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Anthropology Students Visit Israel – Miami University


Written by Bonnie Meibers, CAS communications intern

For 4 weeks this summer, Megan Ashbrook, Sarah Kammer, Caroline Sausser, and Rachel Strohl got to experience first-hand what it is like to be an archaeologist.

Miami sent the 4 undergraduate anthropology majors to Akko, Israel, where they participated in the Tel Akko Archaeological Field School, alongside students and professors from numerous universities around the United States. Melissa Rosenzweig, assistant professor of Anthropology and Classics, was in charge of the Miami group and served as the team archaeobotanist — recovering and analyzing ancient plant remains from the site.

“Field school is required if you want to be an archaeologist,” said Sausser. “It is hands-on learning about the basics of archaeology.”

“The idea is to learn excavation techniques,” Dr. Rosenzweig added.

Each student had an area of archaeology that they focused on: Kammer in conservation, Strohl in archaeometallurgy, Sausser in heavy fraction analysis, and Ashbrook in pottery.

A Day in the Life of an Archaeologist

Five days per week, the students started their day before 5:30 am, when they boarded a bus from their naval academy dormitory to the site. They dug until 12:30 pm, breaking for lunch and some free time in the afternoon.

“Oh, we got dirty. It was definitely physical labor!” Sausser said.

Ashbrook added: “It was intense — you were out in the sun all day.”

The students dug in 4-meter by 4-meter squares and found artifacts dating from the Hellenistic period all the way down to the Iron Age (approximately third to ninth century BCE). A large mound measuring 22 hectares created by millennia of human occupation, Tel Akko stands out on the landscape and has long received attention by archaeologists.

“We found stuff every day,” Kammer said. “Excluding all normal animal bones, the coolest things I found were an old 3-inch iron nail and a fragment of an incense…

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