Every Friday evening, we make a special point of dressing nicely, and arriving to dinner in time for the kiddush. It’s important to be punctual, since the candles are to be lit at least 18 minutes before sunset.
As I carefully brushed around what seemed like a floor formation of pottery sherds and cobblestones, almost by accident, I unearthed what looked like a knucklebone—actually a bone in the ankle.
Some people dig for gold, others for artifacts. But the true archaeologist digs for knowledge.
Working in the Pottery Lab complex is one of several unexpected pleasures I’ve been experiencing on this excavation. As a microcosm of Israel itself, our Lab is international.
Even as I sit here and type these words, I can hear the muezzin singing out the Adhan from the minaret of Al Jazaar mosque, the final of five calls to prayer throughout the day.
The Akko prison intersects the Crusaders with the Ottoman empire, the British Mandate, and the Jewish resistance movements throughout Palestine. Today, the 12th century Crusader Hospitaller Center bears evidence of the 18th century Muslim fortress with military barracks and palaces, and the 19th century British prison. During the British Mandate, there were three major prisons: Jerusalem (Russian Compound and Kishle); Akko; and Bethlehem (women’s prison).
Part of the Tel Akko Excavation’s Total Archaeology approach is to take in the larger context of the dig—the present day city and its history, the surrounding landscape, the people groups and cultures, the land of Israel and its history. Today, to get a better understanding of the unique challenges Israel faces, we visited the capitol city, Jerusalem, another of the six “Mixed Cities” and filled with spiritual pilgrims from three of the major religions in the world: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.
In every culture, every society, there are things that go without being said. We don’t even realize those things exist, not really, because we don’t talk about them, we don’t even know we’re doing them, in our native culture.
I am working on one aspect of the excavation, the “Survey.” What is currently being dug is only a small part of the whole Tel. There is much more still waiting to be discovered, so the survey team methodically digs shallow, square trenches over the rest of the site, just to see what potential there might be. Every day, the survey team brings back a good fifty or sixty buckets of samples, all of which need to be read, registered, written on and packed up.
An outlier in her time, Lydia made a name for herself in the Tyrian purple market, establishing her own business and household, and enjoying a level of independence only a small minority of women in her day were able to experience. The images below all come from my visit to the Hecht museum, which has a display of murex shells and the beautiful dye Tyre, Sidon, and Akko were known for.