The Tel Akko Excavation is actually a field school, with an excellent program called Total Archaeology. The idea is not only to dig up the past, but to understand the past’s context, to understand the artifacts, structures, and other data unearthed, and to get a broader understanding of archaeology itself, the science and methodologies.
A typical day, then, includes excavating in the morning, a couple of hours’ break, washing pottery (and bone, and shell, and whatever else comes up), then a lecture, then dinner. It’s a full day, but so incredibly enriching. Weekends are given to visiting other sites, and continuing education in a variety of settings.
This week we visited the holiest site in the Baha’i faith first, then the Hecht Museum, and ended with a jaunt over to Caesarea (That link is in Hebrew, so you’ll need to ask Google to translate it for you).
The Hecht Museum is an illustration of the balancing act archaeologists now navigate–getting fascinating finds published and on display for everyone to learn form and enjoy, and making sure the science of archaeology is protected. Provenance is a huge deal. Where did that juglet come from? What was it found near? What historical layer did it come from? What area in Israel? In fact, a dig has very precise measurements for how the excavation is conducted, with a grid outlining really  rather small loci within a larger, but not that large, square. Dirt is removed layer by careful layer, so the maximum possible is learned.
Earlier excavations were not always as careful with the science of archaeology, and pretty regularly artifacts found their way into private collections, or the museums of other countries.
suitcase.jpgThe Hecht Museum has a central display of things that were found in an archaeologist’s suitcase which got lost en route!
Inside, we saw many of the kinds of things we’ve been digging up in Akko, amphorae, giant storage jars, ancient glass, and all kinds of pottery. We also saw finds from other local sites, and this one arrested my attention mid-step:
slave 1.jpgI  had never before seen evidence so startling of Hebrew slavery in Egypt.
InkedSlave explanation_LI.jpgEven his face shows the heavy burden of resignation.
slave 3.jpg
As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a deep and terrifying darkness descended upon him. Then the Lord said to Abram, ‘Know this for certain, that your offspring shall be aliens in a land that is not theirs, and shall be slaves there, and they shall be oppressed for four hundred years; but I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.‘” [Genesis 15:12-14, NRSV]
slave 2.jpg
The Egyptians became ruthless in imposing tasks on the Israelites, and made their lives bitter with hard service in mortar and brick and in every kind of field labor. They were ruthless in all the tasks that they imposed on them.” [Exodus 1, NRSV]
[Cover picture courtesy of PxHere]