The first thing you have to do, to get an archaeological excavation ready, is to get all the sandbags up and out. When the excavation was closed the summer before, thousands of white cloth bags were filled with sifted earth from the dig, and placed all around the exposed areas to protect the site until the excavation could be reopened. Today’s project: Stand in a long bag-passing line, stack them, open them, remove the earth, recycle the bags. A a mammoth task!
For some great, current pictures of Akko, and the Tel, go to this website. Make sure you take a look at the arial view of the map and note course of the Na’aman river. Thousands of years ago, it flowed past the Tel and into the Bay, the shores of which came up to the ancient city, now buried in the Tel. It is remarkable how the Bay has silted up to such a degree that a new old city was founded, and the ancient one, once a major international center, was abandoned.
Michal Artzy, co-director of the Akko Excavation, took us on a tour of the whole mound, and gave us the history:
Apparently, though Napoleon did lay siege to Akko in 1799, in his efforts to annex Israel to his empire, he never succeeded, and most likely never made it up to the Tel, since that lies safely within the city’s walls. Nevertheless, locals enjoy the story, and erected this statue.
However, the Persians did defeat Akko and used it as their base of operations to organize an all-out attack on Egypt. This is where we will start digging tomorrow!
So far, discoveries seem to indicate Akko was more of an industrial center than a normal habitation. Stacks and stacks of iron slag point to a foundry, there’s evidence of forges, and weapons manufacturing (that would be the Assyrians making countless arrowheads–and some have been found here–in preparation for war with Egypt), a great deal of pottery manufacture, molds for making jewelry (so at least bronze, possibly other precious metals, though none have been found as yet), today a weaver’s loom weight was unearthed.
Evidently, a “standing stone” has also been excavated, with several offerings in the form of monkey amulets–most likely depictions of the Egyptian god Thot, who said, “I create the living fire whereby works in the foundries and workshops are carried out.“
Several scarabs have also been found. It intrigues me that the Assyrians were ramping up their preparations for war against Egypt, yet also carried scarabs and images of Thot. Can’t wait to find out if our resident archaeologist have a theory about that.
[Cover Photo: Archaeology Excavation Tools, Pixabay]