Due in part to the Platt Fellowship offered by ASOR, I was able to participate in the Tel Akko Total Archaeology Project and Field School. This unique field school combines excavation, survey, geographic information systems (GIS), conservation, and public archaeology in order to immerse students into a holistic archaeological experience. The Tel Akko project and excavations are co-directed by Professors Dr. Ann E. Killebrew of the Pennsylvania State University and Michal Artzy of the University of Haifa. Tel Akko and the adjacent Old Acre are located on a natural harbor along the Mediterranean Sea in northern Israel. The city has served as a major maritime center and crossroads between east and west throughout its history. Excavations on the tel have revealed evidence of Canaanite, “Sea Peoples”, Phoenician, Persian, Greek, and Hellenistic cultures. The UNESCO World Heritage site of Acre boasts the best preserved Crusader city in the world, today located beneath the 18th and 19th century Ottoman town.
As a student participant at Tel Akko, my involvement included the excavation of late Iron Age and Persian period remains and participation in conservation efforts. The latter was conducted in cooperation with the IAA and the International Conservation Center of Old Acre directed by Shelly-Anne Peleg. This year the course entailed the conservation of an Ottoman period water basin in Old Acre. As a result of my participation in the conservation of the Ottoman period reservoir, I developed a special research interest in the aqueduct and water system of Ottoman Akko. In consultation with the IAA, I was allowed access to their conservation archives. I also photographed and participated in the documentation of the reservoir and the water system components in the vicinity.
I greatly enjoyed the entire experience at Tel Akko, which trains students in all aspects of archaeology – survey, excavation, state-of-the-art documentation, conservation and community outreach. I gained invaluable archaeological field experience, developed applied conservation and research skills, met new friends and future colleagues, and obtained a new appreciation for ancient and contemporary near eastern cultures. Most of all, I had a wonderful time. I take this opportunity to thank ASOR for assisting me in realizing a dream of a lifetime.
-Zachary Stelling, Platt Fellow