Friday, June 6, 2008

Return To Madaba

Well - for once I have been able to provide an update with a little more substance to it - and I am even able to post some pictures. The first is a picture of the "Yo Sushi" bar in Heathrow airport. Its one of those that you sit at and the various dishes pass by on a belt - each dish is in a coloured bowl that has a different price associated with it. You are charged based on the number of bowls you eat. On my way to Jordan I spent about 1.5 hours at this spot sampling the various sushi delights. Actually - I don't like sushi, because for me, its just a wasabi delivery device. Anyways, I had never eaten in one with a conveyer belt delivering the food so I thought I would take a picture. Everyone thought I was such a "tourist"...and in this case, they were right.

Things have been going well on the project. Everyday we get up at 4AM, have a quick breakfast (instant oatmeal for me - see my prevous post on the subject), then head out to site. Its about a 35 minute drive from Azraq to Kharaneh. As a driver of one of the vehicles I am not able to sleep on the way like everyone else - but at least my 4x4 is airconditioned. The other day the temperature was reading 43 degrees at one point. It has been very hot - but that's to be expected. Once we get to site its time to set up our sifts (screens that we pass all our dirt through to find the small artifacts). In the picture I am holding a bit of bone that has some lines etched on to it. There is some debate as to what the nature of these lines are, but they seem to be counting notches in groups of 3 or 4. This bone fragment is over 15,000 years old - so while it may not be a golden cup or other such glamourous object - the fact that somebody was using this that long ago to count something is interesting in its own right.

One of my first tasks this summer was to lay out the excavation grid. This is a picture of Dr. Lisa Maher (the project leader and close friend) putting in the site benchmark. 50 years from now this image will be part of the historical record. The site we are excavating is extremely uniqe for the Epipaleolithic - there is only one or two others in the world that provide the same kind of "window into the past" of this time period. I promised Lisa that this image would be on the back cover of her festschrift when she is famous!

We are excvating in 1x1 meter squares - which for me is unusual, but what the heck. The site has been divided into two areas where we are excavating. Digging is slow going since every trowel swipe turns up a tons of "stone and bone" that we have to sort through and process. Fortunately, the stratigraphy is pretty straight forward. Just yesterady, however, I have come down on what seems to be a pit or a burn scar - immediately complicating things and requiring additional documentation. If anything interesting turns up - I'll let you know.

We generally work until 11:15 when we pack up to head back to Azraq. Our afternoons are filled with processing artifacts, documentation, etc. Eventually we call it a day around 7pm - just enough time for a cold beer and then bed. We are a fairly small crew - only 11 of us, but we all get along and are having fun. As the oldest crew member (ack!). Last night we left Azraq and headed into Amman to see the new Indiana Jones movie. I have a lot to say about it - but I was pleasently suprised by the film and I actually liked it. It wasn't as good as the others - but what can you do! Harrison Ford is looking pretty old...but he's a tough old dude and if I looked half as good as him when I am 50, I'll be happy!
Winds on site have been inconsistant, but I did have the chance the other day to launch my kite and snap a few quick pics. I have attached them to this post so that you can get a sense of what the site actually looks like. I hope to get some more pictures of the site uploaded in the future - provided the wind keeps blowing...and I am sure it will.

I am in Madaba now - the town I have been working in for the past 10 years and its a bit like "coming home". People on the street see me and recognize me and say hi...its great. I am off in a few minutes to go for a swim in the hotel pool and then to do some shopping. We will be returning to Azraq at 4pm this afternoon and then its back to work tomorrow morning at 4am. The next week of excavations should be interesting - as we dig deeper...more interesting artifacts and deposits are sure to appear. Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

Andrew ~ I'm glad that you were able to put the kite up. It makes all that practicing worth while! Very cool pictures and great memories... It sounds like you're having a great time! This blog was a great way to communicate your trip especially to people like me who really have no idea what an excavation really entitles. Keep up the good work!

Unknown said...

Hi Andrew,

The kite pictures are cool, I'll ask more about it in detail when you get back.

Do the artifacts go on display somewhere and/or are they sold in any way? The etched pieces would definitely make for good conversations.

work smart.

Anonymous said...

Hi bro, Glad to here it's going well.Weather better than here. Time is going by so fast and you'll be back. Things are good B starts Rama 9th Keep up the info


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