Heritage Fellow’s Experience at Tel Akko

S Edwards By: Shane Edwards, Claremont Graduate University, 2012 Heritage Fellow

I just returned home from a wonderful experience on an archaeological excavation thanks to an ASOR Fellowship. The monies helped fund the four weeks I spent at the Akko tel located near the old city of Akko, Israel. This is my first opportunity to participate on a dig and it has given me a perspective that will aid with my religious studies research.

Akko has served throughout its history as a major crossroad and meeting place between east and west. The “tel” is believed to have been occupied from approximately 3200 CE through approximately 300 BCE. Known locally as Tel Akko, Tel Napoleon or Tel el-Fukhar, excavations on this ancient mound have uncovered remains of Canaanite, “Sea Peoples”, Phoenician, Persian, Greek, and Hellenistic cultures.

The Akko tel is bordered by the Na’aman (Belos) river to the south and the historically changing coastline of the Mediterranean Sea to the west. Today, the Akko tel is not inhabited. However, the nearby city of Old Akko is a UNESCO World Heritage city and includes a mixture of communities that represent all of the major religious and cultural traditions of the region. We were up at 4:30 am and worked until noon. In the afternoons we washed and read pottery and updated our paper work. In the evening we attended lectures explaining the history of our site and the many concepts embedded in “total archeology,” which includes evaluation of prior digs performed at the Akko tel; survey (geophysical and pedestrian), including regional considerations, and multi-dimensional 3-D recordings; conservation, and the role of the local community in this effort; establishment of a field school; and the establishment of a short and long term site preservation plan.

The weekends were used for the touring of Israel, including Old Akko, Jerusalem, Caesarea, Capernaum and many other sites.

I have made what I hope to be life-long relationships with individuals of many backgrounds and research interests. I will be a better academic as a result of my experience. Thank you ASOR and donors for your generous support of my education.


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