Israel Class

Akko, Israel Archeology Dig

– 5:00am 1st breakfast
– 5:25am bus ride to the Tel
– 5:35am arrive at Tel and start sweeping dirt
– 8:30am 2nd breakfast
– 9:00am back to sweeping dirt
– 12:15pm wrap up dirt sweeping
– 12:30pm walk to bus
– 12:50pm compete with two roommates for shower
– 1:15pm lunch
– 4:00pm wash dirt off pottery sherds
– 6:00pm evening lecture
– 7:00pm dinner

Here’s the circle of life in photographs:

We opened the excavation by removing the sandbags placed at the end of last year’s season.


Then we were assigned a 5 X 5 meter square, with approximately four people to a square. From that point, we spent the month-long season sweeping dirt.


Sweeping dirt off the Tel meant literally using a hand broom and a dustpan. Sometimes we had to supplement this dirt sweeping with a pick ax and trowel.

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While sweeping, we removed large pieces of pottery sherds, bone, and shell, separating them into baskets. Whole vessels were rarely found (rare find in photo):


Instead we were just looking for fragments.


Then we took all collected dirt to a sifter and looked for smaller pieces.


Then we took the sifted dirt and made sandbags.

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At the end of the day we carried the baskets of pottery sherds down the hill. We soaked the pottery in water then cleaned the pieces with small brushes.

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The pottery lab determined which pieces they wanted to keep, piecing them together. (Note: this was a photo taken from the lab the single time I was in there for a tour – I was not involved with this process.)


Then in the morning there were buckets of cleaned pottery for us to take back to the Tel, so we could discard the pieces the pottery lab wasn’t interested in. There seemed to be an awful lot of cleaned pottery returned to the Tel every day.


At the end of the season, we had created 2,700 sandbags and we stacked them around the squares, so that next year the circle can start all over again.


In summary, I spent my summer vacation carefully sweeping dirt from a 5 X 5 meter square and putting it into a sandbag. Then I put the sandbag of dirt back into the square. I also carried pottery down a hill, carefully cleaned dirt off of this pottery, then put the cleaned pottery back on the hill.

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On weekends, we got to visit other excavations.