July 7, 2008

Megiddo, Day 2

More fun foreigners (and some from the homeland). Bob and Jane (“Bob’s roommate”) are the registrars, who retired from the oil business 14 years ago and took up archaeology 12 years ago. Bob is now an expert on chalices and published a book last year. They’re a fun older couple. Bob swears archaeology has lowered his cholesterol. Later I met Mario, the Area J supervisor. He’s Italian, speaks more languages than I can count, and pronounces everyone’s names as if they were foreign. In lecture, he was talking about storage pits and said that “you could fill them with plaster and then put in grain in sex,” at which point Bob turned to him and started to giggle. (Yes, actual giggles.) “What?” said Mario. “Grain in sex.” Now everyone starts laughing, and Mario corrects himself: “Grain in sacks. Yes. No, grain in BAGS.” It took a while for everyone to calm down.

The update is that Sascha can speak Arabic as well. And his drawings are now in color. I didn’t get a chance to ask what the colors mean.

I’m getting better at the wheelbarrow, and Phillipe congratulates me every time I make a successful barrow run. Fortunately he didn’t see the time I lost control and completely fell over backward, nearly losing the barrow over the cliff.

Update on Phillipe: I asked him if he could take away the rocks from the Israeli gun placement near our square so I could park the barrow there. He smiled sneakily and said, “yesssss…” He’s an amazing digger though. Square E3 noticed a round piece of pottery sticking up and started to go gently around it with a trowel. Phillipe came over and said, “Nonono!” and took a hoe and started hacking around it. The grad student who’s a ceramic analyst nearly flipped out. She started trying to go at it with a trowel again and, in retaliation it seemed, took up a pickaxe and swung at it. (My skill with the pickaxe, after having pickaxed all day, is a bit better than the scene in Titanic where Kate Winslet tries to free Leo from the handcuffs with an axe and nearly chops his arms off.) Out of the ground popped a beautiful, completely intact juglet. (A small jug, for those not up on the terminology.) “If you poke at it, it could damage the pressure inside and pop,” he explained.

Oddly enough, I prefer to use most tools left-handed.

Update on the square: I found a live bullet with a small pickaxe, and we reached a floor. It has potsherds and the remains of some kind of fire pit or oven. It’s really amazing how clearly you can see things like scorching from an oven – they’re really quite well-defined.

The first lectures were today. They’re held out on the lawn, and a sheet is set up as a projector for the eight o’clock one, which uses powerpoint. We also washed pottery and bones.

The food today was not good. Except for breakfast, which had melon. I would really like a shwarma.



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