I’ve received some feedback about my recent blogposts. Apparently they are a bit on the depressing side and I have to say that indeed, they’re probably a bit too introspective. Therefore let’s start this one off with some good news of the dessert-related kind. The guest house currently has a new flavour of ice cream: banana. The stuff has a taste that’s very close to banana milkshake and probably would make a great base for the dairy beverage. By this point you may be asking yourself “why the hell is this guy writing about banana ice cream!?!” Well, I will tell you: because it’s good. Good food is important in the same way that a cold beer is important. We may joke about the huge amounts of chicken we eat, but this is nevertheless good, tender chicken. Good food equals morale and that is all important for a dig.
|Breakfast during earlier years. We've had everything from near silence to food wars.|
An excavation is hard and demanding work for all members involved. Volunteers do a lot of manual work that involves everything from brushing rocks to clean tumble for a picture, all the way up to tearing that pristine tumble up again with a pickaxe to get to the next layer. The staff members and field specialists have very short but very intensive bursts of work, which makes their job feel like interval training. Even members who work in the lab spend most of their time being focussed on their specific field of expertise, often doing little else but stare at pottery or endless lists of files and boxes. With such demanding work it is of great importance that everyone gets good food and a good night’s sleep. That is what our stay at Karei Deshe is all about: the luxury accommodations are there so that everyone can at least sleep relatively well – depending on how many groups of shouting teenagers arrive – and have a good, tasty meal. Everyone on this dig is doing immensely important work and therefore they all deserve to be treated as well as they are.
We are now almost a week into the digging and everyone has gotten into the swing of things. The work is progressing well, as is evidenced both by the rate at which finds are coming into the field lab and by the amount with which the soil- and stone dumps are expanding. In some areas we have picked up where we left off in previous seasons, while in others we have started new work squares. Pottery has started coming in, so the volunteers spend some of their afternoons washing pottery and doing pottery reading. During pottery reading we separate the bottoms, handles and rims to look at what period the pottery appears to come from. This helps our pottery specialist establish relationships between the amounts of pottery and the periods it was made in, so that we can get a better idea of the dating of our synagogue.
|We make it look easy, but it's tough old work.|
I suppose that the excavation so far has been a bit like a banana milkshake. With all the things that we had to get set up at the beginning of the season, the whole experience feels like we’ve been swirled around for a while. Yet somehow, the end result is very enjoyable.