet over them we get pieces of slag, the remains of iron ore processing, and hammer scales, the remains of iron tool making.  These are tiny blobs of iron that are forced off when the hot metal is struck.  The samples are sort of a grab bag of the areas we are working as part of Total Archaeology at Tel Akko, a joint project of Penn State and Haifa University.

A'ndrea Elyse Messer doing archaeobotany. by Melissa Rosenzweig
A’ndrea Elyse Messer doing archaeobotany. by Melissa Rosenzweig

Continue reading Origin (and Demise) of an Idea

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

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