Pella Volunteer Programme: a great escape from the day job!

In 2007 I found myself heading down the Jordan valley to Pella, the Jordan river on one side, wadis and rolling hills on the other, passing small towns and kilometres of greenhouses, hearing the calls to prayer and knowing very little about the Bronze age or the Chalcolithic.

Very soon, I was down in a trench scraping mud brick, practicing my Arabic for trowel, brush, bucket with the local workmen.  Feeling welcomed as they shared their mint tea.

Penny Athanasatos, at Pella with a local workman

I got excited over every piece of pottery, bone, flint and rock wall.  Sifted through bags of dirt for ancient olives and lentils and spent hours scraping back centuries of dirt covering a mosaic.

At the communal table I’ve shared many delicious meals, good conversation and lots of laughs with my fellow volunteers and the always brilliant and entertaining staff.

Penny Athanasatos with David Thomas at the communal dining table

Enjoyed amazing sunrises and sunsets sitting on a rock wall overlooking the tel.

Watched the archaeologists use their skills to piece together the tantalizing morsels we discover, shaping our knowledge of the past.

Five seasons later the possibilities still excite me, what will come up next in the story of Pella and Tel Husn?     Thank you to the very patient staff and the Jordanian people that have made all my seasons unique experiences and last but not least there is Jordan with its beauty and incredible historical sites that have captured my imagination.

Penny Athanasatos overlooking the site of Pella

To learn more about the Pella project, or to become a volunteer, please visit our Pella project page

If you would like to hear more about some of the amazing archaeological discoveries from Pella, please listen to our podcast. You can access all episodes here


Near Eastern Archaeological Foundation
Level 4, CCANESA Madsen F09, University of Sydney NSW 2006 Australia
+61 2 9351 4151