We`re closing in on the end of the season now. Week three has come and gone with mixed feelings. Everyone is getting very tired and most people are more silent and take it more easy than they used to. Some just have to stay and work in the shelter for a day to recuperate. The flip side of this is that there have been a great many interesting discoveries. With only two more days of actual working before we start cleaning up, this is wholly in line with the situation of last season. This situation where the most defining and interesting information comes to light when time is running out, is commonly referred to as Carter`s Law, after Howard Carter (yeah, that one). The main difference is that for us, it`s not about golden masks and ancient treasure.
All the puzzle pieces from last year are coming together too. The baulks from that season are gone, exposing just how vast the space inside must have been. When you constantly work in five-by-five squares, it becomes difficult to keep track of the big picture, even if you talk regularly with your colleagues next-door. So to be able to look into last year`s area and see the full extent of it is an eye-opener. What also is becoming apparent is that stone robbing in antiquity has mixed up many things. Some significant object that are technically considered ex situ are basically just hovering on the edge of in situ, since it seems that when they turned out to be too heavy to move, the stone robbers just left is where they dropped it. There are also many strange walls appearing in the plaster, which seems to point to either a very ad hoc repair phase or squatter habitation in later times.
|We draw to try and make sense of it all|
In most squares, progress has been pretty much straightforward. However, there is one square that is still keeping everyone occupied. In this square, the inside of the Synagogue`s North-East corner has been found in the shape of the bench, but the wall is still not visible. People in the square have renounced their faith in the Wall. They believe the Wall does not exist since they are not able to physically see it. They claim that back in the day, belief in the Wall was logical since it answered many questions, but that we have moved on since then and that belief in the existence of any Wall is pointless. I`m not sure yet how to deal with such heresy, but we must put an end to it.
The highlight of the week was the visit from a few local friends of KRP, if only because they brought fresh lychees and figs with them for breakfast. These are the kinds of fruit that are usually of lesser quality in Europe and the US, so for many of us, being able to eat fresh, perfectly ripe ones was a rare experience. They were delicious and raised morale to good levels again. It`s hard to imagine what such a change means when you`re stuck on a monotonous diet of any kind. Four weeks of eating nothing but cheese or jam for breakfast makes you long for something completely different. It was, without question, the best thing I ate this week.
|Pure bliss in a box|
We got to see something different from our own little holes too last week. We took a trip to Tabgha on Monday to visit the Church of the Multiplication and see its mosaics. The church features very interesting Nilotic imagery with plenty of waterfowl. As the monks were so nice to let us in after closing time, we had the church to ourselves. We got a real taste of Byzantine acoustics when the Finns started singing Laudate Dominum. It was a moving experience.
|The Byzantines seemed to like the bird vs snake theme|
We ended the visit on a lighter note by swimming in one of the pools with spring water from the heptapegon. It was much cooler than the water of lake Kinneret and on a warm day like that, it felt like heaven.
|Tabgha is also home to a few very friendly dogs|
Our other trip that week was to Capernaum. We got a private tour by Stefano de Luca, who took us behind the gates and fences that keep most average tourists where they`re supposed to stay. He explained us how the 4th century Synagogue was built on remains from an earlier building and how we could tell from the varying angles and differences in stone. We walked the gallery of the spoliae, which Stefano thinks once belonged to the Hadrianium from 2nd century Tiberias, before they robbed and carried off Capernaum. Then he explained to us the finer points of living in a Byzantine town and how privacy was an alien concept to the common man and woman. He ended his tour with a thorough explanation of the 5th century pilgrimage site that is believed to have once been the location of Peter`s house. We stayed until well after closing time and enjoyed the peace and the unique opportunity to get a real understanding of the urban context surrounding the main attractions.
|You won`t often see Capernaum like this|
The coming week we will be expecting many parties. Tonight there`s a Swiss reception (read: Stefan is buying us all a beer). On Wednesday we will have a Dutch party, hosted by the husband of one of the volunteers. What it is exactly is still a surprise. On Thursday, there will be the farewell barbecue, followed by a night of free time where the volunteers try their hardest to get rid of as much leftover alcohol as they can. After four weeks of hard work, we`ve earned ourselves a decent evening of getting-drunk, methinks.
|The Lost Dutchman, not hammering on a keyboard for once...|